Eastern Michigan University
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Human Resource Program Propelled by Innovation

Enrollment surges in master's program

Published November 13, 2012

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Propelled by innovation, honors and milestones, Eastern Michigan University's masters in human resources and organizational development continues to draw increasing numbers of students into its gravitational pull.

The program, first offered in 1980 to about 30 students, picked up momentum in the early 2000s when it added weekend scheduling, online courses and launched a joint program in China, providing unique hands-on global experiences for faculty. By 2011, enrollment had more than doubled to 81; this fall it surged again to 112.

"Other universities in Michigan offer master's degrees in human resources, but Eastern is the only university that offers a master's in both human resources and organizational development," says Fraya Wagner-Marsh, head of EMU's management department. "Since this is an industry trend, EMU is ahead of the curve. Students recognize this, and are increasingly attracted to our program-as well as Eastern's many other benefits."

As a case in point, Eastern's student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been recognized as one of the top 10 student chapters nationwide for the past 10 years-and is the only one of its kind in Michigan, says Wagner-Marsh, who was given the national SHRM Advisor of the Year Award in 2005.

"Students who choose EMU's program benefit from strong relationships with local professional associations, a strong network of alumni working in senior positions, as well as mentoring, internships and job shadowing opportunities," says Wagner-Marsh.

In addition, all the faculty have doctorates and maintain active work experience, including high-level consulting and professional training with top organizations, she says.

Promising job prospects for the career also draw students into its gravitational pull, adding to its momentum. "Jobs in human resources are expected to grow faster than average over the next five years, which will likely increase our enrollment further," says Wagner-Marsh.

The master's of science degree provides professional preparation for management and specialist careers in areas that include staffing, human resource development, compensation and more. The degree also enables students to identify, plan, implement and manage change in a variety of situations, among skills.