Master in Strategic Human Resource Management


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

What does an organisation need to do in order to perform well? And what qualifies as ‘good performance’ by a public organisation? Recruiting the best employees, investing in training and development, coaching-style management, giving employees autonomy, providing suitable remuneration – or a smart combination of all these elements? Who is responsible for putting personnel policy into practice? How can you encourage effective implementation? How do organisations engage with their social environment, and how do they fulfil their social responsibility? What is the public dimension of strategic Human Resource Management? What impact does internationalisation have on an organisation’s Human Resource Management practices? If questions like this spark your interest, then the Master’s programme in Strategic Human Resource Management is just the thing for you.

Strategic HRM: Working in a Changing Environment

This Master’s programme focuses on Human Resource Management (HRM), in terms of serving both the organisation’s interests (good performance) and those of employees (for example, satisfaction and motivation). We study HRM in the context of social developments such as an ageing population, internationalisation, and technological change. This means we don’t see HR policy as an independent policy domain, but rather as a domain in which developments within the organisation and within society as a whole are incorporated and integrated into management. What makes HR policies strategic is its coherence, its alignment with the organisation’s strategic goals, and its coordination with internal and external developments. That is the domain of the Master’s programme in Strategic Human Resource Management.

Organisations have to deal with government regulations in the area of labour and personnel. Public and private sector organisations will have to take economic and social policies at both national and EU level into account. This applies to their personnel policy too. These are not the only developments that organisations have to face. There is also social diversity, individualisation, internationalisation, the declining numbers of young people, and an ageing population. In view of this, organisations need to work on sustainable employability, diversity management, and age-conscious personnel policy. The reality of having to operate in a changing environment has prompted many organisations to make internal changes, both structural and functional in nature.

This Master’s programme involves studying specific elements of HR policy, such as recruitment and selection, training and development, assessment and remuneration. In addition to gaining an understanding of the theory and research in this area, you will learn how to apply this knowledge when analyzing policy issues that organisations have to deal with in their environment.

After Graduation

On completing this Master’s programme, you will know how to realise effective Strategic HRM. This involves aligning HRM policy with organisational goals, coordinating HRM activities, and effective implementation. You will have an understanding of the relevant functional areas (such as training and development), of the relevant theories and models (for example, the AMO model for high-performance organisations) and of the methods and techniques involved in designing and conducting research.

You will also possess the HRM skills needed to give presentations, to operate in teams with people from a wide range of backgrounds, to persuade others, and to draw up a policy framework based on a contextual analysis. Your expertise will also include research skills.

Finally, you will acquire HRM competencies that specifically focus on personal leadership (in areas such as planning, providing guidance in the context of teamwork, dealing with adversity, etc.).

Career Prospects

Potential Career Paths

The Master’s programme in Strategic Human Resource Management prepares you for the world of professional practice by means of competence-focused teaching methods. The assignments in the curriculum, together with the Master’s project, enable you to aim at a specific profile. The competence profiles themselves reflect the areas of professional practice that are relevant to graduates – consultant, policy advisor, manager, researcher. You can perform these functions in different types of organisations – public, semi-public and private, and in a national or international context.

To the Job Market

Once you have graduated, your degree in Strategic Human Resource Management will open the door to professions such as:

  • HR advisor
    As an HR advisor, you will advise an organisation’s strategic or line management on HR issues. As an internal consultant, you will be employed either by these organisations themselves or by a consultancy firm. After several years of professional experience, you will be able to act as an effective sounding board for management at a strategic level. On the job market, there is a demand for strategic level HR advisors. Notably, the public sector, in particular, has had an ongoing need for HR advisors in recent years.
  • Policy advisor
    As a policy advisor, you will be more involved with policy development and less with implementation and operational practice. You will work in the staff department of a large organisation, such as a ministry, an insurance company, an employer organisation or an employee organisation.
  • Manager
    Managers are increasingly taking on responsibility for HR policy. First, you must have a vision of where you and your unit want to be in five years’ time. Next, you have to modify your organisation’s or company’s HR policy accordingly (with regard to the development of competences, for example).
  • Researcher
    As a researcher, you can find work at sector organisations (in healthcare, for example) or in policy-research institutions. In these cases, you will be carrying out government-commissioned research, for example. Agencies of this kind carry out research into employees’ perceptions of work or into age-conscious personnel policies, for example.

Academic Career

After you graduate, one option is to go on to do a PhD. You can do this at Utrecht University, or at another university in the Netherlands. PhD candidates carry out scientific research for a period of four years.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less