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Project Management Bachelor's Degree Guide
A bachelor's degree is a great way to start your project management career. It can open the door to project management roles across industries and prepare you to lead teams and deliver outcomes. Aspiring project managers can choose from three bachelor's degree path options. Any path will allow you to work as a project manager in any industry.
Types of Bachelor's Degrees for Project Managers
Earning a bachelor's degree in project management can give you a strong career foundation. It's a great way to gain in-depth knowledge of the fundamental aspects of project management.
"At a bachelor-level, project management programs will focus on the core principles of project organization and strategy," says Morgan Martin, the CEO and founder of CoApt Projects, LLC. "You'll walk through the phases of a project, understand their importance to a project's success, and have the opportunity to see how project management could apply to various industries."
At a bachelor-level, project management programs will focus on the core principles of project organization and strategy.
Aspiring project managers can choose from three different bachelor's level degree paths:
You can become a project manager and gain certification with any of these degrees. You can pursue them once you have a high school diploma, a solid GPA, strong SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and admissions essays in place. Choosing one path won't limit you to only certain project management roles for the rest of your career. However, your degree path will influence the courses you'll take during your education and can impact the skills and knowledge you'll bring into your project management career.
Degree paths in detail:
Project managers can be found in every industry and career field. However, there are some fields where project managers are more common. The structure of these fields often relies on project managers to play a large role in daily operations. Project managers are in high demand in these fields, and it's common for bachelor's degree programs to offer concentrations in them so that graduates are prepared to take on these roles.
The exact offerings will depend on your school. Standard concentrations include:
These concentrations are generally also available with Bachelor of Arts in Project Management and Bachelor of Business Administration in Project Management degrees.
Other Project Management Degree Programs
Project managers who want to jump into their career quickly can look into earning an associate degree in business administration or another related field. There aren't associate degrees available specifically in project management, but you can take on an entry-level project management role once you've earned an associate degree in a related area. If you're looking to advance your project management career, a master's degree is a great option. Master's degrees in project management can allow you to take on very large-scale projects or even concurrently manage multiple projects for different companies.
There are certifications available for project managers at every educational and career level. There are no state or national certification requirements for project managers, but earning one is a smart career move. And, certifications are often required by employers. Earning your bachelor's degree doesn't automatically qualify you for any major certification, but it will put you on track for certification after you gain some experience.
What to Look For in a School and Program
One of the most important things to look for in any school is accreditation. When it comes to choosing a school for your project management bachelor's degree, there are two types of accreditation to look for. The first is school accreditation. An accredited school is one that has met all quality standards set by an accrediting body and has proven it can deliver a quality education. Plus, school accreditation is vital for two very important things:
- You can only receive federal student aid if you attend an accredited school. So, if you're planning on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and using loans or grants to pay for school, your school needs to be accredited.
- Only credits from accredited schools will transfer to other colleges and universities. So, if you want to switch schools or go back to school later for your master's degree, your credits will need to be earned at an accredited school.
Secondly, look for program accreditation. The PMI's accrediting agency, the Global Accreditation Center (GAC), ensures global accreditation standards in project management education. That means that programs that are accredited by GAC are programs with courses that are in line with industry standards.
Additionally, attending a program that is accredited by PMI's GAC will count toward the educational hours you'll need if you want to earn the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The PMP is the project management field's primary certification and is generally considered the most highly regarded. You don't have to go to a PMI-accredited school to earn this certification, but it's the best way to ensure your project management education will meet the education requirements for certification. It can save you from possibly having to take additional courses later in your career.
Salary and Job Outlook
Project management is a well-paying career field. The exact salary you can earn depends on your education level, experience, certification, industry, and location. For instance, project managers in information technology and software development roles tend to earn average higher salaries than project managers in healthcare or construction roles. No matter what, you'll be part of an in-demand field that's expected to see growth in both job opportunities and salaries over the next several years.
Written and reported by:
With professional insight from:
Morgan Martin, PMP, MPA, CEBS
CEO and Founder, CoApt Projects, LLC