What Are the Goals of a Project Management Degree?
Natural leaders thrive as project managers, who execute and oversee an idea from its inception to completion. Highly organized individuals with strong interpersonal communication skills also excel as project managers, who supervise teams in hospitality, civil engineering, healthcare, and human resources.
Online master’s programs in project management introduce students to methodologies and skills such as quality assurance, risk management, human resources, and team leadership. Online master’s programs also provide hands-on experience through capstone projects in which students assess operations in local organizations.
Many learners enter project management programs with military or career experience that can often count as college credit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), project managers earned a median annual salary of $73,570 in 2019.
Read on to learn more about the courses offered in an online master’s in project management degree and the scholarships available.
What does a project manager do?
Project managers supervise teams of employees, prioritize tasks, manage budgets, and conduct risk management. Project managers serve as a liaison between staff and management.
What project management software is there?
Project management software such as Trello, Asana, and Monday.com allows all members of a team to easily share information, track project developments, and manage assets.
What industries need project managers?
Project managers have the tools and educational background that appeal to employers across different industries. Employers in construction, finance and insurance, and healthcare rely on project managers.
Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Project Management Degrees for 2020
|1||George Washington University|
|2||New York University|
|4||Golden Gate University|
|8||Pennsylvania State University|
|10||Florida Institute of Technology|
Accreditation for an Online Project Management Degree
Accreditation provides students with evidence of a school or university’s credibility. Under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Education, third-party agencies oversee the national and regional accreditation process. Employers often prefer candidates who earn a degree from a school with regional accreditation, a designation considered more prestigious than national accreditation.
Accreditation matters for practical reasons. Students pursuing online graduate programs cannot receive federal financial aid from schools that do not hold nationally recognized accreditation.
Online programs also receive accreditation. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission assesses online programs to ensure that they meet quality standards and policies. To receive accreditation, distance learning programs must undergo a voluntary examination and meet academic criteria.
Learn more about why accreditation matters.
2020 Best Online Master’s in Project Management Degrees
The best online master’s in project management degrees offer students a flexible and well-rounded curriculum with competitive tuition rates. The online master’s programs listed below serve students through concentrations, specialized courses, and comprehensive capstone projects.
See our rankings methodology page.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 74.09
Average Tuition: $30,834
With more than 26,000 students from across the world, GW is a global university located in Washington, D.C. The university’s prime location allows both online and on-campus students to engage with world leaders.
Created 24 years ago, the online master of science in project management is among GW’s oldest specialized online degrees. The program’s faculty boasts experience in various industries, including engineering, IT, and astrophysics. They also possess industry connections in the private and public sectors. GW emphasizes course flexibility, making its online master’s programs ideal for working students. Online learners experience the same courses as those on campus.
Full-time students and working part-time students complete the degree in 18-24 and 30-48 months, respectively. Courses count as 1.5-3 credits, with lower-credit courses lasting just seven weeks.
New York University
College Choice Score: 72.09
Average Tuition: $45,426
NYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities, serving more than 50,000 students. Since its founding in 1833, NYU has offered degrees designed to elevate the middle class by teaching employable skills.
NYU offers a Project Management Institute (PMI)-accredited online master of science in project management. The school reports that 95.8% of graduates find employment within six months. The program requires 36 credits split among core courses, specialization courses, and a three-credit capstone. Students may begin studying in the fall, spring, or summer semesters.
Online project management applicants must submit college or university transcripts, a resume, a personal goals statement, and two academic or professional recommendations. Students complete applications online.
College Choice Score: 69.00
Average Tuition: $50,012
As the country’s oldest Catholic university, Georgetown boasts plenty of experience teaching students from all backgrounds. The school’s 17,000 learners come from around the world to experience a flexible liberal arts education.
Available online or in a hybrid format, Georgetown’s master’s in project management prepares students for various careers that require planning and managing projects. This online master’s degree requires 30 credits and takes 2-5 years to complete, depending on students’ enrollment status. Required courses include project planning, project initiation and development, and a three-credit capstone. Degree-seekers may take up to nine credits each semester and can begin the program during the fall, spring, or summer semesters.
