Project managers can work in many industries—from health care to engineering to information technology and beyond. No matter what field they choose, these professionals can get the training they need through online master’s programs in project management. Find out what you’ll study in this program, the skills you’ll develop and what career paths an advanced degree can lead to. Plus, discover the best online master’s in PM programs.
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:
Students who enroll in project management master’s degree programs learn how to oversee different types of projects from conception to completion. But finding the right graduate school can be a project in and of itself. Not all schools are created equally, so students should carefully choose which program they enroll in. Using data from the Department of Education and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, plus information supplied by graduate schools, we have compiled a list of the best online project management master’s programs that can help students build the foundation for a successful career.
|Rank||School Logo||School Name||Location||Tuition||Financial Aid||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||# of Online Programs||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Charleston Southern University||Charleston, South Carolina||$3,750||98%||61%||35%||1||No||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Charleston Southern University's online program offers a Master of Science in Project Management for distance learners. This accelerated degree program, consisting of 36 semester hours, focuses on training students to be strong participants in the modern global marketplace and takes less than 2 years to complete. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree with a 2.75 GPA or higher. Those who don't meet admissions standards may be considered for admission at the discretion of the Dean. Applications should include official transcripts, application fee and a professional resume. For this flexible program, students may start classes at 2 points during each spring, summer or fall semester. Consequently, admission deadlines are flexible but, for full consideration, students should submit all application materials at least 2 weeks before the start of their classes. Incoming students may transfer up to 6 semester hours from a regionally accredited graduate business program, provided the courses have an "A" or "B" grade. Pass/Fail courses are not eligible for transfer. Online students have access to counseling services, financial aid guidance, information technology services and Christian-based spiritual counseling.School website
|2||New England College||Henniker, New Hampshire||$13,560||77%||99%||36%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Distance learners can take advantage of New England College's online Master of Business Administration in Project Management degree. Degree seekers in this program study business strategies, quality analysis and various types of management techniques to prepare for leadership positions in the field. Students may be full time or part time and complete 40 credit hours to be eligible for graduation. Full-time students typically can complete degree requirements in as few as 20 months. The Project Management curriculum constitutes 12 credits and includes the 3-credit classes Supply Chain Management, Quality Analysis for Technology and Project Management. Applications must consist of a professional resume and official transcripts. Master's students can utilize the Office of Career and Life Planning for help with career development plans, locating internships and making connections that will pay off in the competitive job market. Incoming master's students may be able to transfer up to 8 credits from previous work at regionally-accredited institutions. To be considered for transfer, classes need a grade of "B" or better.School website
|3||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, Florida||$9,630||100%||70%||43%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Saint Leo University offers a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management entirely online. This program prepares students for careers in the entertainment, health care, business, technology and defense industries with an intensive curriculum of hands-on assignments and participatory learning. Accredited by the Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), this 36-credit-hour, business-centered program includes core courses such as Marketing, Strategic Management and Global Business Management. Saint Leo's Student Life Department connects distance learners with virtual student clubs, including special interest business groups, and online course orientation. Student advisers are available to distance learners to help them get the most out of their online program. Interested students must submit an online application, a current resume reflecting at least 2 years of previous work experience in the field, 2 letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a transcript release form for each previously attended college or university and GMAT scores.School website
|4||Bellevue University||Bellevue, Nebraska||$9,810||62%||-||32%||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (GAC), the Master of Project Management degree at Bellevue University is available to distance learners entirely online. Bellevue students complete a project-based, hands-on curriculum to prepare for careers in business, government and other industries in which project managers thrive. This business-driven program helps students understand project planning, budget delegation, customer satisfaction and leadership roles in the field. Students complete 36 credit hours, including required courses like Cost Control in Projects, Schedule Management, Organizational Structures and Practices, and Agile Project Management. Master's students must also take an Applied Project Management Capstone course. Distance learners at Bellevue pay the same tuition fees as on-campus students at $575 per credit hour. In addition to 3 years of work experience in the field, applicants should have a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 2.5 GPA or better during their last 60 credits of coursework.School website
