Best Online Master’s in Project Management 2021
Updated September 7, 2022
thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Are you ready to discover your college program?
Organizations in every industry need project managers to lead each phase of a project to ensure it meets business goals in a timely, cost-efficient manner.
An individual with a master’s in project management or an MBA in project management possesses the skills and knowledge companies in just about every industry seek. With more corporations turning to a project-based approach to meet goals and assign responsibilities, effective leaders in project management remain in demand.
An online MBA in project management degree allows working professionals and non–traditional students to enhance their business and management skills without sacrificing their schedule.
An online master of project management (MPM) curriculum varies by program. Some adhere to the Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge guide, while others prepare students for Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. Still others maintain their own focus and concerns.
The Best Online Project Management Master's
Online Project Management Master's Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
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.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
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.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.
We thank you for your readership and trust.
Featured Online Master's in Project Management Programs
What is Project Management?
Many companies use a project–based approach to setting and accomplishing organizational goals and achieving growth. To meet these goals, companies often employ a project manager to lead projects and project teams. While project teams use a variety of specialists, each with unique and significant tasks, project managers possess a broader background that incorporates knowledge from many of these specialized fields. The best project managers can effectively organize, plan, lead, and execute a project, directing the team through the process and ensuring the project meets the deadline and satisfies the investors.
What Are the Differences Between a Project Manager and Scrum Master?
While a project manager leads projects as a whole, a scrum master specifically leads the project team, ensuring the team stays on task, on schedule, on budget, and productively works toward its goal. While project managers lead a project team, their job includes other, larger responsibilities as well, such as awareness of ethical and legal concerns, mediation between the company and the client, presentation of the project to the company, and resource management.
Part of a project manager’s job may involve hiring a scrum master to manage the team on a day–to–day basis while the project manager tends to other tasks. The scrum master maintains accountability for the team, but not accountability of the overall project. This falls to the responsibility of the project manager.
What is a Master in Project Management Degree?
A master in project management degree prepares students to pursue careers as leaders in a variety of fields, specifically in regards to organizing, directing, and executing projects. The best programs for this degree incorporate a healthy blend of theoretical and practical knowledge. They convey to students a strong foundation in all aspects and factors relevant to project management, including planning and execution, personnel management, and negotiation and mediation.
Subjects students in an MBA in project management online degree program might pursue include:
- Information risk in project management
- Cost–benefit analysis for a specific company
- Evaluation of quality of change in a company over time
- Planning a project for change in a company
- Planning a new product investigation
- Project management in the global economy
- Franchise expansion or acquisition and its effect on profitability
- Ethical and legal concerns for project management in foreign markets
The Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Project Management
Individuals who earn a master’s in project management online work in various fields and positions. In every industry, projects need managing. If you love film or photography, pursue a position as a project manager for a creative agency. If you possess an interest in architecture and construction, work as a project manager on a new development site.
Earning a master’s degree can open doors for higher–level management positions. For example, individuals with just a bachelor’s degree typically only qualify for project coordinator positions rather than project manager positions. Bachelor’s degrees provide foundational knowledge about a industry, but earning a master’s in project management online allows you to learn the ins and outs of overseeing projects from the comfort of your home.
If you’re still not convinced that earning a master’s degree is right for you, look at how much more you can make with an MBA in project management compared to a bachelor’s degree.
Online Master’s in Project Management Programs
Online MBA project management programs differ from traditional programs, but many students find the format convenient. Individuals remotely complete their degrees at their own pace, a flexible format ideal for busy professionals and working parents. In an online program, students complete homework, write on discussion boards, and sometimes watch video lectures. Most online programs allow students to take unsupervised timed tests.
Self–motivated students often find success with asynchronous learning. In this format, students move at their own pace and communicate with other students and professors via online discussion boards and email. However, students who lag behind in self–discipline might find more success with synchronous learning. This learning format requires students to attend online lectures and chats at specific times and can provide structure, immediate feedback, and stricter deadlines. Some students find this format too restrictive, while others love the dependable routine.
