The Best Online MBA in Project Management Programs

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The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is the most commonly conferred graduate degree in the United States. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 190,000 students earned MBAs in 2013-14; this number represents more than a quarter of all master’s degrees received during that academic year. MBA programs follow a comprehensive, multidisciplinary curriculum that incorporates different topics related to business leadership. However, many programs allow students to focus their studies on a niche area of the industry as part of an MBA specialization pathway.

An MBA in project management will prepare you for a leadership role in the field of your choice.

One of the most popular specializations among current MBA students is project management. This multidisciplinary field delves into different tools, strategies and philosophies related to large-scale project leadership and coordination. Project managers are a growing presence in the modern workforce, and can be found in major corporations, small startups, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and the military. Many of today’s students choose to earn their MBA in project management online. These online programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities for successful graduates. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and convenient study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that could possibly interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online MBA in project management and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MBA IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

An MBA in project management will prepare students to oversee and coordinate a project at every stage, from initial ideation and development to execution, presentation and post-project evaluation. The best MBA in project management programs cover a wide range of topics, integrating elements of leadership, communication, supply chain and resource management,
financial analysis and risk analysis. Most of these programs also include hands-on coursework, allowing student to hone their project management skills in a simulated environment that mirrors real-world workplaces.

WILL AN ONLINE MBA IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

MBA online programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional classroom education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors at their convenience from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to complete their coursework using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MBA IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Students who graduate with an MBA in project management will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for many top-level positions and managerial roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most common industries for project managers include business, construction, information systems and engineering. Many MBA in project management programs incorporate finance and accounting, marketing and other areas of business in order to provide students with a well-rounded approach to their career field

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MBA IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MBA in project management programs in the United States. If you are considering an online MBA in project management, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 George Washington University 79.64 3/5 15% Washington, DC

Located just four blocks from the White House, GW is an intellectual hub with world-class undergraduate and graduate degree programs that often incorporate Washington, D.C., institutions as part of classroom learning. GW offers a number of distance learning options, including fully online MBA degrees and a choice of five concentrations, including project management.

The online MBA in project management is offered through digital courses that incorporate reading assignments, videos, animations, podcasts, and other pre-recorded content. The MBA program comprises 55.5 credits in total. MBA students concentrating in project management must complete 18 credits of foundational business courses, 12 credits of advanced fundamental courses, and 19.5 credits of electives focused on project management. Students have the option of immersion in a four-day residency course in D.C. with live learning opportunities and co-curricular experiences via visits to the Federal Reserve, U.S. Congress, the World Bank, and more.

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2 Lehigh University 78.67 3/5 6% Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh University is among the nation's top research universities. The College of Business and Economics’ Flex MBA can be taken part time or full time, and has a highly ranked curriculum, allowing students to take classes online, on-campus, or in hybrid format. MBA students can choose from several concentrations, including project management. The online MBA in project management requires three residencies during the course of the program, which is between 24 and 72 months depending on the student’s pace.

Students pursuing the project management concentration do not need prior academic or professional experience in the field. Completion of 12 credits is required for this concentration; this includes five required courses covering project management fundamentals, project risk management, ethics on projects, and more. Students also have the option to complete a project management capstone, which is worth three credits. Prerequisites for the Lehigh Flex MBA program include financial accounting, statistics, and principles of economics.

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3 Liberty University 58.72 4/5 90% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty’s catalog of online offerings includes a 45-hour MBA with the option to specialize in project management. Overall, students are trained in areas such as corporate responsibility, legal matters in business or nonprofit management, and entrepreneurship. The online MBA in project management focuses on the scope of a project, time management, clients, and quality control.

Online MBA in project management students take 33 hours of core business courses and 12 hours of project management cognate courses, including advanced project management I & II and global project management. MBA graduates who specialized in project management will be prepared for leadership positions as senior project managers, assistant project managers, project schedulers, and business marketing professionals, among others. The degree must be completed within five years.

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4 Florida Institute of Technology 57.72 4/5 9% Melbourne, FL

Founded in 1958, Florida Tech is an innovative educational leader. The school’s MBA with a specialization in project management is offered 100% online and combines academic principles and hands-on experience to prepare management professionals for careers as environmental project managers, senior program managers, and project management consultants.

Students completing the MBA in project management online gain industry insight by working in teams and analyzing case studies. In addition to business principles, students learn about project scope, time, cost, and quality management. Topics of study include strategic project management, project tools, and techniques. Students must complete a strategic management capstone, which involves an in-depth analysis of industries and building a successful competitive strategy. Each course in this 36-credit-hour program is eight weeks long. There are 12 courses total and the program typically takes two years to complete. No GRE or GMAT is required to enter the program.

