Accelerate your career in HR.
Accelerate your career in HR.

HR Law Certificate Program

The Human Resources (HR) Law Certificate program gives you the legal and ethical tools to take on workplace challenges in a world of rapid technological, social and legal change. With this program, you will learn best practices and practical applications of the law to human resource situations. You will also explore current issues that you may come across in your current position.

In this online program, you will get the flexibility you need to work and learn on your schedule while connecting and interacting with expert Pitt Law faculty who work as employment law practitioners. You will also network and collaborate with peers in other industries and locations through our engaging online learning platform.

Program Benefits

  • Learn on your schedule with asynchronous classes
  • Complete the program in 10 months
  • Learn from experienced, working legal experts who teach courses and concepts applicable to real-world challenges
  • Gain access to a valued and diverse network of colleagues and mentors within the Pitt Law and broader Pitt communities
  • Graduates of the Human Resources Law Certificate (who have fulfilled the applicable requirements) will be eligible to sit for some of the industry-based human resources certification exams offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI)

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Program Brochure

Find the online program that fits your needs. Our Online Master of Studies in Law (MSL) program is designed for professionals seeking to enhance their careers through a legal education with a versatile alternative to the traditional three-year JD degree. Our graduate certificates can further your expertise within a specific area of the law in 10 months. Students who complete a certificate program have the option of applying those 15 course credits toward the Online MSL degree.

Complete the form to get a program brochure for Pitt Law’s Online MSL plus your chosen specialization, or your chosen certificate program, delivered to your inbox.

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Objectives of the Certificate in HR Law


Through the coursework in the HR Law program, students will be able to:

  • Understand the laws and regulations that govern the field of HR
  • Get a deeper understanding of the legislative, judicial and administrative agency context of human resources law
  • Master the skills and knowledge necessary to identify the legal aspects of human resource issues and address those issues in an ethical manner within diverse contexts
  • Know when human resource legal knowledge and authority is required for problem-solving
  • Be aware of emerging trends and issues in human resource law (e.g., artificial intelligence, great resignation, privacy and data laws)
  • Build proficiency and skills for managing workplace conflict
  • Improve communication and presentation skills
  • Participate in peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities with other legal professionals (including employment law attorneys)

Pitt Law’s HR Law Certificate Program Students

The certificate in HR Law program is ideal for:

  • HR professionals who want to enhance their understanding of HR laws and regulations
  • Graduates of business administration programs who wish to develop a more thorough understanding of HR law and practices
  • Professionals interested in an exciting career change
  • College graduates interested in entering the HR field
  • Attorneys who wish to acquire an appreciation of the HR field, client needs and issues

The HR Law Certificate program went online in August of 2019. The cohort is comprised of professionals working in various roles in an array of industries. A majority of the students already hold graduate degrees and found the certificate program was an excellent compliment to their current education and professional experience.

Here is a sampling of the titles HR Law students hold:

  • Human resources administrator
  • Chief of staff for a firefighters and paramedics union
  • Coordinator at a design and construction company
  • Clinical research coordinator
  • Contracts officer at a university
  • Commander for university police
  • Director of human resources at a hospital
  • Program director for university advancement
  • Senior director of human resources business for a major sporting goods retailer
  • Management consultant at a university small business development center
  • Assistant dean of operations

Human Resources Law Certificate Courses

The Human Resources Law Certificate consists of five courses, each awarding three graduate-level credits to total 15 credits. You will take four core courses that provide a strong foundation and clear understanding of HR law. After completing the core courses, you will choose an elective topic for study in greater depth.

  • Introduction to the Legal System for Human Resources; Hiring and Firing (3 credits)
  • Wages, Hours and Benefits (3 credits)
  • Working Conditions (3 credits)
  • Anti-Discrimination Law (3 credits)
  • Selected Topics in Human Resources Law (3 credits)

View Curriculum

HR Law Certificate Course Spotlight

Introduction to the Legal System for Human Resources; Hiring and Firing

This course begins by explaining primary sources of law and exploring the judicial process, which includes an overview of state and federal court systems, state and federal administrative agencies, jurisdiction, class actions, the civil litigation process, and alternative dispute resolution.

Then, students will look at job classification—discerning whether a worker is an employee, an independent contractor, or a student intern. Next, the class will review job selection and hiring issues, such as resume fraud, background checks, questions considered inappropriate to job seekers, employee contracts, non-competition and arbitration agreements, protecting trade secrets, job references, and vicarious liability.

The course concludes with selected legal disputes surrounding job termination, including claims of wrongful discharge and violation of whistleblower laws.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of law to human resources
  • Differentiate constitutional law, statutory law, administrative law, and case law
  • Describe the elements of the basic court system structure, identify the typical steps in the civil trial process, and describe dispute resolution alternatives to trials
  • Identify potential legal challenges an employer faces in the hiring process and the different types of contracts that an employer and an employee can enter at the time of hiring
  • Identify the different types of contracts that an employer and an employee can enter into at the time of firing
  • Identify potential legal challenges an employer faces following employee termination and analyze whether a dismissed at-will employee may bring a claim of wrongful discharge
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Meet ​​HR Law Certificate Program Director Joseph S. Hornack
Joseph (Jay) S. Hornack operates his own private practice and is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Hornack’s more than 40-year private law practice is focused on employee rights and benefits, primarily representing employees in claims involving workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, private disability insurance, severance benefits, unemployment compensation, employment discrimination, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Professor Hornack is on the legal committee for the non-profit Disability Rights Pennsylvania, is a prior chair of the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Bar Association’s Law and Disability Committee, and is a frequent lecturer on disability rights matters.

Students interested and experienced in the human resources field will find that Professor Hornack enjoys treating his students like colleagues.

Earning Your HR Law Certificate is Just the Beginning

With your HR Law Certificate, you may be eligible to sit for the HRCI and SHRM exams. These industry exams are a valuable opportunity to advance your career.

You also have the option to pursue the Master of Studies in Law degree for 15 more credits if you decide to continue your educational journey with Pitt Law. If you successfully complete your certificate program with a 3.0 GPA, you will automatically be considered for admission with no additional application or application fees.

Pitt Law opens doors for you. Start your journey today.

Certificates Admissions Deadlines

Dec
22
Priority Deadline
December 22
Spring 2023
Jan
19
Final Deadline
January 19
Spring 2023
Jan
23
Start Date
January 23
Spring 2023