Choosing an Online Project Management Graduate Program
When it comes to choosing a master’s in online project management program, find a school that best fits your needs. Find an accredited program that offers coursework which aligns with your future career. Keep in mind that in–state programs generally cost less than out–of–state programs, though some online programs will charge in–state rates for all students.
Accreditation for Online Project Management Graduate Degrees
As you research online project management programs, pay attention to accreditation. Accredited schools receive regular assessments from private agencies that the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education deem reliable. Schools should list whether they possess regional or national accreditation. If you don’t see the accreditation listed online, a school might not hold accreditation. For regional accreditation, an accrediting agency reviews schools in a certain U.S. region. Schools with national accreditation receive their assessment from agencies certified to accredit schools anywhere in America.
You should also ensure your desired school boasts programmatic accreditation for project management. The Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs is the field’s leading accrediting agency.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Project Management Degree Program?
On average, full–time students complete an online master’s in project management program in just two years. Part–time students complete the degree in about four years. If you want to complete your degree faster, look for an accelerated program. These programs typically allow students to take more credits per semester. Course length remains typically shorter but faster to cover all the necessary material.
With rising tuition costs, completing your degree in a timely manner can save you money. In order to graduate on time, full–time students must take around 30 credits per year. Part–time students must take 15 credits per year. Choose a pace that works with your lifestyle.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Project Management Program
- Project Management Overview: This course offers a bird’s–eye view of the program. This course quickly covers the basics of project management and provides students with project management background knowledge that comes in handy in later courses.
- Project Management Technology: In this class, students learn how to use project management software to keep projects on track. Certain industries, such as engineering, require more advanced software, while fields such as marketing only require basic software that keeps employees on track with due dates.
- Project Budgeting: If you dislike math, you may not enjoy project management since the field requires budgeting. Most online programs include an entire class that teaches project estimate and budgeting techniques. Luckily, with the right software, many professionals budget with ease after taking this course.
- Effective Leadership: To succeed as a project manager, you must rise as an effective leader. Students in effective leadership courses learn to delegate and motivate employees to reach a common goal. This class also covers best practices for hiring and firing employees.
- Project Analysis: In this class, students learn how to analyze projects. The course teaches students how to determine a project’s scope and determine what needs to happen to achieve the project’s goal. Upon completion, students should also know how to evaluate a project’s quality and how to problem–solve.
Project Management Certifications
What is PMP Certification?
Like certification in any field, Project Management Certification provides professionals with a stamp of quality that opens up career opportunities and higher potential salaries. With the PMP certification from the PMI, students enjoy a better chance at career success in project management. Maintenance of PMP certification requires ongoing learning and achievement, and certified professionals must earn 60 professional development units every three years.
PMP Certification Requirements
Some master of project management degree programs offer curricula certified by the PMI or designed to PMP standards. These programs also help students meet the certification’s basic requirements. The requirements include:
- 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
- 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
In order to get PMP certification, students must meet the prerequisite criteria and apply to take the certification exam through the PMI.
Master Certificate in Project Management
A master certificate in project management takes no more than a year to complete, and though not as lengthy or comprehensive as a full–blown master’s degree, a master certificate in project management provides a general overview of the subject. Whether earned after a student has returned to school, or as a complementary addition to a full master’s degree in a relevant field, a certificate provides students some extra qualification to enter or advance in project management, and presents a step toward a master’s degree.
What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Project Management?
Construction managers oversee the building of roads, buildings, bridges, and other structures. Before starting the job, they create a plan for each project stage and make sure each task gets completed on time.
Engineering managers ensure that engineering projects get completed on time and stay on budget. They also train new and current employees on the latest industry advances.
Marketing managers often manage several marketing projects at once, whether it’s a social media campaign or influencer event. They manage marketing efforts for entire brands or single projects.
Production managers often work in the film industry and enhance a film project’s production workflow. They plan and implement all production process stages and assess content for quality.
Project Management Membership Associations
The best project managers commit to lifelong learning. By joining professional organizations and surrounding yourself with other successful project managers, you stay inspired and on top of the latest project management trends. Most professional organizations offer networking opportunities, training webinars, exclusive job boards, and other membership perks.
Learn more, do more.
More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.