|5||Sam Houston State University||Huntsville, Texas||$5,139||25%||72%||56%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Distance learners can take advantage of Sam Houston State University's online Master of Science in Project Management degree. This program prepares graduate students to deal with ever-changing business environments that require organized, technology-savvy professionals with leadership qualities. Students complete 36 credit hours for graduation and learn to carry out projects through to completion, manage complex job assignments and work with others as a team. Students may apply using the ApplyTexas application. Full-time distance learners at SHSU can expect to pay $345.66 per credit hour. Applicants for this graduate program should hold a baccalaureate degree with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Prospective students should submit official transcripts, application fee and their results from the GRE, GMAT or Miller Analogy Test. Online students at SHSU have access to academic resources, including the school's library center and online library services. Additionally, students can take advantage of the support offered by the Career Services Office, such as job search assistance and interview preparation, as well as therapy services through the Counseling Center.School website
|6||University of Wisconsin-Platteville||Platteville, Wisconsin||$7,640||33%||80%||54%||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers an online Master of Science in Project Management degree. Students in this 100% online program learn how to manage budgets, create business connections, effectively manage teams of professionals and ultimately follow-through on business projects and assignments. This 30-36 credit consists of 15 credits of core courses and 12-15 credits of electives. Distance learners can choose an optional area of emphasis including Managing Engineering Projects, Human Capital Administration or Integrative Supply Chain Management. No GRE or GMAT score is required for admission, but prospective students must have an undergraduate degree with a 2.75 GPA or higher. Those who don't meet standard admission requirements may be considered for trial enrollment. Applicants for the master's degree need only to submit their official transcripts, application fee and a detailed resume outlining any relevant employment history. Incoming students may be eligible to transfer a maximum of 12 credits toward the master's degree provided they were earned at a regionally accredited institution with a "B" or higher. For graduation, all degree requirements must be completed within 7 years of a student's starting date.School website
|7||Granite State College||Concord, New Hampshire||$8,208||6%||-||21%||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The Master of Science in Project Management degree is available online at Granite State College. Distance learners in this program work through a business-heavy curriculum to develop effective decision-making skills and other essential characteristics for managing projects from start to finish. Students need a minimum of 30 credits for graduation, including a Project Management Integrative Capstone course. Required management courses include Project Planning and Scheduling; Risk Management; Cost and Budget Management; Negotiation, Contracting and Procurement and at least one elective of the student's choosing. Granite State does its best to grant students credit for military training based on the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations. The school also maximizes military education benefits by actively participating in the Post 9/11 Yellow Ribbon Program and offering a 15% discount per credit. Military students are eligible for open admission and may start their coursework at any of the 8 start times per year. Prospective students for this master's degree should have an undergraduate 3.0 GPA and must submit a personal statement, 2 signed letters of recommendation, a current resume and official transcripts from all previous college work. The GRE and GMAT aren't required for admission.School website
|8||Colorado State University-Global Campus||Greenwood Village, Colorado||$9,000||-||-||-||1||Yes||No||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The Colorado State University-Global Campus delivers an online Master of Project Management degree. Accredited by Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center (GAC), this degree enables online students to develop organizational and leadership skills necessary for managing projects and teams in a variety of fields. CSU-Global students engage in a predominantly business-driven curriculum to learn about risk management, cost management, leadership and relevant technology. Graduates often move on to careers as project planners, project managers, coordinators, engineers and hold a multitude of leadership positions. Courses for this 36-credit degree are delivered asynchronously and can be completed on any time frame. All students pay the same online tuition rate, $500 per credit hour, regardless of their location. Prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Those with lower GPAs are considered for provisional admission. Interested students should also send in a completed application form, statement of purpose describing long-term goals, a professional resume and their results on the SmartMeasure Assessment.School website
|9||City University of Seattle||Seattle, Washington||$13,914||-||-||-||1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
The City University of Seattle offers a 45-credit Master of Science in Project Management degree. Students who hold a bachelor's degree, regardless of the field, and wish to understand organizing and project leadership skills are encouraged to apply. Online students learn to develop critical skills to manage and organize progressive work in business settings, help individuals and businesses take advantage of new opportunities and ultimately expand their businesses. This curriculum is designed to help graduates be competitive for senior-level jobs in a variety of industries, including information and computer technology, manufacturing and governmental positions. Incoming students may receive credit for prior work experience and must consult with CityU's Prior Learning Assessment program. Incoming students must have a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited Institution. Competitive applications should include a completed application form, application fee and proof of English proficiency. Students at CityU have access to an extensive number of online and in-person resources including employer networking events and seminars, the CityU alumni network and one-on-one career counseling, job planning and interview preparation. Additionally, CityU distance learners can take advantage of academic and emotional counseling and access to the library's full-text journals, e-books and research assistance.School website
