Project management roles are as diverse as the people who fill them, with countless opportunities available to graduates of master’s in project management degrees. Many companies and industries require trained professionals to oversee short-term and ongoing projects. Project management is expected to remain in demand – especially with the expansion of roles in technology and healthcare. The field offers excellent salaries: of the 25 management occupations recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half have median salaries that include six figures.
If you enjoy managing multiple moving parts, overseeing a diverse array of staff, and being able to call the shots, an online master’s in project management could be the perfect degree for you.
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What Will I Learn in My Online Master’s in Project Management Program?
An online master’s in project management teaches all the necessary skills for graduates to find success in the field. Courses begin by providing an overview of common tasks before moving into specific courses that are designed to ensure graduates are well-rounded, efficient, and effective managers.
- Project Scope Management: Students learn how to define, evaluate, and translate project requirements into manageable tasks that provide concrete deliverables. Special consideration is given to how project managers can incorporate client needs into project scope.
- Cost Engineering and Control: This course is designed to help students learn about estimating processes and bid preparation, ensuring projects run smoothly and within the budget. Other topics covered include labor estimates, equipment, cost-control techniques, changes to scope of work, and claims.
- Sustainability in Project, Portfolio, and Program Management: Social equity, economic efficiency, and environmental performance are the three cornerstones of this course, which helps students be cognizant of sustainability issues within project management.
- Project Contracts: Being able to plan and administer contracts for employees or resource acquisition is a big part of a project manager’s job description, and this course teaches them fundamentals of acquisitions, requests for proposals, vendor selection, and contract closure.
Because online master’s degree programs in project management offer such a broad curriculum, many schools offer concentrations for students who want to focus on a particular industry or field.
- Construction Management: This specialization track prepares individuals for roles that require an understanding of the engineering and management methodologies for a construction site.
- Transportation Management: Students preparing for logistical careers in road, rail, or air transportation receive a practical, overarching view of technologies and frameworks used to manage large-scale projects.
- Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Typically requiring 9-12 credits, this concentration covers topics such as integrated logistics management, global supply chain management, and purchasing procedures.
- Clinical Trial Design: A unique option within project management, this concentration serves students who plan to work in lab settings. Topics include validation and auditing, optimization, problem-solving, and data analysis.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Project Management Graduates
MASTER’S IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT CAREERS
Graduates of online master’s in project management programs can be found in medical labs, production facilities, and more. The sheer volume of opportunities available means that professionals will be able to climb the career ladder and find work in other industries if they need a change. A master’s degree in project management prepares students for career advancement in many of the jobs below.
Construction managers can be found on residential and commercial building projects, working to ensure that plans are followed, crews are coordinated, materials are ordered, budgets are balanced, and proper supervision is maintained throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Projected Growth Rate 5%
Emergency Management Directors
Responding to natural disasters and other emergencies, these project planners must be able to work quickly while also facing immense pressure and a lack of information about the nature of their project.
Projected Growth Rate 6%
Farm, Ranch, or Agricultural Manager
Whether overseeing a small family farm or a national operation, these professionals manage crop production, harvesting, cover crops, and replanting. They also oversee the purchasing of supplies and how crops are sold.
Projected Growth Rate 2%
Industrial Production Manager
IPMs oversee all the functions required for a facility to produce goods for sale. They decide how to best utilize workers and equipment and ensure projects are on budget and on time, review production data, and write reports.
Projected Growth Rate 4%
Whether working with an organization, retailer, or wholesaler, purchasing managers plan, oversee, and coordinate the purchase of services, raw or finished materials, and products needed for a business to function.
Projected Growth Rate 1%
LICENSURE AND CERTIFICATION
Graduates of master’s degrees in project management aren’t typically required to hold licensure, but their are many opportunities to earn them. Individuals often use certificates to either move up in their current field or gain the specialized knowledge needed to take up a project management role in a different industry.
- Project Management Professional: Offered through the Project Management Institute, this is the most recognized PM certification, both domestically and globally. Individuals with a few years of experience in the role are eligible to apply. Acquiring this certification can raise your earning potential.
- Professional in Project Management: Offered by the Global Association for Quality Management, this certificate is comprised of 14 modules that are designed to produce well-rounded project managers.
- Master Project Manager: The American Academy of Project Management provides this certificate to individuals who have at least three years of experience and an approved degree.
Even though positions for project managers have grown, only about half of all these professionals hold advanced degrees or certificates. Individuals with master’s degrees in project management or certifications will stand out from competition and will typically earn a higher salary.
MASTER’S IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT SALARY
There are many factors that affect the pay of project managers, including work setting, level of education, and years of experience. The table below features data from Payscale to help those considering careers as project managers understand the salaries they can expect throughout their professional lives.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20 years)|
|Project Management Director||$122,358||$86,000||$103,000||$145,000|
|Senior Project Manager, IT||$110,899||$93,000||$108,000||$126,000|
|Senior Engineering Project Manager||$111,388||$93,000||$102,000||$126,000|
|Senior Engineering Project Manager||$111,388||$93,000||$102,000||$126,000|
|Program Project Manager||$82,350||$65,000||$84,000||$115,000|
Do I Need to Take the GRE to Enroll in an Online Master’s in Project Management Program?
The graduate record examination is a standardized test used by thousands of universities to determine a prospective student’s fitness for graduate-level study. The exam tests four crucial skills: analytical writing, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service, a national nonprofit that has centers around the country for students to take the exam.
The majority of GRE test takers study for eight to 12 weeks before taking the exam, and many free and paid services are available to help students acquire good scores. Distance learners should complete a practice test as a baseline to determine their areas of focus.
The majority of online master’s degree programs in project management don’t require GRE scores. Some schools, like the University of Kansas, waive the GRE requirement if applicants have at least two years of related professional experience. Other schools, such as the University of Denver and the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, don’t have GRE requirements.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Project Management Degrees
In order to transfer credits, complete an advanced degree, receive a letter of employment, or qualify for licensure, a student must attend an accredited university. Approximately 85% of all higher education institutions are regionally accredited, while the remainder are nationally accredited. Nationally accredited programs typically accept transfer credits from students who attended either type of institution, while regionally accredited schools typically don’t accept nationally accredited transfer credits.
When selecting an online master’s in project management program, students should try to find a school that’s accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Degree seekers can also look for programmatic accreditation from the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Financing Your Online Master’s in Project Management Program
Many companies pay graduates of online master’s degree programs in project management above average salaries, but degree seekers must first figure out how to pay for college before reaping the benefits of their degrees. The first step for graduate students should always be filling out the FAFSA, the government application that provides details on federal scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study options. Other funding sources may include teaching assistantships, research positions, and scholarships/grants provided by private foundations.
Project Management Scholarships
Project Management Institute Education Fund Scholarships Up to $7,500
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be members of the the awarding PMU chapter or be a child or grandchild of a member.
CTU Graduate Scholarship $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: Spring
Eligibility Requirements: Student must submit two essays and a resume and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
Dr. Harold Kerzner Scholarship $7,500
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: Students must attend an accredited institution and demonstrate financial need.
PEG Management Scholarship $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
Eligibility Requirements: Student must hold an undergraduate engineering degree and mail five copies of the completed application to the scholarship panel.
Hawk Consultants Scholarship $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: TBD
Eligibility Requirements: Student must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be enrolled at least part-time, and be formally admitted to the program.