Everything You Need to Know About Pursuing a Project Management Degree
Are you someone who likes to work with people? Do you have the potential to be a leader? Do you enjoy working in teams? Then a project management degree may be a good choice for you. A career path in project management is exciting and non-repetitive which requires creativity, adaptability, good decision-making skills, and the willingness to continuously learn new things to overcome potential problems. Throughout this article, we’ll give you an overview of the degree options available in project management, employability, possible jobs/positions, and basically anything that you may need to know about this unique field of study/work.
What is Project Management?
A project is a chain of tasks that need to be done in order to reach specific goals and outcomes. Project managers are the focal point of any specific project. They oversee the whole project from the starting point to the finish line and it’s their responsibility to turn the project’s goals into achievements and deliver the project in time. Project managers build teams and assign roles to team members based on their knowledge and skills while also guiding them. Project managers are the connection point between the upper management and the project’s team, they must periodically update the upper management with current project progress through various communication methods like giving presentations and writing progress reports.
Duties of a project manager include:
- Evaluate and assess the outcomes of the projects.
- Define, plan, and execute projects.
- Set project scope, goals and deliverables.
- Define tasks and required resources.
- Build and manage the project’s team.
- Manage available budget.
- Define and allocate required project resources.
- Track deliverables.
- Guide teams.
- Share best practices when possible.
- Lead quality assurance.
- Monitor and report to upper management and stakeholders about the project’s progress as well as the problem statement and the proposed solutions.
- Be adaptable to change and unexpected circumstances.
What Careers can you do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management?
Project managers are found across various industries including construction, information technology, healthcare, engineering, and many others which implies that project managers have different knowledge backgrounds. For example, a project manager who works in construction projects needs to build a solid background about the construction industry. Many project management degrees include curriculums designed specifically for certain industries and some general project management degree include electives with a concentration on specific subjects depending on the preferred industry of the student.
Common career options for project management majors include:
The manufacturing industry requires project managers for many reasons. It was one of the first industries to implement project management as a formal practice. Project managers in manufacturing play a crucial role in the success of the facility since their duties have a huge impact on production rates, manufacturing costs, ergonomics and safety, and improving the facility layout. Project managers who work in the manufacturing industry usually have an engineering background but it’s not always the case. Examples:
- Resource allocation and utilization.
- Creation of enterprise projects that support the overall business objectives.
- Initiate quality improvement projects.
- Replacement and re-engineering of machine components.
- Installation of new pieces of equipment.
- Installing and expanding production lines.
- Eliminating waste and non-value adding actions (lean production).
Construction project managers set the scope for construction projects whether that project is a school, skyscraper, or a small building. Construction project managers work closely with engineers, architects, and workers to make sure the project’s goals are being met within a specific time frame and within budget. Duties of a construction project manager include:
- Time management. Time is a critical factor in construction projects since they are usually done for clients who usually set particular time frames for the projects.
- Budget management. Construction costs can get very high so in order not to exceed the budget, they need to be kept in control.
- Resource Allocation. Construction projects require a lot of equipment from spirit levels to heavy duty bulldozers. Construction project managers need to make sure that the equipment is utilized in the best possible way.
This industry is very popular among recent project management graduates. It’s easy to start your career in project management by launching a management consulting firm.
Operations are the regular activities of the organization that are always running such as production or accounting. Operations project managers lead projects that are specified to a certain operation and makes sure they are implemented efficiently and effectively with defined problems and outcomes. They also Identify associated project risks and find potential solutions that achieve business goals.
How Much do Project Management Majors Make out of College?
A career in project management can be very rewarding depending on your skills, knowledge, and The median pay for a public relations graduate is roughly $91,370 per year. The salary depends on the industry you choose to work in, your knowledge base and skills, and the employer. Even though pursuing a degree can be consuming and expensive, you shouldn’t exclusively bias your decision based on salary only. Make sure you have a good idea about the criteria and skill-set required to succeed in the field, especially interpersonal and soft skills.
What Certification Will I Need to Work in Project Management?
When it comes to credentials in project management, there are numerous available options to choose from. The most well-known and prestigious certification is the Project Management Professional ® (PMP). It’s considered to be the standard for many businesses and employers across the U.S and other parts of the world. Prerequisites for the PMP certification are:
- A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
- 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
- Four-year degree
- 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
Other available certifications include Master Project Manager (MPM), Certified ScrumMaster(CSM), and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).
