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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Project Management

By Jordan Beliles | Updated 12/21/2022
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Project Management Badge

An online master’s degree in project management gives students and established professionals the knowledge and skills to become successful project management leaders. Future students can expect to gain leadership, time management, communication, and negotiation skills. The curriculum covers leadership, communication, project planning, and risk management. Popular courses within an online project management master’s program include Risk Management, Project Management Ethics, and Agile Project Management.  

Similar programs are online master’s degrees in management or business administration. Many of these programs have curricula that help prepare students for when they sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam. Prospective students can expect to complete a capstone research project to graduate. Graduates of an online master’s degree in project management or a similar subject may go on to pursue careers like project managers, project coordinators, and scrum managers.

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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Project Management Badge
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Online Project Management Master's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Project Management

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 New York University 100 100 $148,198
# 2 #2 Georgetown University 100 $131,589
# 3 #3 University of Southern California 100 $127,841
# 4 #4 Lehigh University 99 $122,676
# 5 #5 Northwestern University 99 $120,709
# 6 #6 Golden Gate University 99 $117,549
# 7 #7 University of Maryland - College Park 97 $108,765
# 8 #8 The George Washington University 96 $107,834
# 9 #9 Villanova University Online Graduate Programs 96 $106,590
# 10 #10 Boston University 94 $104,027

#1 New York University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $148,198
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

New York University (NYU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Science in Project Management that totals 36 credit hours. Full-time students can complete the program within two years.

NYU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning via D2L Brightspace, a popular learning management system (LMS). An online project management curriculum at the graduate level helps students obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their chosen industry. Sample courses include Leading Global Organizations, Agile Project Management, and Management of Information Systems. Students must also complete a capstone course to graduate. Some potential careers for graduates are product managers, agile coaches, and project managers.

#2 Georgetown University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $131,589
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Georgetown University is a private, nonprofit, Catholic Jesuit-affiliated institution, and it offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Project Management requiring 30 credit hours. Full-time students can finish the program in two years.

At Georgetown, online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously through the LMS Canvas. The program’s online curriculum focuses on leadership and communication skills in order to prepare students to become skilled project management leaders. Some of the courses are Project Initiation and Planning, Communication and Collaboration for Managers, and Agile Fundamentals. Graduates may enter careers like architectural project managers, project team leads, and project schedulers.

#3 University of Southern California

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $127,841
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

At the University of Southern California (USC) — a private, nonprofit institution — prospective students can pursue an online Master of Science in Project Management totaling 24 credit hours. It can take 1-2 years to complete this program with a full-time schedule.

USC facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning via Blackboard. This program prepares students to advance their careers in project management through the presentation of different concepts and methodologies. The program’s courses are Requirements Elicitation and Business Analysis, Schedule Management, and Risk Management. Students must create a portfolio and complete an internship. Some prospective career industries for graduates include IT, healthcare, and marketing.

#4 Lehigh University

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $122,676
  • Locations: Bethlehem (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Lehigh University (Lehigh) is a private, nonprofit institution that offers an online Flex Master of Business Administration - Project Management requiring 36 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to complete this program in about two years.

Lehigh students complete online coursework asynchronously and synchronously on Course Site. The master’s in project management program covers the leadership, communication, and technical skills required to become a successful project management leader. Sample courses include Project Risk Management, Decision Making and Ethics on Projects, and Project Requirements and Scope Management. Additionally, a capstone course is required for graduation. Alumni may pursue careers as project managers, administrative managers, and logistics coordinators.

#5 Northwestern University

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $120,709
  • Locations: Evanston (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Northwestern University (Northwestern) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Master of Science in Information Systems - Project Management. Since it only requires 11 credit hours, the program is designed to take just one year.

At Northwestern, online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously on the LMS Canvas. This program combines an overview of information systems with a focus on project management in that sector. Some of the program’s courses are Project Management Concepts, IT Project Management, and Information Technology Finance and Communication. To graduate, students need to finish a computer information systems project or a capstone research project. Potential industries for graduates are construction, pharmaceutical, and software development.

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Overview of a Master's in Project Management

Project managers have a broad set of responsibilities within a professional organization. They develop project scopes, organize finances, monitor deadlines, and lead teams to the finish line — all while solving complex problems along the way. Given the importance of the role, and the wide-ranging duties they're tasked with, earning a master's in project management can be a valuable asset for your future career goals.

Over the course of one to two years, a project management master's teaches you the leadership, communication, analytical, and organizational skills needed to oversee important projects. Today, many project managers work remotely while overseeing virtual teams. Therefore, most master's in project management online also teach you Agile, which is a proven approach to managing projects and software development.

To gain entry into one such program, you'll need a bachelor's degree in project management, or a related field such as business, finance, or software development. You'll also be asked to meet certain GPA and entrance exam requirements, which depends on the school you're applying to.

Can You Get a Master's in Project Management Online?

Yes, a masters degree in project management can be taken 100% online. As stated above, a lot of project management roles today don't take place in an office. In fact, HubStaff Tasks' 2021 Project Management Report notes that over 40% of professionals in the field said they are permanently working in a remote environment. While remote work does come with its challenges, this bodes well for those interested in taking an online master's in project management.

During an online program, you'll be primed with skills to manage teams from afar, including communication tactics and how to tackle hurdles, such as time zone differences and keeping team members accountable for their tasks.

Before settling on an online school, it's important to consider a college's accreditation. This means the college or university has been vetted by the U.S. Department of Education, or an approved regional accreditation organization. For individual programs, you may look to see if they're accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Each and every one of OnlineU's programs comes from an accredited institution, making your degree search much easier to navigate.

It's also important to note that online degrees are respected. The stigma surrounding remote learning has long since dissipated, especially because of the pandemic, which forced many traditional universities to host more online programs. Today, online degrees won't even mention that you took online courses, even if they were your primary source of learning.

Common Courses for a Project Management Master's

The curriculum for a master's in project management revolves around the specific skills you'll need to be a team leader and organizational guru. You'll learn ways to manage and mitigate risk, analyze financial reports, communicate with stakeholders, and develop complex schedules with numerous moving parts. There will also be courses covering the fundamentals of common project management software programs, such as Scrum and Agile.

Toward the end of each program, faculty will likely require you to put your skills to the test with a capstone project. This usually entails real-world project oversight in a team environment, with the purpose of developing a portfolio for your future employers.

Let's take a closer look at some common courses found in an online project management master's degree:

Project Risk Management

Risks are inherent with every project, regardless of scale. In a risk management course you'll learn about methodologies for risk analysis as well as the skills and tools required to mitigate the inevitable challenges, threats, and issues that come with complex projects.

Agile Projects

At its most basic level, Agile is a set of processes and techniques that focuses on teams producing working software for customers. Agile plays such an important role in the degree's curriculum that there are specific Agile project management courses, where you'll learn the associated methodologies, including its overarching philosophies.

Project Leadership

Courses in project leadership or project governance teach the skills needed to actively lead groups of people through effective strategies and adaptable communications. You'll learn to identify and negotiate expectations all the while facilitating teamwork.

Project Scope and Scheduling

This course will teach you how to properly plan for an upcoming project, including understanding its scope and the best ways to allocate resources, organize documents, utilize scheduling tools, and predict budgets.

Quality Management

You'll need to know how to maintain project quality along with efficiency. This course explores the qualitative methods used to ensure the best possible project outcome through identifying standards, monitoring control, and analyzing dependencies.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Project Management?

An online masters degree in project management can open the door to a variety of career opportunities across sectors. Graduates will gain a wide range of expertise in people management, communication, risk analysis, scheduling, and financial oversight. These skills are increasingly valuable in business, allowing professionals to join a company even without an expert-level knowledge of their specific product. You may be asking yourself, "How much do project managers make?"

Let's take a closer look at some jobs you can obtain with a master's in project management, along with the salaries they offer:

Project Management Specialists

Annual Median Salary:  $94,500
Job Growth Rate: 5%-10%

Project management specialists oversee an entire project's scope, including budgeting, scheduling, procurement, and customer service. Specialists may also be considered senior project managers and take on additional duties, such as training and onboarding new hires and acting as the main point of contact for clients. For senior-level roles, some employers may require a master's degree and several years of work experience.

Information Technology Project Managers

Annual Median Salary:  $95,270
Job Growth Rate: 5%-10%

When you search for project manager roles, many will fall within the field of IT. Information technology project managers generally work within software and website development while still adhering to traditional PM duties, such as scheduling, risk analysis, budgeting, milestone tracking, and problem-solving. Employers will likely require prerequisite skills in software development. Those in this role command slightly less than six figures per year, with a slightly above average job growth projection into the next decade.

