Online MBA Programs in Project Management

Published February 8, 2023

Are you interested in pursuing a project management MBA for job opportunities? Read on to discover the benefits of earning an MBA in project management online. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Organizations in numerous industries seek skilled project managers to carry out projects and supervise teams successfully. A project management MBA can build the necessary skills for leaders to strategize, develop plans, and improve processes in their organizations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% increase in the demand for project management specialists from 2021 to 2031. Industries like technology and finance employ these workers and offer higher-than-average salaries.

In this guide, we break down the project management master's degree, including the expectations for a project management MBA salary and career, what the admissions process is like, and program options. We also compare a project management MBA with a general MBA to help you find the best degree to fit your goals.

Browse some of the best project management MBAs for job advancement on the following page.

What Is Project Management?

Project management as we know it today arose in the 20th century, with organizations like the American Association of Cost Engineers — which formed in 1956 — devoting themselves to the understanding and betterment of project management techniques.

Modern project managers can follow a variety of career paths in construction, technology, advertising, and engineering. They also work as consultants and can advance to high-level executive positions.

Project managers set goals and plans, monitor project progress, and ensure operations run smoothly. This zoomed-out view of large undertakings applies to a wide array of industries, including construction projects, computer systems, and corporate management.

The BLS reported that 781,400 project management specialists worked in the U.S. as of 2021. This number does not account for project management professionals with other titles. Top-employing industries for project management specialists include computer systems design, architecture and engineering, management services, and nonresidential building construction.

Why Get a Project Management MBA?

By pursuing a project management MBA, students can build employer-valued leadership skills. Learners enroll in project management MBA concentration courses, adding skills like corporate communication and planning to their degree's core business curriculum.

Other benefits of earning an MBA in project management include:

  • Advancement Opportunities: Students hoping to advance to positions in executive leadership should consider project management concentrations. These specialized degrees emphasize the intricacies of decision-making while overseeing large projects with numerous moving parts.
  • Skill-Building: Project managers must demonstrate confidence as they oversee large tasks. By developing the knowledge and experience to break big projects into actionable tasks, MBA graduates can succeed in project management roles.
  • Flexibility: Project management applies to diverse areas of business. For example, the tech world is an ever-changing arena, and organizations need project managers to help them keep current. Construction and government projects likewise need strong project leadership to make sure operations proceed smoothly.

Why You Should Get Your MBA in Project Management Online

Online education can provide flexibility for enrollees. As online study grows in popularity, more schools offer distance learning options. With an online MBA, learners can typically enroll in the same concentration options and rigorous curricula offered through in-person programs.

With an MBA in project management, students can engage in distance learning without relocating. Synchronous course components allow MBA enrollees to gain networking experience by meeting with colleagues and business partners online.

Students with excellent discipline and time management skills may excel in an online MBA in project management, as these courses often do not use the same guided structures of on-campus classes. Synchronous class meetings or periodic in-person residencies can energize learners who thrive in communities, while asynchronous course materials like prerecorded lectures allow enrollees to incorporate coursework into their schedules.

What to Expect From an Online MBA in Project Management

An online project management MBA teaches best practices in project strategy, goal-setting, and assessment. Participants often engage in hands-on experiences as they learn to communicate with other managers, delegate tasks, and understand where projects fit into companies' business plans. Many project management MBA programs also prepare students for industry certifications through the Project Management Institute (PMI).

A typical project management MBA requires 35-45 credits, which students can often complete in as few as 16 months. Enrollees can choose online, in-person, or hybrid formats. Some online programs run courses asynchronously, enabling participants to access materials at their convenience. Others require real-time web conferencing.

Admission requirements typically include GMAT scores, minimum GPAs, work experience, and business course prerequisites.

The MBA Admission Process

Project management MBA applicants usually need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some schools maintain 2.75-3.0 minimum GPA requirements, while others view grades holistically in context of the whole application. Students may need to submit GMAT or GRE scores.

Some MBA programs require applicants to have a business background, including prerequisite courses in accounting, statistics, and economics as well as several years of work experience. Other schools include foundational courses to accommodate learners from all academic backgrounds and may not require work experience.

