Chosen Time

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, July 6, 2009

It was with great interest that I read about Ben Eubanks’ “Introducing the HR Education Series,” at As someone who has taught HR for 14 years, and who has been intimately involved with SHRM College Relations at the local, state, regional and national level, the subject is near and dear to my heart.

Working in small, liberal arts college, I am the sole proprietor of our HR program. Its success or failure is dependent on how well I carry out my job. It is up to me, in most cases, to decide what to cover, when to cover it, and how it will be carried out. Today, I want to focus on the HR content in the classroom (I will discuss the practical aspects of things such as internships, job shadowing, SHRM student chapters, etc. later in the week). Further, my discussion is limited to undergraduate HR education.

In its HR Curriculum Guidebook, SHRM details 13 content areas which they believe students should master:

  1. Employee and labor relations
  2. Employment law
  3. HR’s role in organizations
  4. HR and globalization
  5. HR and mergers and acquisitions
  6. HR and organizational strategy
  7. Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)
  8. Measuring HR outcomes: metrics and the bottom line
  9. Risk Management: occupational health, safety, and security
  10. Performance management
  11. Staffing: recruitment and selection
  12. Total rewards
  13. Workforce planning and talent management
Additional elective HR content includes:
  • Career planning
  • Employee benefits
  • HR and downsizing
  • HR and the entrepreneurial firm
  • HR and the high-tech firm
  • Internal consulting
  • Job analysis
  • Managing a diverse workforce
  • Organizational entry and socialization
  • Outsourcing
  • Training and development
To date, over 110 colleges and universities have been recognized by SHRM as adopting this curricula (including my own school).

Given this background, what holes in the curriculum need to be addressed? What material is missing? What advice would you give to professors as they prepare their syllabus for the fall?


From the front lines...

Focus on recruitment and selection. With the right hires, the rest will take care of itself. And with the wrong hires, almost nothing you can do will make it better.

by David on July 6, 2009 at 1:29 PM. #

I think that #4 and #5, while important to be generally understood, do NOT need to be mastered at the undergrad level. Let's face it.. unless the new grad ends up at a certain type of company, these are not immediately necessary to be part of the skill set. A basic understanding will suffice; the student can then learn on the job as needed. A new grad is not going to be in charge of M&As right off the bat.

As for what is missing - the curriculum seems to lump all comp and benefits into the catch-all of Total Rewards. When one delves into comp/benefits (a la World at Work) then one gets specific - BUT - I still believe a basic HR Generalist undergrad education needs to cover this piece of the HR puzzle more so than appears to be outlined. In the above listing - all those components (from job analysis to benefits) are listed as "electives." Let's face it - the Comp/Benefits side of things is the financial side of HR. To elevate HR to be on the level with the financial side, we need to develop skills in THOSE areas right off the bat. As a plan fiduciary at my company, when I have attended Retirement Plan conferences, I am saddened to see that HR professionals make up a vastly smaller percentage of the attendees than do the CFOs, CPAs and Accountants.

by Robin Schooling on July 6, 2009 at 6:57 PM. #

@David - Thanks

@roolvoel - good points.

by Matthew Stollak on July 7, 2009 at 9:03 AM. #

Companies HR has to do a lot of work. Time management and employee management is all in their hands. They have to keep a check on everything.

by Terredean on July 1, 2014 at 2:11 AM. #

HR is a crazy involved job. I've seen companies gain control of the costs associated with their employees with good workforce planning software like Budget Maestro. You can check it out at

by souptastic tizzle on September 19, 2016 at 10:16 PM. #

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