Best Online Project Management Certificate Programs

by Doug Wintemute
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Organizations everywhere seek managers who can lead teams and projects effectively. By earning project management certificates online, graduates can oversee large projects from start to finish and deliver successful results.

Earning a project management certificate or project management certification online can provide aspiring and experienced professionals the skills and credentials for sought-after management positions. This guide explores these credentials in more detail and ranks the best online project management certificate programs.

Project management training provides highly applicable leadership and communication skills or specialized training in agile, Scrum, and predictive management approaches. Students learn how managers plan, analyze, and adapt projects while considering risks and stakeholders' needs.

Both credentials demonstrate to employers that candidates understand effective project management and can help minimize failures to maximize organizational returns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% growth in employment for management positions from 2019-2029, which is above the average employment growth rate for all occupations.

The Best Online Project Management Certificate Programs

Regis University true View School Profile $$$$ Denver, CO 71% Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The online project management certificate program has been approved by both the Project Management Institute and the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management.

The 12-credit project management program comprises four courses. A process mapping and improvement course explores how to visually plan a project from start to finish, including all decisions necessary along the way. Students also complete a conflict management course, through which they learn how to work with people and avoid or overcome common conflicts to ensure successful project delivery.

Most students graduate from the program within 48 weeks. All students pay the same tuition, even if they do not reside in Colorado. Although the program offers all coursework online, students may opt to take some classes at the school’s Denver campus.

Eligible applicants to this online project management certificate program must possess a high school diploma or GED, along with transferable credits from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. Prospective students also must submit evidence of significant work experience. Applicants do not submit their high school or college transcripts.

Champlain College true View School Profile $$$$$ Burlington, VT 60% Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)

The nine-credit program includes three courses, and students typically take one semester to graduate. In essentials of project management, students learn about the foundations of a successful project, including process mapping and conflict management. An organizational communication course focuses on ensuring all members of a team work together cohesively to continue driving a project forward.

All online courses feature an accelerated seven-week format, and students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Classes also incorporate an asynchronous schedule, which means students can log on and complete assignments on their own time. Most distance courses include an ample amount of interaction among students and instructors.

To apply to the project management certificate online program, prospective students must answer three short essay questions, provide a current resume, and submit their high school and college transcripts. Eligible applicants must possess at least a 2.5 GPA across all previous postsecondary coursework.

All certificate students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state residency. Active duty military and National Guard and Reserve members receive a special, discounted tuition rate.

City University of Seattle true View School Profile $$$ Seattle, WA 49% City University of Seattle is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

To receive the project management certificate, online students take an introductory course, a class on project scheduling and cost management, and a course on project risk and change management. A class on people and communication focuses on human resource planning, managing conflicts in the workplace, and how leaders can effectively communicate to drive a project forward. Finally, a course on leadership and teams allows students to explore the various ways groups of people can work together, even when separated geographically.

While students can take all five classes online, they may opt for one or more on-campus sessions. Regardless, the program typically takes about six months to complete.

The university offers a variety of services to help students along in their studies, including academic advising, library resources, and a counseling center. The school’s career center helps students and alumni with job searches, resume writing assistance, interview skill building, and career planning.

This online project management certificate program is approved by the Project Management Institute. To apply, prospective students need only to submit their high school diploma. Once enrolled, all students pay the same tuition, even if they live outside the state of Washington.

Central New Mexico Community College true View School Profile Albuquerque, NM 24% Central New Mexico Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

CNM’s 16-credit project management certificate of completion helps professionals advance in their careers by training them in key skills like budgeting, risk management, estimating, scheduling, and project oversight. Students learn how to communicate with teams, make critical decisions, and lead a project from conception through execution.

Students may take classes part time or full time and can start the program in the fall, spring, or summer term. While learners can take all courses online, they may also opt for some in-person sessions at CNM’s Albuquerque campus.

The project management certificate online program’s curriculum includes courses on project management fundamentals, effective project management practices, budgeting and resource management, and contract management. Students wrap up the program with a class on project management applications, which involves developing a project plan, master schedule, and work breakdown, following up with the allocation of resources and assigning labor.

To qualify for the online project management certificate program, applicants must demonstrate basic proficiency in English, reading, and information technology by taking an ACCUPLACER exam. If needed, they may take prerequisite courses at CNM to fulfill these requirements.

CNM offers a variety of resources to help students attain success in their coursework. Distance and on-campus learners benefit from achievement coaches, academic advising, tutoring, study skills workshops, and financial aid assistance. The school also boasts job connection services for current students and alumni, who can access resume and cover letter writing help, career exploration coaching, job boards, and networking opportunities.

Inver Hills Community College true View School Profile $$ Inver Grove Heights, MN 25% Inver Hills Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Inver Hills Community College delivers a 13-credit project management certificate online program that gives students the skills and knowledge needed to plan, implement, and evaluate projects across a variety of industries.

The program encompasses four classes covering the areas of project management software, principles of management, and an introduction to business applications and computing. Students also take a project management and planning skills course that provides a comprehensive view of the processes and best practices that lead to a project’s success.

Inver Hills offers a full suite of student services, including academic advising, personal counseling, tutoring, a testing center, and resources for military members and veterans. The school’s Adult Success through Accelerated Pathways helps adult learners plan their coursework around their personal and professional obligations.

Additionally, Inver Hills’ Learning Center delivers 24/7 online tutoring, a writing center, a math center, and accessibility resources. The Learning Center also features group study tables at the school’s campus.

Inver Hills’ Business and Accounting departments are members of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Learners can also benefit from participation in DECA, which connects business students across the country and worldwide.

