Georgia State University's New MS-HRM Program - How They Did It


During 2019 graduate management education was criticized for not being relevant. At the end of January, I received a press release from GSU titled “Georgia State’s Master’s in H.R. Management Responds to Emerging Business Needs.” I thought, here’s a response to that criticism, I wonder how they did it? Two GSU faculty members, Kay Bunch and Tom Conklin join me to discuss the how.

MS-HRM Program Overview:

  • Currently, this program is recruiting for its fourth cohort of 15-20 students. There’s one intake per year.
  • The curriculum was co-developed with HR professionals in the Atlanta area.
  • The curriculum prepares students for the SHRM professional certification exam.
  • Program is not a revision or redesign, but a greenfield startup that took approximately 12 months to create.
  • Students take two classes per eight week period. Each class meets one night per week from 5:30 pm to 9:45 pm.
  • The program’s leader is Tom Conklin, clinical associate professor managerial sciences. He focuses on pedagogical issues.
  • The program’s change agent is Kay Bunch, a long time GSU faculty member. She focuses on teaching and curriculum issues.

My takeaways:

  • The change came about because of feedback from employers, potential applicants, applicants, enrolled students, alumni, and SHRM
  • Faculty took ownership of the change process
  • The focus was on student success
  • The HRM program was paused for one year while the new program was being designed
  • New program provides a deep dive into HR
  • GSU HR faculty and students have a strong relationship with the SHRM Atlanta Chapter
  • SHRM’s model curriculum was used as a guide for program and course development
  • Course scheduling resulted in faculty changing the way they teach
  • Recruiting and enrollment is a shared responsibility of the B-School and the HR Academic Department
  • At B-School Level: gets the word out, holds monthly recruiting events for all graduate programs, and processes the applications
  • At Academic Department: reviews applications, provides fast turnaround on acceptance, engages in post acceptance activities, faculty get to know students before first class night, new intake lunch is hosted, students are assigned a faculty mentor
  • External HR and organizational change is incorporated into the curriculum
  • Gallup survey indicated that when faculty spend as little as five minutes talking to a students it makes a difference in how students feel toward their program

Critical Success Factors:

  • Relationship with SHRM Atlanta
  • GSU’s HR Executive Roundtable
  • SHRM Student Chapter
  • Engaged Faculty
  • Successful and Engaged Alumni Group

More about the program:

Georgia State’s Master’s in H.R. Management Responds to Emerging Business Needs