Degrees in contract management are most commonly master's programs, and many colleges offer them fully online, sometimes as a specialization in an MBA program. These programs take about two years to complete, and courses can be completed entirely through distance learning. Video lessons are posted online. Students watch them and take tests as their schedules allow. All work is done online in most programs, with no internships or campus residencies required.
Most master's degree programs in contract management are designed for individuals in the construction business, but the skills and concepts can be applied to many industries. Courses cover the negotiation process and the legal aspects of contracts. Students may learn about regulations regarding government contracts. Other courses that are usually included in a degree program cover negotiation methods, financial management and proposals. Many programs prefer applicants to hold a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Master's Degree in Contract Management
These master's degree programs are designed for those who desire to handle contracts and negotiations in either the government or private sector. Students undertake lessons in finance, marketing, law and management. Many individuals come from construction backgrounds, but skills may be applied to a wide variety of industries where contracts are heavily used.
In order to enroll in an online master's degree in contract management or a Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in the field, applicants must already have at least a bachelor's degree. Most schools prefer prospective students to have a Bachelor of Business Administration. Graduate colleges also often require students to submit either Graduate Record Examination or Graduate Management Admissions Test scores with their program applications.
Information and Requirements
Programs generally require a minimum of 36 credit-hours and may need to be completed within a 2-year period. Students complete online coursework through instructional materials, study guides and digitized archives. They communicate with instructors by using e-mail, instant messaging services or online forums. A computer with current software and hardware along with a high-speed Internet connection is vital.
List of Common Courses
Online contract management master's degree program curricula emphasize financial management, business research and contract negotiation. A thesis paper or project may be required.
Government Contract Law
This course does not provide sufficient legal background to negotiate contracts or independently resolve legal disputes. Students learn the legalities and relationships between the government and contractors on a theoretical level.
Students consider issues of work to be done, costs to be incurred, terms, prices and conditions within the scope of contracts. They study both national and international negotiation methods.
This course looks at federal acquisition regulations, contract management practices and administrative functions from the perspective of both the client and contractor. Contract methods, performance, documentation and challenges are typical topics of study.
Lessons introduce estimating, pricing, analyzing and negotiating contracts. Specific topics of study include cost accounting standards, termination and contract audits.
Students go through each step of the proposal process in this class. They learn to work with subcontractors, select sources and define the final contract.
Those who graduate from an online master's degree in contract management program may work as management analysts or consultants, construction managers or government contractors. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates with a talent for public relations are in the best positions to obtain and maintain lucrative management consulting jobs (www.bls.gov).
A large number of management consultants are self-employed; however, those seeking jobs with corporations or government agencies might want to consider seeking additional certification. While not an employment requirement, certification from the Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. may give the graduate an edge over fellow jobseekers.
Many schools offer master's degree programs in contract management that can be completed fully online. Online students learn about contract law, negotiation, management and proposal preparation.