Management Analysts

Annual Median Salary:  $93,000
Job Growth Rate: 14%

Management analysts use their knowledge of project management techniques to organize and improve the efficiency of organizations. They're hired to maximize growth as well as increase productivity and performance. They are likely to see a much higher job growth than the typical role.

Training and Development Managers

Annual Median Salary:  $120,130
Job Growth Rate: 11%

The role of a training and development manager is similar to an analyst but elicits a much higher average salary. They're tasked with developing programs designed to improve an organization's workflow and efficiency. They focus on training initiatives and solutions that optimize productivity and educate on policies and procedures.

Can You Get Rich as a Project Manager?

The average salary for project managers varies depending on the job title you're able to secure. Most roles hover in the $90,000 to $120,000 range. This income falls in line with management salaries across the board. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management occupations have a median salary of $123,370. Since the living wage requirement is $68,808, the average project manager's salary is likely in a much higher wage bracket than what's needed to meet basic necessities. However, it should be noted that living wages vary dramatically by location.

Certification and Licensure

Project manager roles typically do not require a license to legally operate in any state. However, some employers may look favorably on applicants with a project management certification.

The Project Management Institute administers one of the most well-regarded certificates in the industry known as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate. The exam costs $555 for non-members and tests your knowledge in three different methodologies.

There are a variety of other certificates that you can earn in niche areas of project management — including Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Master Project Manager (MPM), and CompTIA Project+.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Online Students

Along with financial aid and student loans, scholarships are a great way for students to lessen the upfront amount they have to spend for their college education. Scholarships, in particular, are plentiful for students in a master project management online program:

The Project Management institute has several scholarships available, including the Global Accreditation Center (GAC) scholarship, which is available for students at the graduate level. Each year, $2,000 is awarded to two recipients. To apply, you must prove enrollment in an accredited-GAC program. Master's students have to be studying at least part-time with one semester already completed at the time they apply.

PMI's Kenneth O. Hartley & James “Jim” Gallagher Fellows Scholarship is another $2,000 award, this one is exclusively for graduate students in a project management or project management-related program. Other scholarships from PMI include the Dr Harold Kerzner Scholarships and the PMI Ned Engman Founders Scholarship.

Is a Master's in Project Management Worth It?

Earning a masters degree in project management online requires a set of skills that other degree programs may not put as much emphasis on. This includes your ability to communicate effectively to large teams of people, leading them through tough projects on tight deadlines. If you're not comfortable in a leadership role, this graduate program may not be worth it for you. To others, a project management degree may seem very appealing thanks to their higher-than-average salaries.

Let's take a look at the potential benefits and possible drawbacks of taking on a master's in project management:

Potential Benefits

Project management salaries are much higher than the average U.S. salary. Project management specialists, for example, earn a median salary of $94,500 per year, while the average salary for all occupations is just $58,260.

A project management master's degree can allow you to work in a wide variety of industries. Most program's take a comprehensive approach in terms of understanding how to manage people, utilizing practical business tactics, and learning valuable software.

Many project manager-related roles are growing at a fast rate. All occupations combined are expected to grow by 7.7% into 2030. However, according to PMI's Project Management and Talent Gap report, project management roles are expected to grow by 33% into 2027.

Potential Drawbacks

A master's degree is an expensive endeavor. Even if you take your courses online, which can be slightly less expensive than on-campus, you can still expect to spend over $66,000 in total.

Many project manager roles require experience on top of a degree. This means that some employers value practical skills — which can only be achieved from work experience and certificates — over theoretical and academic achievements.

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is more widely recognized than a Master's in Project Management. Employers know what comes with an MBA; however, they may be less knowledgeable about the credentials that come with a project management master's program.

Bottom Line

Master's programs can be difficult to achieve while adding tens of thousands of dollars to your overall education costs. Some employers may look at an MBA or PMP certificate as more valuable than a master's in project management, especially if you have no practical work experience in the field. But, if you're a dedicated student with the ability to take on internships while you study, you can expect to land a role earning far more than the average U.S. salary. Even more encouraging is the wide range of skills you learn in a project management master's program, which are amplified by the act of learning in a remote, online environment.

Still undecided? Explore similar online graduate programs in organizational leadership or management.

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