Exam Content Outlines

For each certification offered by HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®), an Exam Content Outline is available as a reference. Each provides a description of the concepts, tasks and knowledge you need to successfully understand and perform HR-related duties associated with each specific credential.

Every year, hundreds of HR volunteers worldwide, representing various industries and HR specialties, contribute thousands of hours of time to help HRCI determine knowledge and professional competencies required to master HR practice. Exam questions are also peer-reviewed for technical validity and applicability to current HR practice and applied job knowledge.

HR tasks and the knowledge needed to perform them are extensively researched and grouped into functional areas. The final exam content (also known as the Exam Content Outline) is used by exam question writers and organizations that develop study/preparation materials for our HRCI certification exams.

The Exam Content Outline for each certification is updated every 5-7 years.

aPHR Exam Content Outline
PHR and SPHR Exam Content Outline
PHRca Exam Content Outline
GPHR Exam Content Outline
PHRi Exam Content Outline (valid through January 2018)
SPHRi Exam Content Outline (valid through December 2017)


HRCI periodically updates the exam content outlines for each of our examinations to ensure they remain consistent with current practices in the HR field. In 2017, HRCI conducted a practice analysis to update the PHRi and SPHRi Exam Content Outlines. Below are the updated outlines. 

SPHRi Content Outline Refresh (valid starting January 2018)

PHRi Exam Content Outline Refresh (valid starting February 2018)


Disclaimer: HR Certification Institute®(HRCI®) does not endorse any particular preparation program or offering. We encourage prospective certification holders to use a variety of resources that reflect their learning styles and needs. Purchasing a certification preparation product is NOT required and HRCI does not guarantee that an individual will pass based on the purchase of a certification preparation product.