Home > College Rankings > Top 20 Master’s in Project Management Online Degree Programs for 2017
College Rankings

Top 20 Master’s in Project Management Online Degree Programs for 2017

Do you like to make sure plans are running smoothly? Are you good at keeping people on schedule? Is following a budget one of your favorite things to do? Then you might just be an ideal candidate to pursue a master’s in project management.

Individuals who complete master’s in project management degree programs are well-equipped to lead teams and communicate tasks and goals effectively. Those who obtain a master’s in project management can combine the technical skills they have developed in their field with the more intangible skills of organization, planning, and execution of projects.

According to Monster.com, employers look very favorably upon candidates with a master’s in project management, versus those who don’t have advanced training or certification. Because they manage a project from conception to completion, the additional skills are beneficial to work with various staff and company departments. Additionally, advanced training in project management can better prepare an individual for a variety of jobs within an organization, including work as a consultant, in business development, and even in business operations.

What Are The Top 20 Project Management Schools?

Online master’s degree programs in project management provide individuals the opportunity to increase their earning potential and open the door for jobs in a high-growth market. Those wishing to advance their education or career can do so with the flexibility of obtaining a master’s in project management online. Top institutions across the country offer high-quality programs to meet your needs.

Job Outlook and Salaries for Project Management

The Project Management Institute’s Growth Forecast reported that there will be a 12% rise in demand for project managers, totaling more than six million available jobs by 2020. These staggering numbers are due in large part to global growth, and present a great opportunity for those trying to break into project management or advance their career. Organizations are beginning to rely more heavily on strategic planning carried out by qualified professionals, rather than simply relying on existing staff members to take on the role of project manager.

“They actually have to build a capability so they invest in career paths and invest in projects and program managers, ultimately because they recognize it’s distinct from a capability standpoint and it equates to delivering the strategy long-term,” said Mark Langley, President of the Project Management Institute.

While salaries for project managers typically vary among desired specializations and years of experience, graduates with a degree in project management can expect a positive job outlook and competitive salary. As with many professions, advanced degrees in project management can boost one’s potential median salary.

Median Salaries

  • Bachelor’s in Project Management: $105,000
  • Master’s in Project Management: $113,000

Job Options for Project Management

No matter the specific tasks at hand, the overarching daily objective of a project manager is to ensure all the pieces of the “puzzle” are fitting together seamlessly. If they do this correctly, then by the end of the project, the full picture will be complete.

For most project managers, daily work will fall into three main categories: planning, organizing, and implementing. In the planning phase, the project manager will define the goals and desired outcomes of the project. They will put together a statement of work that outlines benchmarks, timelines, and budgets. In the organization phase, the project manager will build the team, using both internal and external members, depending on the scope and available resources of the project. In implementing mode, the project manager is focused on executing the necessary components of the project and making sure team members are staying on top of deadlines and responsibilities. They will communicate with higher-ups and key stakeholders to make sure the mission of the project and ongoing process is accurately communicated.

While no two projects or days on the job are the same, project managers will often be in the office before the rest of the team to make sure daily tasks are running on time, and will usually leave after the team to review what’s on deck for tomorrow. Managers may find themselves in charge of teams built solely from within their organization, or with a team of external professionals brought in for a specific project. Types of projects are wide-ranging, depending on the industry or field, but can include administrative or technology work, like implementing a new computer system, performing research or a feasibility study, or even overseeing a company relocation, like moving to a new building or space. Although project managers can be found in any organization, common industries for project managers include construction, engineering, architecture, information technology, and telecommunications.

Project managers work in all different types of fields, but many of the skills needed for this type of work are transferable across industries. In general, it’s important for project managers to be organized and able to communicate effectively. It’s also helpful for project managers to be adept at:

  • Budgeting/accounting: An effective project manager produces results without overspending, and with a strong understanding of where (and during which phases of the project) money is being spent.
  • Conflict resolution: A project will have many moving parts and people to manage them. Every person will consider their part to be the most important. It is critical for a project manager to be able to control and minimize conflict.
  • Time management: What if the rollout of the project has been widely publicized? It’s crucial that the work is completed on-schedule, and the project manager is in charge of making sure each piece and team member is hitting their deadlines.
  • Technologically savvy: Project management systems and software can be essential in organizing and managing all parts of the project. Project managers should be able to use these systems to keep track of data and collaborate with their team.
  • Leadership: A project manager will be leading a team of diverse talents and backgrounds. It’s important for them to be able to balance the needs of their staff, the needs of the project, and the demands of the stakeholders they answer to.

MBAs and Project Management

While there are many similarities and overlap between project management degrees and traditional MBA programs, the two programs also provide expertise in different areas of business. MBAs are a great fit for those with plans to take on a leadership role within an organization, while project management programs prepare students for more specialized roles leading large-scale projects. For MBA students, the focus is heavily applied on how decisions are made within a company, and each of its departments. Those who study project management focus more on decision making, but for the purpose of how to execute results.

There are also many MBA programs that include a project management focus, as much of the content is relevant to each type of specialization. These programs typically include fundamentals of business and leadership, with an increased emphasis on project management particulars including scope, time, and cost.

Advanced training in project management will provide a foundation for time management skills, setting and reaching goals and benchmarks, working with budgets, and leading a team to effective results. An MBA with a specialization prepares graduates for a broad range of skills in business, including communications, finance, and even data analysis.



To determine the best online master’s degrees in project management, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the top 20 master’s degrees in project management. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.