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.
1. Liberty University
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.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Note: The following schools are for‑profit schools. If you have any questions about for-profit schools, check out our guide for understanding for-profit colleges and universities.
2. Capella University
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.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Walden University
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.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical, Colorado
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.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
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
Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%
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%
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