Online Degrees in Project Management

Project managers are often called by many other names: superintendent, supervisor, team leader, or manager, just to name a few. No matter what they're called, however, the job is the same: they plan, coordinate, budget and direct projects. Whether it involves construction of buildings or implementing a technology plan, project managers can be found in a wide variety of industries.

There are numerous degree options for those pursuing careers in project management. Since project management has a broad focus that can encompass many types of industries, degree requirements vary. The most popular degree paths include the master's degree and certificate. In most cases, certificates are awarded to those who have already earned a bachelor's degree or associate degree in a related field.

Online business degrees in project management earned through a program accredited by the Project Management Institute's Global Accreditation Center might make it easier for graduates to find jobs in their chosen fields. In the article "Career Paths for the Entry Level Project Manager," career coach Josh Nankivel points out that for entry-level and mid-level project managers, a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum educational requirement. When first rising through the ranks, experience might matter more than an advanced degree.

Those who choose to earn online project management degrees often do so for the ease of scheduling and ability to work at their own pace. Students in online classes can also immediately apply what they learn to the work environment, thus turning their jobs into a laboratory to test new concepts.

Project managers can expect to guide projects from concept to completion. Key responsibilities include ensuring the job is finished on deadline and within budget. Those best suited for project management work well in a fast-paced environment, work well under pressure and can make firm decisions. They must be able to analyze many situations at once and handle a wide variety of problems.

Excellent communication skills and the ability to work diplomatically with others are important competencies of the job. According to the Project Management Institute, up to 42 percent of a project manager's time at work could be spent resolving conflicts.

Project management careers are found in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace and defense, construction, financing, government, information systems, manufacturing, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, utilities and more.

Since project management jobs can be found across such a wide variety of industries, the pay for a project manager varies quite a bit. According to Salary.com, project managers in construction had a median annual income of $84,878, while project managers in technology services had an average income of $71,131. Project managers in more advanced positions in information technology brought in $101,085. As with any career, the degree level earned, experience gained and the industry chosen help determine final pay grade.

  • Education: The bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for project management education.
  • Skills: According to the Project Management Institute, up to 42 percent of a project manager's time at work could be spent resolving conflicts.
  • Salaries: Construction project managers made an average of $84,878 per year, and IT project managers made $71,131, according to Salary.com.

Today's businesses are made up of many moving parts, including human resources, raw materials, transportation networks and consumers scattered across the globe. Effective project managers are able to coordinate all those elements to meet business goals on time -- and within budget.

While most project managers don't need a doctoral degree, understanding management theories and researching new solutions to business problems can require advanced graduate training. In-depth training with a doctoral degree in project management can help place graduates on the forefront of developing new strategies for all facets of businesses.

What Does a Doctoral Degree Program in Project Management Entail?

Doctoral degrees in project management are relatively rare, but a number of online programs are available, making the degree accessible to students around the world. Project management degrees are generally offered by a university's school of business, and the degree is available as either a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in project management.

Project management DBA programs cover more components of business-related projects, such as budget management, cost estimates, risk assessment, bid negotiation and contracts. A Ph.D. in project management, on the other hand, prepares students to lead, consult or teach about the field from a cross-functional, strategic perspective.

No matter the specific program of choice, most project management doctoral degrees are designed for professionals looking to gain a greater understanding of the kinds of strategies conducive to the everyday working environment. Coursework covers essential organizational and business topics:

  • Accounting and financial management
  • Marketing strategy
  • Organizational theory
  • Fiscal leadership

Students in the doctoral program typically also concentrate in a particular area of project management such as IT, construction or human resources management. Available specializations vary by school.

Admissions and Program Requirements

Most doctoral programs require students to hold a master's degree for admission, and work experience may be preferred at some schools as well. Program length varies, but many schools expect students to spend four to six years in the program. Typically, students dedicate the first two years of the program to required coursework. At the end of those two years, students may be required to pass a set of comprehensive exams before moving on to their dissertation. Project management Ph.D. candidates are able to customize their dissertation research to meet their specific interests and goals within the field.

Many online doctoral programs also require students to attend a certain number of residencies -- brief on-campus stays which are usually spaced throughout the program. Students use these stints to network with other students as well as to interact with instructors and staff in person.

If you're ready to learn more about your options for an online project management doctoral degree, begin your research by browsing through the programs below. Request to speak to an admissions counselor or get additional information from schools that interest you.

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