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.

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. Individuals who work well in a fast-paced environment, work well under pressure and can make firm decisions may do well in the field project management. They should be able to analyze many situations at once and handle a wide variety of problems. Online project management degree programs can help them hone the decision-making, time-management and leadership skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

Project managers oversee a project right from their conception to the finish, overseeing the daily activities to ensure deadlines are met. 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. Their duties typically include:

  • Planning a project along with its budget, activities and timeline
  • Managing teams to ensure work is carried out according to plan
  • Handling emergencies, work delays, and other problems
  • Hiring, training and firing personnel as necessary
  • Updating clients, upper management and board members about the progress of the project

Large projects may involve numerous project managers overseeing different parts of a project, reporting to a top-level manager.

72% of PMO leaders feel certification is very relevant for mid-career project managers.
 

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 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. Doctoral degrees can allow individuals to move into executive roles in business.

The table below lists occupations related to the field along with the median wages, projected job openings and employment outlook in the years leading up to 2026 using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Operations Research Analysts99,680$90,60025.6%
Management Analysts709,750$95,56013.5%
Construction Managers293,380$105,0009.8%
Emergency Management Directors10,060$82,5304.9%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

A project management associate degree online can help students grasp the fundamentals of project management; understand the basics of marketing, human resources, along with the basics of how businesses work.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Curricula include foundational business topics, general education courses and core project management coursework. Courses you may take include:

  • Introduction to business
  • Critical thinking for business decision making
  • Project management fundamentals
  • Principles of marketing
  • Business communications with technology

Possible electives: Electives may comprise of business topics not included in the core coursework.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in project management?

An online project management associate degree may set the stage for further education in the field. It may also make you eligible for entry-level roles assisting other managers in a variety of different industries. Potential job titles include:

  • Assistant project manager
  • Project administrator
  • Project portfolio manager
  • Project scheduler
The GDP contributions from project-oriented industries are forecasted to reach $20.2 trillion over the next 20 years.
 

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Online project management bachelor’s degree program can help students develop the business and leadership skills they need to lead teams and see projects to fruition. Students can learn to develop strategies, assess performances, and learn important business skills like budgeting and risk management.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Curricula go deeper into business and project management topics than online project management associate degree programs. Courses you may take include:

  • Process groups and knowledge areas in project management
  • Risk management in project management
  • Project cost
  • Human resources and motivation management
  • Project quality

You may also have to complete a capstone project or an internship as a part of your online project management degree program.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in project management?

You may be eligible for entry-level positions in bigger companies than with an associate degree and/or higher-level job roles. A specialization or concentration that you choose during the course of your studies can also help determine your job profile. Potential job titles include:

  • Project planner
  • Project manager
  • Project coordinator
  • Construction manager
  • Computer and information systems manager

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online project management master’s degree programs may allow students to explore project management in more depth than in a bachelor’s degree program. They can learn to manage complex projects, understand consulting contracts while balancing employee demands, costs and quality.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in project management or a related field

Typical coursework: Classes involve a blend of advanced business studies, management techniques and project based strategies. Courses you may take include:

  • Optimization models for decision making
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Project communications management
  • Project portfolio management
  • Risk analysis for decision making

You may have to complete a capstone project or a master’s thesis depending on your program

Possible electives: Project management finance; executive decision making; agile project management

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in project management?

Graduate degrees in project management may qualify you for mid to senior-level positions, leading projects from conception through to the end. Potential job titles include:

  • Management analyst
  • Operations research analyst
  • Business continuity planner
  • Emergency management director

Online graduate certificates may suit busy working professionals or other individuals who do not have the time or finances to put toward a fully fledged online project management master’s degree program but still want some graduate education. Graduate certificates may allow such individuals to advance not only their credentials but also their effectiveness as managers and understanding of business processes. They may also be able to apply their credits from their certificates toward a master’s degree program at a later date.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in project management or a related field

Typical coursework: Curriculum similar to that in a master’s degree program. Courses you may take include:

  • Project management practices
  • Project scope management
  • Project scheduling and cost planning
  • Project risk management

Possible electives: Project evaluation and assessment; managing troubled projects; principles of agile project management

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Doctoral degrees in project management are generally offered by a university’s school of business, and the degree is available as:

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA): may cover more components of business-related projects, such as budget management, cost estimates, risk assessment, bid negotiation and contracts

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in project management: can prepare students to lead, consult or teach about the field from a cross-functional, strategic perspective

However, students may find considerable overlap between the two.

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. Students of online project management degree programs at the doctoral level can receive an advanced graduate education that may help them deepen their understanding of management theories and research new solutions to business problems.

Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree in project management or a related field

Typical coursework: Students learn research methodologies, data collection systems and research presentation skills along with essential project management, organizational, and business topics:

  • Application of action research
  • Economics in global environments
  • Ethics and leadership in global environments
  • Organization innovation and scenario thinking
  • Practice and theory of consulting and intervention

Dissertation: Students usually spend the greater part of their program conducting research and writing a doctoral thesis on its basis. The dissertation then has to be successfully defended before a panel of experts.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in project management?

Graduates of online doctoral degrees in project management may be able to enter the fields of research and academia and teach students of their own in colleges and universities. Others may qualify for executive roles in multinational businesses or act as consultants for the same. They may also be invited to sit on policy-making boards. Potential job titles include:

  • Business researcher
  • Consultant
  • Dean or associate dean of a business program
  • Director of project management
  • Faculty
  • Program director
  • Vice president of project management

Accreditation

Accreditation is an important criterion to consider when choosing an online project management degree. It can be a prerequisite for federal financial aid and for transferring educational credits. Additionally, many employers prefer hiring graduates from accredited programs as it can demonstrate that the education they have received meets or exceeds professional requirements. Accreditation can be regional, national, and/or programmatic

Online project management degree programs may be programmatically accredited by professional bodies like:

Specializations

Project managers are required across a number of different industries giving rise to specializations within the field. Specializations can help you pursue a career in project management in an area of your interest. Potential specializations include:

  • Construction management
  • Emergency management
  • Financials services
  • Healthcare management
  • Information technology operations
  • Legal services
  • Organizational leadership
  • Public sector

Certifications in Project Management

Professional certifications may not be mandatory but they can demonstrate your commitment to and knowledge in the field of project management. Employers may prefer hiring individuals with certifications. Certifications can also lead to a rise in salary. According to a 2017 survey by the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management professionals with a Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification earned 23 percent higher median wages across 37 countries than those without.

Other certifications include:

You may find there are plenty of scholarships and financial aid programs available for eligible students of online project management degree programs. These scholarships may be offered by private foundations, educational trusts, businesses, universities, and governmental bodies. Some scholarships to help you get started in your search are:

While the scholarships mentioned above are for project management students, you may also be eligible for a host of scholarships for students of online business degrees.

Other resources for aspiring project managers

Employment Statistics

Construction Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Nonresidential Building Construction
  • Land Subdivision
  • Residential Building Construction
  • Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction
  • Utility System Construction
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI
  • Jackson, MI
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

 

Sources:

  • Architectural and Engineering Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/architectural-and-engineering-managers.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Associate of Applied Science Degree in Project Management, Clackamas Community College, https://www.clackamas.edu/academics/departments-programs/project-management-aas, accessed June 2019
  • Bachelor of Science in Project Management, Bellevue University, https://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/project-management-bs/, accessed June 2019
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Construction Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Doctor of Management – Project Management, Colorado Technical University, https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/doctorates/management/project-management, accessed June 2019
  • Graduate Certificate in Project Management, College of Professional Studies, Northeastern University, https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/program/graduate-certificate-in-project-management-online-247/, accessed June 2019
  • Industrial Production Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/industrial-production-managers.htm, accessed June 2019
  • Online Bachelor’s Degree In Project Management, CSU Global, https://csuglobal.edu/undergraduate/bachelors-degrees/project-management, accessed June 2019
  • Online Master of Science in Project Management Degree, Boston University, https://www.bu.edu/online/programs/graduate-programs/project-management/#cost, accessed June 2019
  • Online MS in Project Management, George Washington University School of Business, https://business.gwu.edu/academics/programs/online/omspm, accessed June 2019
  • Online Project Management Graduate Certificate, Boston University, https://www.bu.edu/online/programs/certificate-programs/project-management/, accessed June 2019
  • Project Management Associate of Applied Science Degree, Saint Paul College, https://www.saintpaul.edu/programs/project-management, accessed June 2019
  • Project Management Industry Specializations, New York University Professional Pathways, https://www.sps.nyu.edu/professional-pathways/topics/management/project-management-industry-specializations/, accessed June 2019
  • Project Management Specialization, Bachelor of Science in Business, School of Business and Technology, Capella University, https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/bachelors-project-management/, accessed June 2019
  • Project Management Specialization, Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management, School of Business and Technology, Capella University, https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/phd-project-management/, accessed June 2019
  • Success in Disruptive Times| Expanding the Value Delivery Landscape to Address the High Cost of Low Performance, Project Management Institute (PMI), 2018, https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/pulse-of-the-profession-2018.pdf
  • The Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, 10th Edition, Project Management Institute (PMI), 2017, https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/salary-survey-10th-edition.pdf
  • What is a Project Manager?, Corporate Education Group, https://www.corpedgroup.com/resources/pm/WhatisaPM.asp, accessed June 2019
 
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