To apply to the online project management certificate program, prospective students must submit their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with transcripts from any colleges or universities they previously attended. Students also must take an assessment before starting their coursework.

Best Online Certificate

Online Project Management Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

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While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

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Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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Featured Online Project Management Certificate Programs

What Is an Online Project Management Certificate Program?

Project management certificate online programs can vary considerably in scope and structure, but most feature 5-10 classes and run for 3-12 months. The training develops fundamental project management abilities for entry-level professionals or individuals looking to expand their skills and qualifications. Some certificates help more experienced professionals prepare to pursue project management certifications online.

The best online project management certificate programs provide students with practical skills, such as project scoping and planning, resource management, budgeting, and making accurate projections. Some colleges and universities allow learners to pursue certificates within degrees or earn transfer credits for a degree. According to Education Data, the average college course costs $396 per credit hour.

What to Expect From a Project Management Certificate Online

Students pursuing project management certificates online will encounter each school's unique curriculum, but the following list highlights some of the more common classes. These courses cover the project management foundations that most leaders possess. Course titles and descriptions may vary.

Project Management Certificate Courses

  • Assessing project risk
  • Project leadership
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Project communications
  • Cost and procurement

What Is an Online Project Management Certification?

A project management certification online helps industries and employers standardize specific skills and training. These credentials demonstrate to employers that the credentialled applicant possesses the leadership, technical, and business skills to lead projects according to industry standards.

Some popular certifications include certified associate in project management, certified Scrum master, and project management professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI). Earning a project management certification online can provide individuals with better leadership opportunities in industries like information technology and engineering.

Certification-holders can also earn higher salaries. According to a PMI survey, 70% of professionals with the PMP credential received a wage increase within 12 months.

How to Get an Online Project Management Certification

While every project management certification online maintains specific requirements and prerequisites, all PMI certifications feature an examination that candidates must pass to earn the credential.

To qualify for the exam, professionals usually need a combination of education and experience, such as a bachelor's degree and a combined three years of specific project management experience.

Many certifications also require project management training, which can come from earning degrees or project management certificates online. The PMP exam allows for up to 230 minutes to complete 180 questions. The average candidate takes 35 hours to prepare for this exam. Most certifications last three years and require continuing education credits for renewal.

Online Project Management Certification Costs

Project management certification costs depend on the credential and organization. Certification examinations typically cost $400-$600. Certification organization members may benefit from discounted prices.

Many organizations offer certification preparation courses. Aspiring certification-holders may find free certification preparation programs, but most apply a fee.

Should I Get a Project Management Certificate Online or Project Management Certification Online?

Unlike earning a project management certificate online through a college or university, industry organizations confer project management certifications online. Certificates provide training similar to condensed degrees, while certifications recognize professionals who have met specific industry standards.

While certificate programs offer plenty of benefits, they may not appeal to all professionals equally. The following information outlines some of the pros and cons of certificates and certifications.

Project Management Certificate

Pros

Qualifies for entry-level positions Leads to advancement opportunities Can be earned while pursuing a degree

Cons

May not provide enough education for your ideal career Can be costly for some Can be time-consuming

Project Management Certification

Pros

Better job opportunities Certifies you as an experienced leader Leads to higher salaries

Cons

Requires significant training and experience Can be costly for some Requires continuing education

What Can You Do With a Project Management Certificate or Certification?

Certificates and certifications qualify professionals for better positions, more leadership opportunities, and new industries. According to a PMI survey, PMP certification-holders see their salaries increase by an average of 23% after certification. The information below includes the median annual salary for project managers, along with the highest-paying states for professionals in this field.

Highest Paying States for Annual Mean Salary (May 2020)
State Mean Salary
D.C. $105,730
Maryland $99,170
Virginia $97,570
New York $97,340
Massachusetts $96,960
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

After earning a project management certificate or project management certification online, graduates can enter many promising careers. Below, readers can find examples of some of the professional options available to graduates, along with their associated median annual salaries and projected growth figures.

The example careers may require different levels of experience and education, so candidates should research their local industries for more specific eligibility information.

Project Management Career Outlook Across Industries
Career 2020 Median Annual Salary 2019-2029 Projected Job Growth
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150 10%
Architectural and Engineering Managers $149,530 3%
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $141,490 6%
Financial Managers $134,180 15%
Sales Managers $132,290 4%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430 9%
Industrial Production Managers $108,790 1%
Top Executives $107,680 4%
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,280 32%
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $98,890 6%
Construction Managers $97,180 8%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Project Management Organizations

Professional project management organizations provide great benefits for members in all stages of their careers. New graduates can access job boards and mentorship resources, while experienced professionals can explore career development and networking options. These organizations may provide memberships based on geography or specializations.

Some organizations provide access to project management certifications online. Below are some of the most significant project management organizations.

Common Questions About Project Management Certificate Programs

true How Do You Become a Certified Project Manager?

Certified project managers need to pass an examination with a credential-providing organization like PMI. A project management certification typically requires both education and experience to qualify for the exam.

true Can I Get a PMP Without Experience?

The PMP certification requires a minimum of three years of project management experience. A candidate with only a high school diploma or an associate degree needs five years of experience.

true How Much Does a Project Manager Certification Cost?

Most project management certifications online cost $400-$600, though candidates with specific organization memberships may receive discounts.

true How Much Does the PMP Exam Cost?

The PMP examination costs $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members. The cost to retake the test is $275 for members and $375 for non-members.

true Is a Project Management Certificate Worth It?

The best online project management certificate programs can lead to entry-level roles for new graduates or help experienced professionals advance their careers. Additionally, the training can make leaders more effective and more useful to their organizations.

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

Header Image Credit: PeopleImages | Getty Images

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