Best Bachelor's Degrees in Project Management

Mar 18, 2021

Project Management Degrees

Project management degrees are ideal for those who like to take the lead in an operation, accomplish their tasks, and make an impact through their work. Many industries need such individuals, so graduates with degrees in this subject can work in a number of fields. In project management programs, students learn a variety of technical and soft skills that enable them to more effectively lead of groups of people.

The Top Bachelor's Degree Programs in Project Management

1. Minnesota State University Moorhead

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8954 65% 53% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

2. Bemidji State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8940 65% 48% 90% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

3. Malone University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$31800 71% 54% 100% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

4. City University of Seattle

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13120 No Available Data (2019-2020) 33% % Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

5. Charleston Southern University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26040 50% 41% 99% No Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

6. Oakland University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14520 83% 57% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

7. University of the Incarnate Word

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$32576 94% 51% 99% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

8. Davenport University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19338 82% 49% 98% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

9. Saint Louis University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$45424 58% 79% 97% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

What Kinds of Project Management Degrees Are There?

Project management degrees can be found at every level of academia, from associate and bachelor's to master's and doctoral, though they are most common at the bachelor's and master's levels. Programs may focus on project management as a whole or concentrate on specific industries like construction to better prepare graduates for work in those fields. Many of the topics covered in these programs may be similar to those covered in other business degrees, though there will most likely be an emphasis on leadership theory and various high-level, organizational concerns.

Associate Degrees in Project Management

Associate degrees in project management aim to give students the basic skills needed to get an entry-level job in the industry or advance their careers. Project management degrees at this level are normally Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees. They normally take around two years to complete, as students must earn between 60 and 70 credit hours to graduate. In addition to classes in project management, students may learn skills like business law, business accounting, economics, marketing, and business ethics. Project management classes may focus on leadership theories, risk assessment, budgeting, communication, and more.

Bachelor's Degrees in Project Management

At the baccalaureate level, programs provide students with a more in-depth knowledge of project management skills. A Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree in this subject, which are the two most common, typically dive into topics like how to manage people, budgets, schedules, risks, and quality, along with the technical skills needed in these roles. A capstone project may also be mandated, which might include a seminar as well as work experiences.

Master's Degrees in Project Management

A master's in project management normally takes the form of a Master of Science (MS) degree. These degree programs are often for those looking to advance in the field, as they provide an even higher level of knowledge while focusing almost exclusively on project management topics such as scope, cost planning and risk management. This degree normally takes 30-40 credits, meaning students can earn it in one or two years in many cases. A capstone project and specialization may be required. Specializations are offered in areas like analytics, leadership and organizational communication.

Doctoral Degrees in Project Management

A doctoral degree is the highest degree you can earn in project management. These programs are usually geared toward those pursuing scholarship in the field, as they focus on research and teaching, though professionals may also find a doctoral degree in project management necessary for some high-level, specialized jobs. This degree may be a concentration offered in another discipline such as civil engineering or be an option with a school of business. Schools can require graduates to complete anywhere from 36 to 72 credit hours, though those classes may last longer than traditional ones. That means earning this degree usually takes at least around 4 to 5 years to complete.

Certificates in Project Management

There is an abundance of certificates in project management. These programs can be for undergraduate and graduate students or professionals looking to add to their resume. Their focus can vary, as numerous schools and the Project Management Institute (PMI) offer certificates in project management and in specific disciplines within the field. These courses can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years to complete, but, since many are designed for working professionals, there are many options for flexibility including accelerated programs and ones that allow students more time so they can continue working.

Project Management Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Project management may actually be the title of a concentration within another degree. For example, some schools have project management specializations as part of earning a bachelor's in business administration. Project management degrees, in general, do not have areas of focus, though there are a few that concentrate on subjects like information technology project management. Specialization becomes more common at the master's and certificate levels in this field.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Project Management

Bachelor's in project management often take a multidisciplinary approach to education, giving graduates experience in various areas of business. These programs typically end with requiring students to manage an actual project, either through their school or an internship, or they may mandate students to analyze a detailed case study. Before that capstone, course titles can include:

  • Accounting
  • Principles of management
  • Principles of marketing
  • Quality management
  • Leadership theories
  • Advanced project management
  • Introduction to project management
  • Business law
  • Business ethics
  • Project risk management
  • Human resource management
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Project Management?

