Complete Guide to Best Online Project Management Degrees
Online project management degree programs are offered at the certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels to help prepare aspiring project managers for careers in finance, information technology, and many other industries. Our top online bachelor's programs and top online master's programs in project management provide especially strong options that teach the knowledge, skills, and techniques needed to effectively manage projects in multiple industries. Students might also be interested in our top online master's programs for certification list to prepare for a PMI certification. Prospective students should research accredited project management programs to ensure the best academic experience.
2018 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Project Management Degrees
Students interested in pursuing an online bachelor's degree in project management will find that the 5 schools on this list are affordable and academically strong. Charleston Southern University ranks at #1 with an academic rigor score of 63% and moderately priced tuition of $15,190 per year. The top-ranking program in terms of academic strength is the University of South Florida - Sarasota-Manatee with a score of 70% and a $16,492 annual tuition rate.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 Charleston Southern University||Annual Tuition $15,190||Academic Strength 63%|
|#2 Minnesota State University-Moorhead||Annual Tuition $15,920||Academic Strength 63%|
|#3 University of South Florida - Sarasota-Manatee||Annual Tuition $16,492||Academic Strength 70%|
|#4 University of the Incarnate Word||Annual Tuition $15,900||Academic Strength 60%|
|#5 Malone University||Annual Tuition $16,800||Academic Strength 64%|
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Project Management Degrees ( 35)
Online Project Management Degree Overview & Career Information
Online project management certificates offer concentrated training on management skills through courses ranging from cost management to communications. The graduate-level certificates are open to students with an accredited undergraduate degree. Most certificates take a year or less to complete, making it a great option for working professionals to enhance their management opportunities.
Online bachelor’s degrees typically include topics in organizational leadership, project risk management, contracts and procurement, project performance and quality assurance, and project scheduling and cost. Bachelor's programs usually have a capstone project requirement aimed at enhancing the students’ practical knowledge in the field.
The online master’s degree curriculum covers several key knowledge areas, including assessing and mitigating risk, project planning, execution and closure, schedule and cost control techniques, contracting and procurement in project management, and project management processes. A capstone project is a typical requirement in master’s programs.
Online doctoral project management degree programs explore theoretical underpinnings in project management at a far deeper level than other academic programs. The doctoral curriculum covers areas such as advanced project management methodologies, advanced risk management systems, and contemporary leadership theories and practices. Doctoral students are also required to take a comprehensive exam and complete a dissertation.
Online bachelor’s degrees in project management help prepare students to navigate the many aspects of a project that they see through from beginning to end. The project management bachelor's degree often combines general business skills with particular leadership strategies for bringing complex projects to completion.
Online bachelor’s degree programs generally require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED for admission, and some programs require additional application materials, such as a resume, personal statement, or standardized test scores. This is a four-year degree, requiring about 120 credit hours of coursework.
Undergraduate courses cover topics such as the role of the project manager, strategic goal setting, portfolio management, procurement and contracts, and budgeting. Many project management programs are offered as business degrees with a project management focus. In such programs, students also take more general business classes such as leadership, decision making, marketing, and accounting. Most project management bachelor's programs require a capstone course or a project-based class. In this course, students manage a mock project from beginning to end, developing the project's goals, setting a timeline, assigning teams, creating a budget, and procuring contracts.
Graduates with bachelor’s degrees will typically find lower-level project management positions in management, information technology, accounting, and human resources. Most people who graduate with a bachelor's degree in project management generally begin by working at businesses, government agencies, or other organizations as a manager or administrator taking on small projects. Project management can be an experience-based profession, so after gaining experience, professionals may be assigned to larger projects and can advance to take on more projects.
The online project management master’s degree can be a great way for those without significant project management experience to gain valuable skills to break into the workplace. Graduates will have an edge over those with only a bachelor’s degree and similar professional experience. The master’s in project management degree online is a focused business program that teaches the particular skill set for starting, maintaining, and finishing large projects within an organization.
