Milestone Map for Project Managers
When considering a degree program, it’s easy to see it as simply a starting or end point. But it often serves as a bridge between previous milestones and those yet to be reached. The following map shows a big-picture view of one woman’s life before and after earning her online MBA in project management.
Active in student clubs, organizes drama department’s costume closet
Majors in business and leads sorority’s annual fundraising event
Landed position as a business analyst at a consulting firm
Completes online MBA in project management to leverage her organization skills
Boss gives her a shot at being project lead for a small team
After years of stepping up to take on projects, offered role as VP of Operations
Getting a Project Management MBA Online
Enrolling in an online MBA program offers many benefits compared to taking a similar program on a physical campus. By taking an MBA in project management online, students can learn on their own schedule while still taking advantage of all the resources offered by the school when it comes to networking, career planning and academic advising.
Since online courses can be completed at home, students do not have to pay on-campus residence fees, and they can save the time and money they would otherwise spend commuting to and from campus. However, depending on the university and program, students may be required to show up on campus to take exams.
After deciding to enroll in an online MBA in project management program, students can expect to learn a broad number of skills applicable to business management, such as ethical reasoning, critical and creative thinking, corporate planning and leadership, and decision-making and execution. They should also come away with a solid grasp of how to manage personnel within time and budget constraints, mold efficient organizations to accomplish projects, understand and incorporate diversity within the workforce, and solve problems via various organizational methods and tools. Each of these skills will be honed by applying their new knowledge to a variety of real-world case studies.
Online Options for Project Management MBAs
There are many different online learning options catering to different kinds of MBA students, but the three basic types are the executive online MBA, the part-time online MBA and the full-time MBA.
- Executive (2 years)
- Part-time (3+ years)
- Full-time (2 years)
An online executive MBA in project management is built for students who are seasoned business professionals but who lack deep experience with project management. This program offers flexibility in terms of self-paced learning, allowing individuals to pursue higher education while working full time. In addition, companies may sponsor employees who choose to earn an EMBA in project management, covering some or all of their tuition.
Many business professionals desire further education but are unable to allocate the time and resources needed to pursue it full time. This is why part-time MBAs in project management are a great choice and are readily offered by many schools. Traditional part-time programs often feature weekend or evening classes, allowing students to stick to their normal working schedules and attain an MBA in their free time. Online programs offer even more flexibility, especially those with asynchronous learning environments.
A typical full-time MBA in project management program demands an average of 20 hours of study weekly. At this pace, students can expect to finish the program in two years, but they can complete it in less time if they take a heavier course load. These programs are the most popular option for online students looking to save money on residence and travel expenses.
Standard Classes in Project Management MBAs
While colleges may differ in the approaches they use to teach the fundamentals of business and project management, the content is often similar. Here are a few common courses students can expect to take during an online MBA in project management program:
Focusing on the role of management in a business or corporate environment, courses in strategic planning teach students how to achieve project goals and objectives with a variety of limitations. Students will learn how to adhere to project goals, budgets, human resource constraints, and deadlines.
Auditing and Financial Accounting
Financial know-how is essential for any student working towards an MBA, and this is also true when it comes to management positions. Courses in auditing and accounting teach students the fundamentals of accounting, including how to read, prepare and understand financial statements; apply costs to decision-making; and evaluate financial resources to determine their suitability for future projects.
Cases in Applied Project Management
Staples of MBA programs, such courses teach students the skills they need to succeed at planning, organizing and managing projects from start to finish. Using real-world case studies and often involving a group project, students in these classes should learn to utilize appropriate management strategies and leverage the tools at their disposal.
Organizational behavior courses teach students various theoretical models that help explain not only how individuals and groups behave but also how their behaviors shape the way an organization functions. Instructors often present various organizational designs and management practices for consideration.
Project Tools and Techniques
These courses teach students the available tools and techniques for planning, monitoring and accomplishing project objectives within organizations. They often focus on teaching students how to determine which tools are best for various situations.
Finding an Online MBA That Meets Your Needs
At this stage in the process, students often have a list of business schools they would like to apply to for their project management MBA degree. Here are several tips to shorten the list and focus on quality over quantity:
- Make sure the program fits your career goals and lifestyleConsiderations when deciding if a program fits include reasonable application deadlines and start dates, a flexible online option for learning and testing, and 24/7 availability of certain resources.
- Make sure you are eligible to applyMBAs in project management often require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. While not all business schools require the GMAT for admission, many still do, so students should check the minimum score requirements.
- Check each school’s accreditation statusIf a school is not properly accredited, any degree it bestows will probably not be taken seriously by employers.