Different Levels of Project Management Degrees
Certificate of project management
Earning a certificate in project management can be a good option for those working in any type of industry where projects exist. People who consider it may want to be able to qualify for a position as a project manager in future projects planned by their organizations. It can also be complementary to a higher level degree in project management. The most widely recognized certification in this field of study is the Project Management Professional (PMP).
Associate’s Degree in Project Management
An associate’s in project management is a 2-year degree that offers introductory-level courses that provide the fundamental knowledge and basics of project management and its terminology. It can be a good starting point for those interested in project management to pursue higher-level degrees later on.
Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management
A bachelor’s degree in project management usually takes about 4 years to complete. Some institutions offer 3-year degrees too. This degree usually includes an emphasis on managing projects, defining project goals, coordinating organizational tasks, teamwork skills, and assessing the project’s profitability. It’s usually required to complete a minimum of 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor’s degree in project management.
Master’s Degree in Project Management
A master’s in project management is a graduate degree that offers extensive professional studies. Most project management degrees at the master’s level focus on the theory of management while also emphasizing practical training and techniques. You’ll gain soft skills like critical thinking and learn how to apply them to solving unexpected problems that impact the project’s progress. There’s no exact time of completion for this degree as it generally depends on the school offering the degree and the number of academic credits that must be earned. Typically it takes two years to complete the degree.
Doctoral Degree in Project Management
Students who are interested in pursuing an academic research and teaching career choose to pursue a doctoral degree in project management. There is no exact time of completion for this degree as it highly depends on the institute offering the degree. Students extensively study budget management and cost control in addition to risk assessment and progress reports.
Different Types of Bachelor Project Management Degrees
Project management is usually combined with another field of study in the same program depending on the industry the program is tailored for. You gain knowledge in your field of interest while simultaneously acquiring project management skills related to the specific industry that the program prepares you for. Degree types include:
Bachelor of Science in Operations and Project Management Degree
In this program, you’ll learn how to plan and execute operations including demand forecasting, supply chain management, inventory control, supply chain collaboration, and production planning while also learning about effective initiation, monitoring, and termination of projects. This unique program is designed for students interested in planning and executing projects related to the production of goods and services in the manufacturing and service sectors. The curriculum usually includes coursework in six sigma quality management, project management, business analytics, and supply chain management. The program outcomes are:
- Model business problems and find an optimal solution.
- Use predictive modeling to predict future business outcomes.
- Understand the core techniques of business analytics.
- Have a good understanding of the different operations within organizations.
- Know the difference between a project and an operation.
- Application of project management techniques in managing analytics projects.
- Analyze historical data to discover correlations and relationships in business.
Bachelor of Science in Management and Leadership Degree
While other degree options primarily focus on project management, this program is a more general approach that prepares graduates to work in many managerial areas such as human resources management and executive, in addition to project management. The curriculum includes courses in leadership, principles of management, Human resources management, training and development, negotiation skills, Business Organizational Behavior, and interpersonal skills. Program outcomes include:
- Build and lead cross-functional teams.
- Acquire communication and critical problem-solving skills.
- Apply managerial skills and knowledge in different managerial areas.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Project Management degree
This program provides students with knowledge and skills in managing operations and projects. The program is mainly a business administration degree with an emphasis on project management. You’ll learn how to plan, evaluate, and implement organizational projects according to business standards. Typical coursework in this program covers topics in resource estimating and scheduling, adaptive project management, integrated cost and schedule control, Business economics, financial accounting, business ethics, and strategic management. Learning outcomes include:
- Manage and implement projects that meet the organizational and stakeholder requirements.
- Understand core business concepts.
- Using data collection to find solutions to business problems.
- Build and lead cross-functional teams.
- Learn effective communication to achieve business needs.
Bachelor of Science in Construction Management Degree
In this program, You’ll learn all about the process of construction of buildings and large-scale infrastructures and the business, management, and engineering principles required for that. You’ll develop relevant knowledge in the basic science, mathematics, and technical disciplines mandatory to work in the field. The coursework covers topics in graphics, construction project management, construction surveying, Legal Frameworks and regulations, construction equipment management, materials science and engineering, planning and estimating scheduling, and building codes. You will also learn computer applications and software for construction, in addition to the essentials of business management and construction and contract law. By the end of this program, you’ll develop a strong background about the construction industry and managing construction projects. Program outcomes include:
- Apply knowledge of science, mathematics, and management in the construction industry.
- Plan and execute construction projects.
- Apply research and problem-solving skills.
