Real-World Assignments Help Students Qualify for SHRM-CP Exam

MBA/HR program at Clayton State University aligns with SHRM’s curriculum guidelines

By Leon Prieto, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP February 6, 2018

Troy Felder, MBA, SHRM-CP, with Clayton State University MBA/HR students

​Working on real-world projects assigned by local HR practitioners is an essential part of the learning experience for my students at Clayton State University's College of Business in Morrow, Ga. The school is approved under SHRM's Academic Eligibility Program [see "SHRM Initiative Speeds HR Students Toward Certification"], which means that its curriculum aligns with SHRM's guidelines for a broad and deep HR education. These students are pursuing their master's degrees in business administration, with a concentration in human resource leadership. Hands-on assignments with leading HR professionals help our students gain valuable credit toward meeting the minimum of 500 hours of relevant experience required for them to apply for and take the SHRM-CP exam. 

Many HR professionals are happy to participate in developing the future HR leaders of corporate America. Troy Felder, MBA, SHRM-CP, HR business partner at Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) of Atlanta, is one example. Felder assigned the project for the 2017 fall semester: to review best practices in recruiting and retaining Millennials for GPC, including ways to leverage Millennial talent recruitment and development against other generations in the workforce. Felder visited our class in August 2017 and provided an overview of his organization's recruiting methods, entry-level roles, career paths and demographics. "I left the students with an outline of what I would be looking for during their recommendation sessions," Felder said. 

At the completion of the semester's assignment, Felder found that "the students were professional and their recommendations were applicable. The consulting groups went above and beyond in taking a deep dive into GPC's current methods and how they affect talent acquisition and branding. The students also looked at proven examples from other large, traditional companies [that are] similar to GPC." 

Clayton State University is all about experiential learning, so helping our students gain hands-on experience is a priority for me. Our MBA/HR program is SHRM-approved, meaning the SHRM competencies are built into the curriculum. 

Directed work projects, like the one Felder assigned, help students recognize the competencies' real-world applications. The Consultation competency is embodied in the assignment Felder gave to the class. HR Knowledge is built through the students' collaboration with the professor, the assigning consultant and any other industry practitioners who work with the students. Proficiency in Relationship Management arises through their collaboration with their peers. Critical Evaluation and Business Acumen are developed by working on the assignment. Proficiency in Communication emerges when the students make their presentations. 

While SHRM certification is still relatively new, it is being accepted as the industry standard. I attained my SHRM-SCP in 2015 and completed my first recertification cycle this year. Having and maintaining the best credentials builds credibility with students and colleagues. As a scholar and a working HR professional who strives to practice what I preach and who encourages others to be SHRM-certified, I believe it makes sense that I should be SHRM-certified as well. 

For more information:

  • Clayton State University's MBA/HR program.
  • SHRM-approved HR degree programs.
  • Contact with questions about SHRM's academic initiative.
  • Administrators and professors: To determine whether your HR degree program aligns with SHRM's curriculum guidelines, contact for an analysis and to submit documentation.
  • Students: For details on the SHRM certification exam application process, contact your educational institution's HR degree program director or administrator. 

Leon Prieto, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, is associate professor of management in the College of Business at Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga., and advisor to the Clayton State chapter of SHRM. He is also associate editor of the interdisciplinary Journal of Management History.


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