Online students complete the same curriculum and receive access to all the same university resources as on-campus students. Georgetown charges a total tuition rate for the online project management degree.
Golden Gate University-San Francisco
College Choice Score: 68.66
Average Tuition: $16,095
Since its founding in 1901, GGU has offered students degrees that advance careers. Many of GGU’s students are adult learners who continue working while earning their degrees.
The school’s online master of science in project management prepares students for project management careers. Degree-seekers complete the 33 credits entirely online or in a hybrid format with some courses in San Francisco. While GGU does not require a capstone course, students can complete a for-credit internship. Graduates possess strong program management skills and know how to use technology for digital project management. GGU waives foundation courses for select students, reducing the number of required credits.
Online project management applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Before applying to the online graduate school, students may individually complete up to nine credits that count toward the project management degree.
College Choice Score: 66.14
Average Tuition: $13,177
Based in Denver, Colorado, Regis provides students with a holistic education that develops the whole person. Curriculum in most Regis programs reflects holistic education, emphasizing a combination of employable skills and personal development courses. Despite requiring just 30 credits, the online master of science in project leadership and management follows this format.
Students complete this online master’s degree entirely from a distance. Courses include project monitoring and delivery, leading in a new era, and a strategic corporate social responsibility capstone course. The degree strives to prepare students — including current managers — to become better leaders. The program also emphasizes employable skills, such as risk management, communication, and utilization of business intelligence through technology.
Regis reviews applications to the program holistically, meaning the school does not require a specific GPA, test score, or number of references. Instead, applicants submit all relevant materials online and potentially take part in a faculty interview.
College Choice Score: 65.33
Average Tuition: $53,572
With more than 35,000 students spread across three physical campuses and an online campus, BU is one of the region’s largest private research institutions. The school emphasizes the importance of making higher education accessible to more students, and the online master of science in project management reflects this mission.
BU’s project management degree requires 40 credits with each course worth four credits. Most credits focus on project management, though students with PMI-accredited certificates can waive some of these credits. Degree-seekers can also specialize their program through required specialization courses. Most students complete the program in 18-24 months.
BU offers the project management degree entirely online or in a hybrid format. Online graduate students secure financial aid through scholarships, grants, and occasionally in-person graduate assistantships.
College Choice Score: 64.80
Average Tuition: $24,195
Northeastern runs campuses across the globe and boasts a large professional and education network. This network comprises the Global Network, a distance education program that allows students from around the world to complete degrees online.
Northeastern’s online master of science in project management boasts PMI-Global Accreditation Center (GAC) accreditation and requires no visas. The number of required credits depends on professional experience. Individuals with more than three years of project management experience complete roughly 36 credits. The program requires a three-credit capstone and 12 credits toward one of 10 concentrations. Students can also earn credits through virtual experiential learning, available through the university’s network or students’ current employers.
Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, a resume, two recommendation letters, and undergraduate transcripts. International students must submit English language proficiency proof. Northeastern charges a total tuition rate for the entire program, though some students receive financial aid.
Penn State World Campus
College Choice Score: 63.57
Average Tuition: $21,772
After more than 100 years of offering distance education, Penn State launched its World Campus in 1998 to reach even more distance students. Most programs emphasize employable skills and offer flexible structures to accommodate working adult learners.
The World Campus’ online master of project management requires 30 credits. Learners pay a flat per-credit tuition rate. Six of the credits go toward a career track in enterprise architecture, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, engineering, or independent study. Also, because Penn State’s online, 12-credit graduate certificate in project management requires the same courses as the master’s degree, students earning the master’s degree can complete the certificate without increasing the time it takes to finish either program.
Penn State World Campus accepts students during the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Qualified applicants need an accredited bachelor’s degree, two references, and a statement of purpose. The school does not require GRE or GMAT scores.
College Choice Score: 63.28
Average Tuition: $8,333
Founded in 1971, Liberty trains its students to become champions for Christ. In a short period of time, Liberty has grown to educate over 100,000 students, many of whom are adult learners or military members who prefer the flexibility of distance education.
