Master's in construction management programs prepare students for careers in construction, engineering, and project management. Candidates with a graduate degree in construction management qualify for senior positions in the industry, including careers incorporating specialized areas of construction, such as LEED certification and sustainability, and civil engineering. The best construction management master's degrees produce construction managers with advanced project management and leadership skills specific to the field.
Development projects increasingly demand construction managers with experience in large-scale management and construction technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase in job growth for construction managers through 2026. Construction managers with graduate degrees can choose from many positions, including private, commercial, and civic project management. Managers specializing in construction can earn an average annual salary of more than $91,000, with top earners in heavy and civil engineering construction and nonresidential building.
Should I Get a Master's in Construction Management?
A unique field with broad career opportunities, construction management attracts students interested in architecture, engineering, and building technologies. Many students pursue construction management as a specialized course of study within an MBA. A master's in construction management imparts skills in project management, leadership, budgeting, and scheduling.
While not required of all jobs in construction management, some candidates pursue certification, such as the CCM or CPC credential, to become more competitive in the building market. Industry certifications typically require a degree in construction management and at least four years of field work.
Many schools offer students a choice of a traditional or online construction management master's degree. While this degree does not typically include a mandatory field experience, most programs require some form of culminating experience, such as a thesis, written exam, or final project. Many master's in construction management degrees can be completed entirely online, though some schools may require campus coursework or temporary residency. Students should choose the appropriate format based on location, existing work and family obligations, and program availability.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Construction Management?
Graduates of a construction management master's degree program qualify for jobs in construction, industrial management, and civil engineering. As most entry-level jobs in construction management require only a bachelor's degree and no previous experience, job candidates with a graduate degree can assume senior roles in fields such as public planning, real estate, and logistics. Civil engineers sometimes begin in construction management before earning a degree and certification in the engineering specialty. The following occupations are common among construction management graduates.
- Construction Manager
These professionals manage construction projects from start to finish, including planning, coordinating, budgeting, and supervising all aspects of building and construction. While a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level jobs in the field, many employers prefer candidates with a master's degree for advanced positions, such as supervising managers.
Median Annual Salary: $91,370
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Cost Estimator
Cost estimators create specs to help contractors, manufacturers, and service providers estimate the materials, labor, money, and time needed for a project. These professionals often specialize in a particular field or industry, such as construction, in which they estimate the costs of constructing bridges, freeways, and buildings. Cost estimators must hold at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level work.
Median Annual Salary: $63,110
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Civil Engineer
Civil engineers conceptualize and design structures that support a city's core functions and public services, including roadways, airports, and water supply systems. Entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree, though students aspiring to senior positions should possess a master's degree and a professional engineering license.
Median Annual Salary: $84,770
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Top Executive
Top executives require many of the same project management and leadership skills as construction managers. These executives, including general operations managers and CEOs, should hold a master's degree in their field.
Median Annual Salary: $104,700
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
How to Choose a Master's Program in Construction Management
When choosing a master's in construction management, students should consider several factors, such as completion time, location, and cost. Students should also confirm that a school offers their preferred specialization or concentration of construction management.
Students with work and family obligations may prefer the flexibility of an online master's in construction management. Online programs often lead to faster completion times and offer students in any location a convenient way to learn. Many schools also offer tuition discounts for distance learners or flat-rate tuition for both in-state and out-of-state online students. Busy students may also enroll in courses part time, either on campus or online.
Students should also consider location when considering a master's in construction management, including the cost of living, quality of life, and employment opportunities in the surrounding area.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Construction Management
Students should only consider a master's in construction management from a school with accreditation through a national or regional agency under the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation indicates a school meets quality academic standards as well as expands financial aid, education, and job opportunities. Many master of construction management degrees also receive programmatic accreditation granted by organizations governing a particular division or specialty of construction management.
Common accrediting agencies for construction management programs include the American Council for Construction Education; the Association for Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering; the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; and the National Architecture Accrediting Board.
Master's in Construction Management Program Admissions
Applications to a master's in construction management program involve degree, GPA, and standardized testing prerequisites. Additional admission requirements for master's degrees in construction management vary by school and location. Students should complete their applications well in advance of their school's next admission cycle. Experts recommend applying to a maximum of six schools.
