Earning an online Master’s in Project Management may not seem like an in-demand degree, but it is an increasingly preferred degree when it comes to candidates looking to fill positions as project managers. This is thought to be a result of the country’s economy growing, leading to more businesses to be established. Project managers are an important asset to any business, and so an educational background in the field is in high demand by employers in all industries, but particularly the engineering and IT industries.

Professionals who already work in the industry will know that earning a graduate degree in the field is necessary in order to advance to mid-level and senior-level positions. However, with so many of them working full-time, online options have become their best bet to complete their graduate education. As the need has grown for these programs to be conferred online, many schools have created programs that will suit the needs of professionals, which has resulted in this list.

Methodology

This ranking was designed by pulling information from the National Center for Education Statistics and its College Navigator database, a free and public tool that helps students make better choices regarding their education. When searching for degrees in project management offered at an advanced level, a list of 65 schools made the cut. The ranking was then narrowed down to 10 schools, which were chosen based on in-state graduate tuition rates; these are listed below in descending order of those tuition rates.

Ranking Low-cost Online Project Management Master’s

10. Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $7,762

Sam Houston State University confers a great Master’s in Project Management online degree. Offered as a 100 percent online degree or a hybrid program, the Master of Science in Project Management, also known as PMGT, is a professional degree that prepares students for a career that focuses on the project life cycle within organizations and industries that consistently provide new products and services to consumers. This program can also lead to certification by the Project Management Institute, which is known as PMI, and will be an advantage on any resume. For this degree, students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a capstone project. Sample courses include Leading Organizational Change and Development, Management of Innovation and Technology, and Seminar in Human Resource Management.

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9. University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Online Master’s of Business Administration in Project Management

Tuition: $7,650

A unique alternative to the online Master’s in Project Management can be found at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. The MBA degree offers a variety of specializations, including project management, allowing students to concentrate on their career goals while pursuing an in-demand and highly respected graduate degree. This program is unique because it enables students from non-business backgrounds to take on the degree; it should be noted, however, that students without a business background will be required to take on prerequisite courses prior to starting their plan of study. Students will complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a capstone project before they graduate. Sample courses include Quality Issues in Operations, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, and Global Project Management.

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8. University of Wisconsin at Platteville

Platteville, Wisconsin

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $7,484

The University of Wisconsin at Platteville confers a PMI-accredited project management master’s online degree. This program is 100 percent conferred online and can lead to PMI certification. The program is also recognized for having its competencies mapped to A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge guidelines. Students will also find that this degree can be completed in two years; if a full degree is not required, the school also offers the chance to earn certification in project management as a stand-alone program. This degree requires 30 to 39 credit hours of coursework, a team project, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Interpersonal Skills for Virtual and Co-Located Project Teams, Employee Training and Development, and Advanced Production and Operations Analysis.

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7. Granite State University

Concord, New Hampshire

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $7,425

Granite State University - Online Master's in Project Management

The online MS in Project Management at GSU requires 30 credit hours of coursework.

Granite State University confers an online Master’s in Project Management that is practice-oriented in nature and provides students with experiential learning opportunities that will expand their knowledge of the field. This degree is GAC accredited by PMI and is available as both a 100 percent online or hybrid degree. Granite State also provides career counseling, an online library and bookstore, and 24/7 technical support for its online students. Students will be offered a comprehensive program that covers everything from project management portfolios to risk assessments and disaster recovery. The degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework, a portfolio, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Cost and Budget Management, Negotiation, Contracting and Procurement, and Project Planning and Scheduling.

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6. Bellevue University

Bellevue, Nebraska

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $7,365

Students interested in an affordable online Master’s in Project Management will be happy with the offering from Bellevue University. This GAC and PMI accredited degree is an advanced professional program that is currently considered to be a terminal degree in this field. Focusing on research, data collection, and experiential learning experiences, students will be offered a comprehensive degree that prepares them to become professional project managers. The curriculum is aligned with the PMI guidelines and will pave the way for the Project Management Professional credential after graduation. This is a 100 percent online degree that can also be found as a hybrid option. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, a portfolio, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Project Management in Global and Virtual Workplaces, Defining and Managing Requirements and Project Success, and Cost Control in Projects.

