Inside Look at the Best Project Management Master’s Degrees Online

Learn the hard and soft skills necessary to manage complex projects in various industries. Read on find the best master’s in project management online degree for you.

Whether you work in manufacturing, business consulting services, healthcare, or research and development, a master’s in project management online degree could help you reach the next level. This program will teach the interpersonal and technical skills necessary to oversee the completion of complex assignments and projects within your organization.

To get to that point, you’ll need to research potential project management programs and consider a variety of questions, like how much it’ll cost, how long it will take, and what you can expect after you enroll. We created this guide to give you an overview of what to expect with project management online master’s degree and help you identify top-rated programs. Read on to discover what lies ahead as you work your way toward a brighter career horizon.

College Spotlights: Best Master’s in Project Management Online Degrees

To help you start your search of programs, we’ve identified three top-rated higher learning institutions that offer project management online degrees at the master’s level. The following three schools stand out in terms of learning flexibility, as well as accreditation and value. These schools will be part of a far longer list of rankings we’ll be releasing later on.

Walden University

Walden University’s Master of Science in Project Management program will teach students how to manage teams and undertake important projects for their respective organizations. Accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs, this program is comprised of 30 credits, including a capstone course. This capstone course offers the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge students have gained. This program will also provide much of the academic experience necessary to obtain the Project Management Professional credential. Students may transfer up to 15 credits, potentially halving the time it takes to graduate.

As a bonus, enrollment in Walden University’s project management master’s degree online program won’t just lead to a master’s degree. As students complete their coursework, they may become eligible to obtain Graduate Certificates in Advanced or Applied Project Management.

Colorado State University Global

Colorado State University Global’s Master of Science in Project Management has been accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs. This assures students and employers about the quality of the education offered and serves as an opportunity for students to obtain credit for their degree when they later apply for a certification offered by the Project Management Institute. And because the curriculum is aligned with the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge, graduates will be prepared to apply for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

This program includes a capstone course as well as a practicum class. Students will work under the direct supervision of a master’s prepared project manager at a designated organization to take an active role with that organization. This practicum’s primary purpose is to offer students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to the real world.

Missouri State University

The Master of Science in Project Management is part of the College of Business at Missouri State University. This program is accredited by the Project Management Institute’s Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs. It has a curriculum that’s based on the Project Management Institute’s Book of Knowledge. This curriculum consists of 30 credits, 21 of which go to the core requirements. These include classes such as:

  • Project Risk Analysis
  • Project Leadership
  • Cost Analysis for Project Management
  • Project Control Systems

The remaining nine credits must be completed with electives.

There are two unique features in this program. First, before graduating, students must score at least a 70 on a comprehensive final exam. Second, undergraduate students at Missouri State University might be eligible to enroll in the accelerated track. If qualified, these students may apply up to 12 credits to their project management program course requirements.

Key Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Project Management

By earning a project management degree online, students can continue working while earning their degree to expand their professional options. Let’s look at this and some other advantages.

  1. Flexible learning

    Distance education is becoming the new normal due to flexible learning options. Students not only can take classes at a pace that suits their schedule, but they can usually take the majority of them asynchronously.

  2. Complement an undergraduate degree

    The undergraduate degree focused on understanding the project. The project management curriculum teaches both the business and human aspects of managing a large-scale project involving multiple team members. The master’s degree in project management is the perfect complement to an undergraduate degree in almost any area of study.

  3. Learn how to lead and manage others

    In most organizations, their most valuable resource is its people. A major portion of project management teaches students how to work with others, including motivating peers and resolving interpersonal conflicts.

What You’ll Learn in a Project Management Master’s Degree Online Program

Regardless of which project management master’s degree online project you select, you will learn the technical skills necessary to oversee a project from start to finish. This includes learning how to forecast budgets and understand accounting and financial statements. Still, you’ll also learn the softer skills needed to deal with interpersonal challenges and conflicts that can arise when working in a team setting. Many of the concepts will parallel the Project Management Body of Knowledge established by the Project Management Institute. Below is a preview of some of the classes you’ll get to choose from during your master’s degree education in project management.

Popular Courses

  • Quantitative Analysis for Decision Making

    This class focuses on teaching students hard skills necessary for making decisions before, during, and after a project. Students will learn about various statistical and mathematical concepts to anticipate and predict what results will occur. Students will then discuss how to best apply those results to the overall direction of a project and an organization’s operations.

  • Foundations of Project Management

    As one of the core classes in most project management programs, this class will look at project management’s foundational concepts. This includes working in a team setting, effective communication across different practice areas, handling interpersonal conflict, and project assessment techniques involving quantitative and qualitative measurements.

  • Global Project Management

    This class takes foundational project management ideas and applies them to the global economy. Students will examine how political, economic, and cultural factors can affect the project management process that’s taking place in another country. Secondary issues will also be discussed, such as logistical considerations.