|10||Golden Gate University||San Francisco, California||$17,550||-||-||-||1||No||Yes||Yes||Tweet this Share this||
Golden State University is a private nonprofit school founded in 1901. The school offers an online Master of Science in Project Management. Golden State teaches online students the essential skills in project management at the local and global business levels. Students take a total of 33 units from Project Management Professional-Certified faculty to graduate. Classes are generally 3 units each, including core courses like Quality Management and Process Improvement, and Managing Innovation and Technology. Master's students also select 6 units of electives such as Organizational Behavior, Negotiating in Business and Marketing Management. Golden State offers job search assistance, development workshops and provides leads on internship opportunities through the Office of Career Planning. Applicants for this graduate program need only to submit their official transcripts and an application fee. Golden State also makes a special effort to help active duty military, including tuition discounts, relocation assistance, connecting veterans on campus and academic or personal counseling.School website
Project management can be a demanding field that requires professionals to juggle many activities at once. To meet these demands, they need many valuable skills. The following are examples of some of the abilities that can be developed while earning a master’s in project management.
Although a master's in project management and an MBA in project management both address the strategies that workers use, the curriculum addresses them in different ways. Students who enroll in a master’s program delve deep into the theories of project management strategy and how those theories are applied to real-world situations. An MBA program focuses less on project management theory and more on the nuts and bolts of business. In addition, MBA programs in project management require coursework in other areas of business, such as accounting and finance.
Students in project management master’s degree programs get a comprehensive look at how professionals successfully bring projects to fruition. Below is an overview of some of the common courses offered in such a program.
Since many organizations operate on a global scale, sometimes professionals are required to manage projects at an international level. Students who take this course learn how culture, international law and regulations impact these types of projects.
This course examines the rigors of managing multiple projects. Future and current project managers gain an understanding of the theory and practice behind juggling multiple complicated projects at once.
Project managers are required to be skilled negotiators in different settings. Students who enroll in this class learn negotiation tactics that can be used when working with potential customers, employers and contractors.
Some projects have constraints that make them unmanageable or unprofitable. This class teaches how to assess the feasibility of a project by looking at financial control issues, risk, and project life cycles.
Students in this class learn best practices in assessing the risk of a project. The curriculum provides an overview of assessment tools, risk analysis models, and monitoring strategies.
Students in a project management graduate program may have the option of taking a comprehensive exam to prove their competency in the curriculum. Also, students may choose to write a thesis, where they conduct research relevant to the coursework they completed under the supervision of a department faculty member. In some programs, students may be required to complete both.
Project management principles can be applied in a number of sectors, but how those principles are applied may differ depending on the industry. As a result, students may have the opportunity to concentrate their studies on a specific area, which helps them gain the expertise necessary to work in a certain field. The following are examples of the specializations students may enroll in.
This specialization focuses on how fraud is investigated and prevented in organizations. Students may take classes about how the law defines and handles fraud, the tools and methods used to detect it, and how fraud data is analyzed.Health Care
Those who want to work in health care can get information on law and policy, health care administration, and the finances of medical facilities through this concentration. Students may also be given a look at the current challenges that health care managers face.Leadership
Project managers need strong leadership skills in order to ensure each member of a team does their part in making a project successful. This concentration teaches those skills through coursework in ethical leadership, strategy development, and innovation in organizational leadership.Organizational Communication
Students who enroll in this concentration hone their organizational communication skills through courses in crisis communication, intercultural communication, negotiation, and mediation. Through this coursework, students learn how to create a strong organizational culture that is rooted in effective communication among team members.Public Administration
Learners who would like to work for government agencies or nonprofit organizations can enroll in this specialization to learn the unique challenges project managers face in this area. The curriculum may cover public sector leadership strategies, finance and budgeting, and how nongovernmental organizations are run.
