The Wisconsin MBA core course curriculum provides students with a broad grounding in the functional areas of business, including accounting, finance, management, marketing, economics, and operations, while additional courses target the development of business skills and practices in ethics, strategy, data analysis, and decision making.

The specialization in Strategic Human Resource Management builds upon this foundation by providing advanced coursework in the strategic management of human resources, including compensation, staffing, employee and labor relations, and negotiations. The curriculum emphasizes strategic thinking and quantifying the impact of HR decisions on business performance and all classes are taught by world-class faculty. In the capstone seminar, students integrate their learning and apply the concepts in applied projects, while working with businesses to address cutting-edge HR challenges. 

Strategic Human Resource Management Course Descriptions

Strategic Human Resource Management

This introductory course is designed to help students develop an understanding of how human resource decisions contribute to business performance. The course learning objectives include creating alignment between human resource and business strategies; designing work systems that allow employees to contribute to organizational performance; establishing appropriate staffing and compensation systems to attract, retain, and motivate the best employees; making human resource decisions that are legal and ethical; and learning how to use quantitative tools and information to support decisions.

HR Capstone

In a small-group seminar format, the HR Capstone course is tailored each year to apply concepts learned throughout the MBA toward HR issues.

The course content changes, but has included the latest research in strategic human resource management along with the implications of that research for practicing managers, deep dives into workforce planning and HR implications, applied projects with area employers, and other key areas like HR analytics and leadership transition planning. 

This class really ties together all the students learn and is supplemented with industry experts as guest speakers. It allows students to think and interact with industry professionals in a way that other courses do not. It is critical to student success in both their internships and full-time positions.

Personnel Staffing and Evaluation

This course explores the HR processes that organizations use to build workforces that will help them to achieve their strategic goals. The course covers staffing models and strategy, legal compliance, staffing planning, job analysis, external/internal recruitment, measurement, external/internal selection, employment decision-making, finalizing the employment match, and staffing system management. Special topics are addressed throughout the course.

Compensation: Theory and Administration

Compensation is a key tool for managers for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees. The course gives students an understanding of the theories underlying pay system design and substantial hands-on experience in doing so. Much of the course focuses on application of principles to a case wherein students design all aspects of a compensation plan. An additional benefit of the course is that it empowers students by helping them to understand how their own pay is determined.

Bargaining, Negotiating, and Dispute Settlement for Managers

The goal of this course is to improve students’ negotiating skills by providing a theoretical underpinning that will help them to understand the sources of effective and ineffective approaches to negotiations. Much of the course is devoted to applying course concepts in practice through negotiation exercises. Ensuing discussions will focus on the ways in which concepts and theory inform practice.

Labor and Employee Relations

This course is designed to develop students’ understanding of the relationship between employers and their workers, with attention both to working with labor unions and to employee relations in settings in which workers are not collectively represented. In both types of settings, students consider the connections between employment issues and product markets, labor markets, and business strategies.

In addition, students have the opportunity to pick from electives across the Wisconsin School of Business and the university to supplement their core learning plans.  Some popular selections include Organizational Change Management, Consumer Behavior, Labor Relations Law, and Managerial Accounting. With a little added flexibility via electives, students can really tailor their second year to focus their own learning objectives.