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    Professional in Human Resources Certificate Program

    The Professional in Human Resources Certificate Program is a rigorous program designed primarily for experienced HR professionals seeking certification as a Professional in Human Resources® (PHR®) or Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®) from the HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). For those just beginning a career in human resources, DePaul’s Foundations in Human Resources Certificate Program will introduce you to the functions of an early HR career and prepare you for HRCI’s Associate Professional in Human Resources™ (aPHR™) certification exam.

    For 20 years, DePaul University has helped thousands of Human Resources (HR) professionals successfully prepare for the PHR® and SPHR® certification exam. The program teaches the knowledge required of todays’ HR professionals as outlined in HRCI’s 2018 PHR® Exam Content Outline and 2018 SPHR® Content Outline. While DePaul cannot guarantee a passing score on the exam(s), the pass rate of professionals who have taken our program is typically better than the national average.

    This strategic course supports career advancement by building confidence for managing HR challenges. You will benefit from learning from instructors who are experienced certified practitioners and networking with other HR professionals. After successfully completing the program, you'll receive a certificate from DePaul University as well as up to 3.6 continuing education units (CEUs).

    Courses in this Program

    “I took the PHR exam yesterday and PASSED!!  This was my fourth attempt and I credit DePaul’s prep course in helping me understand and prepare for this beast of an exam…….THANK YOU!!!!"

    —Professional in HR Student, Winter 2017

    Who Should Attend

    • HR professionals planning to take the PHR® or SPHR® certification exams
    • PHR® professionals seeking to "upgrade" their certification to SPHR®
    • HR practitioners seeking professional development to advance their careers


    • Develop the knowledge and skills to improve your on-the-job effectiveness
    • Prepare for the PHR®/SPHR® certification exam
    • Recognize your areas of strength to build upon
    • Identify gaps in your knowledge and experience for further concentrated study
    • Increase your marketability


    The program provides an in-depth study of key areas in human resource management. The course will cover the PHR and SPHR exam content that correspond to the functional areas, responsibilities and associated knowledge defined by the HRCI:

    Business Management

    • Organization information
    • Business environment
    • Decision making
    • Avoiding risk
    Leadership and Strategy
    • Leading the HR function
    • Developing a HR strategy
    • Organizational strategy
    • Influencing people management practices
    • Monitoring risk
    Talent Planning and Acquisition
    • Identifying, attracting, and employing talent
    • Federal laws related to the hiring process
    • Forecasting organizational talent needs
    • Developing strategies to attract and engage new talent
    Learning and Development
    • Contributing to the organization’s learning and development activities
    • Implementing and evaluating programs
    • Providing internal consultation, and providing data
    • Developing training, development, and employee retention strategies
    • Total Rewards
    • Implementing, promoting, and managing compensation and benefit programs in compliance with federal laws
    • Monitoring the effectiveness of compensation and benefit strategies for attracting, rewarding, and retaining talent
    Employee and Labor Relations
    • Managing, monitoring, and/or promoting legally compliant programs and policies that impact the employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle
    Employee Relations and Engagement
    • Developing and/or monitoring strategies impacting employee satisfaction and performance including diversity and inclusion, safety, security, and labor strategies
    Total Rewards
    • Monitor the effectiveness of compensation and benefit strategies
    • Implement and promote awareness of non-cash rewards
    • Implement benefit programs
    • Administer federally compliant compensation and benefit programs


    What qualifications do I need to take this program?
    It is recommended that participants have experience in the field of human resources to get the most from the program.

    Will I need to purchase course materials?
    Yes. You will need to purchase the PHR/SPHR Professional in Human Resources Certification Exam Guide by Christina Nishiyama, Dory Willer, William H. Truesdell, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, ISBN-13: 9781260453119. The 2019 version is the one that will be used in class. An older version of the book should not be used. This book is not sold in the DePaul University Bookstore. The program will provide online access to some practice questions, flashcards and other resources.

    What course materials are used for this program?
    The Professional in HR Certificate Program uses BenchPrep HR Learning System materials.

