Online BS in Management or online BS in HR Management: Which is right for me?

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business offers online bachelor’s degree programs in seven important areas, including Management and Human Resource Management. If you are interested in a career in the business world, you may be wondering which is the right choice for you: enrolling in the HR management track or the general management track.

The program that is the best fit depends on a variety of factors, such as your career goals and interests, and it is important that you weigh the potential benefits of each degree. To help you figure out which program is right for you, here is some helpful information on both the online BS in Management and the online BS in HR Management offered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business.

Online Bachelor of Science in Management

Organizations in every industry need managers, from finance to healthcare. They are key players that help companies reach their business goals by ensuring operations run smoothly and in line with corporate strategy and objectives. However, managers need to have much more than a strong business sense – they also need to be people-persons. Managers are dependable resources for a company’s employees, leading teams and serving as a supportive and guiding figure for workers. Without managers, businesses would cease to effectively function and employees would be unable to do productive, meaningful work. In other words, the gears of business would grind to a halt.

The team leaders of tomorrow

Managers are responsible for so much more than assigning tasks and monitoring workflows. They need to not only know their organizations’ business practices, missions and values like the back of their hands, but they also need to know the best strategies for supporting employees. Being able to build positive, lasting relationships and understanding the diverse skill sets and personality types within a team are essential duties for managers.

Through the online Bachelor of Science in Management degree, you’ll be exposed to the best practices for guiding and supporting employees within the context of a larger organization. For instance. you may learn about the principles developed by Peter Drucker, a management studies expert.

In his book, “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices,” Drucker wrote that “Management is tasks. Management is a discipline. But management is also people. Every achievement of management is the achievement of a manager. Every failure is a failure of a manager. People manager rather than ‘forces’ or ‘facts.’ The vision, dedication and integrity of managers determine whether there is management or mismanagement.”

His words get to the heart of the matter – that managers hold an important responsibility in both individual businesses and society as a whole. The ways they approach their jobs have a direct impact on the well-being of employees as well as the success of organizations.

While there are management strategies that have held true despite changes in the times, successful managers also need to look to tomorrow and re-evaluate if their current practices will respond to future challenges.

One of the most major developments, is, of course, technology. New systems and tools are transforming the way companies and individuals do business as well as their internal processes and workflows. More companies than ever before can be classified as “tech” organizations. Managers need to respond accordingly, understanding the benefits that technology can bring without losing focus of the power of human capital.

As Bob Frankston, co-founder of influential tech company Software Arts, said in an interview with the Pew Research Center, “Today programming is increasingly [becoming] a trade. The problem with many websites is not so much the training of the programmers as much as getting managers and C-level people who understand the new concepts of a world being redefined by software.”

Getting a BS in Management can help you prepare to respond to these challenges and manage effectively in the 21st century.

Career outlook

Individuals who receive a bachelor’s degree in management can benefit from a wide range of career opportunities and a favorable employment outlook. There are more than 5.5 million individuals working in management today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of management occupations is expected to increase by 6 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Managers are needed in nearly every industry, enabling individuals to focus their career paths in the areas they are most interested in. According to PayScale data, the median pay for General/Operations Managers last year was $60,296, though they can exceed $120,000 depending on experience. Furthermore, there are a variety of management positions available, including those working within an organization as well as consultants, operations managers and purchasing managers.

Online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management

HR management professionals focus their work on the practices and strategies that enable organizations to best utilize and empower their people. They work in recruitment, hiring, training, work culture, talent development, compensation, benefits and other areas to see which company practices are successful and which can be improved upon. Their focus is on helping companies best support their people.

The HR professionals of tomorrow

The duties of HR professionals are moving beyond administrative tasks and into strategic planning. There are many modern challenges that companies are facing, from expanding their global presence to better utilizing technology, and as such HR professionals are being called upon to develop the programs and practices that will help companies overcome these challenges.

As the Society for Human Resource Management noted in the foreword to the “SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education” guide, “Globalization has created a new set of challenges in managing a decentralized workforce, developing leaders and dealing with issues such as offshoring, in-sourcing, outsourcing and the like. Shifting demographics and generational expectations require organizations to develop novel ways to organize and reward work. Meanwhile, organizations have become flatter, more fluid and sometimes virtual. New technologies, rising standards for ethics and compliance, and increasing concerns about governance all add to the complexity of managing human resources. These changes bring HR from the back office to the forefront of business strategy.”

As a result of these changes, organizations “are demanding strategic leadership from human resources professionals.” They must be able to have big-picture thinking that’s backed up by policies and procedures that will further company goals. Everything from creating career-pathing programs for talent development to establishing flexible working arrangements and helping a company strengthen its philanthropic programs may be in the range of HR duties. HR professionals should understand the unique traits and demands of modern workers and implement programs that respond to these and thus improve the employee experience.

The online Bachelor of Science in HR Management degree offered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business can help interested individuals develop the knowledge of best practices, theories and strategies necessary to meet the demands of modern HR. The program is also aligned with the SHRM’s curriculum guidelines to best help prepare students for success.

Career outlook

The career outlook is very favorable for HR professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of HR specialists is expected to increase by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, with the addition of more than 440,000 new jobs to the market. Employment of human resource managers is also expected to increase, rising by 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, a faster-than-average growth rate, with the addition of more than 70,000 new jobs. According to PayScale data, the median salary of HR managers in 2016 was $64,093, though they can exceed $100,000 in relation to experience.

In addition to being responsible for a range of duties, individuals interested in HR can specialize their careers in a certain niche, such as job benefits and compensation or recruitment. They can also work as consultants, providing their expertise to companies looking to develop their HR programs and departments, or as labor relations specialists, working to resolve disputes between employees and employers.

So which should you choose?

When making a decision about whether to choose a BS in Management or a BS in HR Management, think about your career goals as well as your interests and select the program that most closely aligns with both.

Working in management will have you leading teams of employees in a variety of settings to help support both professional development as well as the furthering of business objectives. You’ll be overseeing the activity of your teams on a daily basis, making sure that employees feel they have the knowledge, supporting materials and workflows to successfully do their jobs. If you are interested in working with specific teams within an organization, you may want to explore choosing the Management degree.

Working in HR means you’ll focus your time and efforts on supporting the well-being and productivity of employees throughout an organization, not just individualized teams. You will examine the human capital and work culture development processes of companies and make suggestions for improvement as well as look for ways to better support overall business strategy.

If you need assistance choosing the right degree for you, contact an enrollment advisor at UAB’s Collat School of Business. They can share more helpful information about the programs and support you in preparing to reach your career goals.


Recommended readings:

5 myths about earning an online degree

Career Outlooks: A Pulse on the Current Job Market



Rasmussen, What Can You Do with a Business Management Degree? Understanding Your Options

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers

DegreeQuery, What Degree Should I Get For Human Resources?

Pew Research Center, The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training

The Wall Street Journal, What do Managers do? 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Occupations

All Business Schools, An HR Job Description Deals with a Valuable Resource: People

Payscale, Average Human Resources (HR) Manager Salary

Payscale, Average General Operations Manager Salary