Your Complete Guide to

Master’s in Project Management

Online Masters Degree
on January 9, 2024

Why We Love It

  • Higher Salary
  • Growth Potential
  • Broad Career Choices

* The Why We Love It section is solely based on the opinion of's Editorial Team. Any salary & growth research or estimates should be referenced further at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for your specific desired career.

What is a Master’s in Project Management?

In the past, civil engineering projects were usually supervised by architects and engineers themselves.  After all, who better to ensure the success of projects than the designers themselves?  By the 1950s, however, people began to understand that management was a science in itself.  With the rise of scientific management (also known as Taylorism), project management became a distinct discipline on its own.  This has allowed us to optimize the allocation of people and resources to meet success criteria in a far more efficient manner than was possible in the past.

A master’s degree in project management is designed to teach you how to apply the analysis and synthesis of workflows to achieve goals within given constraints, such as time and budget. An education in project management also comes with skills in leadership, communication as well as critical thinking. These are among the most crucial skills that help with successful project management in some of the most complex business environments of today.

This is an important and sought-after degree, as projects are temporary endeavors that require skills that are distinct from those needed for operations, i.e., “business as usual.”

A master’s in project management could teach you about the five major process groups:

  1. Initiation: Crucial to the success of any project, this involves determining the nature and scope of the project.  This involves the proposal, work breakdown schedule, and financial analysis.
  2. Planning: This involves planning the project to a greater level of detail, taking into account management methodology, resource requirements, scheduling, and budgeting.
  3. Production or Execution: The project’s deliverables must be executed in accordance with the plan, allocating and managing both human and material resources.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: The performance of the project must be observed and measured to ensure it follows the plan, and if necessary, corrective action must be taken.
  5. Closing: This includes finalizing activities, settling contracts, and reviewing the implementation to apply to future projects.

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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Project Management?

What’s your passion project?

An IT project manager rolls out a new computer system to make retail operations more efficient.  A project management consultant helps a company to increase its productivity and profitability by improving its project management practices.  A construction manager oversees the building of a new high-speed railway to alleviate traffic and reduce pollution.  With increasing pollution as well as traffic, this work will see a great demand for professionals who not only want to have a successful career but also a rewarding one by improving how we live. All are possible futures for someone with a master’s in project management.

With a degree in the field of project management, professionals will be equipped with the skills to manage projects and deliver results in a range of industries. This makes it a versatile degree in today’s challenging environment.

These are only a few examples. There are countless possibilities. You get to choose what you’ll do, and you don’t have to know what that is right now.  A master’s in project management could give you the tools you need to work in a wide variety of industries, so you’re not committing to a career before you even finish your degree.

Best Programs for Master’s in Project Management

Here’s the best part: We’re going to give you the secrets to finding the best programs for adults, programs that could help you get your master’s in project management faster and with as few headaches as possible.  We know planning for college can be confusing, and is dedicated to helping you find the right path for you so that you can complete your degree and start your new career as soon as possible.

Why We Love a Master’s in Project Management

  1. Higher salary:  Master’s in project management holders sometimes make more money based on their degree alone. In the present-day competitive environment, organizations are always on the lookout for professionals will skills to manage projects. Hence, you can be assured that during economically challenging times, this is a field that offers career growth and stability.
  2. Growth Potential:  A master’s in project management is a great degree if you’re looking to get into upper management. It will equip you with skills to lead teams as well as networking opportunities and proven success to land you in executive positions in the future.
  3. Career choices: A master’s in project management could be your ticket to one of many great careers.

Online vs. Traditional Campus Master’s Programs in Project Management

Most people who think about going back to school and getting their master’s degree in project management never even get started.  Exams, application fees, and making school work around your schedule are all significant obstacles. For adults looking to reenter the education system and the job market, these are some make-or-break decisions, especially for adults with jobs and/or families since that could mean compromising on either one of their responsibilities.

What if those obstacles were removed?

With adult-friendly schools, there is really no reason not to go back to school anymore.  What makes a school adult-friendly?  Here are a few key attributes:

  • Adult-friendly schools are totally online.  Online learning is best for busy adults, who have to balance their ongoing education with work, kids, and everything else that comes with being a grownup. The Pandemic has also paved way for online education like never before and given rise to an entire demand for online learning.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer accelerated programs, with ongoing enrollment.  What’s better than getting your master’s in project management in two years?  Getting it in a year!  And with ongoing enrollment, you don’t have to wait until fall or spring to start on your new journey; many schools offer monthly enrollment periods, meaning you can start whenever it works for you.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer more support than traditional schools.  This includes but is not limited to, career services, making it easier for you to begin your new career. Such services can include helping build resumes, with job search strategies, and preparing for interviews. These help build student confidence, increasing their chance of landing a job. Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re going back to school?

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Admissions Requirements for Master’s in Project Management

What do you need to do to go back to school?  Surely the first step is the GRE or another entrance exam, right?

Not anymore.

Many adult-friendly schools do not require GRE or entrance exams.  Online master’s in project management programs generally require only a bachelor’s degree to get started, and there are no application fees to worry about–meaning you start when you’re ready.

Master’s in Project Management Curriculum

As mentioned above, a master’s program in project management is designed to teach you about the initiation, planning, production, monitoring, and closing of projects.  Other areas typically covered include benefits Realization Management (BRM), critical chain project management (CCPM), earned value management (EVM), iterative and incremental project management, lean project management, phased approach, process-based management, project production management, and product-based planning.  These areas of knowledge could all help you to lead the completion of successful projects.

What Courses Will I Take in My Master’s in Project Management Program?

