Online programs in construction management are available at undergraduate and graduate levels, with most leading to bachelor's or master's degrees. Programs in this field focus on preparing students to handle the managerial issues uniquely related to building or infrastructure projects. Some online programs, especially those at the graduate level, require students to have work experience in construction. Others, including bachelor's degree programs, may have on-site requirements in order to put new knowledge and skills to use.
It's common for students enrolled in an Internet-based construction management program to be grouped with about 30 classmates who take the same classes at the same time. They use a variety of online technologies -- including instructional videos, message boards and chat rooms -- to communicate with each other and with their professors.
Online associate's degrees in construction management are uncommon, but a few do exist. Through Internet technology, like email and live discussion boards, students complete coursework in construction laws and regulations, architectural design theory and field supervision methods. Students also receive instruction in typical construction manager duties, such as planning and preparing bids as well as scheduling and managing construction projects. Occupational opportunities for graduates from these distance learning degree programs may include foreman, construction project manager or first line supervisor. Community colleges or other two-year schools offer programs at this degree level.
Through distance learning, students enrolled in most bachelor's degree programs in construction management receive comprehensive instruction in industry-related subjects like design, management, technology and communication. Such programs are available at four-year institutions. Generally these are hybrid programs, meaning that while some coursework can be completed online, other elements take place either on-campus or on a construction site. Graduates are expected to demonstrate expert knowledge of construction engineering concepts and practices, project planning and management methods.
Online Master of Construction Management degree programs utilize Web-based communication tools, such as streaming video, email and chat rooms, to teach students to analyze, market and manage the finances of a major construction project. Students usually delve deeply into such topics as advanced estimation and bidding, total quality management, construction information systems and international construction. Coursework in these programs can usually be completed entirely online and typically takes about 2 years. Students entering an online construction management program are generally required to hold a bachelor's degree and to have completed a minimum amount of relevant work experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers primarily look for construction managers who have a bachelor's degree and experience in the industry (www.bls.gov). However, experience along with an associate's degree could be ideal for managers overseeing smaller-scale projects. Those with a background in construction desiring to obtain upper-level management positions may benefit from graduate-level education in the field.
Regardless of what degree students pursue, having relevant work experience seems to be the common thread when it comes to preparing for a career in construction management. The BLS reports that employment of construction managers is expected to grow 5% in the 2014-2024 decade and prospects are most favorable for those with formal training and an occupational background in the industry. For this reason, students completing their coursework totally online may want to consider whether they can fit an internship into their schedules -- particularly if they lack professional experience.
Online construction management programs focus on how to handle the management issues related to building or infrastructure projects. These programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.