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5. University of Maryland – University College

Largo, Maryland

Master of Science in Information Technology with a Project Management Specialization

Tuition: $7,176

The University of Maryland at University College is a great choice for professionals interested in an online degree in project management. This curriculum was created with the input of industry insiders and employers and provides students with a thorough understanding of the project management lifecycle, including designing and implementing projects, managing budgets, and disaster recovery. This program is not currently certified by PMI, but it does offer a pathway to earn certification as a Certified Associate in Project Management or a Project Management Professional. The degree can be taken entirely online or can become a hybrid program, depending on a student’s needs. The program of study requires 36 credit hours of coursework, a portfolio, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Foundations of Project Management, Financial and Strategic Management of Projects, and Project Risk Management.

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4. Missouri State University

Columbia, Missouri

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $7,060

The online Master’s in Project Management that is conferred by Missouri State University is an incredible degree that is open to students with a business or liberal arts-related degree that is interested in earning a STEM education to work in project management in those fields. With a curriculum aligned with the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge, this hybrid degree is the perfect choice for Missouri residents interested in working in the IT or engineering fields. Ambitious students will also find that the program does offer an accelerated option; however, they will be required to take residence on campus during the summer in order to complete the degree requirements in 18 months. This degree requires 33 credit hours of coursework, a team project, and either a seminar or thesis as their capstone project. Sample courses include Cost Analysis for Project Management, Management of Innovation and Technology, and Project Control Systems.

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3. Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Online Master of Project Management (MPM)

Tuition: $6,737

Western Carolina University holds the distinction of being home to the first online Master’s in Project Management to be accredited by both PMI and the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management. This 100 percent online degree is a broad program that has a global focus; this is represented both in the curriculum and by the fact that that doctoral-trained and PMI certified faculty teaching the courses hails from the United States, India, and China. The program is based on experiential learning, with students provided with opportunities to work in virtual project teams during the course of study. It is also possible to earn a graduate certificate in project management as a stand-alone program. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, team projects, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Project Selection and Initiation, Advanced Project Management Practices, and Project Execution and Closeout.

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2. University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Online Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Leadership Concepts and Organization Theory

Tuition: $6,410

The University of South Florida confers an MBA that offers a specialization in Leadership Concepts and Organization Theory, which could be a great option for project management professionals. The degree has a global focus and is taught by industry insiders and business experts, leading to a current and updated curriculum that professionals prefer in the workplace. This degree focuses on business analytics and creativity, enabling students to use hard and soft skills to create and implement the projects that organizations all over the country need. This degree is an online offering, but can also be taken as a hybrid degree if students live in the area. Students can expect to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a project, and a capstone project prior to graduation. Sample courses include Leadership and Teams, People Analytics, and Leading Sustainable Enterprises.

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1. University of Alaska at Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska

Online Master of Science in Project Management

Tuition: $5,784

The University of Alaska at Anchorage confers a cheap online Master’s in Project Management that is a great fit for any professional. This is a 100 percent online degree that utilizes synchronous courses and can be completed in less than 18 months will full-time study. Students will find a comprehensive curriculum taught by renown industry insiders and scholars. With most of the courses leading to a project management portfolio, students will also enjoy a resume that includes a body of work that they have completed during their time with the University of Alaska. Students can expect to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project prior to graduation. Sample courses include Project Executing, Monitoring and Control, Application of Project Management Processes, and Operational Integration and Project Closure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Project Management Degree?

Project management is still a growing field; this career is slated to grow 12 percent to 2020 and very few in the industry have field-specific education or certification. However, it is important to note that at this moment, a graduate degree is considered a terminal degree in this field.

There are two general career options for professionals in this field: project managers and project directors. Project managers are those who oversee one or two projects for a particular organization and generally report to senior-level management. They are responsible for the creation, execution and analysis of a project, maintain the budget, and implement disaster recovery and risk assessment if required.

Project directors oversee all of the projects that an organization is undertaking. They are the supervisors that project managers report to and are responsible for reporting to C-level executives about the status of a project at any given time. This is an advanced position that generally comes after a few years of work experience and the successful completion of large-budget projects; this is the most sought-after position by professionals in this field. While challenging and stressful work, it can also be extremely rewarding.

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

Project managers can work both in the United States and abroad; this is a benefit to professionals who work in multinational companies and organizations. However, for the purposes of this question, salaries mentioned will only reflect American wages.

A project manager in America can expect to earn $89,000 in an entry-level position. For those with graduate degrees and some work experience, this can go as high as $100,000. Salaries are determined by region, work experience, and portfolio offerings.

It is important to note that because project managers work in a variety of industries that their salaries will reflect that. General project managers, such as those who work in the business or construction field, make around $125,000 as a median salary; project managers who work in IT make substantially more, with entry-level salaries clocking in at $104,000. Engineering project managers make the most in America, with their entry-level salaries starting at $134,000.

What are the Various Disciplines of Project Management?

Project management is a field that, like so many others, has different disciplines for different industries, However, these disciplines are secondary to the general disciplines found in the field. The most common disciplines are management, project planning, human resources, leadership, and business. Professionals who choose to pursue a career in a STEM field will find that their career will be affected by the industry they choose. For example, a project manager who works in IT must have a firm knowledge of IT, Big Data, information systems, computer science, and more. A project manager working in engineering must have an understanding of engineering, the subfield they work in, and more.

All project managers will have a strong understanding of the law, ethics, regulations, and policies that affect their industry. They will also have a comprehensive foundation in strong and soft skills that, while not strictly disciplines, does determine how effective they are in their careers.

What is PMI and is it Useful in this Field?

PMI stands for the Project Management Institute. It is a nonprofit professional organization that trains, develops, and certifies project management professionals. While it was established in Pennsylvania in 1969, it now is the global leader in this profession and includes its own accreditation on an international scale.

For project management professionals, PMI is a necessary part of building a career in the industry. Not only does the institute offer accreditation, it is also the leader for certifying project managers; the institute is also responsible for the Project Management Body of Knowledge guidelines, which many programs adhere to in order to prepare their students for certification. This makes it a necessity for any student who is interested in this field.

Most of the programs on this ranking are either recognized or accredited by PMI. It’s necessary to earn a degree from one of these programs because it lays out a pathway for certification by PMI right after graduation. It is also a highlight on any resume.

Students will notice that, once in the field, becoming a member of PMI is a great way to network as well. If a student has earned a degree from a school that adheres to the PMBOK guidelines and is certified as a Project Management Professional, admission to the institute is almost certainly guaranteed. Once a member, these professionals will be invited to take part in networking events, conferences, and professional development courses that can positively impact their career.

How Does an Online Degree Benefit Working Professionals?

An online degree can be a great advantage to working professionals because of the flexibility and freedom it provides them. With access to asynchronous courses, short-term schedules, and the ability to complete their degree as either a full-time or part-time program, professionals can complete their education with little to no disruption to their career responsibilities.

Online degrees, especially those that are accredited by PMI, enable students to have flexible schedules. Courses are generally delivered through the asynchronous format, which means that students can attend classes when it’s most convenient for them. It also enables them to focus on one course at a time instead of having to work on a full-time course load.

Virtual students also benefit from having access to a variety of different term schedules. Traditional degrees work on the 16-week academic term; online students often have a choice between 10-week and eight-week course terms. In some cases, courses are taught on a five-week term schedule or even as a one-week intensive, although the latter usually requires residency at the school.

Finally, professionals who work full-time cannot attend school full-time and in many cases, travel for work and cannot be expected to show up on campus for every single class. Online programs enable students to either take their degree as a part-time plan of study; some even offer programs in which just one course is delivered every five weeks. This makes it a great choice for working professionals.

Online degrees can be considered a working professional’s best friend. With so many options that make it convenient to continue their education, professionals are more likely to stick with an online program than a traditional degree. And since many schools do not differentiate between degree delivery methods, there’s no reason for a professional not to consider an online education.

Conclusion

Project management continues to play a major role in most industries; from business to education, government to healthcare, projects are always being designed and implemented to create better products and services to the public who require them. It comes as no surprise, then, that professionals with an educational background in this area are in demand all over the country. With the help of this ranking, students interested in earning an online Master’s in Project Management will be able to narrow down their choices and move forward with their career goals.

GSH Staff
January 2018

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Project Management Online for 2018.