- Bachelor's Degree: Most master's in construction management programs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in construction management, civil engineering, or a closely related major.
- Professional Experience: While most master's degrees in this field do not require professional experience, students should expect to submit an up-to-date resume or CV with their application, outlining relevant work experience and skills.
- Minimum GPA: Though GPA requirements vary, master's in construction management programs typically require at least a 3.0 GPA for admission. Some schools specify alternative requirements for students who do not meet the minimum GPA.
- Application: Students must submit an online application detailing their professional and academic background.
- Transcripts: Applicants must submit transcripts from all postsecondary learning. Colleges typically charge a fee to release official transcripts.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most master's in construction management programs require three letters of recommendation from mentors, instructors, or advisers. Students should give writers at least two months to complete the letters.
- Test Scores: Some graduate construction management programs require GRE scores.
- Application Fee: Application fees for master's degrees in construction management programs typically fall between $75-$90. Applicants that qualify as low income can often request to waive the application fee.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Construction Management?
A master's in construction management builds skills in management, business, and technology. The field offers students diverse options for specialization, with some schools providing a construction management master's degree as a concentration of management, and others hosting unique programs in emerging fields, such as sustainable construction and construction technology. Some of the field's most common concentrations are outlined below.
|Construction Project Management||Students concentrating on construction project management learn to increase efficiency and maximize performance in a construction business setting. Coursework explores maintaining delivery schedules, meeting building regulations, and meeting investor demands.||Construction project manager, commercial project manager, subcontractor manager|
|Real Estate||This concentration provides students with the combination of real estate development and construction management skills needed to become managers and entrepreneurs. Coursework explores methods of acquiring, creating, and managing various types of real estate.||Real estate construction manager, district property manager, real estate developer|
|Sustainability and Green Construction||An emerging concentration in increasingly high demand, sustainability and green construction teaches students to meet the latest regulatory standards in environmentally responsible construction. The curriculum focuses on the LEED green building rating scale.||Green building construction manager, sustainability associate, green building/sustainability consultant|
|Supply Chain and Logistics Technology||This concentration provides students with the management and technical skills needed to maintain inventory, sales, procurement, and logistics functions within an industrial or manufacturing environment. Coursework emphasizes apps and software specific to the field of construction management.||IT construction manager, technical project manager, engineering technology manager|
|Facility Management||Facility management students learn to manage and oversee operations for existing buildings and facilities. Coursework covers civic regulations, safety standards, and project management.||Facilities manager, buildings and grounds manager, operations manager|
Courses in a Master's in Construction Management Program
Curricula vary by program; however, most construction management master's programs offer courses in topics such as budgeting and estimating, materials, functions, and scheduling. The following courses are commonly found in construction management curricula.
- Building Systems: Materials and Construction
This course teaches students to consider architectural concerns when selecting and working with common building materials. Topics include evaluation methods, innovative materials, and design controls. Coursework places the core concepts of construction management in the context of architectural planning, which is ideal for aspiring architects and civil engineers.
- Construction Accounting and Finance
This course approaches accounting and finance from a construction management perspective, emphasizing awareness of the engineering economy, cost controls, and financing for construction projects.
- Budgeting and Estimating
Budgeting and estimating coursework teaches students to work within the cost controls of any budget in diverse construction projects. Students use common technology specific to the field of construction and engineering to perform software exercises and case-study-based research.
- Planning and Scheduling
This course follows the critical path method theory of scheduling, planning, and resource management. Students use software and technology to create sample project schedules and learn to manage teams and resources on a construction site.
- Functions of the Constructor
Students explore the professional expectations of managing a large-scale construction project. Coursework provides a comprehensive overview of the facets of a construction manager's supervisory responsibilities, emphasizing working within cost limitations and budgetary restraints.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Construction Management?
Students earning a master's in construction management typically take two years of full-time study to complete the degree, though the timeline varies depending on several factors. Many schools offer accelerated completion times, especially for online degrees, allowing students to earn their degree faster. Students should also consider how many credits they can take per semester while balancing work and family obligations.
