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There are several approaches that people take to get into project management and getting a master’s degree in project management (MPM) is just one. It is however proving to be an increasingly important one as project management across all fields becomes a more specialized role, businesses want to know that their PMs have the full range of skills and capabilities necessary to lead projects to success.

This is borne out by the fact that research has shown that those holding a project management master’s degree or professional certification earn 22% more PMs without credentials. If you’re wondering whether to pursue further education in the field and what you can do with a master’s degree in project management, here are just a few of the paths and possibilities you’ll be looking at.

Engineering

The history of project management in engineering can be traced back thousands of years to the time of the pyramids in Egypt. The need for someone who can keep track of the various deliverables, tasks and deadlines on a construction project is obvious and it’s hard to imagine a time when engineering project managers won’t be necessary. Thus, it is a safe bet if it is a field you are looking to get into and a higher degree in project management will certainly help.

Technology

The various processes and individual skills needed to drive a technology project forward mean that even a simple looking app has often had dozens or even hundreds of different inputs from internal and external team members. With such disparity in abilities needed for UX, designing, programming and marketing, a software or systems project needs a qualified project manager who can see the bigger picture and how all the varied pieces of the puzzle will finally fit together to achieve the desired result.

Pharmaceuticals

Risk assessment and regulatory compliance is of key importance in the pharmaceutical industry and adds another layer of complexity to the role of the project manager. Drug development can take years from inception to completion and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. As one can imagine, pharmaceutical companies need their PMs to be as highly trained and well-versed in all the tenets of project management as possible.

How to get a master’s degree in project management

There are two options when looking to get a project management master’s degree, onsite or online. Which one you go for depends on your own personal circumstances.

  • Onsite: To pursue a master’s by physically attending college you need to either be able to take the time out to attend or, if taking a part-time course, you need to be fortunate enough to have the college you want within an accessible distance.
  • Online courses in project management are becoming increasingly popular as people look to balance work commitments with gaining a higher qualification. It often means that you are able to pick a course that allows you to specialize in a specific field which might not be available in your area.

To find a course that suits you, try some online research at sites such as gradschools.com or checking out individual college prospectuses.

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Some things to consider

Getting a project management master’s degree will give an important boost to your career in the form of:

Improved job prospects

Having an MA in any field shows it’s something you want to find out more about and are committed to finding a future in. Project management is the same and an MPM will show employers that you are serious about being a successful project manager.

Greater understanding of role

There are many different kinds of project management methodologies, such as Agile, Waterfall and Scrum. Knowing the ins and outs and being able to apply the best methodology for the project at hand can mean the difference between success and failure.

But before taking the plunge you should also think of:

Return on investment

Though qualified project managers do receive more than those in the same role without certification, putting yourself through college is an expensive hobby. A master’s degree in project management can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 dollars so before making such a large investment be sure that you will be getting commensurate returns and also that it’s a field where you are willing to stick with and wait for the payoff.

Deciding on right certification

A project management master’s degree is one of three possible competing qualifications in the field of project management. You could also pursue a standard MBA, which is widely recognized and might give you more options, or project management professional certification from an institute such as the PMI. Before committing to one education path it would be good to weigh up the benefits of each and see which suits you best.