Project managers are in charge of teams and make sure their projects reach a successful conclusion on time and within budget. Companies in the healthcare, construction, transportation, and finance industries hire project managers to oversee all sizes of projects, including small, local initiatives.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) project that jobs in management will grow by a rate of 8% between 2016 and 2026, keeping pace with the average job growth rate among all industries. According to the BLS, managers earn a median annual salary of $102,590 -- far more than the average wage for all Americans. Project managers in healthcare, finance, information technology, and oil and gas can expect to see especially rapid job growth. Prospective students who display a knack for organization, an ability to build and motivate a team, and the persistence to see a job done right can thrive in a project management program.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Project Management?
Project managers lead teams to make sure high-quality work gets done efficiently, effectively, and within budget. Industries including construction, healthcare, industrial production, and human resources all need project managers to keep things moving. Project management is an excellent field for organized, team-oriented professionals who love people, understand processes, and can communicate with clarity and precision. To start in this field, new project managers must understand leadership theory, management practice, industry regulations, budgets, and data.
Professionals who have been in the workforce for many years and are seeking a career change may find that online programs best suit their personal needs. But most recent high school graduates might prefer the on-campus experience. By studying in a brick-and-mortar college, students meet their professors face to face, network with potential employers at career fairs, and secure valuable references. On-campus programs may also provide access to more lucrative internships, practicums, and job placement opportunities.
In project management programs, learners discover how to set clear goals, define scope, establish a cost estimate, manage a timeline, and deliver a successful project. As organizations become more complex through cross-cultural initiatives, multi-industry developments, and technologically enhanced workplaces, project management becomes increasingly important. Employers need graduates with the skills to lead these multifaceted projects. Students interested in doing graduate work will also find that a project management degree opens the door to either a master's in project management or a master of business administration (MBA).
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Project Management?
Project management degrees are broad and career-focused, and can open up job opportunities in multiple sectors, including healthcare and human resources. No matter what industry they choose to work in, project managers build teams, communicate with upper management, stay on top of costs, and lead their projects to successful conclusions. A bachelor's degree in project management acts as the first step toward a master's in the field or an MBA in another area of business.
- Compensation and Benefits Managers
Compensation and benefits managers develop and oversee compensation and benefits programs for company employees. Typically, compensation managers focus on the pay structure for an enterprise, while benefits managers take charge of employee benefits, such as health or life insurance, retirement programs, and leave policies.
Median Annual Salary: $119,120 *
- Medical and Health Services Managers
Employed by hospitals, physicians' offices, and nursing homes, medical and health services managers may oversee a single department or an entire facility. Their role is to plan and direct medical and health care services with special attention on the regulatory, legal, and technological parameters of healthcare management. These project managers often specialize in healthcare management during their undergraduate education.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350 *
- Industrial Production Managers
Industrial production managers often work in industries such as transportation equipment manufacturing, fabricated metal manufacturing, and food manufacturing. Their job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of a plant to meet production goals on time and within budget. Industrial production managers typically hire and manage workers, analyze data, determine schedules, and write reports.
Median Annual Salary: $100,580 *
- Construction Managers
Working on a construction project from start to finish, construction managers are responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, and overseeing the project. They develop cost estimates, interpret technical reports, report progress to clients, and select and manage subcontractors. These professionals often choose a construction management concentration during their bachelor's in project management.
Median Annual Salary: $91,370 *
- Administrative Services Managers
Planning, coordinating, and directing the administrative component of an organization falls into the job description for an administrative services manager. These professionals supervise other administrative personnel; maintain records; oversee maintenance and repair jobs; keep tabs on office security; and make sure the facility complies with local, state, and federal regulations.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020 *
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Project Management Program
Before committing to such a large investment, students should make sure they've chosen the right program. Ask questions such as: How long will this degree take to complete? Are part-time options available? What's the school's official policy on transferring credits? Does my academic record meet the standards for regular admission? Applicants should also look carefully at prospective schools' course lists, practicums, internships, and final projects. Which concentration options do these schools offer? Do the institutions provide opportunities to learn practical skills in the field? There is no single right way to select a school, but prospective students should keep all these factors in mind.
A common concern for college students is the cost of education, especially if these students take out loans or rely on parental support. It's wise to review your budget to determine which programs you can afford before committing to a degree. Online project management degrees may limit expenses and allow students to maintain employment, while on-campus degrees may offer more job search assistance and a lower cost of living. Location also plays an important role regarding employment opportunities and quality of life. Finally, applicants should make sure their chosen program holds proper accreditation from the regional and programmatic agencies.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Project Management
Accreditation plays a critical part in assessing a program's legitimacy and utility in the market. By submitting to the accreditation process, a college shows its commitment to organizational improvement and quality standards. Accreditation makes it simpler for students to transfer credits, qualify for financial aid, and gain employment. Two varieties of accreditation exist: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation comes from regional or national associations and applies to a university or college as a whole. Program accreditation, on the other hand, applies only to a specific academic department. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national, and programmatic accreditation acts as an additional mark of excellence.