- Visit target schools (either on campus or virtually)While there is plenty of information available about schools online, the best way to learn about a program is by speaking with students as well as the admissions office. These individuals can share learning expectations and give a sense of the school’s atmosphere.
- Make a list of desired support services and check that they are available to online studentsOnline students should have access to the same networking tools and advisory bodies available to students on campus. Look for connections to career and academic planning advisors and internship coordinators, who should all be available to speak online.
- Explore your options for financial aidWith proper funding, an online MBA in project management does not have to be a massive drain on students’ wallets. Nearly all schools offer financial aid to qualified applicants. Members of the military and veterans can also check if they qualify for the GI Bill.
- Look at tuition costsTuition costs should obviously meet an applicant’s budget expectations and be comparable to other schools. Remember, however, to be realistic — the MBA in project management should be treated as an investment.
Business School Accreditation: Why It’s Important
Accreditation is vitally important for business school programs, including project management MBA programs. It tells students that the educational product they are getting has been reviewed by educators and businesspeople and judged to be of value. Just as importantly, only accredited schools recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) may participate in federal financial aid programs.
Educating yourself further about MBA accreditation and the overall accreditation process on is highly recommended.
Getting Ready to Study Project Management
Preparation is key when it comes to applying to an MBA program in project management. The following table provides a basic timeline students can follow, with key dates to consider during the application process.
||Time Before Program Start Date
Earn bachelor’s degree
|2 years, 3 months
Gain entry-level work experience in business, marketing or finance.
Apply to your short list of schools
11 months for first round of admissions
8 months for second round of admissions
Along with these steps, students can also take part in various organizations or extracurricular activities that might give them an edge while applying for an online MBA in project management program.
- Join a professional organization or club. This can be a local group interested in cultivating management skills or a member association such as the Project Management Institute (PMI).
- Take high school classes in business and undergraduate classes in management. Many schools offer a bachelor’s degree in business management, but students can also take standalone online classes.
- Organize a volunteer event to bolster planning skills. This type of experience not only fills out a resume, but also shows initiative and drive.
Post-MBA Career Possibilities
With the right experience and knowledge in business and management, graduates of an online MBA in project management program have multiple potential career options in various sectors. Here are five management-level careers for graduates with an online MBA in project management:
Information Systems Manager
For those who also have an IT background, becoming an information systems manager is a good start. These individuals help plan, coordinate and direct various computer and technology-related activities within companies and organizations. Simply put, they make sure their organization’s employees have the hardware and software needed to do their jobs effectively.
Administrative Services Manager
Able to work across industries, administrative services managers are tasked with planning, directing and coordinating an organization’s support services. Since their responsibilities vary according to the kind of business they work for, they may be responsible for keeping records, distributing communications documents, or planning and maintaining facilities.
Marketing managers are responsible for planning programs capable of generating interest for products or services. They oversee and work with art directors, sales agents and financial staff members.
These individuals plan, coordinate and supervise construction projects, all while staying within budget. Most construction managers work from an onsite office so they can directly oversee the project.
At the executive level, operations managers coordinate multiple projects, ensuring that various departments work well together to deliver supplies and services.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Project Management Certifications
Business professionals who want to stand out to potential employers can choose to earn any number of project management-related certifications. Here are a few examples:
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
An entry-level qualification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the CAPM is designed for project managers or project management students with little work experience. In order to qualify, one must have at least a high school diploma and 1500 hours of professional experience on a project team or at least 23 contact hours of project management education.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The PMP, also offered by PMI, is the most common and well-respected professional certification for project managers. To qualify, individuals must possess a high school diploma, 7,500 hours of professional experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education. Alternatively, one can also qualify with a bachelor’s degree, three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours of professional experience in leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education.
Related Online MBAs to Consider
While an MBA in project management offers valuable knowledge and skills that can advance graduates toward a management position within a business environment, here are some other, similar MBA degrees that may better complement some students’ personal skills and career objectives:
Students more interested in working with numbers than managing people may consider the MBA in accounting. In such a program, they’ll get to focus on taxes, projections and audits — all of which are critical to financial management of a project or company.
Whereas project managers are often focused on the internal workings of a team, marketers keep their eye on the final product that external audiences will see. Creative students should take a look at MBA in marketing programs.
in International Business
Students interested in the global economy may find a home in an MBA in international business program, where they will study world markets and international trade relations.
Project Management Organizations
Anyone interested in project management and looking for a group of like-minded individuals can find them at the following links, which are full of resources for their members, whether they are professionals or students: