Both for-profit and nonprofit organizations need talent to execute projects on time and on budget to meet performance objectives. Project managers possess the expertise to lead teams of people who can make this happen. Equip yourself with the skills employers value by exploring project management certificate programs online. Coursework prepares you to oversee projects of all sizes and complexity levels by building your skills in leadership, collaboration, and planning — all necessary to enter the industry of your choice in this in-demand field.
Earning project management certification online prepares learners to become project managers, a fast-growing profession that drives organizational success. This career path proves exciting, offering opportunities to ideate, implement, and monitor projects that impact people’s lives.
Graduates of the best online project management certificate programs understand the importance of adhering to project scope, risk mitigation, and stakeholder engagement — all which make a difference when it comes to organizations’ fiscal health.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management careers can be quite lucrative; in fact, the annual wage in 2017 topped $119,000. Consider how enrolling in project management certification online courses can make a difference as you strive to fulfill your immediate and long-term professional goals.
Project Management Certificate Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following online project management programs based on their quality, online project management class offerings, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation; this includes a school’ reputation for providing quality online programs.
The Best Online Project Management Certificate Programs
1. Regis University
Regis University’s Anderson College of Business offers an undergraduate project management certificate online that gives students the knowledge and skills to start, plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate projects across a variety of applications and settings. The certificate prepares students for success in the business, nonprofit, and government services sectors, empowering them to take on leadership roles and advance in their careers.
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.
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.
2. Champlain College
Champlain College, located in Burlington, Vermont, offers a project management certificate program online through which students learn how to plan, execute, and evaluate various types of projects. Students also use software and systems to ensure projects run as smoothly as possible. The program focuses on maintaining projects’ cost-effectiveness, detailing individual tasks, and ensuring projects meet the vision and culture of an organization.
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.
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)
3. City University of Seattle
The City University of Seattle’s undergraduate project management certificate program empowers students to lead projects from start to finish and across the public and private sectors. The five-course, 25-credit program also allows students to work toward a project management professional certification.
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.
City University of Seattle is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
4. Central New Mexico Community College
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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.
Central New Mexico Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Inver Hills Community College
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
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 Programs 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.
Inver Hills Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The Advantages of a Project Management Education
Online project management certificate programs create an array of career opportunities. Certificate holders can pursue roles in the construction, healthcare, and finance industries, or advance in the professions and industries in which they currently work. Those who go beyond a certificate to earn their associate degrees in project management may qualify for even more career options, and professionals can advance from entry-level roles and increase their income in the process.
Many organizations maintain project management offices (PMOs), which project management experts lead to ensure proper project execution. These professionals can transition to work in their organization’s PMO, or explore that option with other employers. They can also verify their expertise by becoming certified through a credentialing body that administers certification exams. Read on to explore the careers you can pursue after completing project management certification online, including their salaries by years of experience.
Average Salary by Degree Level
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Project Management||$52,000|
Project Management Certificate Salary Information
Graduates of online project management certificate programs enjoy their choice of careers, since most industries rely on project managers to drive operational efficiencies and effectiveness. Professionals with these skills and knowledge can take their pick of well-paying jobs. The best candidates for these positions demonstrate an ability to collaborate with others, identify and mitigate risks before they occur, and ensure work gets done on time and within budget.
- Associate Project Manager
- These professionals assist the project manager by serving as a liaison between them and the project team. They must offer possible solutions when problems occur and determine when the project manager should step in to handle the situation. They must also help create project plans, budgets, and timelines.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $53,000
- Mid-Career: $58,000
- Experienced: $66,000
- Late Career: $80,000
- Project Manager, General
- This generalist role entails overseeing an organization’s projects, planning project strategy, establishing project goals and schedules, and assigning roles to each project team member. These professionals also monitor the budget and resources necessary for every project to align with profit targets, and they work with external clients and contractors as necessary.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $55,000
- Mid-Career: $63,000
- Experienced: $76,000
- Late Career: $86,000
- Project Manager, Information Technology
- These professionals coordinate beta and production releases in accordance with quality assurance. They also help create, test, and oversee IT technology project plans, and communicate milestones achieved. Responsibilities include allocating appropriate resources and resolving problems that arise when projects do not progress as planned.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $60,000
- Mid-Career: $71,000
- Experienced: $87,000
- Late Career: $99,000
- Project Manager, Construction
- Professionals in these roles oversee building projects, assuming responsibility for quality control, estimating costs, devising employee and timeline schedules, and reviewing design plans. They also vet and hire contractors as necessary while making certain to use the most suitable building materials. Their responsibilities may also include leading maintenance and renovation projects.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $51,000
- Mid-Career: $60,000
- Experienced: $73,000
- Late Career: $81,000
- Project Manager, Operations
- These experts make sure projects finish on time and meet customer expectations. They communicate with external and internal partners about project progress, solicit feedback on work executed, and lead teams of skilled professionals to help develop, assess, and fine-tune project processes. They also develop status reports and monitor budget expenditures.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $55,000
- Mid-Career: $64,000
- Experienced: $75,000
- Late Career: $83,000
Choosing an Online Project Management Program
Carefully consider which online project management certificate programs best meet your needs. Look closely at their courses, faculty, and student support services, and explore the kinds of jobs alumni typically enter after graduating. Make connections with alumni, as well, to find out more about their experience transitioning from certificate studies into the workforce. Moreover, think practically when it comes to your budget and what you can afford when pursuing a project management certification online.