Universities usually offer project management degrees in their business department. Accreditors for business schools include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. Project management programs may also receive accreditation from the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs.
Bachelor's in Project Management Program Admissions
College admissions requirements and standards vary widely from one school to another. Applicants applying to competitive institutions should demonstrate academic and leadership skills and meet relatively stringent requirements. Many universities set hard-and-fast admissions deadlines, and even then, programs can fill up before the published deadline. Some colleges accept applications on a rolling basis, and online schools typically implement more complex admission procedures. To improve their chances of getting accepted, students should apply to six to eight colleges. Applying to fewer than six schools may leave an applicant without a place to go, but it is rarely necessary to seek admission at more than eight schools. Moreover, the admissions process can become expensive and cumbersome. Students considering several institutions usually rank their top choices by coursework, job placement numbers, cost, financial aid, and perhaps philosophical or faith perspective.
- Minimum GPA: Most college-bound high schoolers need a 3.0 GPA. Less selective schools, may accept as low as a 2.0 GPA, while particularly selective institutions may require a 3.75 or higher.
- Application: Prospective students usually take about 30 minutes to fill out the informational part of an application. The essay portions require much more time. Many schools now use The Common Application, which allows applicants to apply to multiple colleges using a single application.
- Transcripts: Most colleges base their admission decisions in part on students' transcripts. Applicants should ask their high school to send official transcripts.
- Letters of Recommendation: Colleges often ask students to submit two to three letters of recommendation, usually from a teacher or an employer. It's best to give your letter writers a month's notice, so they have time to write excellent letters.
- Test Scores: Most colleges require students to submit their SAT or ACT results, and minimum scores vary by school. Some adult education programs do not require students to submit standardized test scores.
- Application Fee: The application fee for a bachelor's degree in project management ranges between $25 and $90. Some colleges waive this fee for students who demonstrate financial need or apply the fee to tuition costs once an applicant receives acceptance.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Project Management Program?
Project management can be a stand-alone subject, but it draws coursework from a variety of business-related fields. Some schools offer concentrations in specific areas, such as construction management. Nearly all professional fields need qualified project managers to plan, lead, and analyze projects.
|Construction Management||Construction managers oversee the building of roads, edifices, and other structures in a rapidly growing industry. Focused on the leadership skills needed to manage complex construction projects, this degree emphasizes the knowledge of construction standards, project design, materials, and sustainability. Courses include construction project management, fundamentals of construction management, and materials used in construction.||Construction manager|
|Information Technology Management||A growing dependence on information systems has opened up a whole field of information technology management with many opportunities for growth. This concentration prepares technology managers to evaluate organizations' technological needs, recommend software, and oversee hardware solutions. Courses include network enterprise solutions, intermediate networking, and information technology project management.||IT manager, chief technology officer, director of technology|
|Public and Nonprofit Management||Students with a passion to serve the community through public agencies and nonprofit organizations can study public policy, organizational change, and effective communication in this concentration. These students prepare for jobs in nonprofits, the civil service, and the government. Courses include grant writing, community development, and principles of public finance for the nonprofit sector.||Grants manager, project manager, community research manager|
|Healthcare Management||Healthcare is a fast-growing, lucrative industry with a promising future due to an aging population. Students in this concentration study healthcare ethics, quality assurance patterns, and principles of healthcare management. Courses include population health management, qualitative and risk management in healthcare, and managed care and health insurance.||Healthcare research manager, nursing home administrator|
|Hospitality and Tourism Management||Travel is one of the world's fastest growing industries, with more tourists than ever exploring all parts of the world. This concentration equips students to lead large, complex tourism and hospitality projects, such as hotels and commercial recreation systems. Courses include introduction to hospitality management, product and brand management, and hospitality sales and marketing.||Hotel manager, convention planner, resort consultant|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Project Management Program
Project management programs combine general education classes and electives with courses in leadership, management, planning, financial management, and risk control. The exact blend and focus of these courses varies by school, but typically, project management degrees include the following courses:
- Project Management Tools
Students explore techniques for scheduling and monitoring projects. This course provides a simulation opportunity for students to take on the project manager's role in a web-based development project. Students develop competency in project planning, cost estimation, scope definition, trade-off decision making, quality management, curve theory, and controlling scope creep.
- Project Procurement and Contract Management
This course covers the theory and practice of procuring projects and drafting contracts that go along with them. Students learn about the procurement, solicitation, and contract processes.