Project management is a broad field and professionals have the opportunity to work in numerous settings. The following are examples of the different career paths graduates can take once they complete their master’s in project management degree.
These types of project managers supervise commercial and residential building projects, which can entail taking the lead on many administrative duties, such as scheduling workers. Other tasks include creating proposals, working closely with clients to ensure their needs are being met and performing quality control testing.Engineering Project Manager
Engineering project managers are responsible for taking a leading role in specialized engineering projects. Work duties include creating and maintaining financial records for projects, overseeing project testing to ensure it meets the outlined specifications and certifying that all projects adhere to relevant safety regulations.Information Technology Project Manager
Project managers interested in hardware or software development can fill these jobs, which involve applying software life cycle methodology to projects, testing projects and overseeing modifications as necessary, and creating a project plan that outlines when all tasks are to be completed. Information technology project managers also work with technical teams to design and develop projects.Marketing Project Manager
These professionals manage marketing campaigns from start to finish, ensuring that they convey their intended message effectively, while adhering to strict deadlines. This involves assigning tasks to members of a team and making sure each one is completed on time. These project managers help to design advertisements, branding efforts and marketing campaigns.
As technology advances, the way that project managers do their job evolves. One way to stay on top of changes in the industry is by participating in professional associations, such as the ones described below.
This organization provides information on industry trends, educational opportunities and benefits available to people in the industry. The group also offers consulting services.
The IAPM grants several certifications, including the Certified Project Manager, Certified Agile Project Manager, Certified Junior Project Manager and Certified International Project Manager. The association also has professional support groups and committees.
This group serves project managers in the construction industry by providing news about the field and an annual conference. There is also an awards program to recognize innovation in the profession.
PMI members can take advantage of the organization’s pre-made project plans, a guidebook that outlines international best practices and webinars. The Institute also provides professional certifications including the Program Management Professional (PgMP)®, PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® and Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
Since most industries require project managers, there are an abundance of project management roles available, especially for those with an advanced degree like a master’s in project management. However, depending on the role, additional training or certifications in a related field may be necessary in addition to coursework in project management.
|Career||Lowest 10% Earned Annually||Median Annual Salary||Highest 10% Earned Annually||Job Growth 2016-2026|
|Construction Manager||Less than $54,810||$91,370||More than $159,560||+11%|
|Architectural and Engineering Project Managers||Less than $88,050||$137,720||More than $208,000||+6%|
|Information Systems Project Manager||Less than $83,860||$139,220||More than $208,000||+12%|
|Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Project Manager||Less than $48,150||$106,130||More than $208,000||+10%|
|Training and Development Manager||Less than $59,170||$108,250||More than $187,670||+10%|
|Social and Community Service Manager||Less than $39,730||$64,100||More than $109,990||+18%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
According to the Job Growth and Talent Gap in Project Management report published by the Project Management Institute, by 2027, 8.8 million project management related jobs will be created, in part because many workers qualified to fill these positions are retiring. Exact growth trends will depend on the specific industry. The sectors that will see the most growth in the coming years will be health care, construction, finance, and oil and gas.
Earning a master’s degree in project management will help train the workers needed to fill these positions. The degrees also position workers to increase their earning potential. According to The Center on Education and the Workforce, workers who have a bachelor’s degree make $2.3 million in lifetime earnings, while those with master’s degrees will make $2.7 million.
Project managers are tasked with making important decisions about which contractors to use, materials to buy and clauses in contracts to negotiate. One of the most important decisions these professionals will make is where to train for their career. In order to get the quality education they need, students should choose a school that has been accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). Schools that have earned accreditation from these organizations are certified for their quality curriculum, research efforts and faculty members.
Much of the work of project managers deals with finance and budgeting—and many of them can begin developing this skill when exploring ways to keep their education costs down.
In order to find financial aid opportunities, students should begin by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much they can receive in federal loans and grants.
In addition, students may be able to receive scholarships from industry organizations. For example, the Dallas, Orange County and Pittsburgh chapters of the Project Management Institute provide scholarships to graduate students. Also, the International Institute for Learning, in conjunction with the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation, offers a scholarship for this degree program.
In some cases, project management students may be able to win scholarships from the school they attend. Boston University, for example, offers funding for students in its graduate degree program.