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Project Management Graduate Certificate and Degree Program Info

Project managers take leadership roles in the planning and execution of project work. These managers often earn a graduate certificate or master's degree and may specialize in several areas within the field.

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Essential Information

Students who wish to study project management may sometimes enroll in a relevant graduate certificate program. A graduate certificate program is a short program that may include up to five courses. Designed to impart basic knowledge, the program may highlight communication strategies, team building and quality assurance. Some programs allow opportunities for online learning.

More comprehensive Master of Project Management and Master of Science in Project Management programs may prepare students to lead multiple projects simultaneously, and they might allow them to conduct project management research. In fact, a research-based capstone project may be included in the curriculum. Graduates may pursue professional certifications, such as the Project Management Professional, through the PMI.

In terms of prerequisites, certificate and master's degree programs require GRE or GMAT scores, a bachelor's degree, resume, purpose statement and reference letters. A master's degree may also require up to two years of professional work experience, an interview and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.


Graduate Certificate in Project Management

Graduate certificate and degree programs in project management are often geared toward working professionals in the field. Pursuing a graduate certificate in project management is a short-term option for individuals who may not wish to enroll in an entire master's degree program. Students in a project management certificate course gain the basic skills needed to effectively plan and execute a field-specific assignment. They also gain leadership skills needed to drive others towards the same goal.

Applicants to a graduate certificate program in project management are typically required to meet the same admission requirements as those applying to a master's degree program. Some of these requirements include submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores and completion of a 4-year degree program. Additionally, a resume, a purpose statement and reference letters are typically needed.

Classes taken through a graduate certificate program can often be applied to required master's degree coursework for students wishing to pursue an advanced degree. Topics of study throughout the certificate program include:

  • Planning techniques for project managers
  • Methods for building team efficiency
  • Communication strategies for effective project management
  • Approaches to managing project costs and values
  • Ensuring project quality

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Master's Degree in Project Management

At the master's degree level, students develop general business skills in organizational communications, managerial finance and economics. Specializations may be available in technological project management or information technology project management. Conversely, with the number of elective courses offered at the master's degree level, students can create their own focus area. Students may also participate in faculty-supervised, independent research projects.

Project management graduate students often complete a capstone project, using their current place of employment as the subject of the research. Topics of study throughout a master's degree program include:

  • Techniques for leading multiple projects
  • Project management strategies for global businesses
  • Project management software and online tools
  • Laws affecting acquisitions
  • Business negotiation techniques

Popular Career Options

Project management professionals can work in public and private sectors. Incidentally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) does not have one specific section devoted to project management occupations. Depending on their personal specialty, some of the sectors where project managers might find employment include:

  • Construction
  • Information technology
  • Business
  • Health care

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the nonprofit Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org), the United States will see as many as 1.57 million jobs created in the project management sector from 2015 to 2020. In addition to rising demand, PMI further predicts rising salaries.

As of January 2016, information technology project managers earned a median wage of $84,797, according to Payscale.com. The same site indicated that construction project managers earned a median annual wage of $69,765 in January 2016.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Project management graduates who want to go into research or academia may go on to pursue a Ph.D. in Project Management. Additionally, many project management professionals seek voluntary certification, such as the Project Management Professional designation offered through the PMI. In order to qualify, applicants must meet minimum education requirements, have 3-5 years of professional experience and, depending on such experience, possess 4,500-7,500 hours of direct project leadership. After meeting these requirements, they must pass a 200-question, multiple-choice exam.

Students interested in careers as project managers have the option of earning a graduate certificate or master's degree in project management. Courses in such areas as planning techniques, team efficiency and acquisitions law can aid students in their preparation for project management roles in a number of different industries.

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