Aspiring general contractors typically earn undergraduate or graduate degrees or certificates in construction management. Course topics include cost estimating, architectural drafting, computer-aided drafting and building methods; business classes would also be helpful.
10 Schools With Construction Management Programs
The following schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in construction management.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (in-state, out-of-state; 2015-2016)*|
|Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate|| $10,158
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||Seattle, WA||4-year, Public||Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's|| $11,839
|Brigham Young University||Provo, UT||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's||$5,150|
|University of Oklahoma Norman Campus||Norman, OK||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's|| $10,090
|Washington State University||Pullman, WA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate|| $11,967
|Western Michigan University||Kalamazoo, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,029
|Middle Tennessee State University||Murfreesboro, TN||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$8,080
|Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff, AZ||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$10,358
|Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$10,417
|Missouri State University||Springfield, MO||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$7,060
|Clemson University||Clemson, SC||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$14,272
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
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School Selection Criteria
Here are a few factors to think about when choosing a general contractor program.
- Since many general contractors are self-employed, students may want to look for programs that include courses in business and/or entrepreneurship.
- Prospective students may want to look for programs that are accredited by the American Council or Construction Education (ACCE).
- When considering research-focused programs, students should make sure that there are faculty members at the schools who have research interests in contracting, as they may serve as thesis or dissertation advisors.
- Prospective graduate students should make sure that they meet the minimum admissions requirements for the program; some require students to have previous construction experience or to have completed certain prerequisite coursework.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Individuals who want to become general contractors can earn a bachelor's degree in construction management, construction science or a closely-related field. These programs provide a broad overview of the field, covering topics such as construction planning and design, cost estimation, regulatory requirements and contract administration. Before they can graduate, undergraduates must also fulfill general education requirements.
Master's Degree Programs
Master's degree programs in construction management prepare students for leadership positions in the field. Students learn about the theory and practice of construction management, and they take advanced courses in both the business and technical aspects of the field. Students may also have the chance to choose a particular area of specialization, such as executive construction management or sustainable construction management. Most schools do not require students to write a thesis, but a capstone paper may be required for graduation. In order to meet the needs of working professionals, many of these programs are available in online or part-time formats.
Doctoral Degree Programs
It is not necessary to earn a PhD in Construction Management in order to work as a general contractor, but programs are available for those who want to pursue academic research careers leading to advancements in the field. These programs combine high-level coursework with independent dissertation research. Students who are interested in contracting may choose to specialize their studies in topics such as project delivery methods, asset management, productivity or leadership and management strategies.
Certificate programs in construction management are available at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Some schools offer general certificates, while others provide instruction in particular specialization areas. For instance, aspiring contractors may be able to pursue a certificate specifically in Construction Contract Documents. At many schools, certificates are offered online or in the evenings, and they can take anywhere from two to fifteen months to complete.
Degree programs in construction management are available from many universities; some also offer certificate programs. When choosing a program, students should make sure that the curriculum coincides with their career goals.