Liberty’s online master of science in project management requires 36 credits and takes roughly 1.5 years to complete. Liberty offers courses fully online in accelerated eight-week formats. Some required courses include supply chain management, operations management, and leading organizational change. Degree-seekers with previous graduate degree credits can transfer up to 18 credits. The online project management program covers basic skills required to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management exam.
Applicants need an accredited bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Liberty charges a per-credit tuition rate and offers a tuition discount to military members.
Florida Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 63.00
Average Tuition: $22,588
Based in Melbourne, Florida, Florida Tech is a private research college with close connections to the aerospace industry. Many of the school’s graduates find positions with public and private aerospace organizations.
The PMI and GAC-accredited master of business administration in project management combines online classes with hands-on experience to increase graduates’ employability. Because business professionals can perform many operations remotely, the project management program teaches students leadership, teamwork, and other management skills, all through online courses. Learners can also complete contact hours that count toward credit and satisfy prerequisites for various PMI certifications.
Online project management students complete 12 project management specialization courses, 21 business core courses, and a three-credit capstone for a total of 36 credits. Full-time learners complete this program in roughly two years. Applicants may apply transfer credits and do not pay an application fee.
College Choice Score: 60.57
Average Tuition: $34,995
Drexel embraces a unique model of experiential learning. Based in Philadelphia, the private university allows students to complete degrees without traditional studies. Drexel serves nearly 4,700 online students.
Created for current business professionals, the online master’s in project management teaches skills that lead to career advancement. The online master’s degree requires 45 credits earned entirely online and uses four 10-week quarters instead of semesters. This accelerates the program and allows many students to continue working while completing the courses. Part-time students usually finish the degree in 3-4 years. The program’s curriculum aligns with PMI standards and prepares students for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Applicants need a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Drexel gives preference to applicants with professional business experience. Graduates find positions that include project manager, program manager, and portfolio manager.
City University of Seattle
College Choice Score: 60.09
Average Tuition: $11,475
Created specifically for adult learners, CityU offers many of its degrees online. Most students continue working while they earn their degree, and 67% study at half capacity or less.
Available entirely online or in a hybrid format with some courses in Renton, Washington, the PMI and GAC-accredited master of science in project management requires 45 quarter credits. Required courses include introduction to project management, project integration, and two three-credit action learning projects. CityU offers four start dates throughout the year. Part-time students typically finish the program in 3-4 years.
CityU maintains close ties with local employers, and many graduates find positions at Boeing, Amazon, or Microsoft. Military members receive a tuition discount. Some students receive scholarships or other financial aid packages.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 60.04
Average Tuition: $9,000
With campuses in Winona, the Twin Cities, and online, Saint Mary’s offers flexible options for starting and completing degrees. The Catholic university offers various graduate degrees entirely online, including a master of science in project management.
The PMI and GAC-accredited master’s degree offers two start dates in August and January and takes roughly two years to complete. Saint Mary’s requires 33 business credits and a three-credit capstone course. Some required business courses include financial management, project procurement management, and technical communication. Curriculum aligns with PMI standards and provides graduates with the prerequisites to take the PMP certification exam.
All online students receive a flat per-credit tuition rate. Applicants may apply at any time of the year and must submit official transcripts with a cumulative 2.75 GPA, a personal statement, recommendation letters, and a resume. After applying, students complete an interview with a program administrator.
College Choice Score: 59.61
Average Tuition: $18,609
One of the country’s largest public universities, Purdue offers quality degrees from West Lafayette, Indiana, and through Purdue Global. With Purdue Global, adult learners can pursue online graduate programs from anywhere.
The online master of science in management and leadership is best for students interested in project management. While the 56-credit curriculum requires some business courses unrelated to the field, learners can select a concentration in project management to specialize the degree. This Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs accredited degree offers accelerated six-week courses. Most students spend 20 hours per week on the degree.
Purdue charges a per-credit tuition rate and offers discounts to military members, international students, and select corporate partners. The program accepts transfer credits, reducing the length and cost of the master’s degree.
