Construction Degree Programs and College Majors

Apr 23, 2020

Essential Information

Construction students learn about building materials, surveying, cost estimating, project coordination, blueprint reading, and technology utilized in the management of construction operations. Courses in communications, accounting, marketing, and quality control are also commonly taken in these programs. In some cases, students might participate in a field experience wherein they work with an established construction company.

Construction programs may be offered at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral levels. Graduates of construction degree programs typically pursue careers as construction managers. Construction managers ensure that projects are completed on schedule and within budget. They oversee the development and design of buildings, homes, and other projects, including bridges and roads.

Associate of Applied Science in Construction Management

An Associate of Applied Science degree program in construction management trains entry-level construction project managers. Courses focus on the methods and materials used to build homes and office buildings. Students learn to read blueprints, schedule and manage construction employees, and negotiate contracts. This 2-year degree program also emphasizes site development, finances, and knowledge of building codes. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED before applying to this program. Construction management associate's degree programs cover a broad range of skills and knowledge. Typical courses may include:

  • Construction estimating, administration, and safety
  • Building codes
  • Electrical and mechanical systems
  • Residential estimating
  • Reading construction plans
  • Construction materials and methods

Associate of Applied Science in Construction Technology

Students interested in entry-level construction positions may also pursue an associate's degree in construction technology. Through classes, shops, and internships in construction technology, students learn skills specific to this trade, such as cabinet building, carpentry, and residential building. Applicants to these types of programs must hold high school diplomas. Construction experience is also recommended. Construction technology degree programs offer courses that provide students with the basic skills and knowledge they need to oversee construction projects. The following courses are often offered:

  • Custom cabinet making
  • Framing
  • Estimating and surveying
  • Building electrical systems and building materials
  • Plumbing
  • Masonry

Bachelor of Science in Construction Management

Students who elect a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management as a college major may specialize in areas such as industrial, commercial, and residential construction. Curricula in bachelor's programs emphasize business skills along with courses in construction methods and materials. Construction management majors may also concentrate on general construction management or further specialize in specific areas, such as plumbing and electrical energy efficiency. Construction degree programs at the bachelor's level may include field experience working with a contractor or construction firm.

Applicants who wish to become construction management majors must hold a high school diploma and take the ACT or SAT test. Courses in algebra, physics, and architectural drawing are preferred, but not always required. A Bachelor of Science in Construction Management program covers all practical aspects of managing building projects. Courses may include topics such as:

  • Construction management principles
  • Construction surveying
  • Financial accounting
  • Quality control and assurance
  • Reading building plans and drafts
  • Computer management technology

Master of Science in Construction Management

Construction management programs at the master's level are often designed to accommodate professionals already working in the field who wish to pursue advanced education and training. Candidates learn how to apply management theories and practices to different construction programs and projects. This program emphasizes the latest technology and software used in the field as well as project finance and budgets. Students learn how to communicate information about construction projects to the public as well as to clients and employees. Master's degree construction programs usually take around two years to complete.

Master's degree applicants must hold bachelor's degrees, preferably in construction management or related fields; work experience in construction project management is also preferred. Students who lack such a background may be admitted on the condition that they take additional courses. The GPA requirement may also be waived for applicants who have significant experience in construction management. Undergraduate math courses, such as algebra, are typically required. Students enrolled in master's-level construction degree programs take courses that can provide advanced training in the field. Common course topics include:

  • Analyzing project plans
  • Construction marketing
  • Construction modeling methods
  • Construction management systems
  • Construction operations analysis
  • Construction law

Doctor of Philosophy in Construction Management

Candidates enrolled in doctoral construction management degree programs learn to apply construction management theories and practices to various complex building projects. Students focus on the latest construction management research and technology and conduct their own research. Ph.D. programs require that students complete dissertations. Possible dissertation topics include commercial construction, residential construction, information systems, safety, and environmentally sustainable design.

Admission to Ph.D. construction degree programs requires a master's degree in construction management or similar field, such as engineering, architecture, business management, or urban planning. Applicants who hold degrees in non-related fields may be considered for admission, but will need to meet additional coursework requirements. Doctoral programs in construction management include advanced courses that emphasize research and analysis, such as:

  • Construction systems
  • Advanced project scheduling
  • Research seminar
  • Construction project information systems
  • Advanced cost estimating

Employment Prospects and Salary Information

Jobs in construction management are expected to increase 10% from 2018 to 2028, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, This is due to the growing need to upgrade the nation's utility and transportation infrastructures, as well as an increased emphasis on building energy-efficient structures. The BLS reported that construction managers earned a median salary of $95,260 as of May 2019.

Popular Career Options

Several entry-level jobs may be available for graduates of construction management associate's degree programs. Career options include those below:

  • Construction aide
  • Construction materials salesperson
  • Project estimator
  • Engineering aide
  • Facility manager
  • Construction manager
  • General contractor

Students graduating from a construction technology associate's program will be prepared for a hands-on career in the building field. Graduates may choose between a specialty career that focuses in one area of construction or a job that includes work in all areas. Job titles may include:

  • Carpenter
  • Remodeler
  • Contractor
  • Millworker
  • Building inspector
  • Cabinet maker

Graduates of master's degree programs may pursue management positions in large construction companies. Specific job options may include the following:

  • Vice president of construction management
  • Construction management supervisor
  • Head construction manager

Construction management Ph.D.s may pursue top positions in corporations and in academia. These positions may include the following:

  • Construction management researcher
  • Construction management university professor
  • Senior construction manager
  • Director of operations

Depending on career goals, students can seek education in construction at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs may focus more on the hands-on aspects of construction, while advanced degrees may be tailored towards the managerial side of the trade.

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