Contract specialists create, negotiate and administer contracts. They may also review contracts. This duty requires some training in legal interpretation. Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer business bachelor's and master's degree programs that provide training in fields like finance, economics or contract management and administration.
Ten Top Business Schools
The following table contains a sampling of universities whose business schools offer a variety of degree programs related to contract management.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$49,536|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge, MA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$46,704|
|University of California - Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$13,431 (in-state), $38,139 (out-of-state)|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$13,856 (in-state), $43,476 (out-of-state)|
|New York University||New York, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$47,750|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesvile, VA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$15,192 (in-state), $44,365 (out-of-state)|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburg, PA||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$50,665|
|University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$8,591 (in-state), $33,673 (out-of-state)|
|University of Texas - Austin||Austin, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$9,806 (in-state), $34,676 (out-of-state)|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||$49,116|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Students interested in contract specialist programs may want to keep these considerations in mind when choosing a school:
- Look for programs designed to prepare students for industry certifications, such as those available by the Project Management Institute (PMI) or National Contract Management Association (NCMA).
- When deciding on undergraduate studies, consider what internship programs, extracurricular programs or related student organizations are available to provide you with experience in contract management.
- At the graduate level, look for programs that offer research assistantships to provide additional experience analyzing legal documents.
- A school's location may be important for students hoping to secure employment in a specific city or region, as local internship opportunities may lead to full-time employment after graduation.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Undergraduate degree programs in contract management often include courses in contract administration, negotiation management, cost analysis, risk analysis and contract modification. These programs often include courses that emphasis both federal or commercial contracting; however, some programs specifically in government contract management are also available. Some bachelor's degree programs include courses designed to prepare students for industry certification, such as the PMI's Project Management Professional or Certified Associate Project Management Professional credentials or the NCMA's Certified Federal Contracts Manager and Certified Commercial Contracts Manager credentials.
Master's Degree Programs
Graduate degree programs in contract management may be intended for professionals working in the contract administrative field. While most contract specialist positions may only require a bachelor's degree, graduates from a master's degree program may be well prepared to evaluate and propose contracts from direct study. Examples of master's degree program names include Master of Contract Management, Master of Science in Administration in Acquisition and Contract Administration and Master of Business Administration with a concentration in acquisition and contract management. Course topics can include contract proposal preparation, acquisition, cost analysis, negotiations and procurement.
Both bachelor's and master's degrees in a variety of business fields can give students the knowledge and tools required to be successful contract specialists, whether through research assistantships, internships or extracurricular experiences.