Software project management degrees are rare; however, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Information Technology with a project management track equips graduates for entry into the field, and Master of Science (M.S.) in Information Technology - Project Management programs are also available to prepare degree-holders for senior-level positions in a variety of settings.
Courses in these programs range from software design and maintenance to managerial practices and responsibilities. Management topics include methods for assessing risks, estimating costs. and assembling teams for various types of software projects. Hands-on practice on project management software is common in these programs. Some M.S. programs are available online.
For a bachelor's program, a high school diploma or GED is necessary for enrollment. For a master's program, applicants typically must hold a bachelor's degree in information technology or a closely related field from an accredited college or university. They may also be required to have completed undergraduate coursework in areas such as software architecture, general project management, and software analysis.
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
Many schools offer information technology bachelor's degree programs with an emphasis in project management. Students learn the necessary skills to lead and manage a variety of information technology (IT) projects, including software development. These programs generally focus on project management processes, such as developing project lifecycles and workflows, as well as IT technical standards and programming.
Classes in this baccalaureate program combine business management principles and IT skills in order to teach effective management of IT-related projects for business and industrial settings. Some programs offer students the chance to earn credits towards project manager certification. Common subjects covered in this curriculum include:
- Project management systems
- Network maintenance
- Software engineering
- Project cost and budget management
- Software design and usability
Master of Science in IT Project Management
Master's degree candidates in this program explore special topics in software project management, including risk management, cost estimation, and quality management. Areas of focus include virtual project management, organizational communications, and procurement. Students also gain hands-on experience in the use of a variety of project management tools and techniques.
This graduate degree program generally contains classes that combine theoretical and practical knowledge of information technology and project management. Many programs host concentrations in software project management. Course topics may include:
- Information technology project management
- Financial and strategic project management
- Software risk management
- Collaborative technologies
- Software cost estimation
Popular Career Options
Graduates are generally equipped to seek advanced positions in various settings where software development and management play a key role in business processes. Some career options include:
- Software project manager
- Senior software engineer
- Business technology analyst
- Chief technology officer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of IT project managers is expected to grow 15% over the 2014-2024 decade, due to the rise of new technology applications in business and industry (www.bls.gov). Employment prospects expect to be brightest for those holding at least a bachelor's degree, with advanced degree-holders eligible for senior-level positions, according to the BLS. Further, in May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for IT project managers was $131,600.
After completing an education program, prospective software project managers may wish to earn voluntary project manager certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI offers five different certification programs, including the Project Management Professional (PMP) program. To earn the PMP designation, individuals must have a degree, 3-5 years of experience, and complete 35 hours of training.
Bachelor's in information technology or master's in IT project management are two common degrees software project managers pursue, covering topics related to the field in the broader IT curriculum. Graduates often choose to earn any of several voluntary certifications.