Many online master's degrees in project mangement require applicants to have some formal or informal management experience, along with an accredited undergraduate degree. Individuals in an accredited master's program can use their coursework toward the 4,500 hours of project management experience required to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam.
The coursework in the project management master's degree combines traditional management topics with project-specific issues. For example, courses in project planning and estimating generally include material about setting project goals and creating a budget. Project procurement courses address obtaining the necessary contracts and materials for a project and managing costs. Other common core classes discuss project risk management, quality management, financial methods, and quantitative management. Many programs also require a capstone course, where students plan and control a mock project.
Most graduates of project management master's programs will seek out careers as project managers, either as employees of firms or as consultants. Others seek out related careers, such as supply chain manager, procurement manager, or computer and information systems manager.
Online MBA in Project Management
The MBA in project management combines a foundation of practical business classes with a core of classes in particular project management skills. Unlike some other graduate programs, the MBA is career-oriented and designed to impart skills that are useful on the job. An accredited undergraduate degree is required to apply to an MBA program. Some MBA programs only accept applicants who also have a minimum of two years of professional experience in project management or a related business area. Some online programs require current employment in a project management capacity. GMAT scores, professional recommendations, and a personal statement may also be required.
The basic business classes in this degree are interdisciplinary and can be applied to just about every industry. They cover topics like finance, management, organizational behavior, economics, statistics, and accounting. This firm foundation in business principles allows project managers to approach a project with an understanding of how different factors can affect the project’s success.
In addition to these business classes, students in MBA in project management degrees will also take classes which cover the unique skills involved in getting a project off the ground, maintaining it during execution, and finishing strong. For example, classes on project overview and strategy cover meeting with the client, determining the goals for the project, developing a timeline, and hashing out a budget. Courses in project planning focus on procuring contracts, developing teams, and creating diagrams for the workflow of the project. Other core classes discuss project initiation, project simulation, and legal considerations in project management.
2018 Best Online Colleges for a Master's in Project Management
With annual fees below $20,000, and academic strength scores as high as 88%, these 25 colleges offer the top online master's degrees in project management. Ranked #1 is Brandeis University, with an annual tuition of $16,995 and a strong academic rating of 85%. Coming in a close second, Georgetown University offers a Master of Professional Studies in Project Management for $18,945 per year.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 Brandeis University||Annual Tuition $16,995||Academic Strength 85%|
|#2 Georgetown University||Annual Tuition $18,945||Academic Strength 88%|
|#3 Mississippi State University||Annual Tuition $8,658||Academic Strength 69%|
|#4 University of Maryland - College Park||Annual Tuition $17,295||Academic Strength 82%|
|#5 Montana Tech of the University of Montana||Annual Tuition $9,939||Academic Strength 69%|
|#6 University of Wisconsin-Platteville||Annual Tuition $9,975||Academic Strength 67%|
|#7 Troy University||Annual Tuition $7,410||Academic Strength 61%|
|#8 University of Denver||Annual Tuition $15,840||Academic Strength 75%|
|#9 Sam Houston State University||Annual Tuition $8,842||Academic Strength 62%|
|#10 University of North Alabama||Annual Tuition $7,675||Academic Strength 59%|
|#11 University of Colorado Colorado Springs||Annual Tuition $12,171||Academic Strength 67%|
|#12 University of Mary||Annual Tuition $11,400||Academic Strength 65%|
|#13 Liberty University||Annual Tuition $12,995||Academic Strength 66%|
|#14 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota||Annual Tuition $10,980||Academic Strength 61%|
|#15 Dallas Baptist University||Annual Tuition $16,308||Academic Strength 70%|
|#16 Avila University||Annual Tuition $10,621||Academic Strength 59%|
|#17 Eastern Michigan University||Annual Tuition $14,040||Academic Strength 63%|
|#18 DeSales University||Annual Tuition $15,120||Academic Strength 65%|
|#19 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||Annual Tuition $14,625||Academic Strength 64%|
|#20 The College of Saint Scholastica||Annual Tuition $10,070||Academic Strength 54%|
|#21 Lakeland University||Annual Tuition $10,890||Academic Strength 55%|
|#22 Western Carolina University||Annual Tuition $15,657||Academic Strength 63%|
|#23 Northwest University||Annual Tuition $14,740||Academic Strength 61%|
|#24 Wayland Baptist University||Annual Tuition $10,800||Academic Strength 54%|
|#25 University of Michigan - Dearborn||Annual Tuition $19,620||Academic Strength 69%|
Online doctorate level programs take a more abstract approach to project management more abstractly explore advanced methodologies, systems, and theories. Programs will often incorporate many opportunities for research, which enables students to improve their project management practices.
