The 10 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources - Online Course Report (2022)

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The 10 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources - Online Course Report (1)

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It’s hard to argue with this time-honored adage, yet freebies do exist in the world. In fact, the internet abounds with free things. If your occupation is in Human Resource management, free internet courses can make a difference in your day-to-day workload. The following free courses are filled with helpful suggestions and ideas for motivating the people under your supervision. Properly motivated, employees will find greater satisfaction in work and go on to achieve greater productivity.

Featured Programs

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

In searching the web for the best free courses in human resources, we apply a methodology we’ve developed to sort out only the top online offerings. You will find a solid list of options here, including general HR, recruitment, management, engagement, and more. Each review gives you an idea of how long it may take to complete each course and whether a certificate can be expected. In certain cases, transcripts or lecture notes are available.

Featured Programs

1. Diploma in HR

Offered by Alison

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This free human resource course on Alison.com covers topics from hiring to termination, and from which situations call for an HR consultant to which call for an internal HR manager. The diploma upon course completion is available for purchase in the Alison.com shop. Students must achieve 80% or higher to graduate from the course. This certification is recognized by top employers and would look great on any resume or CV. The diploma in human resources is valuable for recent graduates and established professionals alike.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 8-10 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Nearly 120,000 students have enrolled in the course
  • Covers all the key functions and roles of HR personnel
  • Signup is easy with Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or an email

Cons:

  • Certificates of completion must be purchased in the Alison shop

2. Free HR Course

Offered by Oxford Home Study College

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With year-round open enrollment, this free online course covers three main areas of human resources: HR management; recruiting fundamentals; and staff development and training. Oxford Home Study Centre is based in the UK but could prove useful to those new to HR or those long established in the field with an eye to the multinational workplace or a career abroad. The free HR course online can be completed in 20 hours and results in a free certificate sent to your email.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 20 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Free certification offered
  • Covers HR in theory and in practical terms
  • Signup is simple with no strings attached

Cons:

  • Platform needs updating for a better user experience

3. People and Organizations

Offered by MIT

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This course from 2005 may not bring you cutting-edge HR strategy, but with the clout of MIT at its back, it boasts a solid dose of the theory underpinning successful people operations in business. The undergraduate course is administered in bi-weekly 1.5 hour sessions and is part of MIT’s Sloan School of Management’s minor in management. The free HR online course covers the history of “going to work” as well as studying how organizations adapt to stress and change. Many of the required readings are available as downloadable PDFs.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Offered through one of the world’s leading institutions
  • Taught by Prof. Thomas A. Kochan
  • Signup is simple with no strings attached

Cons:

  • Platform can be difficult to navigate

4. Human Resources – Recruitment and Selection

Offered by Open Learn

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This free course from Open Learn results in a complementary statement of participation upon completion. Covering the often onerous hiring process, this free online HR course emphasizes a full and fair recruitment process that results in satisfied employees and appreciative employers who have followed the law. Other topics this course includes are the tension of person-job fit versus person-organization fit, writing effective recruiting descriptions, and conducting meaningful job interviews.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, statement of participation

Time to Complete: 12 hours

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Free statement of participation to verify you completed the course
  • Quizzes and other ways to track your progress easily
  • Go at your own pace

Cons:

  • Some students find it difficult to access the participation statement

5. Preparing to Manage HR

Offered by Preparing to Manage Human Resources – University of Minnesota

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This course is designed for anyone interested in using human resource management principles to get more out of their workforce. It is part of the five course series: Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers Specialization. Non-monetary compensation; the manager as part of the work ecosystem; and alternative human resource approaches are topics covered in this introductory level course offering free enrollment. It comes with a self-paced education option, course videos, readings, and practice quizzes.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with an upgrade fee

Time to Complete: 14 hours

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

  • Comprehensive and thorough offering
  • Great mix of theory and practical skills
  • Taught by a professor from the center for human resources and labor studies