    Will I be certified when I finish the program?
    No, you will need to take the Human Resource Certification Institute’s PHR®/SPHR® examination. For more information, visit the HRCI web site at

    Is the application fee for the PHR®/SPHR® examination covered in the course fee?
    No. The application fee for the PHR®/SPHR® examination is not covered in the course fee. You may obtain information on applying and qualifications for the PHR®/SPHR® examination from the Human Resource Certification Institute at (866) 898-4724 or from their web site at

    When is the PHR®/SPHR® examination?
    HRCI offers the PHR® and SPHR® exams throughout the year. More information on testing can be found at

    What qualifications are required to take the PHR®/SPHR® exams offered by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI)?
    PHR Eligibility

    • One year of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher
    • Two years of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree
    • Four years of demonstrated professional HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree
    SPHR Eligibility
    • Four year of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher
    • Five years of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree
    • Seven years of demonstrated professional HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree
    For more specific information, contact the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) at (866) 898-4724 or visit its web site at

    What is the difference between the PHR® and SPHR® exams?
    There is a difference in exam fees as well as exam design. The PHR® certification exam is designed for HR professionals with more of a tactical or logistical orientation. The SPHR® certification exam is designed for HR professionals who design and plan, rather than implement, HR policies.
    Generally, pass rates across the country tend to be higher on the PHR® exam.

    Do I need to take the PHR® exam before the SPHR® exam?
    No. You decide which certification level best matches your depth of knowledge and experience and register for that exam category.

    Is there a different class for PHR® candidates and SPHR® candidates?
    No. The body of knowledge as defined by the HRCI is the same for both exams. The percentage of topic categories differs by exam as does the structure of the questions, but the content to be learned is the same for both.

    Do I have to take the certification exam at the end of the course?
    No. Many course participants take the course solely for personal or professional development. It is a broad overview of the entire field of HR. Some participants are specialists and seek more knowledge about areas they don’t work in on a daily basis; others want an update on legislative issues.

    Do I receive college credit for this class?
    The Professional in Human Resources Certificate Program is a non-credit program. While college credit is not available, participants can receive continuing education units.

    My company requires a grade for tuition reimbursement purposes. Will I get a grade?
    Yes. Multiple-choice tests are given upon completion of each module covered in class. These tests are for you to assess your own level of learning and to provide opportunities to "practice" test-taking skills before the certification exam. This is a non-credit class, so no university credit is given, but you will receive a grade and CEUs from DePaul CPE and a transcript will be available via the DePaul CPE web site 2-3 weeks after the end of class.

    Does this program qualify for financial assistance through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)?
    In order to find out if you qualify for financial assistance, you must first contact Workforce Development. As a certified program under the ILLINOIS workNet initiative, this program has been approved for workforce training grants for those who are eligible. Funding may be available for those receiving unemployment benefits. Please contact Workforce Development for more information.

    If I qualify for a WIA grant, will my voucher cover the cost of the PHR/SPHR certification exam offered through HRCI?
    In 2015, DePaul University CPE students that receive a WIA voucher for the Professional in HR Certificate Program will also be able to obtain a voucher from WIA for the HR Certification Institute PHR/SPHR certification exam fee. Receipt of the voucher does not make a person automatically eligible for the PHR/SPHR certification exam. For information on eligibility, visit their website at

    For More Information, Contact:

    Janie Rollinson

    Phone: +1 312-362-5792

    Information Sessions

    CPE Human Resources Information Session
    March 6, 2024 at 6:00 PM Sign up for this info session!
    CPE Human Resources Information Session
    March 6, 2024 at 12:00 PM Sign up for this info session!

    Upcoming Class Offerings

    To see these class offerings, click on the links under the Courses in this Program section on this page (click here to jump to that section).

    Program Brochure

    Paper Registration

    If you wish to register for a class via a paper form, click here.

    Student Policies

    Click here for a list of our student policies.

    Contact Us

    For general inquiries, please email us or call 312-362-6300.