Getting in: The Application Process
Quality programs offering a master’s in project management are often flooded with hopeful candidates, which means acceptance hinges on a standout application. Students should familiarize themselves with the entire process so they may plan accordingly and have sufficient time to complete each step. Most programs will require the following:
GRE and/or GMAT scores
Students bound for grad school usually take the Graduate Record Examination, or for some schools, the Graduate Management Admission Test. The GMAT is geared specifically towards business schools, while the GRE is a general grad school aptitude test. It’s possible to take the exams more than once to improve your numbers if needed.
Moving on to earn a master’s generally requires a student to already hold a bachelor’s degree, often with a minimum GPA. Schools may expect higher grades for foundational courses that the master’s degree builds on, in this case classes in business, management and related subjects. A sample of previous management work, such as application of management skills from a bachelor’s capstone project, may also be requested.
Statement or personal essay
Writing samples not only display communication skills, but also demonstrate a candidate’s passion for the field. For a master’s in project management, schools often require more than one essay, with one addressing why you want to apply to their program, and another asking about your career prospects.
Most graduate programs in project management require that the applicant have several years of practical experience in the field. The average requirement for some programs can be as many as twelve years of previous experience. A strong resume will reflect a candidate’s ability to advance a career.
Letters of recommendation
Supportive letters from former professors, work colleagues or other experts in the field can be a great way to bolster an application. Letters should speak to candidates’ professionalism, organization skills and ability to effectively manage a diverse team.
Some colleges will conduct personal interviews of the most promising candidates. Interviews can be done in person or via video chat for those who don’t live near the physical campus.
Some schools may request financial documents to show how a student will pay for the program. In addition, to apply to financial aid programs—which are available at the federal and state levels, as well as through private sources—students will need ready access to information about their income and assets.
During the first year of an online master’s program, students dedicate themselves to learning the fundamentals of project management, including skills and techniques used for cost control, resource allocation, procurement practices, and problem-solving strategies, as well as how those are applied specifically in the corporate and public sectors. Other topics cover the concepts, methodologies and analytical techniques necessary to develop successful leadership and management skills.
Students take courses that focus on their chosen concentrations, as well as courses that fulfill other degree requirements, such as a capstone project. A career development course designed to improve employment opportunities may also be part of the second year’s work. In addition to finishing required coursework that will meet their concentration credits, students begin complete their work on final projects.
Testing & Graduation Requirements
In addition to coursework, graduation from an online program in project management requires that students demonstrate they have gained the full complement of skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the field. Most schools expect students to complete one or more of the following:
Closely related to the student’s concentration, this project demonstrates the student’s ability to generate unique ideas and support them with research; students present their ideas and findings during the second year. For master’s in project management students, the capstone demonstrates their ability to apply their classroom learning to practical problems like they would in the workplace.
This provides real-world experience in a position related to the student’s concentration. An internship might be set up through the college, or students might find one on their own. Internships also offer a potential avenue to employment after graduation.
The thesis caps the master’s pursuit with a report or presentation that includes original research and theories on a project management issue. Depending on the school, the thesis may be optional, and instead substituted with a practical internship.
This examination tests the knowledge and project management skills that should have been gained throughout the master’s program. Studying for this exam is intensive and should begin well in advance, typically beginning in the first year of a program.