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5 Cornerstone University 55.53 3/5 26% Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone University, a Christ-centered school based in Michigan, offers an MBA in project management that can be completed entirely online or in hybrid format. The program prepares business professional with leadership skills that are Christ-centered.

Five key disciplines are covered: operations, organizational behavior, marketing, strategy and finance, and accounting. Courses for this MBA in project management online focus on project design, resource management, effective communication, risk management, and quality assurance. The 38-hour program can be completed in 20-22 months using an accelerated cohort model. Graduates from Cornerstone’s master’s programs have a 98% employment rate over five years, and project management students are set to pursue career opportunities in product development, construction management, and consulting. Online project management MBA students are eligible to receive financial aid; the school provides a step-by-step financial aid checklist to assist students in the process of applying.

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6 City University of Seattle 51.03 5/5 55% Seattle, WA

The 100% online MBA program at CityU is a top producer of MBAs in Washington, boasts small class sizes, and does not require the GMAT for enrollment consideration. MBA students here can pursue an emphasis in project management. Topics covered in the project management MBA online degree include project planning and control, project financial management, and project integration. Students in the program also complete a business-related internship designed to give insight into real-world business practices.

CityU is recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI), meaning that its students are part of a global professional development organization that promotes networking opportunities. Students can also earn credits towards PMI certification while taking classes. Note that CityU offers discounted tuition for service members, scholarships, and credit for prior learning. The institution also partners with organizations at the local, national, and regional levels to ensure that vets and their families are supported while they are enrolled at the college.

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7 Saint Leo University 47.41 3/5 86% Saint Leo, FL

Online students at Saint Leo’s, a leading Catholic teaching institution, can complete an MBA with a project management concentration. The 36-credit-hour program gives graduates the education and skills necessary to successfully lead complex projects for mid- to large-size corporations in fields ranging from construction and information technology to telecommunications and defense.

Online project management MBA students will focus on best practices for selecting, initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing projects. Students in the program apply their skills through team exercises and current industry software. Graduates are set to pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Exam. This project management MBA online is flexible, and students have access to courses 24/7. Students can take advantage of resources such as an Online Learning Toolkit to help them decide if distance learning is a good fit for them. Saint Leo notes that its curriculum is values-based.

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8 Bellevue University 46.57 4/5 86% Bellevue, NE

Among Bellevue’s four research entities is the Center for Project Management, wherein the next generation of project leaders have access to research, business and technological resources, and thought leaders.

Bellevue’s online performance MBA develops highly trained leaders for businesses and entrepreneurship. The 36-credit-hour performance MBA includes a nine-credit-hour project management concentration with areas of study including managing project risks, project management in global and virtual workplaces, and IT project management. This online project management MBA integrates applied learning with theory, honing students’ communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Throughout the program, students will develop a formal software project management plan and take part in virtual group projects that simulate those seen in global organizations. Bellevue offers a needs-based scholarship program.

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9 Southern New Hampshire University 42.56 5/5 96% Manchester, NH

SNHU, its main campus located in Manchester, offers more than 200 online college degrees and certificates, including the international MBA in project management. The program is designed for professionals in industries that are project-intensive, including construction, IT, and product development.

The online project management MBA can be completed in 18 months. It is a 39-credit program comprising 10 core MBA courses and three specialized project management courses. Students learn project scope, timeline, costs, quality, and risk; use advanced methods to oversee projects; understand how politics, economic policies, international law, and regulations influence multinationals’ decision-making and operations; and develop relationships within international markets. The school is recognized by the PMI as a Registered Education Provider, and a PMP Certification course is available to students who want to take the exam. Students can use SNHU’s International Business Modeling Laboratory for research activities. No GMAT or GRE is required for admission.

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10 New England College 39.95 4/5 60% Henniker, NH

Located in New Hampshire, NEC’s 40-credit MBA can be completed in 20 months and classes are offered on campus or online. Core curriculum areas of study include organizational leadership, managerial accounting, strategic marketing, and a capstone project. Online MBA students can opt to specialize in project management.

The online project management degree gives MBA students insight into the art and science of managing a project; teaches technical tools such as GANTT and PERT; and covers key topics like project costs, schedules, workflow, and risk. The school guarantees that students in the program will develop advanced analysis and problem-solving skills in relation to the coordination, strategy, planning, and execution of projects. Required courses include supply chain management, quality analysis for technology, and project management. Many graduates of the program choose to further their credentials in the field by earning their PMI certification.

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How Long Is an Online MBA Program?
18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$25,000 to $50,000
Concentrations
Management, Leadership, Human Resources, Finance, Data Analysis
Supply Chain Management
Accreditation
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Additional Considerations
Many MBA programs require candidates to sit for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and some require a minimum score. However, not all MBA programs require a GMAT score for admission.