- Realize the effect of contemporary issues on the construction industry.
Bachelor of Science in Technology Project Management Degree
This program prepares students for many management positions within the technology field. Typical coursework integrates mathematics, accounting, finance, production, computer networking, professional writing, and CIS with concurrent project management methodologies. Graduates can work in many industries including information technology, health care, construction, service, and manufacturing.
Project Management Degree Requirements and Prerequisites
Most Institutions offering project management programs need a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Some institutions may accept as low as a 2.0 GPA, while other selective institutions may require a GPA of 3.75 or higher.
For a non-US citizen, demonstration of English proficiency is usually required through IELTS or TOEFL certification.
- Official copies of SAT or ACT scores
- Letter(s) of recommendation
- Admission application
- IELTS/TOEFL score
- Official high school transcripts
- Professional credentials evaluation with GPA ( for graduate programs)
- Level of achievement
- Personal interview
What you learn in a Bachelor’s in Project Management Program
Project management majors need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills as well as distinctive leadership skills. Programs in project management offer coursework that enhances these skills through theory and practice. Typical coursework includes:
Introduction to Project Management
This is an introductory course that is usually taught in the first semester of a bachelor’s degree. You’ll learn the fundamental principles and techniques used in this field and how to effectively apply them. This course focuses on essential concepts like making a problem statement, identifying customers and stakeholders, and writing a project overview statement. You’ll also learn how to plan and control projects while considering different factors like risk assessment, cost management, quality control, scheduling, and setting the project’s scope.
Project Schedule and Cost Management
In this course, you’ll learn how to balance the trade-offs between the project’s scope, time frame, and associated costs while also meeting the deliverables of the project. You’ll also Learn to apply value management techniques in optimizing schedules and evaluating the conformity of actual work to set the baselines of the project.
In this course, you’ll learn about the concept of quality, quality management tools, six sigma methodology, metrology, and error prediction. You’ll also learn how to identify root-causes of defects and how to eliminate them by determining the severity of each of them.
Leadership and Team Building
In this course, you’ll learn the principles of effective leadership, and methods for applying those principles in practice. Topics include developing effective leadership skills, problem-solving techniques, and establishing goodwill among stakeholders. Students also get the chance to learn about the personal and organizational factors of adequate leadership through case studies.
In this course, you’ll develop a good understanding of the process and product development, and quality improvement. You’ll also learn about the tools used in the production of goods and services. Students learn key concepts in operations, quality, and process management, and assess how these concepts can be used to effectively compete in the industry. Students also learn the principles of mathematical modeling and its applications in making decisions related to operations, inventory, quality, supply chain, and materials requirements.
This course teaches the skills necessary to identify, analyze, assess, categorize, control, and alleviate project risk. You’ll learn how risk is being managed across different industries and the factors that introduce risk. Students also learn about the necessary tools to reduce risks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to have an accredited project management degree?
There are two types of accreditation: regional and national accreditation. National accreditations agencies are not tied to a specific geographic area, unlike regional agencies. The major difference between the two is credit transfer. Regionally-accredited institutions usually don’t accept credit from nationally-accredited institutions while nationally-accredited institutions accept credit from both nationally and regionally accredited institutions. There are three main national business bodies: AACSB, ACBSP, and IACBE; in addition to six regional bodies: WASC, NCSU, NCACS, SACS, MSACS, and NEASC. Accreditation is an important factor when considering to enroll in a project management program because it gives credibility to your degree thus improving your chances with employers.
How long does it take to get a project management degree?
The duration of completion depends on the level of the degree you are taking. An associate’s degree requires 2 years to complete while a bachelor’s degree takes roughly 4 years with a minimum of 120 credit hours to graduate. For a master’s degree, you need 1 or 2 years while a doctoral degree could take up to 6 years to finish. A certificate of project management is usually completed in just 1 year.
Should I get my project management degree online?
Many institutions offer online project management degrees. Pursuing an online degree has many advantages:
- Costs less
However, an online degree may not be suitable for everyone. It requires a high level of self-discipline and there’s little face-to-face interaction. If you do decide to enroll in an online program, make sure it’s accredited by a recognized accrediting agency as many of them are low quality and unaccredited.
What project management degree jobs are available to graduates?
Public relations majors employment is projected to grow 11% from 2016 to 2026 which is higher than the average for other occupations. Project managers are needed across many industries which drive the employability in this field. Available jobs include:
- Construction manager
- Operations manager
- Head of delivery
- IT project manager
- Project officer