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Which is best: PHR certification or an HR degree?

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in Human Resources,The HR Specialist Forum

I have been doing HR for several years for smaller companies, but don’t have an HR certification. I'm now looking to further my career in HR and have started researching what it will take to make myself more valuable to larger corporations. Some employers mention certification, but others emphasize having a degree in HR. Which is more valuable: SHRM’s PHR certification or a degree? Maybe I should pursue both?—Gienah

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather April 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I am looking to go for an HR degree with the hopes that I will get internships leading to a job. I hate the fact that you can’t take the certifications test based only on a degree. That doesn’t seem right. I have a JD from 2003 but have had no luck since my last legal job ended with the recession. I did a one year temp job with a bankruptcy trustee. Can’t believe I’m going back to school, but as I studied employment law, an HR degree seems to fit well with my interests. I simply lack the business background. Plus, I’m hoping the degree will show my commitment and get me over the hesitation many employers have about hiring lawyers in non-lawyer jobs.

Btw, Kristen, I know I’m not exactly in your position so I’m not the best to help. Still, I would think it would make more sense to do a formal study program for the test. I’ve taken 2 bar exams. The first one, in GA, I did a formal review class with most of my graduating class during the summer. Then, I studied like mad for at least a month. It was hard, but I passed on the first try. When I was working as a law clerk, the last year I decided to pick up the TN bar and I studied for it on my own just buying books off ebay. I studied harder and longer to make up for the lack of a formal class and I still managed to pass. Taking the bar a second time in another state I was comfortable with doing this, but I don’t think I would’ve passed the first time if I hadn’t been in a formal class. I don’t know how the HR cert tests compare, of course. All I’m saying is, a formal prep class seems to make sure you know what you need to know and it helps take away some of the stress, if nothing else. If you are so burned out, though, maybe waiting a bit after getting the degree would be better. Good luck!


Kristen March 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I would like to get my SPHR. I will be finished with my Master's in HR Management in August. Does anyone have any thoughts on how well a MS in HR prepares you for the exam or are the classes a good idea on top of it? I admit I am fairly burned out on school after 2 years of full time classes and a 50/60 hour work week.


Jennifer March 4, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I am planning to take the SPHR within the next testing period. I would love to have a study buddy.


Ehab February 4, 2010 at 2:45 am

I am too started for Phr certificate and wish your help
my email is sir)hibo@yahoo.com


Yvonne September 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I, too, am studying for the PHR certification with the SHRM Learning Guides. If you need a study buddy, let me know.


Barbara September 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I would go with the degree first. A lot of positions state degree required. I know experience should count for something, but some company policies would exclude you without the degree whether you had the PHR or not.


D. Nelson September 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I would agree. I havent’ got a degree, and was able to get my PHR in the 13-week class and one test.

My question would also be… how do I transition into more of a HR types of roles with the PHR certification, but not a degree. Looking for something on the east coast from Boston to Washington, DC


Jimmy Jay August 28, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I have both but I feel that an HR degree is more valuable. It took me 4 years and countless amounts of homework and tests to earn my degree. I earned my PHR by studying for 3 months and passing 1 test.


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