HR Certification Courses vs HR Degree – Which is a Better Option?

Individuals who are interested in starting or expanding their career in Human Resources usually ask this question. They are usually confused and can’t figure out which one is the better option. There is no clear-cut answer to which option is the most advantageous because it usually depends on the individual’s skill set and abilities, however, there are certain aspects that one should consider while opting for either of the options.

The Broader Perspective

The cost of becoming a graduate nowadays ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 annually. On the other hand, acquiring an HR Certification is more economically feasible and is easier to get comparatively. However, there are certain tradeoffs that an individual needs to make while choosing either of the options:

The Tradeoffs


Generally, younger HR Professionals don’t have family or home responsibilities added to their list, therefore they have time to enroll in a graduate program and attain a graduate degree. An early degree also means that the individual would be familiar with the school’s rhythm, they would have more time to pay off student loans, and they would have more time to earn an advanced degree.

As it is widely said that ‘Time is Money’, an individual who is middle-aged or in their late 20s would have more responsibilities to handle than a younger professional. Older individuals can’t enroll themselves in a degree program because of a lack of time. For an individual who is struggling with time, earning an human resources certificate is the better option since the biggest advantage of these certification courses is that they provide time flexibility. An individual can register for the course according to their feasibility, and they can also give the examination according to their convenience in a 180-day time frame.


For many people, money is a big constraint, as said earlier that the cost of becoming a graduate nowadays ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 per year, and when you are at the beginning of your career, you usually don’t have sufficient resources to cater to your educational needs. Therefore, money is a huge hurdle for many people, and because of this, they can’t earn a degree. Instead, they start looking for a job to fulfill their needs.

On the other hand, if we talk about HR Certification courses, they are very pocket-friendly in comparison with a Master’s Degree in HR. An HR Certification mainly costs around $300, even if you want to avail a maximum number of certifications to have a firm grip on HR strategies and knowledge, it would still be very economical. There are certain eligibility requirements and limitations for each certificate, but if you are eligible for acquiring a certificate, then the entire process is very easy to understand.


In a tradeoff between the quality of an HR Degree and an HR Certificate, it is generally said that the quality of knowledge-building and practical implication is the finest in an HR Degree. The reason for a high-quality HR Degree is its time horizon, which is of 6 years. First, an individual will receive his Bachelor’s Degree, which is a 4-year program, then for the Master’s Degree, an additional 2 years will be needed, which makes up to 6 years in total.

On the other hand, an HR Certification has a very short time horizon, after the registration of a course, an individual has a 180-day time frame to give the examination. In those 180 days, the individual has access to all the course material that is provided online, and after he has gone through the entire course material, he can give the examination.

An HR Degree is of 6 years, and an HR Certification course is of 180 days, so the difference in the time frame automatically goes in the favor of the degree. While an HR degree provides exposure, experience, practical knowledge, and theoretical background on all the aspects of HR, certification also covers everything in detail, but because of the limitation of time, the quality cannot be matched.


Here comes the most important part, which is more important for recruiters, the degree or the certification? The answer is that both are important for you if you want to become a desirable candidate. Recruiters are delighted when they receive resumes of individuals that have both, a degree and a certificate too.

It is generally believed that a degree and a certificate combined can increase your chances of getting selected for the position. There is no proof that recruiters prefer degree holders over certificate holders or vice versa, and with the modernization of the entire world, online certifications are also highly preferred by recruiters.

Recruiters not only check for the qualifications of a candidate, but they also look at the skills section, the experience section, the achievements section, and the summary part of a resume, so don’t try to rely entirely on the qualifications section. Your worth of being an ideal candidate doesn’t entirely depend on a degree or a certificate, it depends on other sections of your resume as well.


In the end, the choice of acquiring a master’s degree or a certification entirely depends on you. Before coming to the decision of choosing between the two options, you first need to determine your goals. If you are clear about your goals, choosing between the two options is easy. Once you have chosen your goals, then you should identify your resources, and check from the above-listed tradeoff.

You need to think critically before opting for any decision. See the available options from a holistic view, and if you find any contradictions or issues, then look out for alternatives as well. Whether you go for an HR Degree or an HR Certification, in either case, you will move forward in your HR career, that is guaranteed!

About the Author: mike

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