HR program nationally renowned

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Jacob Breland and Helen Guohong Han, assistant professors of management, worked to revamp the curriculum of the bachelor’s degree in human resource management, offered by the WCBA. Photo by Shannon Watson/The Jambar.


The bachelor’s degree in human resource management, offered by the Williamson College of Business Administration, recently received national recognition from the Society for Human Resource Management.  

SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to HR management, and it is represented in 140 countries. The society works to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the interests of the profession.

Jacob Breland, an assistant professor of management at Youngstown State University, said that in order to receive recognition, minimum curriculum guidelines must be met. 

“We compared where we were at and where we needed to be to be aligned with their guidelines,” he said. 

The recognition is the second for the HR management major. It shares an international recognition from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB, with the WCBA.

“The AACSB works with SHRM in order to keep things more consistent and improve standards of excellence around the world,” Breland said. “The benefits of already being an AACSB member is helpful because the HR major already knows the language of SHRM and can tell what they’re looking for.” 

While revamping the major and the curriculum, Breland said the HR staff focused on meeting the certification and preparing students for the future. 

The process took about a year. The original major required only three main classes, while the new major has retained those three classes and added eight more. 

The most significant change was the addition of two co-requisite classes. Together, they serve as the major’s capstone experience — with the help of HR professors.

“Overall, the two classes engender a strategic approach to HR,” Breland said. “The primary course, Strategic HR, focuses on the integration of all aspects of HR with one another, as well as other business functions. The Projects in HR class supports the first by allowing students a hands-on opportunity to work with actual organizations in addressing an existing HR challenge. This combination of theory and practice gives our students a competitive edge,” Breland said.

Breland added that the revamp has given students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in their classes. It allows them to create a portfolio to take with them when they move into professional work.

The revamped curriculum will be offered as soon as the fall semester. Some soon-to-be graduates are, in fact, a little bit jealous that they didn’t have the chance to take those courses. 

Barbara Neiswanger, who is graduating in May, didn’t get this opportunity. 

“I wish they would have offered these sooner,” Neiswanger said.

However, she added that the previous curriculum allowed her to achieve her goals as an HR student.

Starting as an HR assistant for an internship, Neiswanger has worked her way up to become HR manager at the Nicholson Center, a center for adults with developmental disabilities or special needs. 

“There are times when you encounter different things that you don’t have experience in when you enter the workforce,” Neiswanger said.

Neiswanger said she believes the new curriculum will help to lessen those encounters.

“Having the SHRM recognition is a great tool for recruiting incoming students to get into the major because it allows them to go on after graduation and say, ‘I went to a school with SHRM recognition,'” Breland said. “It shows professionals that the students have the basic skills to move forward and be competitive in the workforce.” 

The WCBA is now one of 52 schools in the nation to have both SHRM and AACSB recognition.