  • Organizational Theory and Behavior

    Much of what a project manager does is focus on the people involved in the project. Organizational theory and behavior examine the psychology of individuals in the workplace. This class will look at how people make decisions, communicate, and use motivation to complete their work tasks.

  • Enterprise and Project Risk Management

    This class examines the nature of risk, both to a business and whole, but especially during a project. Students will use real-world examples to identify and reduce quantitative and qualitative risks legally and ethically.

Accreditation for Online Project Management Master’s Degrees

Before choosing a project management master’s degree online program, you should confirm it is accredited. Most financial aid providers, employers, and postsecondary institutions won’t recognize a degree from a non-accredited institution. Accreditation confirms that a particular school or program provides an education that meets certain standards.

There are two main types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation covers the entire school and usually comes from a regional or national accrediting body. Programmatic accreditation only applies to a specific program.

The primary accrediting body is the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). However, some project management programs may be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or ACBSP. To check a school’s accreditation status, visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs search tool at the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Project Management

After obtaining a master’s degree in project management, you could move into a high-demand career in many industries, whether it’s large-scale manufacturing, high-tech business services, or public interest programs. After you graduate, the compensation and demand you can expect depend on what particular industry you plan on working in. For example, project management jobs in manufacturing may not be as in-demand as those in the healthcare sector. Here is a rough overview of the job opportunities you can expect when entering the project management job market.

Natural Sciences Manager

A natural sciences manager will oversee the work of science professionals. They are commonly found supervising research and development projects. With a project management degree, they can gain the soft skills essential to working with scientists and upper management. They will also have the hard skills needed to ensure the project meets its goals and that it does so within budgetary and logistical constraints.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$66,050 $129,100 $208,000+

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Health Information Manager

Health information managers work to protect and make use of patient data in the healthcare setting. Because they usually work with advanced technology, such as database software, network storage, and servers. They are often involved in upgrades and major changes to a healthcare organization’s medical records system. A project management degree can help health information managers make sure the changes occur as smoothly as possible.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$58,820 $100,980 $189,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Information Technology Manager

IT managers run and implement an organization’s computer and information systems. This includes making sure everything is operating smoothly. Sometimes this requires them to oversee the design and implementation of a new hardware or software system within the organization. A project management degree can be useful in either situation by helping IT managers ensure best practices are followed or to best mitigate potential risks.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$87,480 $146,360 $208,000+

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help an organization better understand its spending processes. With this understanding, the organization can better plan its finances and anticipate its cash flow and expenditures. Project management is a useful degree when the budget analyst examines one or more projects and tries to estimate their costs. It provides the context to better understand the overall process and the skills and tools necessary to conduct assessments and anticipate risk.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$50,230 $76,540 $116,510

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Industrial Production Manager

These professionals manage the production process in factories, plants, and any other facility engaged in manufacturing. An online master’s degree in project management can be very useful to industrial production managers if they decide to improve the efficiency of their production lines or assist in the implementation of major changes to the production process.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$65,050 $105,480 $176,070

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Project Management

The master’s in project management online degree is one of the best ways to improve your professional prospects, including potential higher compensation. But before you can expect higher pay, you need to pay for your degree. Luckily, many sources and types of financial aid are available, such as grants, scholarships, student loans, fellowships, and employer tuition reimbursement. This latter source is particularly promising, especially for those who will work while in school but return to the same job after graduation. To learn more about ways you can help pay for your master’s degree in project management, visit our financial aid page.

How Affordable Your Online Master’s in Project Management Could Be

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

Capella University

48 (quarter credits)

$695.00

$33,360

University of Maryland Global Campus

36

$480.00 (in-state) and
$659.00 (out-of-state)

$17,280 (in-state) and
$23,724 (out-of-state)

Southern New Hampshire University

36

$627.00

$22,572

FAQs About Online Project Management Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in project management?

If you’re thinking about applying to a project management master’s degree online program, you can expect some variation in what each admissions office will ask for. However, most of them will ask for the following:

  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Application
  • Application fee
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume or curriculum vitae

Keep in mind that while most programs do not ask for GRE or GMAT test scores, a few programs require them.

How long will it take to finish my master’s in project management?

Most master’s in project management online programs are comprised of 30 to 36 credits. Depending on the chosen course load, you can earn your master’s degree in as little as 15 months, such as is the case with Southern New Hampshire University. However, many students prefer a slower academic pace so they can continue working while in school. In that case, expect to finish the degree in about two years.

Can I earn a master’s in project management 100% online, or do I need to visit campus?

Most project management master’s degree online courses are offered fully online, with no on-campus visits required. However, a few schools will have a practicum or in-person learning requirement that requires students to visit a physical site to complete the experiential course requirements.