When applying to an MBA in project management, prospective students often submit a personal statement, a resume, and recommendation letters. Many schools require application fees.

Project Management Degree Options

In addition to MBAs, schools offer several other variations of the project management degree. For example, an MS in project management usually focuses on topics like supply chain, product development, and risk management. These programs may approach project management through specific lenses like technology, business analytics, or agile project management.

Applicants may also encounter project management offered as a concentration embedded within other degrees: For instance, a school may offer a master of science in leadership and organization development with a concentration in project management. Such a program would focus on in-depth leadership concepts, allowing students to pursue a handful of project management-related courses to specialize their education.

These options can still qualify learners for PMI professional certifications. Unlike MBAs, however, these curricula may not provide general business knowledge in crucial areas like finance and accounting. Students desiring solid business skills they can apply across industries may find an MBA in project management is more suited to their needs.

Comparing Project Management and General MBAs

Degree-seekers with an interest in business leadership may question whether they should pursue a general MBA or an MBA emphasizing project management. While similarities exist between the two paths, students should determine which programs are best suited to their career aspirations.

Because an MBA in project management provides integrated business knowledge and teaches learners about the many moving parts involved in large tasks, this credential can help candidates stand out when applying for executive organizational leadership roles.

Students who know they want to pursue such roles may prefer project management MBAs. Learners who are less certain of their career goals may prefer the general MBA.

MBA in project management General MBA

Completion Time

16-30 months

16-24 months

Credits for Graduation

35-45 credits

32-48 credits


Core classes in strategic management, accounting, and marketing; concentration courses such as project initiation, project planning, and supply chain management

Core classes in strategic management, accounting, marketing, operations management, brand management, and entrepreneurship; electives such as negotiation and customer analysis


Management consultant, construction manager, supply chain manager, marketing manager, IT manager, quality assurance manager, chief executive officer

Management consultant, marketing manager, chief executive officer, IT manager, financial manager, human resources manager

Student Goals

May seek to hone project management skills to advance to leadership roles

May seek to advance general business knowledge and qualify themselves for an array of career options

Popular Project Management Courses

Each online project management MBA program has its own curriculum. Still, learners can expect to encounter similar coursework across schools. Foundational business courses are the core of most MBA programs, while specialization options are usually more divergent. Coursework frequently encountered in MBA in project management programs includes:

Managerial Accounting

Often appearing as an MBA core requirement, this course teaches students to prepare financial reports, assess them, and use the data to direct company operations. Topics include accounting for financial strategy and decision-making, resource control, planning, and evaluation. Students also engage with accounting software tools.

Business Economics

Building on foundations in business operations, microeconomics, and macroeconomics, this course applies theory to hands-on managerial decision-making. Topics include the impact of market fluctuations on business operations and economic analyses of business. This course usually appears as part of the MBA core.

Project Initiation

A staple of project management courses, project initiation focuses on establishing project goals that align with organizational goals. Enrollees learn to choose projects, communicate their value to directors and investors, and handle legal questions. The course often explores methods for assembling business cases, statements of work, and project charters.

Project Planning

This required core class teaches students to identify the major aspects of projects, list potential roadblocks, and assemble teams. Topics may also include negotiation, conflict resolution, effective communication, and legal considerations.

Project Execution and Closeout

This course addresses project changes such as schedule shifts. Topics include quality control, budget management, and techniques for effectively closing out a project. Students may also learn lean and Six Sigma methodologies for waste elimination.

How Much Will an MBA in Project Management Cost?

Program cost is an important factor to consider when researching project management master's degrees. While tuition varies, many online project management MBA programs fall in the $20,000-$50,000 range. Prospective students must also budget for books and materials, cost of living, and travel expenses associated with programs that include on-campus requirements.

Many factors can influence tuition price, including student residency status and program type. For example, private schools often charge higher tuition than in-state public schools. Some public schools charge in-state tuition for all learners, regardless of residency status, while others charge lower tuition for online courses.