Applicants to most project management doctorate programs must hold an accredited master’s degree and have at least five years of professional management experience to be considered. The college or university will need to see official transcripts of all postsecondary work the applicant has done, as well as a resume and letters of recommendation. Some schools also request a personal essay as part of the application package. The 16-course program and dissertation can be completed in three to seven years.
Students enrolled in a project management doctorate program will take courses in knowledge management, project management leadership, project procurement and ethics, data analysis and interpretation, and systems modeling and the nine schools of project management. Other courses in the program focus on research methods and the philosophy of knowledge. Doctoral candidates must also write a dissertation as part of their program. The project will be approved and supervised by a faculty member, who acts as an advisor. Each student's work must be orally defended in front of a jury before the doctorate will be granted.
Graduates from this type of program will be qualified for positions as university professors, or they can take on roles as mentors and researchers.
Online project management certificates are graduate-level programs aimed at providing a focused education in the leadership and management skills needed to oversee complex projects. These programs typically require 5 to 10 courses and can be completed in a year or less. Most are offered through business schools or university extension programs. Applicants need an accredited undergraduate degree; some programs require a year or more of professional project management experience.
Students in Project Management Institute-certified programs can use the course credits toward the PMP exam educational requirement. Project management certificates can also be used as professional development units if they meet certain criteria.
The courses in the project management certificate focus on the unique leadership, planning, and management skills required to lead large projects. The foundational project management principles course includes topics like cost management, the different stages of a large project, and project networks. Later courses focus on a particular aspect of management, such as communications, risk management, program management, and quality management. Some certificate programs have a set list of courses, while others include a core sequence and electives. The certificate coursework can also be used as the start of a master’s program at some institutions.
Graduates of a certificate program often work as a project manager. The project management career area is still emerging and specialized education isn’t widely available at the bachelor’s level. Thus, those with a graduate certificate will have a wider array of job opportunities than those with only a four-year degree and similar experience. Other related career areas include construction management, engineering management, or healthcare management. Professionals already working in a professional area can use the certificate to support expanded responsibilities in supervision or project management in their current workplace.
It's important to consider the reputation and qualifications of any project management degree program you're considering, and official accreditation is one way to begin narrowing down your choices. When a school or program is accredited, it means that its curricula, faculty, student outcomes, and general academic standards have been reviewed, evaluated, and deemed acceptable by an independent agency.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the most popular and reputable project management organization. PMI's Global Accreditation Center (GAC) for Project Management Education Programs is the leading accrediting body for project management related education. Committed to excellence, GAC accreditation ensures that programs maintain policies and procedures of project management. Students who attend a GAC accredited program demonstrate to future employers that they have received an enriched education that equipped them with necessary skills, techniques, and experience to succeed as a project manager. PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.), which are organizations that have been approved to provide training in project management, are also strong indicators of a quality education.
Entire institutions can be accredited by national or regional accrediting agencies, or individual PM programs can be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs. It's wise to refer to the lists of accrediting agencies that are recognized by US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
For more information about the benefits of accreditation, visit the Guide to Online Schools accreditation hub.
The certifications offered by PMI are among the most popular credentials for project management professionals. There are eight different certificates available: Project Management Professional, Program Management Professional, Portfolio Management Professional, Certified Associate in Project Management, PMI Professional in Business Analysis, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, PMI Risk Management Professional, and PMI Scheduling Professional.
The Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is considered the gold standard of project management certification. A Project Management Professional Certification is recognized worldwide and can be attained regardless of industry. The PMP Certification communicates to potential employers that the candidate has an understanding of project management that is consistent with the other members of the organization.
To obtain the PMP certification, experienced project managers must pass a 4-hour exam that consists of 200 questions. All those hoping to be certified must have at least 35 hours of project management education and 7,500 hours experience leading and directing projects or 4,500 hours if the applicant holds a bachelor’s degree. To maintain the certificate, students must earn 60 professional development units every three years.
2018 Top Online Master's Programs for Project Management Certification
For individuals seeking to maintain their project management certification or obtain it for the first time, these 10 schools offer the best online master’s programs for developing project management expertise and staying up-to-date on best practices in the profession. Each school’s master’s program is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is ranked by the number of professional development units (PDUs) it satisfies to maintain project management certification. Online master’s programs with high PDU counts offer classes that most closely match the topics covered in the certification exam. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Master of Science in Project Management is the top program with a total PDU count of 1,735.
View our methodology for more details.
- Annual Tuition: $9,975
- Total PDUs: 1,735
- Accreditation: NCA HLC
Students enrolled in University of Wisconsin-Platteville's globally and regionally accredited online Master of Science in Project Management program will be guided by the University's 150 years of academic excellence. This program offers distance students many tools and resources such as the IT Service Strategy Toolkit and Michael Greer's Project Management Resources. Dedicated advisors serve to assist each student with obtaining their academic goals. This program's curriculum parallels the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), which forms the groundwork required to achieve the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential. Admission requirements include an overall undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 or above, and a minimum graduate coursework grade point average of 3.0.
- Annual Tuition: $10,170
- Total PDUs: 1,142
- Accreditation: NCA HLC
Bellevue University's Master of Project Management program is can help prepare students for careers in consultancy, business analysis and development, and other areas of business management. Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education, this program uses classes, hands-on classroom simulations, academic research, and data collection to teach advanced concepts. Coursework reflects the Project Management Institute's (PMI) universally recognized standards and covers comprehensive elements outlined in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Application requirements include a resume and 3 years of professional experience in the field of project management, as well as an accredited bachelor's degree in a related field.
- Annual Tuition: $13,615
- Total PDUs: 1,050
- Accreditation: HLC
The Master of Science in Information Technology - Project Management Specialization program at Capella University is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (GAC) and is ideal for entry-level and mid-career IT professionals looking to gain a deeper understanding of project management. Students take anywhere between one and three classes during each 10 week quarter. Coursework includes Project Leadership and Management, Project Risk Assessment and Control, and Agile Project Management Theory and Practice among other classes. Online courses include weekly assignments and virtual discussions with peers and faculty. Students are supported throughout the program by academic coaches and counselors who help students with applying, financial aid, and course-related questions that arise.
- Annual Tuition: $15,209
- Total PDUs: 540
- Accreditation: SACS COC
The Master of Project Management (MPM) degree program at Western Carolina University was the first program to be accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and the first program to be designated as a PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management. This history makes the program an excellent choice for project managers looking to augment their knowledge of project management. All faculty members in the MPM program have doctoral degrees and PMP certifications from PMI and courses are approved to serve as contact hours required to take the PMI Credential exam. Throughout their two year academic journey, students at Western Carolina University will have the opportunity to learn about project management from a global perspective with coursework such as Project Selection and Initiation, Project Plan and Implementation, and Project Execution and Closeout.
- Annual Tuition: $15,824
- Total PDUs: 410
- Accreditation: NWCCU
City University of Seattle is the only university in the region offering a master's degree in project management that is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). The Master of Science in Project Management at CityU is a 45-credit program designed for people with undergraduate degrees who are looking to advance their understanding of project management fundamentals. All courses in the program count toward the continuing education requirement for the PMP® certification. Core courses include Project Planning and Control, Managing Risks: Project and Business, and Project Integration. More advanced coursework includes topics such as Leading Domestic and Global Teams and Project Managers as Change Agents.