Job Placement: MBA in Project Management

Project managers enjoy a strong employment outlook in today’s workforce. The Project Management Institute is one of the leading organizations linked to this professional field. According to a recent PMI study, project management jobs are projected to grow by 2.3 million positions through 2020. In addition to domestic opportunities, many project managers find professional success in overseas sectors. PMI estimates that more than 6 million international project management jobs will also be created through 2020.

A 2014 survey by PM Solutions noted that project managers find work in many different industries. Using data from this survey, the following table features industries that employ the highest percentage of professional project managers.

Industry Percentage of Project Management Offices
Professional and Technical Services 20%
Financial Analyst 14%
Market Research Analyst 13%
Financial Manager 11%
Management Analyst 11%
Accountant 9%
Business Operations Manager 6%
Operations Research Analyst 18%

Source: ‘The State of the Project Management Office (PMO)’

Earning a Living

Like most professionals, project managers tend to experience consistent salary growth throughout their careers. The ‘Earning Power’ survey by PMI looks at earnings expectations for project managers at six career benchmarks. The data from this survey is featured in the table below.

Career Stage Median Annual Salary Salary Increase Over Previous Career Stage
Less Than 3 Years $74,900
3 to 5 Years $85,000 13.5%
5 to 10 Years $100,000 17.6%
10 to 15 Years $112,200 12.2%
15 to 20 Years $120,000 7.0%
More than 20 Years $125,000 4.2%

Source: ‘Earning Power: Project Manager Salary Survey, Ninth Edition’

As the table indicates, project managers experience roughly 66.9% salary growth after 20 years on the job. However, it’s important to note that salary growth will also depend on an employee’s specific job title. The next table looks at 20-year salary projections for five of the most common careers in project management.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Project Manager (General) $58,971 $72,240 $81,169 $88,371
Project Manager (Construction) $55,206 $72,074 $78,896 $81,824
Project Manager (IT) $69,054 $85,153 $96,732 $103,904
Operations Manager $51,532 $60,791 $67,672 $74,470
Project Engineer $60,931 $74,727 $82,806 $92,103

Source: PayScale

All five occupations listed experience at least 40% salary growth after 20 years. Project engineers reported the highest rate of career salary growth: a 51.2% increase between the entry-level and late career stages. IT project managers placed a close second with 50.5% growth, followed by general project managers with 49.9% growth.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with an MBA in project management will be qualified for dozens of top-level positions across many industries, although individual eligibility will depend on additional factors like company size and city/state of employment. Four of the most common careers in healthcare management are outlined below.

Architectural and Engineering Managers: These managers oversee construction and public works projects, such as buildings, residences, bridges and roadways. They draft blueprints and development plans, create a project budget, hire different personnel and coordinate supplies, equipment and other essential resources.

Computer and Information Systems Managers: Also known as IT managers or IT project managers, these individuals oversee technology departments at their company or organization. They test and evaluate software, hardware and computer networks to determine where improvement is needed, and then derive solutions that are efficient and cost-effective.

Construction Managers: These managers play a role in the development, building and evaluation stages of small- and large-scale construction projects. Working within a budget, they are responsible for allocating financial resources to different components of the project. They also oversee the hiring of laborers, contractors, machine operators and other qualified employees.

Human Resources Managers: These managers (HR managers for short) supervise the human resources departments at different companies and organizations. These departments handle recruitment and staffing, benefits and compensation, training, development and other employee programs. HR managers also serve as intermediaries between employees and company management, and may mediate disputes between members of these two parties.

Profession Median Annual Salary Projected Growth (2014-24)
Architectural and Engineering Managers $132,800 2% (+3,700 jobs)
Computer and Information Systems Managers $131,600 15% (+53,700 jobs)
Construction Managers $87,400 5% (+17,800 jobs)
Human Resources Managers $104,440 9% (+10,800 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to project management is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional project managers. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • Project Management Institute: With roughly 450,000 members in nearly 300 global chapters, PMI is considered the world’s largest organization dedicated to project management. Eight professional certifications are available. Members also enjoy continuing education opportunities, invitations to networking events and discounts on various learning resources and services.
  • Construction Management Association of America: The CMAA offers the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) certification, considered one of the industry’s leading management credentials. The association operates 28 regional chapters across the U.S., and members qualify for free professional liability insurance.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: Considered the world’s largest HR-oriented professional organization, the SHRM boasts 285,000 members in 165 different countries. The website features a vast online resource library, as well as links to continuing education opportunities and an events calendar.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.