Cons:

  • Certification only offered at the paid level of the course

6. Urban Labor Markets and Employment Policy

Offered by MIT

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This MIT course from 2005 by Professor Paul Osterman addresses urban labor markets and their functioning. It is organized into one three hour session per week, lasting eleven weeks. Lecture notes are available in PDF format and the course covers issues like the youth labor market, living wage campaigns, and unions. The free online HR graduate level course is part of the curriculum for the Sloan School of Management.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: 11 Weeks

Curriculum: Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Offered through a prestigious college
  • One of the few advanced level HR courses on our list
  • No sign-ups necessary

Cons:

  • User experience is a bit rough around the edges

Featured Programs

7. Managing Human Capital

Offered by Managing Human Capital – Wharton School

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From the Wharton School at UPenn, comes this course about managing the most valuable and unpredictable resource of every business, the workforce. Getting and keeping good people, and maintaining a company culture that reinforces those goals, the class shores up these underserved areas of the HR curriculum. Taught by Wharton faculty Michael Useem and Peter Cappelli, Managing Social and Human Capital is available free from Coursera as a four week course requiring about 2-3 hours per week of study.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with an upgrade

Time to Complete: Seven hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

  • Taught by two highly rated Wharton Instructors
  • Offered through a popular US University
  • Great learning platform

Cons:

  • Certification is only offered at the paid level of Coursera

8. Strategic HR Management

Offered by MIT

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This graduate level course from MIT is offering to teach students the ins and outs of how best to manage your organization’s human assets and how best to implement strategies to bring your vision to life. This free online human resources course is presented from the perspective of a general manager and concerns HR fields like reward systems, EEOC law, diversity in the workplace, and how to retain the best employees. Features of this top free online HR course include selected lecture notes, written assignments, and exams.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

  • Taught by expert MIT instructors
  • Graduate-level offering
  • Easy to get started with no personal information required

Cons:

  • Course will be too difficult for students new to human resources

9. International and Strategic Human Resource Management

Offered by Alison

The 10 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources - Online Course Report (11)

This 2-3 hour course covers the diverse skill set required to manage an international team. Coping strategies and sustainability are two of the skills on offer with this program. The history of international human relations and the phases of “internationalization” experienced by an organization are also touched on. This class includes an end-of-class assessment and certification is available through Alison.com. This is one of several free courses provided by the National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a small fee

Time to Complete: Two to three hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Several certifications available in the Alison store for a small fee
  • Six modules plus a course assessment
  • Nice platform for learning

Cons:

  • Too short

10. Creating Meaning For Employees

Offered by Alison

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Alignment is business-speak for making sure that employees’ personal goals link up with your organization’s business and cultural goals. And alignment is a big part of creating a meaningful work experience. Without that “buy-in,” you just have a collection of drones buzzing from task to task. With proper alignment, workers feel connected to the company and will use the full range of their talents to bring about professional success for them and for their employer. This free course from Alison can be completed in a couple of hours and receives high marks for its video elements.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a small fee

Time to Complete: One-two hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

  • Free certification offered for a small fee at the Alison store upon successful completion
  • Engaging topic
  • Taught by experienced entrepreneur Janice Fraser

Cons:

  • Too short for the subject matter

Bonus: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Offered by ESSEC Business School via Coursera

If you only choose one class from this list of free online human resources courses, choose this diversity and inclusion offering on the Coursera platform. The lessons provided have never been more timely, and this nine-hour course will help you understand more than just the paradox of diversity. You will walk away with practical and useful skills about how to channel the diversity potential of those in your workplace to create better innovation and performance.

It is taught by professor Junko Takagi and is free to take on the Coursera platform in audit mode. Certification can also be had for a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Human Resources Courses

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If you are considering taking some free online courses in human resources, you probably have lots of questions. In this section, we will bring you up to speed on how online learning platforms operate and get you on the road to learning about HR at no cost.

