CIPD vs HR Degree: Which is the best qualification to kickstart your career?


A HR manager leading a strategy meeting

If you’re looking to kickstart your career in HR, you’ll likely hear a lot of CIPD courses – but what are they and how do they compare to an HR degree?

What are CIPD courses?

CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is an independent professional body committed to improving working lives by providing the best guidance and training for those working in HR (Human Resources) or L&D (Learning and Development) roles. 

CIPD courses cover everything an HR professional needs to know throughout their career from entry-level to senior roles including employment law and people management techniques. While there’s no legal requirement for you to have a CIPD qualification to have an HR role, most employers don’t consider candidates who aren’t CIPD accredited. 

Benefits of a CIPD HR Course

CIPD Membership

When you achieve a CIPD qualification you automatically gain CIPD Membership giving you access to networking opportunities, CIPD communities and tools to use in your HR role.

Flexible Learning

MOL Learn’s On Demand or Live Online study options mean your CIPD HR courses can be completed virtually – allowing you to fit your study around your work or personal commitments.

Improved Employability

CIPD qualifications are recognised as the gold standard for HR professionals which can significantly improve your career prospects when job hunting or looking for a promotion. 

Recruiters have also reported an average of £5,000 difference in the annual salary for qualified HR professionals compared to unqualified HR professionals in similar roles. 

CIPD qualifications are recognised internationally and the organisation has over 50 branches across the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar. 

Cost and time-effective

An undergraduate degree in the UK will generally cost you around £27,000 (not including any maintenance fees for materials and living) and takes 3 years. In comparison, CIPD HR courses with MOL Learn, start from only £1,620 and can be completed in 6 – 24 months. 

Read more: Are CIPD qualifications worth the cost?

Who should complete a CIPD HR course?

CIPD courses are ideal for learners who are looking to balance their studies with other aspects of their life (such as work and family commitments) while still advancing their careers. CIPD courses also work well for individuals with some experience and knowledge of professional working environments looking to re-train as an HR professional with a recognised qualification.

What are HR degrees?

Many universities offer undergraduate degrees in Human Resource Management and, once you’ve graduated, you can apply for HR roles and graduate schemes. The specific topics covered by an HR degree can vary depending on the learning provider as there is no set curriculum for all HR professionals. 

Benefits of an HR Degree

University experience

For some, especially those who are younger or who need a lifestyle change, the university experience can be highly beneficial – including meeting new people, having a wider support structure from the university, and getting to explore new locations. 
This experience can help to improve your self-confidence and establish your personal identity. 

Learn soft skills

For those that are new to professional working environments, an HR degree at a university can help to develop the soft skills that are crucial to successful long-term employment and career progression. These include time management, accountability, and communication skills. 

Who should complete an HR degree?

HR degrees are best suited for learners who want to learn full-time and who are looking to enter HR as their first or second professional role with little work experience. 

Should you complete a CIPD HR Course or HR Degree?

Generally, for most learners, we would recommend CIPD HR courses over an HR degree because:

  • Not all degrees reach the CIPD’s standard of accreditation - your CV could still lack the CIPD qualification employers are looking for
  • Not all universities facilitate distance learning which can limit your study options if you’re not able to relocate – find out more about MOL Learn’s flexible learning options
  • Most undergraduate degrees are significantly more expensive than a CIPD qualification and take much longer to complete.

MOL understand the HR profession like no other training provider - that’s what makes our courses great. Our tutors are industry experts and use a wealth of HR experience to bring your learning to life. View our CIPD Level 3 or CIPD Level 5 diploma to kickstart your HR career.