- Annual Tuition: $15,231
- Total PDUs: 408
- Accreditation: NCA HLC, NEASC CIHE, and DEAC
The MBA - Project Management concentration at Kaplan University follows the learning outcomes defined in the PMI's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The life cycle of project processes and phases as defined by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Institute are covered in the program's curriculum with a goal to foster innovation, leadership, and corporate social responsibility on a global scale. Coursework includes Project Planning and the Project Plan, Strategic Project Selection and Initiation, among many others. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate on practical projects that help them hone their decision-making skills through this Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center.
- Annual Tuition: $7,020
- Total PDUs: 375
- Accreditation: DEAC
The University of Management and Technology's 36 credit-hour Master of Science in Management (MSM) - Project Management concentration is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The program consists of six core classes in management fundamentals and six classes in project management. Coursework includes topics such as Planning and Control, International Project Management, Project Finance and Budgeting, and Strategic Management. Over 30,000 students have received project management education from University of Management and Technology and online students in the MSM program will join this vast alumni community upon graduation. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree to be eligible for admission. GRE scores are not required.
- Annual Tuition: $5,610
- Total PDUs: 315
- Accreditation: NCA HLC
Accredited by the PMI (Project Management Institute) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education, the Master of Science in Project Management program at Missouri State University is a flexible option for individuals who want to want to further their careers in project management. The program's curriculum follows the PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) to assure that students receive the training and resources necessary to meet the competitive demands of project management. Students will take courses such as Project Leadership, Cost Analysis for Project management, Project Control Systems, and more. In addition to a comprehensive exam, students are required to either prepare a graduate-level research paper or a thesis project before graduation.
- Annual Tuition: $19,008
- Total PDUs: 270
- Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
Norwich University offers a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management (MBA-PM). The focus of this program is to prepare students for the changing project and program environment and to hone skills in project planning, scope, risk, cost management, and project procurement. To complete this program, students must finish foundational courses in strategic resources management, finance, and marketing and operations. This program is GAC accredited, and includes courses in Project Management Techniques, Tools, and Practices; Project Management Leadership, Communications, and Teams; and Strategic Management in Project Management. Norwich University’s MBA Project Management concentration is accredited by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC).
- Annual Tuition: $11,862
- Total PDUs: 252
- Accreditation: MSCHE
The University of Maryland University College provides a Master of Science in Management with a specialization in project management. This 36 credit program works to develop advanced business management skills and build expertise for project management certification. The curriculum is aligned with the certification requirements of the Project Management Institute so that students will earn the management education hours required for PMP. The coursework includes topics such as project risk management, project procurement management, and advanced project methods. Students will also complete a comprehensive project in an industry to gain real-life experience. The program is designed to prepare students to initiate, plan, track, and close projects as well as manage a schedule of complex projects.
Project managers juggle the moving parts of a project and must be open to rapidly changing environments. They must have an ability to move other people into action and keep them accountable for the progress of a project. Project managers are necessary for many industries including:
- Healthcare: where they oversee new hospital remodeling projects, assess spending and budget allocation, and transfer doctors between departments.
- Information Technology: where they design, plan, and carry out software or computer engineering projects from start to finish. This role involves coordinating with multiple companies and the information technology team. Managers troubleshoot problems and make a plan to stay within deadlines.
- Manufacturing: where they assess risks and constantly make efforts to improve the quality of the product. In manufacturing, project managers might compare products and efficiency against other competing products.
- Construction: where they work closely with clients to make sure budgets and project needs are met. Building projects are susceptible to alteration every day, so project managers must be able to adapt quickly to changing environments, scope, and budget.
- Project Management Institute, Inc. Accessed November 3, 2017. https://www.pmi.org/.
- Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook. Project Management Institute, Inc. Accessed November 3, 2017. https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/ccr-certification-requirements-handbook.pdf.
- Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC). Project Management Institute, Inc. Accessed November 2, 2017. https://www.pmi.org/global-accreditation-center.
- Find a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). Project Management Institute, Inc. Accessed November 2, 2017. https://www.pmi.org/learning/training-development/reps/find.