Best Online Master’s in Project Management 2021

by TBS Staff

Updated September 7, 2022

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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

  1. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Chartered in 1821 by an act of Congress, GW now enrolls over 26,000 students annually.

    GW's online master of science in project management, offered since 1996, ranks among the oldest programs of its type. Students learn both general management skills and advanced practices in project management, ensuring a thorough foundation for a wide range of future careers. All students must attend a campus-based orientation at the start of their program, and a week-long residency at the end.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts (average GPA 3.2), a resume, a statement of purpose, and at least one letter of recommendation. The program does not require standardized testing, but applicants may submit scores if desired.

  2. Brandeis University
    Location

    Waltham, MA

    Established as a nonsectarian research university by the American Jewish community in 1948, Brandeis now welcomes more than 5,000 students per year.

    Brandeis offers an online master of science in project and program management that takes as little as one year to complete. Students take seven required courses, such as Project Scheduling and Cost Management, Negotiating and Conflict Resolution, and Demystifying Agile Project Management, along with three electives.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts, a current resume, one letter of recommendation, and a statement of goals.

  3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Founded as a flying school in 1925, Embry-Riddle became a full-fledged, accredited aviation and aerospace university in 1968. Today, the university serves more than 34,000 students each year.

    Embry-Riddle offers an online master of science in project management. Students study both hard skills, such as quantitative analysis, and soft skills, including leadership and communication. The program ends with a capstone course designed for students to apply their skills to common real-world situations.

    Applicants need an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above, or a minimum graduate GPA of 3.0.

  4. University of Wisconsin-Platteville
    Location

    Platteville, WI

    Tuition

    $14158

    Established in 1866 as the first teachers college in Wisconsin, UW-Platteville now offers more than 40 academic programs across three campuses.

    The university offers a fully online or hybrid master of science in project management with three optional concentrations: human capital administration, integrated supply chain management, or managing engineering projects. Students may earn their degree in just two years.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 or a GPA in their last 60 credits of at least 2.9.

  5. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $12516

    Opened more than 140 years ago, SHSU now serves over 21,000 students each year.

    SHSU offers a mostly online master of science in project management with minimal campus attendance requirements. The 36-credit program prepares students to manage all phases of the product life cycle, from design through final payment.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts, GMAT scores (waived for those with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above), a resume showing at least three years of managerial experience, and an essay.

  6. Dallas Baptist University
    Location

    Dallas, TX

    Founded in Decatur, Texas in 1898, DBU moved to its current Dallas home in 1965. Today, the university provides a Christ-centered education to students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs.

    The university offers an online master of business administration with a concentration in project management. All students complete the 24-credit MBA core, including such courses as Managerial Accounting, Strategic Management Decisions, and Creative Problem Solving for Marketing Decisions, along with 12 credits in their concentration.

    Application requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, along with either a GMAT score of at least 425, five or more years of significant relevant work experience, or at least 12 graduate credits with a GPA of 3.0 or above. Applicants must also demonstrate moral character in keeping with DBU's Christian focus.

  7. Elmhurst College
    Location

    Elmhurst, IL

    Established as a German Evangelical seminary in 1871, Elmhurst changed its name from Elmhurst College in 2020. The university now serves more than 3,000 students annually.

    Elmhurst's flex format master of project management program allows students to take courses online, on campus, or in any combination they choose. For those interested in obtaining the project management professional (PMP) credential from the Project Management Institute (PMI), the department offers an exam review course free to all graduates.

    Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

  8. The College of Saint Scholastica
    Location

    Duluth, MN

    A Benedictine Catholic college founded in 1912, CSS welcomes approximately 3,700 students per year.

    CSS offers an online master of science in project management that takes less than two years to finish. Designed for experienced professionals, the program uses a cohort model in which students progress through the course sequence in small groups. All students must give an on-campus presentation as part of their final capstone project.

    Prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 2.8 and two or more years of full-time work experience.

  9. Charleston Southern University
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    A Christian university established by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1964, CSU now serves more than 3,000 students each year.

    The university offers a fully online master of science in project management. The flexible 30-credit program, designed for working adults, takes 12-24 months to complete. The program equips students with the tools they need to effectively guide all phases of complex projects.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts and a professional resume.

  10. Florida Institute of Technology
    Location

    Melbourne, FL

    Founded in 1958 as Brevard Engineering College, Florida Tech now welcomes students from more than 100 countries across the globe.

    The university offers an online master of science in project management. Options for concentrations include information systems and operations research. Those who choose not to concentrate in a specific area may select any three approved electives alongside their required courses.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, GRE scores, one letter of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of objectives.

Best Online Master's

Online Project Management Master's Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

Our Methodology

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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

Data Sources

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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.

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.

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

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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:

Secondary degree

  • 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Four–year degree

  • 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 Manager

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.

Median Salary: $75,000

Engineering Manager

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.

Median Salary: $140,500

Marketing Manager

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.

Median Salary: $68,500

Production Manager

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.

Median Salary: $62,000

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.

The AMA serves as a resource for business managers and project managers. The association offers educational management trainings and seminars to help managers develop their leadership skills. The APM provides members with knowledge about the latest project management trends by hosting workshops and seminars. This organization remains primarily for project managers who work in the engineering or architectural industries. By joining ILA, professionals learn how to motivate employees to succeed and work towards a common goal. The group offers members access to exclusive leadership–focused publications and journals. IPMA, which consists of 70 member associations across the world, helps projects managers earn certifications and glean useful insight through conferences. The IPM–USA is as the IPMA association for the United States. PMI also provides project managers with certification opportunities. Join your local PMI chapter to network with local professionals, learn from industry experts, and gain access to exclusive webinars.

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