College Choice Score: 58.61
Average Tuition: $31,446
Located in Washington, D.C., AU is a private research institution with a faculty of field experts. The university strives to educate future leaders, and 92% of master’s degree graduates find a position within six months of graduating.
Designed to reflect current and future industry changes, AU’s online master of science in agile project management is among the country’s only project management degrees that focuses on agile methodology. The 30-credit program teaches students to develop a project management lifecycle, create a strategic plan, and compare various project management techniques. Learners who take two courses per semester finish the program in 20 months.
Applicants must submit previous transcripts, two recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a resume. After submitting materials, an admissions advisor conducts a phone interview with applicants. Students may transfer up to six previous graduate-level credits.
The College of Saint Scholastica
College Choice Score: 56.04
Average Tuition: $14,077
CSS is a private, Catholic school with seven locations across Minnesota. Of the school’s 3,900 students, about one-third study at the main campus, while the majority of students complete their education online.
The PMI and GAC-accredited master of science in project management runs entirely online and uses a cohort model, meaning the program groups students together to take courses at the same pace. The cohort model keeps students on track to complete the 37 credits in under two years. Degree-seekers complete accelerated eight-week courses, making it easier to maintain full-time status and secure financial aid. The master’s in project management culminates with a capstone project. Upon completion, students publish the capstone project and give a required onsite oral presentation, the degree’s only in-person requirements.
Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a 2.8 GPA and at least two years of full-time work experience in any field.
College Choice Score: 56.00
Average Tuition: $29,512
Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, just a short drive from Boston, Brandeis provides students with a private, liberal arts education. The university’s small student body consists of nearly half graduate students, many of whom study online.
The school’s master of science in project management runs entirely online and requires 30 credits for completion. Designed for part-time study, this relatively new program teaches 87 students. Brandeis caps courses at 20 students, allowing learners to develop management and communication skills critical for a project management career. Courses focus on teaching employable skills instead of theoretical concepts, such as negotiating, communication, and cost management. The program does not require a capstone or final project.
Degree-seekers pay a flat per-credit tuition rate. Admissions are rolling and Brandeis offers multiple start dates throughout the year. Applicants submit transcripts, a resume, recommendation letters, and a statement of goals.
University of Maryland-College Park
College Choice Score: 54.33
Average Tuition: $20,385
As Maryland’s flagship institution, UMD serves as a local and global leader in higher education. UMD teaches more than 41,000 students, many of whom study from a distance or online.
Unlike other online project management programs, the master of engineering in project management is a professional program and leads directly to leadership positions in engineering. The degree requires 30 credits, 15 of which are electives, completed over 10 courses. Required courses include project cost accounting, project risk management, and legal aspects of engineering design. UMD webcasts courses, so students can attend live or take courses when convenient. The program uses an online chat, video chat, and group presentation tool.
Applicants must submit college transcripts, a purpose statement, and three recommendation letters. The project management degree starts in the fall and spring semesters.
Colorado State University Global Campus
College Choice Score: 52.57
Average Tuition: $4,500
CSU-Global is an entirely online extension of the Colorado State University system. Most of the online programs teach skills necessary for high-growth fields, including project management. While CSU-Global is a public school, all students receive the same flat per-credit tuition rate.
The online master’s degree in project management is a 36-credit program that culminates in a capstone and practicum. The practicum requires students to learn in person, and some states may not support the practicum or online program. Aside from the practicum, students complete all courses online, including 12 credits toward a specialization in applied business management, criminal justice leadership, healthcare administration, and international management.
Degree-seekers can begin courses at the beginning of every month. CSU-Global uses accelerated courses. Along with the per-credit tuition rate, some project management students receive an employer discount or financial aid.
Morgan State University
College Choice Score: 51.57
Average Tuition: $11,556
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Morgan’s campus is considered a national treasure. Most students come from other states, and many learners complete entire programs through the university’s online campus.
Created for working professionals who want to advance their careers, the master of science in project management applies practical scenarios and teaches various theories. The 30-credit degree includes a project management application capstone course. Full-time students complete the program in roughly two years. The program also requires three business elective courses which students can use to specialize their degree for a specific industry, such as business, civil engineering, or information technology. Morgan uses a cohort system to help students stay on track and develop communication and leadership skills.
Before applying, learners must complete a bachelor’s program from an accredited school and work for at least two years, not including internships.
Central Michigan University
College Choice Score: 51.47
Average Tuition: $16,159
Founded in 1892, CMU is a large, public school that teaches more than 8,000 distance education students, including online learners. CMU graduates gain access to an extensive alumni network of over 235,000 with connections to various industries around the world.
The master of science in project management prepares students for leadership roles in most industries and adheres to PMI standards. This 36-credit program requires a 3.0 cumulative GPA in 18 core class credits and 18 concentration credits, including a capstone project. While not required, CMU encourages students to complete a 300-hour internship before graduating. Upon completing the program, students can sit for PMI’s Project Management Professional certificate exam.
Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school with a 2.7 GPA. Applicants must also complete prerequisite courses or pass a competency exam, then provide a statement of purpose.
Missouri State University
College Choice Score: 50.42
Average Tuition: $7,560
MSU runs five campuses: three in Missouri in Springfield, West Plains, and Mountain Grove; one in China; and one online. The online school offers various graduate and undergraduate programs, some of which run entirely online.
The PMI-accredited master of science in project management exists for students who already completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration, liberal arts, or a STEM field. The program offers a 33-credit seminar track or 36-credit thesis track. The seminar track requires 21 core credits, 12 cognate elective credits, and a three-credit seminar. The thesis track requires 21 core credits, six cognate elective credits, and a six-credit research/thesis course. Both tracks also require a comprehensive exam during the final semester. Full-time students complete the degree in about two years.
Applicants must submit transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, a statement of purpose, and a resume. MSU also offers an accelerated project management master’s to select students.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
College Choice Score: 50.33
Average Tuition: $7,980
A truly global school, ERAU runs campuses in the U.S., Asia, and online. The online campus offers flexible scheduling, including 10 start dates throughout the year for graduate students and 9-12 week courses.
Created by certified Project Management Professionals, students can complete the PMI-accredited master of science in project management either online or in a hybrid format through the Worldwide campus. Learners complete 30 required credits, including courses in decision-making for leaders, contemporary project management, and a project management capstone. While coursework does not allow for elective courses, ERAU offers flexible courses that students complete at their own pace. Coursework emphasizes collaboration, an important skill for project management professionals.
Graduates gain skills with current Project Management Information Systems software, important systems for most project management careers.
Sam Houston State University
College Choice Score: 50.28
Average Tuition: $9,275
Founded in 1879, SHSU provides Huntsville, Texas, with higher education that leads to high-growth positions. Because many of SHSU’s students work while earning their degree, the university introduced a comprehensive online campus that provides flexible degrees.
Created for professionals who want to learn new skills, the master of science in project management requires 36 credits, all of which students complete online or in a hybrid format. SHSU also accepts transfer credits. Degree-seekers studying part time without transfer credits take 3-4 years to finish the program. Upon completing the program, students can sit for PMI-approved certification exams.
SHSU uses the semester format and offers three start dates throughout the year. Applicants must submit GMAT scores, a resume, a personal essay, and college transcripts (unless the student graduated from SHSU).
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 50.04
Average Tuition: $18,810
Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU is a leader in online education, currently teaching more than 90,000 students online. The sizable online school also increased the size of SNHU’s alumni base, providing a valuable network for professionals looking to advance their careers.
SNHU’s online master of science in project management requires 36 credits, though students can transfer up to 12 previous graduate-level credits. The PMI-accredited program teaches skills required for project managers in any industry and prepares students to become certified Project Management Professionals. SNHU uses asynchronous courses so students can study at their own pace. Degree-seekers can also earn credits through experiential learning. Full-time students with 12 transfer credits can finish this program in as little as 15 months.
The program offers five start dates and admissions are rolling. Applicants must submit college transcripts. SNHU does not require GRE or GMAT test scores.
Career and Salary Outlook for Project Managers
Experience, educational level, and location all impact a project manager’s salary. Salaries also vary depending on the industry. For example, project managers working in information technology make an average annual salary of $87,895, according to PayScale. In construction, project managers make an average salary of $74,036 per year. On the lower end of the pay scale, project managers in marketing make an average of $61,497 annually.
Project managers with additional credentials or continuing education credits can further boost their earning potential. Earnings may also differ depending on bonuses and commission. The PayScale salary averages listed below represent estimates.
No matter the industry, management positions should increase in the coming years. The BLS projects all management jobs to grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028.
Certifications and Licensure for Project Managers
Certifications and licenses provide project managers with specialized project management training to enhance their resumes. Employers often prefer candidates with specialized skill sets and mastery of industry software or methodologies. Students can obtain certifications during an online master’s program. Professional organizations also offer post-graduate certifications, including the three options listed below.
- Certified Associate in Project Management: The CAPM certification appeals to professionals who manage large-scale projects. Administered by the Project Management Institute, the three-hour test consists of 150 questions. Candidates must complete 23 hours of project management continuing education before applying. This certification prepares project managers to take the project management professional exam.
- Certified ScrumMaster: This certification appeals to project managers across all industries who want to strengthen their understanding of Scrum methodology and frameworks. Project managers who pursue this certification generally work in software development. The certification consists of an online or in-person session with a certified Agile coach. To earn the certification, applicants must complete a 50-question test, which takes about 60 minutes.
- Project Management Professional: This certification is the next stepping stone in professional development for individuals who took the CAPM. Candidates need a four-year degree with three years of career experience and 35 hours of continuing education experience in project management. Otherwise, applicants need a current CAPM certification or five years of work experience and an associate degree.
Courses in Project Management Programs
Earning an online master’s in project management provides students with a foundation in current industry standards and methodologies. Graduates leave these programs with an understanding of risk management and how to maximize team performance and perform a cost analysis. The practical skills students learn through hands-on assignments teach them how to prioritize, plan, and schedule projects. They also become adept at using industry tools and software.
However, each online master’s degree differs in focus. For example, a master’s in business administration degree with a concentration in project management features more business-focused courses than an online master’s in project management.
The following examples are common courses featured in an online master’s in project management.
This course teaches students how to implement incremental management practices as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. Developed to manage software development projects, Agile now applies to many industries.
Project Risk Management
This course teaches students how to mitigate and respond to risks. Students learn about the internal and external risks involved in project management and how to conduct qualitative and quantitative project risk analysis. The tools and skills that students learn in this course can apply to construction, finance, and healthcare.
Project Planning and Scheduling
This course teaches students how to implement frameworks to proactively manage project schedules and work under time and financial constraints. Coursework covers topics like linear resource leveling, chain scheduling, and program evaluation review techniques. Students also learn about the legal responsibilities associated with contracts.
Introduction to Project Management
Students taking this course learn the principles and skills needed to become project managers. Topics include resource allocation, risk assessment, progress monitoring, and recruitment. Instructors often use case studies to demonstrate how project managers can implement industry tools and methods.
At the end of a master’s program, students must typically complete a capstone project that allows them to integrate what they have learned. Students often work at a local organization to assess and analyze management operations for a final capstone project.
Scholarships for Project Managers
Students earning a master’s in project management can explore the five scholarships below.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate learners studying project management at an accredited college can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a resume, transcripts, two references, and an essay.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate women pursuing business-related majors can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be in their final year of a master’s program. Applicants must submit an essay to their local Zonta club.
Who Can Apply: The Project Management Training Institute offers a $500 scholarship to aspiring project managers. Applicants must be enrolled full time in an accredited college.
Who Can Apply: The Securities and Insurance Licensing Association Foundation offers this scholarship to college learners studying business administration, education, finance or accounting. Students pursuing information technology, insurance studies, marketing, or math may also apply. Candidates need a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and U.S. citizenship.
Who Can Apply: Established to honor the founders of the Baltimore chapter of the Project Management Institute, this scholarship benefits undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a project management program in Baltimore, Maryland.