Because project management is a crucial and challenging role that requires a broad spectrum of knowledge and leadership skills, the core curriculum of a master’s program in project management will include a healthy mix of courses designed to build and develop your abilities in these crucial areas.  Examples include:

  1. Scope and Scheduling: Before a project begins, it is important to plan it out: determining its scope, evaluating the environment, estimating resources used, and setting a schedule.
  2. Team Management: A project manager must identify, assign, and communicate roles and responsibilities; evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members; and adapt their personal management style to suit the needs of both the project and the organization.
  3. Project Cost and Financial Management: This would likely cover projecting costs, measuring project performance, and managing assets and liabilities.
  4. Technical Communication: This could improve your professionalism in both written and oral communication and teach you to organize information for different audiences.
  5. Managerial Ethics: Complex issues must be resolved using ethical practices, and good project managers will strengthen the ethical culture of their organization.
  6. Risk Management: It is important for any project manager to determine acceptable levels of risk, identify potential threats, and formulate appropriate responses.

Specializations and Concentrations

Depending on the school and program you choose, your master’s in project management could fall under one of the following titles:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Project Management
  • Master of Science (MS) in Operations and Project Management
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management: Some MBA programs offer an emphasis in project management.  The gold standard for executives in the US, this degree is usually more business-oriented, covering topics such as accounting, economics, and finance.

Additionally, your school could allow you to choose a specialization or concentration within your master’s in project management program.  Examples include:

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Architecture, Construction, and/or Engineering
  • Real Estate Development: This usually focuses on creating successful commercial developments.
  • Transportation: This could cover road, rail, and air transportation facilities and operations.
  • Sustainability: This is a forward-thinking area of project management designed to help shape the future by creating and implementing sustainable solutions.

Master’s in Project Management Program Length

Most master’s degrees in project management require between 30 and 36 credits to graduate.  Normally, a master’s program in project management takes two to three years to complete.  An accelerated plan, however, could take closer to a year. Adult students have jobs, kids, and other obligations that make a traditional school schedule unrealistic. This is where adult-friendly schools really shine. With these accelerated programs that come with adjustable learning schedules, students benefit from completing their education on their own terms and without having to compromise on their other commitments.

Moreover, these adult-friendly schools try to make the process as convenient as possible, and they could get you into the workforce as fast as possible because they know that’s what adults want.

Choosing the Right University or College Master’s in Project Management Program

Choosing the right school for you can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle.  Tuition costs, application fees, accreditation, enrollment windows, and entrance exams are just some of the variables to consider.

That’s why we created the Smartplan.  We want to help people go back to school, to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.  With our Smartplan, we make it easy for you to start on your path towards your master’s in project management.  Here are just some of the benefits of your Smartplan:

  • No application fees
  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • No entrance exams or testing
  • Faculty and professors who understand adults
  • Discounts and scholarships available
  • Open enrollment dates

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Best Jobs for Those With a Master’s in Project Management

What can you do with a master’s in project management?  What kind of salary can you expect?  Here are some common careers for master’s in project management holders, with salary data estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Project Management Specialist: This is someone responsible for keeping projects on schedule, managing costs, and increasing productivity.  You could make anywhere from $49,750 to $159,140 per year.
  • Project Scheduler: Complex projects, especially those in fields like engineering, require many different people to adhere to the same schedule, and this requires an expert to design that schedule. You could make anywhere from $49,750 to $159,140 per year.
  • Project Management Consultant: You could specialize in advising project managers on improving efficiency and increasing their organizations’ profits by reducing costs and increasing revenues. You could make anywhere from $49,700 to $154,310 per year.
  • Construction Manager: This could involve coordinating and overseeing a wide variety of projects, including structures, roads, and bridges. You could make anywhere from $60,050 to $163,800 per year.
  • IT Project Manager: Especially important today, this person manages projects related to a company’s computer systems. You could make anywhere from $87,480 to well over $200,000 per year.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite careers, but a master’s in project management does provide you with broad skills to work in a variety of positions, as master’s in project management holders are usually in high demand across many industries. Best of all, you could work for a company to gain experience and then go into business for yourself! Additionally, with the diverse skillset gained from a master’s education in project management, graduates will find opportunities for IT project management, construction management, to healthcare, project management, or even starting their own businesses. These are just some of the endless possibilities you can choose from.

Cost and Tuition

Cost and tuition vary from school to school, and you’ll want to speak with each of your prospective schools directly.  Fortunately, online schools are generally more affordable than their in-person counterparts. Not only do they help you save time but also money such as money you would need to spend on your trips to school. With rising gas prices and inflation, that’s something you definitely need to watch out for. Adult-friendly colleges understand that you want to save, and they could even help you with financial aid if you’re eligible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I need to know what job I want before I start a master’s program in project management?

A: No!  A master’s in project management could prepare you for a wide variety of careers.  You certainly don’t need to know what job you want today.

Q: Will I make more money with a master’s in project management?

A: That depends on a variety of factors.  But as you can see above in the “Best Jobs for Those With a Master’s in Project Management” section, your new degree could mean excellent earning potential.

Q: How long will I be in school?

A: That could depend on you, your current job, and any other obligations you might have.  A master’s program in project management could take anywhere from one to three years, but our Smartplan is designed to help you find the right degree for you, so you could finish as quickly as possible!

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Master’s in Project Management degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

Create Your Free SmartPlan

There are many ways to make college affordable and accessible.

That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

It’s free, and helps you find potential ways to save and tons of information about each school you’re considering

Think of it as your “college blueprint”, to help you instantly craft a path to your degree:

  • Which Colleges Match Your Needs
  • Ways You Could Save Time & Money
  • Free Courses You Could Take for Credit
  • Valuable Data and Insights on Each College
  • Detailed Steps You Should Take!

See what’s possible for you and generate a free plan within just a few minutes

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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