For assistance in funding their education, students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for government grants and loans. Need- and merit-based scholarships from professional societies, corporate foundations, and nonprofit organizations can also help make enrolling in MBAs more affordable.

Jobs for MBAs in Project Management

Project management MBA programs are designed to prepare graduates to work in a variety of business occupations. With the knowledge and experience this degree provides, graduates can qualify for jobs across industries.

According to the BLS, project management specialists earned a median annual salary of $94,500 in 2021. Pursuing project management in a specialized industry can increase earning potential: For example, architectural and engineering managers earned a median salary of $152,350 in 2021.

Top-paying industries for project management specialists include oil and gas extraction; investment pools and funds; securities, commodity contracts, and financial investments; and the federal government.

Careers for graduates with an MBA in project management include:

Architectural and Engineering Manager

Often employed in government, manufacturing, and engineering services, these professionals develop new products. They assemble recommendations for staffing, equipment, and scheduling, including project budgets. They also hire and oversee staff. Adept in business, they handle construction operations, manage production plants, or oversee quality assurance departments. These positions often require previous education and experience in engineering or architecture.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +2%
  • 2021 Median Annual Salary: $152,350

Construction Manager

Many construction managers run their own businesses as contractors. These professionals also work for specialty trade contractors and nonresidential business construction companies. They oversee entire construction projects from concept to completion, often serving as a main point of communication for their clients. They estimate project costs and schedules, hire subcontractors, ensure that their projects meet relevant regulations, and troubleshoot problems. These positions often require previous education and experience in construction.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +8%
  • 2021 Median Annual Salary: $98,890

IT Manager

Sometimes known as IT project managers or computer and information systems managers, IT managers coordinate technology for their organizations. They set goals, implement strategies, and make sure computer systems operate smoothly. They select digital and hardware infrastructures to meet companies' overall goals. These professionals can work in industries like computer systems design, finance, and insurance. These positions often require previous education and experience in IT.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +16%
  • Median Annual Salary: $159,010

Chief Executive

Responsibilities for chief executives typically include establishing policies, setting goals, and working with directors to ensure staff meets those goals. They design and approve strategies, receive reports from managers, and may report on the company's progress to a board of directors. They oversee all budgets and financial operations, analyze reports, and make top-level decisions for optimizing operations.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2021-31): +6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $98,980

Selecting Your Project Management MBA

Degree-seekers can use our list of the top project management MBA programs as a starting point for finding potential schools. Every learner prioritizes different objectives, however, so clarifying priorities can help narrow down the list of prospective institutions.

Accreditation should rank high on every applicant's list of considerations. Institutional accreditation verifies whether a school meets standards of academic rigor. Programmatic accreditation, on the other hand, is reserved for specific departments or programs, and verifies that a particular curriculum prepares enrollees for careers in the field. Organizations like AACSB International offer accreditation for MBAs.

Program length is another important factor for many students. Professionals working full time may prefer a longer program that allows them to take fewer classes each term. In contrast, learners seeking to complete an MBA more quickly should research accelerated programs, which allow enrollees to take larger course loads each term.

A strong alumni network can help graduates secure jobs. Many degree-seekers look for programs with alumni connections to major companies. Program participants may also want to consider whether they can access the school's career resources, attend virtual networking events, and participate in student chapters of professional associations.

Common Questions About Project Management Careers

Can a shy person be a project manager?

Yes, a shy person with leadership skills can succeed as a project manager. This profession requires communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills as well as strong attention to detail. These qualities are not specific to extroverts, so introverts can find success in these roles, too.

How do I become a project manager with no experience?

Project managers sometimes work their way into these roles by gaining experience and showcasing their leadership and communication skills. A project management MBA can also help candidates stand out when applying for project management positions.

How do you lead a project?

Leading a project starts with a solid plan for the project and team members with a shared desire to succeed. Next, project managers break projects into manageable tasks, delegating them to the right people and supervising them until completion.

Which skill is most important for a project manager?

Leadership is among the most important skills for project managers. However, several other skills can help project managers lead their teams to success, including organizational, communication, time management, and problem-solving skills.

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