Towson University’s Online Professional in Human Resources Dual Certification course prepares HR professionals for more senior HR positions. Our course is industry neutral, comprehensive, and focuses on the five functional
areas of the PHR/SPHR exam — employee and labor relations, business management, talent
planning and acquisitions, total rewards, and learning and development — as outlined
by the HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) Professional in Human Resources (PHR)® Body of Knowledge.
Enrollment gives you full access to the entire PHR® Body of Knowledge functional areas and provides assessment questions at the end of
each module and a comprehensive assessment at the end of the entire course.
Completion of this course, along with the required professional HR experience, prepares
you to take the aPHR®, SPHR®, SHRM-CP, or SHRM-SCP certification exams.
For more information about exam requirements, visit HRCI.org or SHRM.org.
This course focuses on the five functional areas that are the focus of the PHR/SPHR
Functional Area 1: Business Management
Using information about the organization and business environment to reinforce expectations,
influence decision-making, and avoid risk.
- Interpret and apply information related to general business environment and industry
- Reinforce the organization’s core values, ethical and behavioral expectations through
modeling, communication, and coaching.
- Understand the role of cross-functional stakeholders in the organization and establish
relationships to influence decision-making.
- Recommend and implement best practices to mitigate risk (for example: lawsuits, internal/
- Determine the significance of data for recommending organizational strategies (for
example: attrition rates, diversity in hiring, time to hire, time to fill, ROI, success
- Change management theory, methods, and application Risk Management.
- Qualitative and quantitative methods and tools for analytics.
- Dealing with situations that are uncertain, unclear, or chaotic.
Functional Area 2: Talent Planning and Acquisition
Identifying, attracting, and employing talent while following all federal laws related
to the hiring process.
- Understand federal laws and organizational policies to adhere to legal and ethical
requirements in hiring (for example: Title VII, nepotism, disparate impact, FLSA,
- Develop and implement sourcing methods and techniques (for example: employee referrals,
diversity groups, and social media).
- Execute the talent acquisition lifecycle including interviews, extending offers, background
checks, salary negotiation, etc.
- Applicable federal laws and regulations related to talent planning and acquisition
- Planning concepts and terms (for example: succession planning, forecasting).
- Current market situation and talent pool availability.
- Staffing alternatives (for example: outsourcing, temporary employment).
- Interviewing and selection techniques, concepts, and terms.
- Applicant tracking systems and/or methods.
- Impact of total rewards on recruitment and retention.
- Candidate/employee testing processes and procedures.
- Verbal and written offers/contract techniques.
- New hire employee orientation processes and procedures.
- Internal workforce assessments such as: skills testing, workforce demographics, analysis.
- Transition techniques for corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, due diligence
processes, offshoring, and divestitures.
- Metrics to assess past and future staffing effectiveness including cost per hire,
selection ratios, adverse impact, etc.
Functional Area 3: Learning and Development
Contributing to the organization’s learning and development activities by implementing
and evaluating programs, providing internal consultation, and providing data.
- Provide consultation to managers and employees on professional growth and development
- Implement and evaluate career development and training programs such as career pathing,
management training, mentorship, etc.
- Contribute to succession planning discussions with management by providing relevant
- Applicable federal laws and regulations related to learning and development activities.
- Learning and development theories and applications.
- Training program facilitation, techniques, and delivery.
- Adult learning processes.
- Instructional design principles and processes (for example: needs analysis, process
- Techniques to assess training program effectiveness, including use of applicable metrics.
- Organizational development (OD) methods, motivation methods, and problem-solving techniques.
- Task/process analysis.
- Coaching and mentoring techniques.
- Employee retention concepts and applications.
- Techniques to encourage creativity and innovation.
Functional Area 4: Total Rewards
Implementing, promoting, and managing compensation and benefit programs in compliance
with federal laws.
- Manage compensation-related information and support payroll issue resolution.
- Implement and promote awareness of non-cash rewards, for example: paid volunteer time,
tuition assistance, workplace amenities, and employee recognition programs to name
- Implement benefit programs such as: health plan, retirement plan, employee assistance
plan, other insurance, etc.
- Administer federally compliant compensation and benefit programs.
- Applicable federal laws and regulations related to total rewards.
- Compensation policies, processes, and analysis.
- Budgeting, payroll, and accounting practices related to compensation and benefits.
- Job analysis and evaluation concepts and methods.
- Job pricing and pay structures.
- Non-cash compensation.
- Methods to align and benchmark compensation and benefits.
- Benefits programs policies, processes, and analysis.
Functional Area 5: Employee and Labor Relations
Manage, monitor, and/or promote legally compliant programs and policies that affect
the employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle.
- Analyze functional effectiveness at each stage of the employee lifecycle (for example:
hiring, onboarding, development, retention, exit process, alumni program) and identify
alternate approaches as needed.
- Collect, analyze, summarize, and communicate employee engagement data.
- Understand organizational culture, theories, and practices; identify opportunities
and make recommendations.
- Understand and apply knowledge of programs, federal laws, and regulations to promote
outreach, diversity and inclusion.
- Implement and support workplace programs relative to health, safety, security, and
privacy following federal laws and regulations such as: OSHA, workers’ compensation,
emergency response, workplace violence, substance abuse, and legal postings.
- Promote organizational policies and procedures, for example: employee handbook, SOPs,
time and attendance, expenses, etc.
- Manage complaints or concerns involving employment practices, behavior, or working
conditions, and escalate by providing information to appropriate stakeholders.
- Promote techniques and tools for facilitating positive employee and labor relations
with knowledge of applicable federal laws affecting union and nonunion workplaces.
- Support and consult with management in performance management process including employee
reviews, promotions, recognition programs, etc.
- Support performance activities such as coaching, performance improvement plans, and
- Support employment activities such as: job eliminations or reductions in force by
managing corresponding legal risks.
Download Course Outline (PDF)
No prerequisites are required to take this course. However, the certifying body has
requirements to take the certification exam.
Upon successful completion of the course, you may sit for exams from either SHRM or
Nhung Hendy, Ph.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP is an associate professor at Towson University
where she teaches management courses with a focus on HR skills. Dr. Hendy has published
in a myriad of professional journals.