Should I Earn a Project Management Degree?

Project Management Degree Overview

business colleagues managing a project
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A project management degree is a type of academic degree awarded to students who have completed a college, university, or business school program that focuses on project management. While earning a degree in project management, students learn how to oversee a project by studying the five stages of project management: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the project.

Types of Project Management Degrees

There are four basic types of project management degrees that can be earned from a college, university, or business school.

They include:

  • Associate's Degree - An associate's degree in project management takes approximately two years to complete. The bulk of courses will be general education courses. However, there will be some electives that focus on project management. Although there are a few schools that offer project management degrees at the associate's level, most degree programs are offered at the bachelor's level and up. 
  • Bachelor's Degree - A bachelor's degree program in project management takes approximately four years to complete. However, there are some accelerated programs that will award a degree after only three years time. Most project management degree programs at the bachelor's level include a combination of general education courses, project management courses, and electives.
  • Master's Degree - Master's degree programs usually take one to two years to complete. Some programs may be MBA programs with a focus on project management, while others are specialized master's degree programs. Although some core business and/or management courses may be required, nearly all of the courses in a master's or MBA program will revolve around project management or closely related topics.
  • Doctorate Degree - The length of a doctorate program in project management varies from school to school. Students who pursue this degree are generally interested in research or teaching project management at the university level. They will study the finer points of this field and write a dissertation related to project management. 

    Do I Need a Degree to Work in Project Management?

    A degree isn't absolutely necessary for an entry-level career in project management. However, it can certainly enhance your resume. A degree may increase your chances of getting an entry-level position. It may also help you to advance in your career. Most project managers have at least a bachelor's degree - though the degree is not always in project management or even business.

    If you are interested in earning one of the many project management certifications available from organizations like the Project Management Institute, you will need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. A bachelor's degree may also be required for some certifications.

    Choosing a Project Management Degree Program

    An increasing number of colleges, universities, and business schools are offering degree programs, seminars, and individual courses in project management. If you are looking for a project management degree program, you should take time to research all of your available options. You may be able to earn your degree from a campus-based or online program. This means that you may not have to choose a school that is near you, but could choose a school that is a better fit for your academic needs and career goals.

    When researching project management degree programs—both campus-based and online—you should take time to find out if the school/program is accredited. Accreditation will improve your chances of getting financial aid, quality education, and post-graduation job opportunities.

    Project Management Certifications

    Earning certifications is not necessary to work in project management. However, a project management certification is a good way to demonstrate your knowledge and experience. It may be helpful when trying to secure new positions or advance in your career. There are several different organizations that offer project management certification. One of the most recognized is the Project Management Institute, which offers the following certifications:

    • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) - This certification is for individuals in any stage of their career who want to enhance credibility, work on large projects, take on more responsibilities, and increase project management skills. 

    What Can I Do with a Project Management Degree?

    Most people who earn a project management degree go on to work as project managers. A project manager oversees all elements of a project. This might be an IT project, a construction project, or anything in between. A project manager must manage tasks throughout the project—from conception to completion. Tasks may include defining goals, creating and maintaining schedules, establishing and monitoring budgets, delegating tasks to other team members, monitoring project process, and wrapping tasks up on time.

    Project managers are increasingly in demand. Every industry has need of project managers, and most like to turn to someone with experience, education, certification, or some combination of the three. With the right education and work experience, you may also be able to use your project management degree to secure positions in operations management, supply chain management, business administration, or another area of business or management.