Complete Guide to an Online Construction Management Degree
Construction managers work with a variety of professionals and clients to complete a project, which requires strong teamwork and interpersonal skills. Excellent leadership skills and the ability to multitask are also vital for a successful career in construction management. An online construction management degree is available at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level, and certificates are available at the graduate and undergraduate level. Graduates of CM programs are equipped to apply for positions as construction managers, project managers, and site managers.
Students should consider enrolling in an accredited degree program in order to ensure that they receive a valuable education. Construction management programs can receive specialized accreditation from agencies such as the American Council for Construction Education or The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering. Read More
Comprehensive List of Schools for an Online Construction Management Degree (44)
Overview of Available Online Construction Management Degrees
An associate degree in construction management will teach students to plan and schedule construction projects, deliver presentations, and supervise construction sites. The associate degree curriculum for construction management covers construction fundamentals and other areas, such as construction methods and materials, cost estimating, project scheduling, and safety planning and administration.
CM bachelor’s programs equip students with fundamental skills in construction as well as business management knowledge. Examples of some of the subjects covered during the bachelor’s program include building codes and standards, construction methods and materials, contract administration, and cost estimation and analysis.
Master's degrees prepare students for advanced positions in construction management or construction academia and allow students to specialize in a particular area, such as real estate, construction technology, or finance. Courses may cover legal issues, business planning, land use analysis, and real estate development. Master’s programs require extensive research, and some programs require students to complete a thesis.
Construction managers oversee the operations of construction projects. If you like working with your hands and have a passion for leading and being part of team, an associate degree program in this field could be an ideal educational route. The program takes two years to complete and contains up to 64 credit hours. Applicants need to have a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted.
Although a bachelor's degree is increasingly becoming the standard educational requirement for construction managers, associate degree programs can provide the field's fundamental concepts and enable students to transfer to undergraduate programs later. Associate degree programs introduce a wide range of relevant topics, such as contract negotiation, drafting, cost estimation, safety guidelines, and project management. They also help students develop employment assessment techniques. In addition, students must take classes in fundamentals of blueprint reading, principles of management and leadership, health regulations, introductory surveying and mapping, financial accounting, understanding soils and foundations, and drawings and specifications.
Common career choices for associate degree holders in construction management include jobs as land developers, cost estimators, and construction contractors. Professionals who plan to advance in the industry should continue their education and pursue a bachelor's degree. CM graduates often become affiliated with organizations that support their career development, such as the Construction Management Association of America.
The construction management bachelor's program teaches students the skills for managing complex construction projects. These programs take four years to complete; some are bachelor's-completion degrees that allow students to transfer credits from a two-year associate degree. Applicants do not need experience in construction, but they do need a high school diploma or GED, and some bachelor’s programs require scores from an ACT or SAT test.
Approximately half of a CM student's course load consists of general education courses and prerequisites. Before a student can begin construction management courses, they may have to study communications, business, math, finance, economics, and English composition. Some schools require all students to take science, art, and foreign language classes, as well.
CM courses train students to succeed at managing the employees on a work site, developing a project budget, and ensuring that work teams stick to schedules. Students study both the theoretical and practical aspects of construction management. Some schools also require that construction management students study architecture and contracting. Other courses include project control and management, site construction and management, construction safety management, and mechanical systems.
Graduates of the bachelor's program are prepared for entry-level positions such as cost estimator, field engineer, project manager assistant, or scheduler. Professional experience is important in the construction industry, and graduates may have better job opportunities after they complete a year or two of job-site experience. In most cases, bachelor’s programs require students to take a capstone course.
Online CM master’s degrees are beneficial for students who have a moderate amount of experience in the construction field, but are interested in taking on leadership roles with a higher level of responsibility. Applicants to master’s programs must have a bachelor’s degree in construction management or a related field, such as architecture or urban planning, with a minimum grade point average. Some graduate programs also require letters of recommendation, GRE scores, or work experience. Master's programs require approximately 30-36 credits or two years to complete.
While a bachelor’s degree is widely regarded as the standard academic preparation for some management positions, master's programs equip students with a more in-depth, multidisciplinary skill set. Construction managers often function as project managers, financial managers, consultants, and inspectors on construction sites, requiring advanced knowledge of labor relations, engineering design, construction technology, real estate, construction law, and finance. Master's programs will prepare graduates for executive and upper-level managerial jobs within large companies or educator or research positions within the academic field.
Different universities choose to emphasize different aspects of construction management at the master's level, but the curriculum often covers topics such as building structures, construction estimating fundamentals, codes and regulations, construction economic analysis, construction engineering management, personnel management, and legal issues in construction. Schools that place a stronger emphasis on the strategic business aspects of construction management may include more coursework in marketing, customer relations, real estate management, and financial planning. Most master's programs generally require students to complete a thesis or comprehensive research study, as well.
Construction management certificates provide specialized training in the regulatory, administrative, and technical environment of residential and commercial building. These programs can typically be completed in one year and require five to eight courses. They are available at the undergraduate and graduate level; undergraduate certificate programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED, and graduate certificate programs require a bachelor’s degree in the field. Some programs also require a number of years of construction work experience.
The construction management certificate covers the skills for working with building designers and clients and overseeing construction projects from start to finish. Courses in scheduling and cost estimation teach managers to project the scope and necessary materials involved in a particular project. Other courses discuss controlling financial costs, legal principles in construction, and structural analysis.
Some construction management certificates include a set course schedule, while others allow students to choose electives to suit their interests. Possible electives include environmental design, land development, building information modeling, and HVAC fundamentals.
Although professional experience is very important in the construction management field, the certificate can provide a helpful postsecondary credential. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers are increasingly preferring construction management candidates that have a relevant four-year degree. A graduate certificate can help bachelor's-level managers distinguish themselves in the field; the undergraduate program can be useful for those without formal training in construction that need a credential to bolster their appeal on the job market.
Accrediting agencies are independent, non-governmental bodies that conduct evaluations of schools and degree programs to assess their viability and their ability to provide a valuable education. Institutional accreditation applies to entire schools, while programmatic accreditation applies to a particular type of degree program. The US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation provide recognition for regional and national agencies at the institutional and programmatic level.
The American Council for Construction Education and The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering are both recognized by the USDE and CHEA as specialized, programmatic accrediting agencies for construction management education. In most cases, schools offering online degrees in construction management are also accredited by regional or national accrediting bodies, such as the Distance Education Training Council.
Choosing a construction management degree program that has been accredited by one of these agencies will help ensure that you will receive an education that reflects the highest academic standards. It will also enable you to transfer your credits to other accredited institutions and to utilize any financial aid you might be granted. Unaccredited programs cannot guarantee this.
- Accreditation. ACCE. Accessed August 8, 2014. http://www.acce-hq.org/accreditation.
- Construction Managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Accessed August 7, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm.
- The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering. Accessed August 7, 2014. http://www.atmae.org.