- Project Risk Management
In this upper-level course, students learn to take an organized approach to managing project uncertainties that can produce undesirable outcomes. The course teaches students to identify the risks that can lead to delayed schedules, cost overruns, or failure to achieve performance standards.
- Principles of Management
Learners study what a manager does as part of a larger team. By exploring how to build, resource, plan, organize, and lead teams, students gain a new perspective on human behavior, decision making, and decision analysis. Specifically, students learn about the six stages of decision making and how to conduct a SWOT analysis.
- Applying Leadership Principles
In this course, students look at the principles of effective leadership, and strategies for applying those principles on the job. Course topics include developing effective leadership skills, identifying methods for problem-solving, and building goodwill among stakeholders. Learners also study the personal and organizational factors of great leadership through case studies and leadership theory.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Project Management?
A degree in project management usually takes full-time students four years, or eight semesters, to complete. Like most bachelor's programs, a project management degree requires 120 credits to graduate. Some schools may require students to complete even more credits. The degree format helps establish program length. Students in online programs can sometimes enroll in a preformatted degree, in which a cohort of learners proceeds through a set series of classes together. Students may have the flexibility of adding or reducing their course load each semester, which may lengthen or shorten the time it takes to complete the degree. Students who change schools or majors usually take longer to graduate than those who stick with one program. Those who enroll in summer or J-term classes can squeeze an entire semester into one or two months of study.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Project Management?
A bachelor's degree in project management costs most students between $44,000 and $59,000 in total tuition. Tuition depends on the number of required credit-hours, the cost per hour, and whether you reside in state or out of state. Most schools charge $365 to $490 per credit for about 120 total credits. Publicly funded institutions typically charge lower tuition prices and offer discounts for in-state residents. For-profit schools and private colleges often charge on the upper end of the price range.
Students considering a project management degree should consider more than tuition; however, when developing a budget for their program. Tuition costs are not static. At many schools, veterans and military personnel can enjoy tuition reductions, life-experience credit options, and hefty scholarships that reduce tuition costs. Other institutions may offer a student-friendly credit transfer policy or a flat tuition rate that includes fees. On-campus students should add the cost of room, board, and fees; most online students must also pay a technology fee. Online learners may otherwise save money by working and studying from home, while on-campus students may have access to a lower cost of living.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Project Management Prepares For
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner
Offered by the Project Management Institute, this certification recognizes the holder's knowledge and skill with agile management practices. To take the 120-question test for this certification, applicants must hold 2,000 hours of team project experience; 1,500 hours working with agile teams; and 21 hours of training in agile techniques.
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis
Regarding project management, business analysis refers to shaping project outputs and driving proper business outcomes. To sit for the four-hour, 200-question exam, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree; 4,500 hours of business analysis experience; 2,000 hours working on project teams; and 35 hours of business analysis education (or the equivalent).
- Program Management Professional
This PMI credential is for senior-level program managers, especially those who have managed complex projects across regions, cultures, and organizations. To sit for the exam, professionals need a bachelor's degree; 6,000 hours of project management experience; and 6,000 hours of program management experience, or the equivalent of those.
- Project Management Professional
Another PMI certification, the PMP is the gold standard of excellence for project management certifications. PMPs typically earn 20% more each year than their noncertified counterparts. Qualifying for the exam means having a four-year degree; 4,500 hours leading projects; and 35 hours of project management education or an equivalent background.
- Certified Associate in Project Management
Also a PMI certification, the CAPM is an option for professionals at any point in their careers. This designation requires an online proctored exam. Student members of PMI can download study guides and receive a discount on the exam. To qualify, applicants need 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management education.
Resources for Project Management Students
ProjectManager.Com is a complete, SaaS project management platform that publishes a helpful blog, a variety of templates, videos, e-books, and study guides.
Published by Wrike, a collaboration and work management platform, this blog contains articles on marketing, team leadership, and project management. Recent topics include designing a project management calendar and distinguishing between a program manager and a project manager.
Gallup conducts helpful studies for businesses and organizational leaders. Its online business journal contains numerous articles on subjects such as advanced analytics, the future of the workplace, and change management.
Published four times a year, papers in this scientific journal are subject to a double-blind review. Article topics include project quality and reliability, risk management, and lean and agile methods in projects.
A publication of the Project Management Institute, this journal contains articles on subjects such as open innovation projects, collaborative research project networks, and how infrastructure partnership projects change over project development phases.
Professional Organizations in Project Management
Project managers join professional associations to advance their careers through networking, continued education, and field-specific job boards. Professional associations often host annual conferences, where project managers can meet like-minded professionals from across the country and even around the world. Association members can engage in research, publish articles, and give presentations through associational media. Recent graduates may find mentors or entry-level jobs through their involvement in project management associations.