What is a Project Management Degree?

Project manager updating task and milestone schedule with Gantt chart planning interface on virtual screen

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Project managers plan, organize and execute projects within organizations. They lead construction, IT systems, marketing and product launch projects.

Potential careers include:

  • Engineering project manager
  • IT Project Manager
  • Manufacturing project manager
  • Marketing project manager
  • Project coordinator

The courses in a project management degree program cover the phases of the project, including defining the project scope and planning the schedule and budget. The program also teaches basic business skills and covers purchasing, risk management and team leadership.

Project management programs offer students the opportunity to explore sub-disciplines through electives and concentrations. Read on to find out if project management is a good choice.

Project management programs emphasize career-readiness skills, but course content varies by degree level.

Associate’s degree courses train students to perform entry-level administrative tasks and assist project managers.

Bachelor’s degree programs focus on analytical, interpersonal, organizational, and teamwork skills. Most project managers need at least a bachelor’s degree.

Graduate students learn advanced skills in communication, strategic leadership, risk management and quality control. They also carry out qualitative research projects and acquire skills in program and portfolio management.

What types of project management degrees are there?

Undergraduate Certificate in Project Management

Undergraduate certificates typically introduce general project management concepts such as system dynamics, negotiation, leadership, cost management, and project risk and change management.

Many programs are not industry specific. Others focus on computer science, business, or construction project management and may prepare graduates to take business or technology certification exams.

Students can earn these non-degree degrees in four to eight months. They can qualify for entry-level jobs as project managers and coordinators, associate project managers, and project assistants and controllers.

Project Management Associate

Two-year associate degrees in project management offer the opportunity to prepare for bachelor’s-level study or start at the bottom of the ladder as an assistant and work your way up.

Some programs prepare enrollees to take national certification exams. Graduates may qualify for Associate Project Manager and Project Coordinator positions.

Programs may include internships, which provide valuable hands-on training. Courses include elements and principles of project planning, project management processes and ethics, accounting, and information systems.

Bachelor in Project Management

A bachelor’s degree in project management focuses on preparing students for leadership roles. The program includes projects and presentations.

Courses feature basic business and general education topics, but also cover project management and the fundamentals of project cost, quality and risk management.

Bachelor’s degrees traditionally take four years to earn, but accelerated bachelor’s degrees and online study can shorten the time.

Graduates can work as construction project managers, industrial production managers and advertising, promotions and marketing managers.

Graduate Certificate in Project Management

Graduate certificate programs in project management target professionals interested in career or educational advancement.

These non-degree degrees provide training in selecting, planning, executing, and delivering projects in roles of project directors and senior project managers.

Many programs prepare students for certification exams and allow them to transfer credit to master’s degrees. The project-based curriculum may include courses in project management processes and techniques, project life cycles, and strategic management. These certificates generally require one year of part-time study.

Master in Project Management

Masters in Project Management programs emphasize analytical and managerial skills and offer concentrations in areas such as capital administration, engineering project management, integrated supply chain management , international projects and technology. Programs may require a capstone, project, or thesis.

Core courses typically cover cost management and project planning, strategic management, and scope, quality, and risk management.

Programs last from one to four years and can lead to careers as IT project managers, architect and engineering project managers, and global project managers.

Project Management vs MBA in Project Management

Masters in Project Management teach students how to lead projects in high-level management positions. MBA concentrations include project management and offer courses in general business management skills, but also in project management.

Students interested in focusing on business models, evidence-based project management strategies, and team management may want to pursue an MBA.

PhD in Project Management

A doctorate in project management takes three to five years to complete. This is a specialty area of ​​a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. graduates become university professors and researchers. Project management DBAs can work as senior project managers and project management consultants.

Other doctoral fields may offer concentrations in project management, such as education, engineering, and technology.

Doctoral courses often require theses and comprehensive examinations.

The Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (PMI GAC) accredits degrees in project management.

Accreditation means that the program undergoes regular evaluation to ensure that the program meets quality standards and is continually improving. Make sure that any degree program you are interested in has PMI GAC accreditation.

Earning a degree or certificate in higher education can be difficult at any level, and project management is no exception.

You’ll learn new material and keep track of project assignments, readings, and deadlines, including researching and writing a thesis or dissertation if you’re a master’s or doctoral student. These responsibilities require discipline, personal motivation and time management.

Success strategies include:

  • Take the challenge as an opportunity to hone problem-solving skills and creative thinking
  • Engage with classmates and professors, even online
  • Enroll in a part-time or online program, which may offer more flexibility
  • Experiencing internships and connecting with mentors to gain hands-on experience and guidance

In conclusion

With average project manager annual salaries of $77,500, according to April 2022 statistics from Indeed, earning a degree in project management can be a good investment.

Follow the links on this page to our program rankings and explore your options.

This article has been reviewed by Alexandra Tapia, MBA

Alexandria Tapia, a blonde woman, smiles at the camera

Alexandra is a motivated, high-spirited, resolutely energetic and optimistic person. She prides herself on her dedication to becoming a better business leader and human being in general. She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, asks a million questions and thrives on change.

She touched many populations throughout her career. She has studied recidivism, helped former criminal offenders reintegrate into society, and built trusting relationships while working at a homeless shelter.

His passion for education also shines through in his work. She taught young children for many years, but has since moved into higher education. She enjoys collaborating with others to be a disruptor in the education industry, creating and delivering programs unlike any other, while building a better future for her clients and students.

Tapia is a paying member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Last revised May 3, 2022.

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