Overview of Programs
Because most businesses hire individuals with at least a bachelor's degree, programs in project management tend to be offered at the bachelor's or master's degree level, either as a whole program or as a certificate embedded within a degree program in business or business administration. However, some schools offer project management courses within an associate's program in business or information systems. Associate's degree programs generally take two years to complete, and students may go on to earn a bachelor's degree in their field of study. Bachelor's degree holders can apply to master's programs, which may require the submission of a resume.
Even though there are no associate's degree programs in project management offered online, there are schools that offer an online associate's degree program in business administration. Distance learning bachelor's degrees in project management tend to be offered at private institutions and take around four years to complete, depending on students' enrollment status. Online master's programs in this field of study, typically found at both public and private universities, take around two years to finish. Certificate coursework can often be completed in a year or less. Some of these programs may require students to complete a real company proposal project prior to graduation.
Programs by Degree Level
Regardless of degree level, project management programs typically have the same coursework requirements whether delivered electronically or conducted on campus. Certificate options are often used to help students gain knowledge in central project management issues and enhance their qualifications in the workplace. Bachelor's degree programs may prepare students to work in many industries that have a use for supply chain and project managers or directors of operations.
Existing professionals who want to advance their ability to manage challenging projects and assume greater responsibilities in the workplace could be interested in graduate degree options. Some online master's programs possess accreditation from the Project Management Institute's Global Accreditation Center.
Many schools offer short-term online certificate programs in project management at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Designed to fit the needs of management in large businesses, these certificate programs offer extensive, specialized training in project management. Students gain skills in analysis, planning and decision-making in order to solve problems and manage projects in a large business environment. Often, these programs are offered through graduate or undergraduate programs in business or business administration.
Courses may include:
- Cost and Scheduling Basics
- Project Planning
- Managerial Decision Making
- Procurement and Contract Management
- Organizational Communications
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Schools offering distance learning project management degrees at the bachelor's level often require students to have completed a minimum number of undergraduate course credits, perhaps as part of an associate's degree program. These programs typically focus on helping students become good communicators with solid organizational and managerial skills. Coursework centers on the many aspects involved in developing, implementing and evaluating projects as well as how to assess risks or utilize limited resources.
Common courses in these programs include the following:
- Risk Management
- Change Management
- Project Management Tools
- Total Quality Management
Master's Degree Programs
To be eligible for admission to a master's program, students must have a bachelor's degree. Project management programs at this level could require applicants to submit a resume documenting their professional experience as well. Most online master's degree programs are based on the needs of multinational corporations engaged in large-scale projects. Curriculum focuses on planning, cost and value management; human and strategic issues in project management; commercial and procurement law; and project control.
The following are some courses found in project management programs:
- Cost and Value Management
- Planning and Resource Management
- Interpersonal and Group Behavior
- Corporate, Business and Project Strategy
- Project Team Leadership
- Commercial Law and Project Procurement
Distance learning project management programs typically can be completed totally online. At a time convenient for them, students sign into a virtual classroom operated by their school in order to view lectures, assignments and videos in addition to interacting with classmates or instructors. Some programs -- particularly at the master's level -- may require a final project that requires students to develop proposals addressing an issue at their place of employment or for another real company.
Overall, undergraduate and graduate project management programs provide interdisciplinary training that helps students develop their business, communication and leadership skills. While the only undergraduate degree program offered online in this field is usually a bachelor's, students can build the educational foundation they need to enroll by first earning an associate's degree in business administration.