Record Enrollment and Expanded Programming for Haslam MSMHR Program

Students will benefit from additional networking events, a larger leadership team and new course offerings.

May 23, 2024

Exciting developments are underway in the Master of Science in Management and Human Resources (MSMHR) program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business. The 2023-2024 academic year saw record-setting enrollment, enhanced resources and support for students and plans for expanded course offerings to provide greater flexibility.

Larger Program, More Resources

The Haslam MSMHR program admitted 43 students — the largest cohort in program history— for the 2023-2024 academic year. That number represents a 65 percent increase from the previous record of 26 students for 2022-2023; prior to that, the program had averaged 18-24 students per cohort.

Despite achieving the largest cohort size to-date, program leaders remain committed to providing students with one-on-one support such as individual advising, professional resume development and network building. “To do that,” says program director and distinguished lecturer Jackie Jacobs, “we needed a team approach.” In addition to Jacobs, leadership for the Haslam MSMHR now includes assistant program director Whit Whitworth, professional development coordinator Debbie Mackey and executive coach Tory Kinson.

Program growth also means students now have access to additional resources such as MSMHR’s Career Night and other professional events that connect employers with job and internship seekers. Another recent addition is a badging platform to recognize students who have taken advantage of learning opportunities beyond the program’s coursework, such as attending professional conferences and case competitions. Students can then display their earned badges on their LinkedIn profile. “Badging is a way to incentivize students to be more engaged outside the classroom, and to validate those skills to employers,” says Jacob. “It’s been a really great way to get students to take that extra step.”

Standing out to employers is important — the current job market offers many opportunities for Haslam MSMHR graduates, ranging from HR generalist to more specialized roles such as benefits analyst. The master’s degree program is aimed at early-career professionals seeking to begin a career in HR, advance in the human resources or management field or transition into management roles in non-HR fields. Specialized coursework prepares students for professional certifications such as the Society for Human Resource Management’s Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), as well as the Project Management Institute’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and Project Management Professional (PMP).

Learn From Anywhere at Your Own Pace

MSMHR’s cohort-based, fully evening model allows students to complete their degree and build their network while working full time, choosing either the full-time (12-month) or part-time (21-month) completion path. While still a residential program with courses taught on the Knoxville campus, the 2023-2024 cohort was the first to be accepted with the innovative, technology-enabled “Learn from Anywhere” modality in place. This flexible, hybrid format allows students to join classes in-person or synchronously online, an option that attracts students who can’t attend class face-to-face on the Knoxville campus or who need scheduling flexibility.

“Learn from Anywhere has been a difference maker, enabling students to maintain progress toward their degree while dealing with work and non-work factors that would have prevented them from attending class,” Jacobs says.

Evolving Curriculum to Meet Student Needs

The diverse student body in the growing MSMHR program means students enter the program with different backgrounds and academic needs. Some are new to human resources and management while others have worked in the field for years. 

With that in mind, the program is offering new courses and opportunities to meet student needs and reflect industry trends. For example, a team of students in the 2023-2024 cohort participated in project work with a Knoxville-based company to gain hands-on experience. Also, a new elective on employee and labor relations, taught by assistant professor of practice Jennifer Rittenhouse, will be offered in 2024-2025 and the program team is considering additional special topics courses.

“We continually re-examine the curriculum and program offerings to ensure students are prepared with the core skills and experiences they will need on the job market and in their career,” says Jacobs.

While MSMHR leaders aim to keep its student-faculty ratio at around 4:1, application data for the 2024-2025 cohort indicates continued growth for the program’s future. “This year, applications are up 51 percent year-over-year, so we look to be on track for another large cohort,” Jacobs says. “We continue to see more interest in earning a specialty M.S. degree from the Haslam College of Business.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist,