Before enrolling in an Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management program, you need to know all the particulars. How long will it last? How much does it cost? Is the program accredited? What will your return on investment be?
As you consider your options, you should understand that project management and risk management is a rapidly growing field. The industries now using project managers to oversee their projects include IT development, construction, manufacturing, and healthcare, among others. You’ll learn how to lead teams, how to view and analyze data so you can tackle issues and make the best decisions, and weigh legal and ethical options.
What is an MBA in Project Management?
An MBA Project Management program teaches you the general MBA skills you need, as well as more specialized skills so you can take on and manage more complex assignments.
This type of program usually rests on a general management foundation, which will serve you as you work as a project manager. The project management focus of your degree will give you the knowledge you need to master the skills necessary to succeed in your role.
You can expect your curriculum to immerse you in theories in project management, along with new methodologies and technology. These include learning how to use tools and techniques so that, when you are assigned a project, you’ll be able to plan and initiate the tasks needed, control a team, and bring the project to successful ending within an acceptable time frame and under budget.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Project Management?
Project Manager, Information Technology
As an information technology (IT) project manager, you may be responsible for app development, software development, or even server restructuring and planning. You’ll plan every step, make sure they are carried out as requested, and keep your team on-course in every stage of the project.
You may have to carry out daily employee evaluations, along with team leadership and development so that the goals of the project are met. And you’ll make sure that every employee on your projects knows and shares the project goals and vision as you hand out assignments.
When projects don’t go smoothly, you’ll problem-solve to figure out what happened and find ways to work through, or work around, the issues. With a Master of Science in Project Management with an emphasis in Information Technology from an accredited business school, you will be prepared with the strategies to effectively solve these problems and think critically.
As a project analyst, you’ll oversee the development of upcoming projects using data analysis, specialized research, and data collection so that the company or department responsible can make the right decisions.
You’ll also be active in researching new projects and designing them by using specific logical approaches and tools that organization has provided to you. You need to be comfortable in preparing and presenting any new ideas you may have so strategic planning processes can be improved. At the same time, you need to keep in mind the factors that create an impact on the company.
Executive MBA/Project Manager
Because you’ll have had at least five years of work experience behind you just to earn this degree, you’ll find yourself higher up on the management chain, as either a corporate CPO, investment manager, or even a project manager.
Depending on your department in the organization, your duties will vary. However, as with any other project manager position, you’ll need to plan steps, lead a team, and keep everything running smoothly. Perhaps different from other project manager positions, you are more likely to lead more complex projects that require several departments to work together in order to complete their tasks. Your experience, along with your education, should allow you to do this successfully.
Online Vs. On-Campus for an MBA in Project Management
An online MBA in Project Management allows you to learn virtually whenever you have time to sit down and study. Because you’re likely to be working full-time, an on-campus degree program may not work for you. Taking online classes, graduating, and then perhaps earning a risk management professional certification can put you much closer to the career you have always wanted.
If you do have the time each week to devote to in-person classes, you may benefit from the face-to-face time with your professors and fellow students. As with any business degree, this can also allow you more opportunities to network and create connections with other students, professors, and even with other business people if the school has developed a program to connect students to alumni or local businesses.
Types of Project Management MBA Degrees
MBA & Post-graduate Certificate in Project Management
Average Salary: $85,000
Once you’ve earned a Master of Business Administration, you’ll have solid business skills. However, if you don’t take the time to add a concentration in project management, it will be more difficult to be hired into these positions. You may be able to overcome this by earning a certificate in project management. This will give you the extra tools you need to successfully manage projects in a variety industries.
Master of Science in Project Management
Average Salary: $83,316
In your MS program, you’ll take part in educational activities with professors who specialize in project management. They will teach you using their own experiences. You’ll be able to use your new skills in a real-life project in your capstone coursework. You may also take part in a case study that provides relevant applications that teach you what it is to be a project manager.
MBA in Project Management
Average Salary: $82,389
Earning your MBA in project management allows you to polish your skills in motivating others, taking charge of difficult projects, and completing those projects while staying within budgetary constraints.
You’ll also learn about the inevitable project roadblocks that slow your work down; to do this, you’ll participate in real-world exercises that require you to use all of your newly acquired project management skills.
Executive MBA in Project Management
Average Salary: $117,040
Whether you’ve been tapped for a leadership or executive role in project management or you are preparing yourself for a role you’re interested in, an EMBA in Project Management means you’re the executive that people are looking to for effective management of any type of complex or high-level project.
An EMBA in Project Management allows you to learn about and use real-life tactics that let you move projects ahead efficiently and make difficult decisions when you hit the inevitable roadblocks.
Sample Curriculum & Courses for Project Management
- Foundations of Project Management:
Gain an overview of the methods and processes used in modern project management. Topics include time, cost, risk, project scope, quality, communications, integration, human resources, and procurement management.
- Advanced Topics in Communications for Project Managers:
Learn about advanced communication methods and techniques you’ll use as a project manager. What are the challenges of communications? Develop communications skills that aid you in project completion.
- Increasing Organization Capacity in Project Management:
You’ll discuss skill development, specifically skills related to project management and the organizational requirements for effective project management, useful tools and processes for project management, and other skills.
- Supply Chain Management:
In this course, you’ll learn to use supply chain management tools including production planning, logistics, and inventory management. You’ll also cover decision and analysis tools to be used for your strategic management decisions in modeling, technology adoption, and more.
- Program and Project Management:
In coursework like this you’ll explore project management, including management of people, technology, stakeholder communications, and other elements that allow you to successfully complete a project.
- Additional Coursework:
Some additional coursework you may be required to take: quality management, business management, financial management, business analysis, strategic management and project risk management when you are pursuing your online learning degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
What certification should I get in addition to an MBA in Project Management?
A good complementary project management certification is the Project Management Essentials that Master of Business Administration students or graduates can earn. This certification provides professionals with fundamental knowledge and the skills they will apply to their projects.
If you’re interested in seeing what the range of certifications are, you should check out those offered by the Project Management Institute.
What are the differences between an MBA in Project Management and a regular MBA?
The general MBA offers a broad range of classes that, once you complete them, provide skills in a wide range of business areas. These include finance, human resources, leadership, accounting, and others.
In the first year of your MBA, you’ll take core coursework that give you the basics. In your second year, you’ll begin to take more electives which may be a part of your concentration if you choose one.
A specialized Master of Business Administration, such as project management, gives you more focused courses from your first year. You gain more focused preparation that goes deeper in a specialized MBA, though you might not get quite as broad a range of information.
Who should consider getting this degree?
If you’re in business and you’re looking to move in a new direction, then a project management degree might be right for you. It is likely to allow for promotions within your current company or may allow you to transition to a new company or even to a new industry. With specialized knowledge, you’ll find that there are many more opportunities available to you.
How to Choose the Right Program
Do You Have Time to Go Back to School?
Once you decide you’re going back to school to earn an MBA-PM, you are going to be even busier than you were in your undergraduate program. First, you may need to devote large chunks of time to finding the right MBA program, then you need to take the time to complete all of the application documents, enroll for your classes and map out a work and study schedule… you see where this is going.
Make sure you’re able to give the time to every phase of your new degree, from finding your school to completing your capstone project.
Is This a Long-Term Career Path for You?
Before you choose a school and apply for admission, make sure this is the degree and career you want for the long term. Why are you looking for an MBA in Project Management? Are you likely to want to return to school in five or ten years so you can pursue a different field?
If you want to earn an advanced degree in project management, but you’re not sure you want/need an MBA, consider a Master of Science in Project Management. If you know that you want this to be your lifelong career, you’re just about set. But if you’re not sold on working in project management long term, you might want to consider earning a graduate certificate and save your next degree for something you’re truly set on.
What Kind of Networking Opportunities are Available?
Networking is one of the most important activities in business. You may find that your goals mesh with other college student’s goals and decide to keep in touch in case you may work together in the future. You may even meet informally and retain them as a friend.
When you attend a university campus in person, this type of organic interaction is practically inevitable. However, even online degree programs often try to offer some networking events or connection-building exercises. These events may include seminars or conferences that you may not traditionally receive when attending a distance learning online degree program.
Does Earning this MBA Provide a Significant Return on Investment (ROI)?
An MBA provides some of the best returns on investment (ROI) in the business field. Once you earn your MBA, having that degree means that employers are more likely to closely review your resume when you apply for positions and you may be considered for internal promotions much more often as well.
Your return on investment will not only be financial, you’ll also gain in terms of leadership skills, networking, and essential business know-how. Whether you receive your online degree from a traditional university or an online degree program, you will be prepared for your future career.
Consider the Student Outcomes for Each Program
Many graduate school management programs provide their graduation rates in a public forum. These may cover graduate level students or they may not, but this statistic does speak to the number of students who were supported at a high enough level to graduate within a normal time frame. Many schools will also tell you how many of their students found employment within six months to a year of graduation. You may also want to check if there are student reviews of any prospective school you consider, as these can be very telling when it comes to the culture, the level of support provided, and much more.
Make Sure the Program is Accredited
Accreditation is as vital for your graduate degree as it was for your undergraduate degree. You’re spending a lot of money on your degree program. So, why shouldn’t you get the highest value for the years you spend in your program?
An excellent MBA program should have regional accreditation and may also be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). An accreditation from this agency means you’ll be receiving a valuable degree as the standards schools must meet to earn this accreditation are high.
- Association for Project Management (APM):
APM works to promote project management. It also develops both project management and program management via its Five Dimensions of Professionalism: Depth, Breadth, Commitment, Achievement, and Accountability.
- International Project Management Association (IPMA):
IPMA is a worldwide association promoting accepted best practices in project and program management. In addition, it promotes project portfolio management.
- Association for Project Managers (APM):
This organization is a chartered body for project managers. APM offers information on the newest trends in industry project management, compensation, benefits, and educational opportunities.
- Project Management Institute (PMI):
PMI is the main source of information and membership for project members in the US. It collates information on certification, standards, and the promotion of the project management profession.
Potential Scholarships to Consider
Ana Alvarez-Holmberg Scholarship
Offered by the Project Management Institute of Minnesota, the Ana Alvarez-Holmberg Scholarship awards $2,000 to a deserving adult student who shows a commitment to continuing education and self-development. This candidate has faced career- or life-altering circumstances with grit and determination as they work to achieve their goals.
The Bishop/Kloch Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship, offered by PMI, is awarded to graduate and undergraduate students who are members of the PMI Institute’s Baltimore chapter. The $2,500 scholarship is awarded every year to a deserving PMI member or student and their immediate family members (child or grandchild).
Dr. Harold Kerzner Scholarships
In partnership with PMIEF, the Dr. Harold Kerzner Scholarships awards $7,500 to four students who are working on an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree in the project management field or related study fields from accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities.