100th University Adopts SHRM’s HR Curriculum Guidelines

By Kathy Gurchiek May 29, 2009
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The University of North Texas has become the 100th university to adopt the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) academic curriculum guidelines, the organization announced May 2009.

“Signing 100 universities is not only a milestone achievement, but it also represents teamwork at its best,” Debra Cohen, SPHR, SHRM’s chief knowledge officer, told SHRM staff in an e-mail.

It is one of two milestones the organization achieved during the first two weeks of May 2009, according to Cohen.

The other was securing the University of Minnesota’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in human resource management as the 99th and 100th such programs in the United States and several other countries. That number has since grown to 110 curriculum programs.

SHRM’s academic initiatives—which include brick-and-mortar programs as well as blended learning and online programs—are rooted in the organization’s creation of the HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates in 2004, she noted.

Since 2006, when its board of directors approved a multiphased initiative to help the organization define and develop HR education at university business schools across the nation, SHRM has:

·Developed more than 50 case studies and learning modules— available via the Resources for HR Educatorsweb page on SHRM Online—for HR educators to use in university-level classrooms.

·Held networking events in each region of the United States to help students obtain internships and their first professional jobs.

·Awarded funding to exceptional students to support HR internships.

·Conducted research on the state of HR education to improve that education as well as track novice HR professionals as they move up in their careers.

Illustrating the rapid growth of SHRM’s educational efforts, Cohen pointed out that in 2006, SHRM signed four universities to align with its education guidelines. By 2008 SHRM had “experienced exponential growth” in broadening its educational reach, Cohen said.

“We are indeed achieving what we set out to do: set the agenda for HR education; bring commonality to the offering of HR degree programs where none existed in the past, and better prepare aspiring HR professionals through education in order for them to be prepared to contribute to their organizations from day one.”

An added benefit is an increasingly long and impressive list of higher education programs to recommend when potential students contact SHRM for advice on where to attend school, says Nancy Woolever, SPHR, manager of academic initiatives in SHRM’s Knowledge Development Division.

U.S. colleges and universities known for the high quality of their HR programs include the University of Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers and Texas A&M, Woolever said. SHRM, as a global organization, also has HR programs at colleges and universities in Canada, India, Mexico and Thailand; they are included among SHRM’s count of 100 schools adopting its curriculum guidelines.

SHRM’s emphasis on higher education raises the level of credibility, stature and preparedness for those entering the profession by putting some definition around what the next generation of HR professionals should be studying, says Woolever.

“There was no consistency from program to program. There wasn’t even consistency in what programs were called” until SHRM began working with colleges and universities to develop a template for HR education, she said.

SHRM is changing the future of HR education, Woolever observed.

“We’re seeing a lot of programs that are either bachelor of business administration or bachelor of science [in] business administration with a concentration in HR management.”

Where a college or university houses its HR studies also is changing, she noted.

The tendency among colleges and universities had been to locate HR programs in the College of Arts & Sciences or other nonbusiness departments, but increasingly HR programs are becoming a part of a university or college’s school of business.

And when a college or university has an HR program housed outside its business program,

SHRM strongly recommends that those students are exposed to the university’s business curriculum, according to Woolever.

“[HR] has to be taught with a formal business approach,” she said, “because HR is a business discipline.” HR students need to “know the language of business,” she added, including how to strategize, make business presentations and influence senior leaders.

“That’s the environment in which HR operates and needs to operate.”

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at kathy.gurchiek@shrm.org.

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