In 2013, the Towson University Center for Professional Studies developed and launched an online Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) certification course. This course was built from the ground up, utilizing the talent of Towson University faculty. Over the last few years, the online course has been popular and has been used by human resources professionals to move into higher paying positions.

Based on a growing demand from our students for PHR® and SPHR® certifications we are offering an in class version of this very popular online class. At this time, we will be updating the course to reflect industry changes and prepare students to take the new exam in August, 2018.

Learn More: Professional in Human Resources Certification Course

Changes in Human Resources Credentials

In May 2014, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced that it was ending its relationship with the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) to pursue a new certification independent of HRCI. Not only were industry professionals caught unaware, but even HRCI was shocked by the announcement. SHRM created HRCI in 1973 so it would have an independent entity to manage the exam process to ensure testing integrity.

SHRM’s new certification is a competency-based and is awarded at two levels: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). These mirror the existing exams that HRCI has developed and administered for over fifty years. The HRCI exams are Professional Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional Human Resource (SPHR).

One of the on-going controversies is that SHRM claims it tried to work with HRCI on a certification program focusing on “competencies.” The goal of the competency model is to assess not just what practitioners know but also how they perform. SHRM claims that 30,000 HR professionals around the world have worked collaboratively to develop these competencies.

In response to SHRM, HRCI claims that its exams “have always been competency-based and derived with input from thousands of practicing HR professionals around the world.” The rift has caused HRCI to move out of the building it once shared with SHRM.

Towson University Responds to Changes

If it sounds like relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, that is partially right. However, what matters to us here at Towson University Center for Professional Studies is providing our students with the best program to meet their needs. For now, we have decided that the best program for them is PHR and SPHR certification through HRCI. We made this decision based on several factors.

First, we made our decision because PHR® and SPHR® have been accredited by a national certification body. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) was created to develop standards for the credentialing industry. Its standards are consistent with those for educational and psychological testing. We understand that it required a rigorous accreditation process on behalf of HRCI. Credential programs must be mature to apply for accreditation so that the reliability and validity of data is robust. That is important to us and to our students.

By contrast, SHRM transferred the majority of its existing membership from the standard PHR to this new SHRM certification. No testing occurred in this transaction. As a result, SHRM must now collect even more data in order to prove test validity. Test validity is a statistic that determines whether the test measures what it was designed to measure. HRCI has over 50 years of data on all of its exams. SHRM, on the other hand, has many years in which it must collect data to verify test validity and become accredited by a globally recognized organization.

We feel certain that in time, SHRM will achieve these milestones. When that happens, we will review our status to ensure that we are providing our students with the best credential for the workplace.

A New In-Class PHR Certification Course

In the meantime, based on the increasing demand from our students for PHR® and SPHR® certifications, Towson University Center for Professional Studies is offering an in-class version of our very popular online class. The class will start in late February and be taught by Towson University professor Dr. Nhung Hendy. This will be our first class to prepare students for the new PHR exam that will go into effect on August 1, 2018.