It typically takes approximately four years to get a bachelor's degree in project management. Most schools require students to earn around 120 credit hours to graduate, and they recommend taking about 15 credit hours per semester. Some schools offer shorter programs that can take a semester less, and online degrees may be self-paced, giving students the flexibility to finish at their pace. You can also take classes in non-traditional times, like over the summer, to accelerate the process.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Project Management Degrees

Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent organization saying that the program has met certain standards when it comes to faculty, graduation rates and curriculum quality. Indeed, many of the best project management programs are accredited by industry agencies. The premier accrediting organization that specializes in project management and related degree programs is the Global Accreditation Center (GAC). The GAC, which is part of the PMI, has a number of requirements that bachelor's degree programs in project management must meet to earn accreditation, all of which help the body achieve its goal of ensuring the quality of the programs and fostering their continual improvement. Project management programs also may be accredited as part of a college or university's school of business. Two of the most widely respected accrediting bodies for business schools are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Aside from program accreditation, students should make sure their school is accredited. This not only ensures that the education you receive will be of high quality, it is a requirement to receive federal financial aid and makes it much easier to transfer credits to other schools. Regional accrediting bodies include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Project Management Licensure & Certification

You do not need a license or certification of any sort to practice project management. Having a certification from a reputable organization like the PMI, however, can prove quite beneficial in setting yourself apart from the competition. Certifications can also assist with career advancement. One of the most common and respected certifications is the Project Management Professional certification from the PMI, which some employers may require candidates for project management positions to have.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Project Management?

There are a variety of opportunities for graduates with a degree in project management. Some of these may seem similar, but there are differences between them and the links below help spell out those differences. There are also numerous specialized project management positions. Possible occupations include:

How to Become a Cost Estimator

Cost estimators collect and analyze data to determine the time, money, materials and work required to complete a job. They normally specialize in one industry such as construction. Job duties may include identifying factors affecting costs, working with colleagues like engineers and architects, calculating, analyzing, and adjusting estimates, recommending ways to reduce costs, and maintaining records of estimated and actual costs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2019 that the annual median salary of cost estimators was $65,250. The BLS also reported that the job is expected to decline by 1 percent between 2019 and 2029, in large part due to improvements in cost estimation software.

Cost estimators usually need a bachelor's degree in a subject like project management, though some people are promoted to this position after working several years in their field. On-the-job training is common for this position, as individuals may need to learn industry-specific estimation practices or computer programs. Important qualities in cost estimators may include analytical skills, communication skills, math skills, time management skills, and being detail-oriented.

How to Become a Construction Manager

A construction manager is typically over a cost estimator, though the qualifications may not differ too much between the two, depending on the job and company. Construction managers, who are sometimes called general contractors or project managers, normally have a bachelor's degree in subjects related to construction or in project management, and they may need experience within construction. They also usually receive on-the-job training, sometimes in the form of working as an assistant under the guidance of an experienced construction manager.

Generally, construction managers coordinate, plan, budget, and supervise construction projects from development through completion. That can include estimating costs and budgets, interpreting and explaining technical information to their peers, reporting on work progress, selecting and coordinating with subcontractors, and complying with legal requirements. The BLS reported in 2019 that those who can perform all those tasks and become construction managers earned a median annual wage of $95,260. The job is also expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, as the BLS estimates jobs in the field will increase 8 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Project Management Degrees

The first step in getting financial aid to earn a bachelor's degree in project management is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application shows students what federal monies they qualify for, including loans, grants, or work-study programs. To fill out FAFSA, you may need various documents like social security numbers and federal tax information. It may take a couple of hours to complete the application but it can be worth thousands of dollars.

In addition to federal aid, undergraduate project management students can get scholarships from a variety of places. Schools typically have scholarships set aside for their students, so be sure to check your school's offerings. Another large source of help may be the PMI's Educational Foundation (PMIEF). This organization has highly competitive scholarships and awards designed specifically for those pursuing degrees in project management.

Professional Organizations in Project Management

As you may have surmised from repeated references to it, the Project Management Institute is recognized around the world as the leading organization for those who work in project, program, or portfolio management. Two other prominent professionals organizations in this field are:

*The Association for Project Managers - APM exists to promote excellence within the project management field, specifically in the construction industry.

*International Project Management Association - The IPMA is a group of about 70 member associations that develop project management competencies in their specific geographic areas. It is on every continent except Antarctica.

Career Advancement in Project Management

Career advancement in project management typically involves moving to overseeing larger projects until you obtain an executive position. That can mean you move from junior project manager to senior project manager, or it can mean moving to roles like a program or portfolio manager. The highest positions in this field are those such as project management office director or chief operating officer.

Experience is a key factor in advancement, as employers will want a proven track record of success before promoting project managers. Continued education can also be critical, either in the form of degrees like a master's or by getting certification within specific areas of project management. Each job opening's requirements will be different, but generally, a combination of advanced education and experience may be necessary.

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