PHR/SPHR Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to take the PHR/SPHR Exam? 
Candidates seeking to obtain the Professional Human Resource (PHR) or Senior Professional Human Resource (SPHR) certification must have a minimum of 2 years exempt level experience in human resources or a related field or be a student within one year of graduation.  Exempt level experience is a salaried position and 51 % of responsibilities should be hr related.  Students/Recent Graduates may be allowed to take the PHR exam only and must be within one year of graduation.  They will not become certified until meeting the experience requirements. Information about requirements is available on the website.

How do I know if my experience meets the qualifications to take the exam? 
All candidates must be approved by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).  Any questions related to experience/qualifications should be referred to: or (866) 898-4724.

When and where is the exam offered?
Exams are administered via computer based testing.  Testing windows are December 1 – January 31 and May 1 – June 30 of each year.  Exams are administered at Pro-metric testing centers located throughout the area.

How do I register for the exam? 
Exam registration may be completed online at: or using the scan form that is included with course materials.  Additional information will be provided at the NIU program orientation sessions to be the first night of class at each location or as part of mail out materials to Fast Track participants. 

Will the Professional HR Management Certification Prep Course prepare me for the exam?The NIU program will help candidates prepare for either the PHR or SPHR examinations.Materials are designed to cover information applicable to each exam.

Is this course appropriate for me if I am not qualified or interested in becoming certified?

This course is a great professional development tool for anyone in the field of HR.  It is an intense program of study covering all the functional areas and competencies of the profession.  For those who are looking for a review, refresher or program for entry level HR professionals or managers, recommend the Essentials of HR Management programs offered by NIU.

What is the difference between the Essentials program and the Certification Prep Program? 
The Essentials program is a 2 day seminar that provides an overview of the functional areas of HR management.  It is great for entry level professionals, those seeking to change careers or needing a refresher course.  It is also a great program for small business owners/managers or anyone with employee management responsibilities.  It will cover the laws related to managing employees and all legal aspects of employment including workforce planning, reward systems, hiring practices, employee and labor relations and risk management.


Are materials included or do I need to purchase independently? 
Course fees are inclusive of all study materials.  NIU uses the SHRM Learning System as the text for the program.  This program includes print materials related to each subject matter area and valuable online study resources and practice exams.

How will I get the materials and how do I register for the exam? 
All course materials are distributed to students the first night of class.  Participants in the fast track program will receive materials at least 2 weeks prior to the class start.  Exam registration information will be covered in the orientation session or a cover letter included in mail out materials.

What is the success rate of NIU students? 
NIU is recognized as one of the Top 20 University providers.  Our programs have consistently exceeded national pass rates by 15-20 points.  In 2006 our programs won 4 awards for 100% candidate pass rates.

Who are the instructors and what are their qualifications? 
The NIU program uses a team approach to instructors.  Each class will have 4-6 instructors who are SPHR certified practitioners or an attorney specializing in employment law.

What are the course requirements? 
Participants are required to attend 75% of the class sessions and complete 6 post module and final exams with a composite score of 70% or better.

What if I have to miss a class? 
All registrants are provided with a master schedule of programs and may make up missed classes at any location.  They will need to sign in at the class they are attending in order to receive attendance credit.

Do I need to meet admission requirements of the University? 
No…this is a non-credit program so it is an open-enrollment program.  Participants do not receive any academic credit for non-credit programs.

How do I retain my certification? 
Once you become certified you may retain your certification by obtaining 60 hours of continuing education with a 3 year window or retesting.  NIU offers a number of one day and two day seminars to help meet this need.  Details about programs that award CEU’s are available on our website: