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PRST 5930/6930/7930 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PRST 5930/6930/7930 - Human Resource Leadership Compensation and Benefits

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course focuses on management tools designed to ensure that the right people get the right pay for achieving organizational objectives in the right way. Students will examine the application of compensation principles to achieve organizational objectives. Strategic use of compensation systems for attracting, motivating and retaining employees and managerial aspects of paying employees at all organizational levels will be explored. 

Course Outcomes:

At the end of this course, participants should have the ability to:

  • Examine compensation and benefits in relation to Human Relations theories and models
  • Identify and evaluate the different components of an organization's reward system
  • Critically analyze research and evaluation studies that demonstrate how an organization establishes the worth of jobs
  • Link an organization's compensation system to employee performance
  • Evaluate the benefit components of an organization's compensation system Identify and assess the various components of the labor market 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Admission to the Master of Professional Studies program or departmental approval and PRST 5040/6040/7040 is required.

Course Topics:
  1. Relationship of compensation and business strategy; Strategic perspective
  2. Compensation systems; Defining competitiveness
  3. Variations in compensation components
  4. Salary Survey, Labor Market Surveys 
  5. Pay for Performance
  6. Short-term and long-term employee incentives
  7. Variable pay programs
  8. Group Incentive plans
  9. Merit, longevity, and other compensation raises
  10. Benefit programs
  11. Non-traditional compensation 


Specific Course Requirements:

The minimum hardware/software requirements can be found at It is the responsibility of the learner to check specific course requirements and to acquire the software used in their course. Links and plug-ins to resources including Real Player, Media Player, Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Office, etc. are provided. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

Additional relevant articles and resources will be posted at the course site for student use in accordance with the University's copyright policies. The instructor will provide these additional articles to the students approximately one week before the readings are used in discussion. 

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Each student in the class will be assessed according to the following criteria: 

1. Assimilation of assigned material from the text as measured by 2 examinations worth up to 250 points each of the final grade (For a total of 500 points). The exams will be based on assigned readings in the textbook, lecture notes, and articles and other materials provided by the instructor. There are specific deadlines for all assignments and exams. These deadlines are listed in the syllabus and Schedule of assignments for the course. Exams may not be completed after the listed deadlines. The first exam is based on Modules 1 and 2 and the final exam includes material from Modules 3, 4 and 5. The beginning times for tests are at 12:00 a.m. on the days listed and all ending times are at 11:00 p.m. on the days listed in the Schedule of Assignments. Grades for each exam will be posted to the GRADES section online. Grades will be posted within 5-8 days after the examination date. It is recommended that students keep up with the readings so that studying for exams will not be so onerous. The exams will consist of a variety of testing techniques, including multiple choice, fill-in-the- blank, and essay questions.

2. Appraisals of postings in discussions of 8 case study/topic questions. Student appraisals are worth up to 25 points for each discussion, and a total of 200 points of the final course grade. Active participation in on-line discussions and answering of the instructor's questions is required. Students should be prepared to discuss the concepts that are presented in the textbooks, assigned articles, and readings they have found on their own. Discussions will primarily consist of students' views/questions about the issues from the chapters and articles. Respond to the postings started by the instructor. The instructor will set up 8 discussion threads for the course. Please do not begin a thread. When relevant comments are made that warrant a new thread for discussion, the instructor will add a new thread. This approach will keep discussions on point and organized. It is not acceptable to make all of your postings on the day the discussion ends. The purpose of the discussion is to learn from each other. The best way to ensure participation is to require that students access the site for discussion at least three times during the module. Of course, students can access the discussion and make comments more than the minimum number of days-and are encouraged to do so! Each student must make at least three relevant postings to the course DISCUSSION for each question. Please try to make some of these postings replies to other students' views. If this is to be a real discussion, students need to post both views and reactions (or additional insight) to other students' views. Students are expected to provide substantive comments to the discussion, therefore, simply replying ‘I agree' will not result in credit. In these discussion postings, students need to show their knowledge of the readings. For example for Module 1, when students discuss views/questions about the definition of employee compensation, be able to use terms and concepts from the reading assignment such as return, reward or entitlement. Using this approach, discussions will be relevant to the readings. It is also acceptable for students to relate issues to their experiences and/or to find additional information from the Internet or other sources for the discussion.

Remember: Be professional and courteous to others in these discussions. Please use appropriate language and be sure comments made are constructive. Be conscious of confidentiality that should be maintained with work knowledge. Students are not anonymous in this online class just as students are not anonymous in the classroom!! Thanks in advance for keeping a positive and constructive tone in the class discussions.

3. Analytic Papers - Students will write three (3) analytic papers on assigned and selected topics related to employee compensation and/or benefits. Your analytic papers should represent the results of your investigation on the topic. It should be based on your thoughts and the facts and ideas you have gathered from a variety of sources, culminating in a creation that is uniquely yours. The experience of gathering, interpreting, and organizing ideas and conclusions, and communicating them clearly will prove to be an important and satisfying part of your education. Each paper should be approximately 4-6 pages in length and double spaced. Your paper should be placed in the drop box no later than the assigned due date. The value of the analytic papers is 100 points each for a total of 300 points of the final grade. These assignments may be posted early before the deadline, but students should not expect grades to be posted immediately. It is acceptable to find additional information on the topic from the Internet if that additional information supports a point of view or provides more insight on the
topic. Please label the assignment files you submit to include your last name and the unit number, such as: Warner - Analytic Paper #1.

While there are several approaches to format and documenting the resources used to develop your research, you are asked to use the system set forth in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). Once you have reached this website, go to ‘Documenting Sources' listed under the Social sciences heading. The drop down box will then allow you to access information to answer frequently asked questions, such as: (1) How do I format my paper? (2) How should the headings be arranged? How to present figures and tables within my document? (4) How do I format quotations?

Note: Please be aware that there are methods available to instructors to check for material copied and pasted from the Internet or not appropriately cited as a reference. Please be honest in how you take ownership of your assignments.

Two topics for your analyses are assigned and one topic is left to the each student's discretion.

Analytic Paper #1 - Assessment of the General Accounting Office (GAO) Report on Employee Compensation (GAO-06-285). A recent GAO report found that employer spending on benefits has grown faster than wages, due largely to rising costs for health insurance and retirement benefits. Based on this report's findings you will conduct an analysis of its implications for the long term competitiveness of U.S. industries in the domestic and international arena. An electronic copy of this report is located at

Analytic Paper #2 - Review of the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). In 2003, Congress enacted the NSPS to establish a more flexible, mission-based personnel management system that links to the Department of Defense's mission and organization. Based on what you have learned in this component of the course you will review the recently released NSPS report on this system and assess if these goals have been attained. You can also find additional background information at the general webpage for the National Security Personnel System.

Analytic Paper #3 - Discretionary Topic on Employee Benefits & Compensation - You are strongly encouraged to get prior approval from the instructor before selecting your ‘discretionary topic'. Please e- mail the instructor for the approval of your topic. Ideally, the focus of the paper should be on the compensation and benefits structure of a particular company or agency. Describe how well this organization's strategy compares with the ‘Best Practices' in the field. Conclude your analysis with your specific recommendations to the agency and identify the resulting benefits to the company for adopting these practices. 

Grading Procedures:

Written assignments will be graded on the following components:

1. Analysis: A sufficient number of concepts that have been used in class or in the readings to analyze the situation or issue.
2. References: A variety of pertinent and timely references were sought and obtained in preparing the assignment.

3. Organization: The main points are stated clearly and arranged in a logical sequence.
4. Coherence: The development of ideas, arguments and discussion shows consistency and logical connection.
5.Clarity: The ideas, arguments and discussion show consistency and logical connection.
6. Conciseness: The language is direct and to the point, using sufficient space to say exactly what is intended and be understood by the reader.
7.Grammar: The writing is in standard American English, with proper sentence structure, syntax, punctuation, and spelling.
8. Drafting: The writing shows evidence of being drafted and revised before submission of the final copy.

Participation will be graded on the following components:
1. Content Mastery: Students must evidence an understanding of the fact, concepts, and
theories presented in the assigned readings and lectures. This ability is the basis for all higher-level skills and must be made evident by classroom comments and/or response to questions.
2. Communication Skills: Students must be able to inform others in an intelligent manner what he/she knows. Ideas must be communicated clearly and persuasively. Communication skills include listening to others and understanding what they have said, responding appropriately, asking questions in a clear manner, avoiding rambling discourses or class domination, using proper vocabulary pertinent to the discussion, building on the ideas of others, etc.
3. Synthesis/Integration: Students must be able to illuminate the connections between the material under consideration and other bodies of knowledge. For example, one could take several ideas from the reading or class discussions and combine them to produce a new perspective on an issue, or one could take outside materials (from other classes, personal experiences, etc.) and combine them to create novel insights. Students who probe the interdisciplinary roots of the theories presented or who are able to view the author or the materials from several viewpoints demonstrate this skill.
4. Creativity: Students must demonstrate that they have mastered the basic materials and have gone on to produce their own insights. A simple repetition of ideas from the assigned readings will not suffice, nor will simply commenting on what others have said. Students must go beyond the obvious by bringing their own beliefs and imagination to bear. Creativity may be displayed by showing further implications of the material, by applying it to a new field, or by finding new ways of articulating the materials, which produce significant insights.
5. Valuing: Students should be able to identify the value inherent in the material studied. Furthermore, students should be able to articulate their own positions by reference to basic underlying values. Students must not simply feel something is wrong or incorrect; she or he must be able to state why, based on some hierarchy of values. In either accepting or rejecting a position, the operative values must be explicit.
6. General Enthusiasm and Interest in the Class: This can be shown by regularity of attendance, active participation in on-line discussions, and bringing in outside, ancillary materials that you read or have passed along to you. 

The total grading points for the course will consist of 1000 points total. The final grade will be based on the total number of points as illustrated in the example below: 

Assignments/ExamsPoints of Grade and percent
Examination #1250 points - 25%
Examination #2250 points - 25%
Discussion Topics (8 x 25 pts. each)200 points - 20%
Analytic Paper (3 x 100 pts. each)300 points - 30%
Total Points1000 points - 100%
Grading Scale:
Below 600F


Assignments and Projects:

Schedule of Course Modules, Topics, and Assessments

Note: The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board. 

Module I

Chapter 1 The Pay Model
Discussion Topic #1 

Listen to the July 20, 2009, National Public Radio broadcast entitled ‘How Companies Decide What To Pay Their Workers'.

Chapter 2 Strategy: The Total Decisions
Discussion Topic #2

Recommended Additional Resources: Please see the Bureau of Labor Statistics' web address at for the latest data for employment, hours, earnings, productivity, the CPI, and the employment cost index.

Module II

Chapter 3 Defining Internal Alignment
Discussion Topic #3

Chapter 4 Job Analysis

Listen to the July 20, 2009, Public Broadcasting Service news segment entitled ‘Some Share Pain of Bad Economy'. This news segment shows how some companies are giving their employees the option of shared sacrifice in order to help keep employees from losing their jobs. The website is

Discussion Topic #4

Chapter 5 Evaluating work: Job Evaluation
Discussion Topic #5

Recommended Additional Resources: please see the Sibson and Company web address at for additional information on compensation design, organization, and development.

Examination #1 - This examination will include information covered in chapters 1 - 5 of the Milkovich textbook.

Module III

Chapter 7 Defining Competitiveness
Discussion Topic #6 

Analytic Paper #1 - Assessment of the Government Accountability Office Report on Employee Compensation

Recommended Additional Resources: Please see the Watson Wyatt Worldwide web address at for a global perspective on competitiveness, including reports and surveys from all over the world. For example, from a two-tier pay system in Spain to a performance pay in China and Vietnam.

Module IV

Chapter 9 Pay for Performance: The Evidence
Analytic Paper #2 - Review of the National Security Personnel System

Chapter 10 Pay-for -Performance Plans
Discussion Topic #7

Recommended Additional Resources: Please see the William M. Mercer web address at for additional information on rewarding employees, surveys on salaries, performance pay, pay assessment, and executive compensation.

Module V

Chapter 12 The Benefit Determination Process
Analytic Paper #3 - Student Discretionary Topic on Employee Benefits and Compensation

Chapter 13 Benefit Options
Discussion Topic #8

Recommended Additional Resources: Please see the Employee Benefit Research Institute at for lists of health care providers and links to other benefit resources.

Examination #2 - This examination will include information covered in chapters 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13 of the Milkovich textbook.

Discussions (8) 200 points
Analytic Paper (3) 300 points 
Exam #1  250 points
Exam #2  250 points

Total  1000 points

Class Participation:
Late Policy:

All assignments will be assigned a due date when they are distributed. Failure to meet this deadline will-result in a loss of 5 points from the original point value off the assignment for every 24 hour interval an assignment is late. Assignments must be submitted electronically and therefore will be date and time stamped. 

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on August 15, 2017