You may find in-state schools offer the most bang for your buck when compared with out-of-state and private schools. Above all else, take your time making the right decision.
- Program Cost
- You should comfortably afford tuition and fees for your project management certification online courses. Determine what expenses you must incur, including books and technology fees for web-based studies. In addition, look for scholarships and apply for financial aid to offset out-of-pocket costs.
- Transfer Policies
- Look for schools offering online project management certificate programs that allow you to transfer seamlessly to degree studies. Ideally, your school should maintain a transfer agreement with one or more degree-granting institutions. At least some of the credits you earn for your certificate should fulfill those degree requirements.
- School Size and Type
- Think about the size of institution you want. You may primarily enroll in online classes, but those courses still require virtual discussions and often group work. Therefore, class sizes can make a difference in your experience and the relationships you establish with faculty and peers.
- Program Length
- Part-time studies allow you to continue working full-time to earn an income, but they take longer to complete. Full-time studies allow you to focus on classwork to graduate as quickly as possible, and you might even enroll in more credits per term to expedite your certificate.
- On-Campus Requirements
- Remember, some online programs require students to attend at least some classes on-campus. Others may mandate that learners spend several days at a time on-campus for workshops and class projects. If your school imposes these requirements, consider how that might affect your budget and schedule.
Accreditation for Online Project Management Programs
The best online project management certificate programs boast accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency. Employers recognize accredited programs because accreditation verifies a curriculum’s rigor and quality, and only leading institutions offer accredited programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education determine which institutions should receive accreditation to demonstrate their academic excellence.
Six regional accrediting agencies exist in the United States, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Regionally accredited schools typically offer academic-oriented programs, while those with national accreditation generally offer vocational studies.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) accredits project management programs through its Global Accreditation Center, and it serves as the preeminent accrediting body for project management studies. PMI-accredited programs must align with PMI’s standards for excellence in education.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Project Management?
The time it takes to complete a program for project management certification online varies. Some highly intensive programs may take as few as five days to prepare students to sit for a professional certification exam. Others take about one year to complete, but you may accelerate that timeline by enrolling in more classes at once. Your program could also take longer than 12 months if you enroll part time and take fewer classes at a time. Campus visits and internship requirements may affect program length, as well.
Enrolling in more classes at a time to earn certification more quickly means you paying more at once. Otherwise, taking the typical course load or fewer credits each term requires you pay less at a time, but you end up paying the same amount by graduation.
Courses in an Online Certificate in Project Management Program
- Planning and Managing Resources
- This class considers why so many projects take much longer than expected to complete and cost more than anticipated. It also explores why larger project teams often slow down work. As a result, students identify ways to think carefully about resource availability constraints when planning, executing, and controlling a project.
- Using Earned Value Management for Project Managers
- Students explore the concept of earned value management (EVM), a set of processes that allow project managers to forecast, adjust, and apply revised measures during the project lifecycle. EVM allows professionals to achieve better results by implementing project controls. The class best suits those with an understanding of project management fundamentals.
- Organizing Projects and Their Components
- This course examines what it takes to achieve better project results as evidenced by adherence to budget, schedule, and scope. Learners deconstruct projects to identify how to schedule and monitor them. Those who wish to earn professional certification find this class helpful because it covers project management tools, concepts, and language.
- Agile Project Management Approaches
- Learners understand what it means to adapt to their project work to achieve better results. Clients do not always know what they want, and a project team’s workflow may not go as planned, so project managers must demonstrate flexibility by approaching their work in increments.
- Assessing, Managing, and Mitigating Risk
- This class looks at the types of risks project managers often encounter, teaching students to identify those risks and apply mitigation strategies as needed. Coursework includes analysis of past project work to assess their risks, outcomes, and possible contingency planning that could have occurred at the outset.
Project Management Membership Associations
Joining a project management membership association allows you to continue your education, enhance your career, and network with other project managers. Furthermore, these associations offer learning opportunities, allowing members to earn professional development credits they can apply toward renewing professional certification.
- Project Management Institute
- PMI delivers value to nearly three million professionals worldwide. Its globally recognized standards, tools, resources, and publications benefit members, as do its conference and networking opportunities. The association also offers project management certification for all professional levels.
- International Project Management Association
- Some 70 member associations compose IPMA, developing project management competencies and influential relationships in their key geographies. IPMA offers individuals certifications, consultant and coach training, and an array of products for newcomers to the profession.
- American Management Association
- AMA strengthens its members’ skills, so these professionals can develop into successful managers. AMA members enjoy access to a three-seminar project management certificate, suiting those who want to familiarize themselves with the latest tools and techniques.
- A/E/C Project Management Association
- This organization targets project managers in the construction, engineering, and architecture sectors. Members can pursue ACEPM certification and enjoy access to articles offering skill-building strategies and webinars and podcasts to keep them current on emerging practices and trends.
- Association for Project Managers
- APM serves as a clearinghouse for the most up-to-date publications and seminars on project management. It aims to make ongoing education available to members, with an emphasis on the construction and design industry. It also offers consulting services at a discount for APM members.