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Contract Management Degree Program Overviews by Level

Oct 20, 2019

Contract management professionals coordinate proposal and bidding processes for their employers and ensure contractual responsibilities are fulfilled. Programs in acquisitions and contract management are available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

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Essential Information

Degrees in contract management are available as management studies or business administration programs. Degrees in contract management allow students to gain an understanding of project management and contract negotiation processes, as well as advanced finance and global operations management theories. Prerequisite business courses may be required for admittance to the bachelor's program, whereas admission to the graduate level typically requires a bachelor's degree in a related field.

The professional outcomes of such programs could include, but are not limited to, jobs as contract managers, procurement specialists and contract administrators. Candidates who have work experience and requisite degrees can earn a number of certifications by passing qualifying examinations. Continuing education is often required to retain these credentials.


Bachelor's Degree in Contract Management

Bachelor's programs in acquisitions and contract management, including the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Management Studies with a specialization in procurement and contract management, B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Contract Management, and Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) in Acquisition and Contract Management, prepare students for employment as procurement officers and contract professionals in the private and public sectors. Most contract management bachelor's degree programs are offered through business schools.

Prior to admittance to the contract management major, students typically need to complete general education courses, as well as prerequisite coursework in related areas, such as business and management. Once admitted to the program, students study core business classes, including finance, accounting, and information systems. They also complete degree-specific courses in negotiations, contract law, and supply management.

Contract management classes emphasize critical thinking, communications skills, and problem solving. Courses that develop these skills include:

  • Contract negotiation
  • Procurement law
  • Formation of government contracts
  • Cost and price analysis
  • Project management
  • Organizational communication

Master of Science in Contract Management

Master's degree programs in acquisitions and contract management are typically offered in a college or university's business program. The graduate coursework can broaden students' knowledge of contract law, management practices, and acquisitions policies. The classes can also build on the participant's knowledge of core business topics and improve their management skills. Master's programs teach students advanced business theories and skills, emphasizing negotiations, financial analysis, and procurement procedures.

Business schools often require master's applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in business before they are admitted to the acquisitions and contract management program. Some programs will admit candidates who had a business minor as an undergraduate. Those applicants who do not have this core business background may need to take additional classes in accounting, finance, and/or business management theory.

Master's degree programs in acquisitions and contract management can build on a student's problem-solving and critical-thinking skills by teaching them to use their abilities as leaders and supervisors in contract management departments. These classes may include:

  • Advanced contract negotiations
  • Advanced finance
  • Advanced procurement procedures
  • Human resources management
  • Intellectual property in business
  • Materiel acquisition management

Popular Career Options

Government agencies or corporations with government contracts often employ contract managers. There are also private sector jobs in contract management, including hospitality, construction, and telecommunications. Potential career options in these sectors include:

  • Contract administrator
  • Cost estimator
  • Purchasing manager

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) offers three certification examinations for contract professionals, which are the Certified Federal Contracts Manager, Certified Commercial Contracts Manager, and Certified Professional Contracts Manager designations (www.ncmahq.org). The NCMA states that to be eligible for the federal and commercial certifications, candidates must have a bachelor's degree, one year of experience, and 80 continuing education (CE) credits. The professional certification exam requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree, five years of experience, and 120 CE credits.

Continuing education classes for contract managers may be available from local colleges or universities. The NCMA also offers CE classes, which emphasize negotiations skills, review contract law, and discuss changes in the federal regulations affecting acquisitions procedures. Courses must provide new information in contract management topics or advance the contract manager's technical skills if the candidate wants to apply them to the CE requirement for NCMA certification.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) estimated an average job growth of 7% for administrative services managers, such as contract administrators, from 2018-2028. The BLS also reported that the average salary for administrative services managers, which includes contract managers, was $106,050 in May 2018.

The BLS suggested that growing needs for businesses to hire contract professionals to supervise these subcontracted services is due to a trend of outsourcing business support activities, like janitorial services, grounds maintenance, and food services. Contract administrators, like other managerial positions, may be required to work uncompensated overtime by employers.

Contract management degree programs are available to students at the bachelor's and master's levels. Career options for graduates often include positions as purchasing managers or cost estimators.

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