Students looking to earn a construction management master's degree in two years or less should research obligations beyond traditional coursework, such as an internship, that might require additional time and transportation. Generally, online master's in construction management degrees provide the most flexible options for students seeking to graduate faster. Students can also take classes part time, which may add years to the degree.
How Much Is a Master's in Construction Management?
Tuition varies by program. Factors that affect cost include the time to completion, type of institution, and whether the program is available on campus or online. Location also affects the price of tuition, as public schools charge more from out-of-state students than in-state students. Some programs, especially those offered online, maintain set tuition rates for all students regardless of residency. Many online programs offer discounts exclusive to distance learners, including lower tuition rates, vouchers toward laptop purchases, scholarships, and grants.
According to a study conducted by Sallie Mae, the cost of a master's degree in 2017 averaged nearly $25,000. While the study does not specify the cost of a construction management degree, closely related graduate programs in business administration and engineering cost students $21,844 and $25,252, respectively.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Construction Management Prepares For
- Certified Construction Manager
The CCM credential demonstrates that a candidate meets education and experience requirements set by the American National Standards Institute. While construction managers do not need certification, they may seek CCM designation by completing a four-year or two-year degree and four years of work experience, or eight years of industry experience. Candidates must also pass a CCM exam.
- Associate Constructor
The American Institute of Constructors offers this certification. The credential is ideal for recent graduates of an undergraduate construction management program or those entering the field from an unrelated career. Applicants must possess or be in the process of earning a four-year degree in construction management, or complete at least four years of field experience. They must also receive a passing score on the AC level 1 exam.
- Certified Professional Constructor
The next level up from AC certification, the CPC level 2 credential represents the highest industry certification available through the American Institute of Contractors. Professionals seeking to become certified CPCs must possess a minimum of eight years of work experience or education in the field of construction management. Students must also pass an advanced CPC exam.
Resources for Graduate Construction Management Students
The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress hosts this annual competition, which enables construction management students at partnering schools to enter into mentorships with local roofing and construction professionals. The competition also provides scholarships and networking opportunities for construction management students.
The Construction Financial Management Association offers an online portal for students in training to enter the construction management industry. Resources include OpenCourseWare, webinars, and online training for aspiring certified construction industry financial professionals.
The American Society of Civil Engineers offers free membership to members of local ASCE chapters and to recent graduates from a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or related field. Members benefit from scholarships and fellowships, a career services center, and continuing education opportunities.
Among the leading libraries of scholarly publications on the internet, ResearchGate includes a sub-database of documents specific to construction management, searchable by author, publication name, and type of data set.
This publication encompasses 18 volumes, each with dozens of articles on topics of interest to construction management professionals, engineers, and architects. Topics include improving work efficiency, exploring new building materials, and assessing the value of public infrastructures.
Professional Organizations in Construction Management
Professional organizations provide students with valuable resources and industry knowledge. Membership typically emphasizes networking opportunities through access to annual conventions and industry conferences, continuing education, and career services. Some organizations offer discounted insurance and/or preferred rates for field training leading to certification or licensure.
As the field's credentialing agency for the certified construction manager and construction manager-in-training designations, CMAA set and maintains industry standards for aspiring construction and project managers in the field. Members enjoy free webinars, online advising, access to the CMAA library, discounted study kits, and on-demand learning modules online.
AGC offers an exclusive marketplace for business services and a job board for construction management careers. The organization offers subcategories in specialties including federal, civil, and utility construction management.
CFMA offers the certified construction industry financial professional credential, which is the first of its kind in the construction industry. Members enjoy mentorship and networking opportunities with professionals across CFMA's 98 chapters.
With more than 5,000 members, DBIA caters to professionals across all fields of construction and design. Members enjoy discounts on training courses and certification preparation, access to DBIA's Manual of Practice and IQ Magazine, and networking opportunities.
A leader in promoting the merit-shop philosophy among national trade industries, ABC represents more than 21,000 members and 70 chapters across the U.S. ABC members can access exclusive publications and business development resources, receive discounts on insurance and services from ABC partners, and take part in ABC-approved industry safety courses.