What Are the Requirements and Prerequisites for Free Human Resources Courses?

Typically there are few requirements for enrollment in a free human resources course. You won’t need to present your previous transcripts, take a test, or verify your grades. You will only need a computer and internet connection along with some basic computer skills so you can navigate the various online learning platforms.

Our courses specify whether they are introductory, intermediate, or advanced level courses. We highly recommend you check out the syllabus for each course and see if you think you are up to the challenge. Some courses suggest a few years of college under your belt, while others can be taken at any level of prior education. However, these are only suggestions and you should not hold yourself back from learning if it’s something that interests you. That’s why these courses are there.

How Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

The courses on this list are intended to be taken at your own pace, so there are no specific start or stop times. Enrollment is open as soon as you sign up, and in many cases, you can simply access the browser page and start without providing any personal information at all. Students can complete their lessons whenever and wherever they want. This is one of the great things about taking classes online. There are no time constraints, and you can work them into your own schedule. Our list includes courses that take only a few hours and others that take several months to realistically complete.

What Skills Should Human Resource Specialists Have?

There are as many personalities and experience levels in human resources as there are positions in the field, and there is no one set of skills that apply to being a human resource specialist. However, to be successful in this industry, you should definitely be OK with a position that requires you to spend a lot of time with people. After all, it’s HUMAN resources we’re discussing. A few other soft skills that can help you in this profession include:

  • Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Solid knowledge of employee compensation and benefits
  • Ability to train others if necessary
  • Good written and verbal communication skills

Do Human Resource Specialists Need a Formal Education to Succeed?

In some organizations, experienced employees within the company can move into roles in the human resources department without a formal education. However, most entry level and higher paying positions in HR require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The courses on our list are all a.) intended to introduce you to the field of HR to see if it is something you enjoy or wish to pursue or b.) listed for those who are already in HR to further develop their skills.

What Should I Expect to Earn as a Human Resource Specialist?

According to PayScale, human resource specialists typically make between $38,000 to $74,000 annually, with the average salary being $51,237.

What Are the Career Options in Human Resources?

If you want to break into human resources, there are several options. Nearly every field has an HR department, so you can often find a position in an interest that is related, such as healthcare, manufacturing, construction, education, hospitality, and many more. Within each organization, there may also be human resources specializations, depending upon the size of the company and the number of employees they manage. A few options include:

  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Training and development specialist
  • Employment, recruitment, and placement specialist
  • Human resources information system (HRIS) analyst
  • Employee Assistance plan manager

How Do I Get Started?

The best way to get started as a human resources specialist is to check out some of the best free online HR courses we have listed above. Take some time to read through them and see what each offers. When something piques your interest, there is no harm in signing up to learn more, even participating for a few hours to see if you enjoy the course materials. If you don’t like the class, move on to the next one until you find the right fit for you. Everyone learns differently, so you may prefer one platform over another.

Of course, you also may find that you don’t enjoy human resources at all, which is a good thing to know before you invest in a four year degree. Remember to keep an open mind about your future. There are so many other options available for learning that you are bound to find something that clicks for you. If you liked this article, consider checking out some of the other free course offerings we have for you:

  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Business
  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Business Analytics
  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Entrepreneurs
  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Event Planning
  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Management
  • 10 Free Great Online Courses for Web Design
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Computer Science
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Graphic Design
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Hospitality Management
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Nutrition
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Project Management
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses for Social Media Marketing
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses in Big Data
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses in Cybersecurity
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses in Finance
  • 10 Great Free Online Courses in Technology
  • 11 Great Free Online Courses for Digital Marketing
  • 11 Great Free Online Courses for Learning French
  • 13 Great Free Online Courses for Programming
  • 15 Great Free Online Courses for Accounting
  • 25 Free Great Online Courses for Writing
  • 7 Great Free Online Courses for Interior Design

By OCR Staff August 2020

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