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If you have a knack for leadership and strategy, have completed a master’s degree in your current field, and have a desire to advance your career, then a doctorate in project management online may be what you are looking for. The demand for experienced and talented project managers is growing. According to a recent gap analysis published by the Project Management Institute, the demand for roles in project-oriented industries like finance and construction is projected to grow by 33% over the next seven years.

The Best Online Doctorate in Project Management Programs

Online Doctorate in Information Systems Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the following degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings and reputation.

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The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
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6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

The Best Online Doctorate in Project Management Degree Programs

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian research university founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell. Liberty enrolls a massive student population of over 75,000 students in a full selection of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Among its numerous offerings, Liberty has an online doctor of business administration with a project management specialization.

The online DBA program consists of 60 credit hours, which include a blend of core courses, specialization courses and dissertation work. The curriculum covers key topics, such as:

  • Operations management
  • Advanced theory and practice in project management
  • Global project management
  • Strategic supply chain management
  • Human resource development

Students develop the ability to successfully lead teams as well as the ability to plan and complete projects in a variety of settings.

Capella University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Capella University is an online, for-profit university established in 1993. Capella offers a range of fully-online degrees, which include both an online doctor of business administration (DBA) with a project management specialization and an online Ph.D. in business management with a project management specialization.

Both programs prepare students for advanced careers in project management. The online DBA takes a practice-oriented approach, while the online Ph.D. takes a theory and research-driven approach. Both consist of 90 quarter-credit hours, which include the following:

  • 11 core courses
  • Five specialization courses
  • Three brief residencies
  • A comprehensive exam
  • A dissertation project

Both include coursework that covers topics, such as advanced concepts in project management, complex adaptive systems, risk management systems and current field trends. Students emerge prepared to handle high-level project management leadership roles.

Walden University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Walden University is an online for-profit university established in 1970 that offers numerous online degree programs. For students seeking advanced positions as project managers, Walden offers an online doctor of business administration with a project management specialization.

The online DBA program consists of 49 credit hours, which include nine hours of specialization courses and 12 hours of research courses. Students engage with a blend of fundamental and advanced courses, which cover key topics like program and portfolio management, performance and organizational effectiveness and project-based strategic leadership. Students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue advanced leadership roles in project management. In addition to coursework, students must complete a doctoral writing project and two four-day on-campus residencies.

Colorado Technical University View School Profile Colorado Springs, CO Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Colorado Technical University, a for-profit university established in 1965, offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on career-readiness and professional success. Among its offerings, Colorado Technical has an online doctor of management with a project management specialization.

The online doctorate program requires 100 quarter-credit hours for completion, which include a blend of core coursework, dissertation research credits and 20 specialization credits. Students develop advanced knowledge and skills by engaging with key concepts, such as:

  • Portfolio and project management
  • Risk and quality management
  • Life-cycle and performance management
  • Advanced career strategies
  • Special topics in the field

In addition to coursework, the program requires students to complete a dissertation project and a brief residential symposium.

Northcentral University View School Profile San Diego, CA Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Northcentral University is an online, for-profit university established in 1996 that offers two doctoral degrees for students interested in project management: an online doctor of business administration (DBA) with a project management specialization and an online Ph.D. in business administration with a project management specialization.

The online Ph.D. program takes a theory and research-oriented approach that requires 60 credit hours (20 courses) for completion. The online DBA program takes a practice-oriented approach that requires 54 credit hours (18 courses) for completion. Both programs develop the advanced knowledge and skills necessary for occupying leadership roles as project managers. Students engage with the following key concepts:

  • Project management theory and practice
  • Human resources management
  • Global management
  • Risk management
  • Organizational leadership
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Featured Online Project Management Doctoral Programs

Choosing a Program

Project management is a useful skill in many industries. While your career path depends on your field and area of expertise, the insights from core doctorate coursework apply to almost any project management position. Common course topics include strategic thinking and organizational alignment, management and ethics, and risk and quality management.

Doctorate in project management concentrations are uncommon due to the cross-industry nature of the coursework. However, some programs offer concentration options, such as information technology or construction, for a doctorate in project management degree. Business and finance doctoral programs commonly offer project management as a concentration.

All doctoral programs require students to complete and present a research-based dissertation; other aspects, like admissions requirements or program length, vary by school. For example, some online programs include a residency component where students collaborate with faculty.

Some doctor of project management online programs allow students to begin classes at any time, while others only offer admission one or two times per year. When researching programs, you should consider these variables to determine which programs work with your schedule, learning style and career goals.

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Online Doctorate in Project Management Concentrations and Curriculum

Concentrations for an online doctoral degree in project management are usually industry-specific (e.g., IT or construction). Most online Ph.D. programs in project management align with business and professional services industries. A sampling of concentrations is provided below.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Project Management

  1. Agile Project Management:
    Many industries use the Agile project management methodology to handle transitions and hedge against uncertainties. The Agile project management life cycle can be applied on both small, specific projects and large, enterprise-level decisions.
    • Careers: project managers with a background in Agile project management are prepared for a variety of leadership positions, which include work as senior business analysts and IT project managers.
  2. Information Technology:
    A concentration in IT project management focuses on specialized software-risk and quality-management skills; it may also include project management strategies that oversee geographically diverse teams.
    • Careers: with a specialization in IT, you are prepared to lead software development projects as a computer research scientist or an information systems manager.
  3. Construction Management:
    Project management with a construction emphasis focuses on the management skills you need to handle construction projects; this includes creating energy efficient designs and managing international projects.
    • Careers: Professionals with a background in construction, architecture or urban planning should pursue a construction emphasis in their project management degree.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Project Management

  • Project Cost-Benefit Analysis:
    A central component of effective project management is understanding how to analyze the costs and benefits of a project. This course teaches students how to run cost-benefit analyses.
  • Leadership Theory and Development:
    In leadership theory and development courses, students study models of leadership and applications of these concepts in real-world scenarios. A solid understanding of leadership development prepares you to be a more effective leader.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making:
    Students in this course study the history of and current developments in data analytics. They learn about effective frameworks that use data to make business decisions.
  • Organization Innovation Thinking:
    Innovative or creative thinking at an organizational level involves finding solutions to complex challenges, which may include building an effective team culture or designing new processes. This course’s skillset prepares leaders for a variety of fields, such as marketing and education.
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Careers With a Doctorate in Project Management

With a Ph.D. in project management online, you will be highly qualified to serve as a project manager or as an executive leader in business, manufacturing or other related industries. There is a particular demand for project management skills in fields that involve complex projects which evolve over time, like IT and healthcare.

  1. IT Project Manager:
    An IT project manager, or information systems manager, is responsible for planning, organizing and implementing technological projects within an organization. IT project managers also help to both influence and shape an organization’s short-term and long-term IT goals.
    • Median Annual Salary: $139,220
    • Projected Growth Rate: 12%
  2. Construction Manager:
    Construction managers work on green energy construction or international construction projects. Construction managers are often employed by large construction firms to coordinate budgets and supervise projects. Managers regularly collaborate with engineers, architects and other specialists.
    • Median Annual Salary: $91,370
    • Projected Growth Rate: 11%
  3. Training and Development Manager:
    Training and development managers are hired by organizations to both direct and oversee the effective training of employees and to run professional development programs. In addition to managing logistics, such as training budgets and program implementation, this role usually requires a high level of person-on-person interaction.
    • Median Annual Salary: $108,250
    • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Featured Online Project Management Doctoral Programs

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