What Types of Coursework are Part of a Master’s in Project Management Program?

Erin Gobler picture
Erin Gobler
Updated June 17, 2021

Project management is a highly competitive field that is growing rapidly. According to the Project Management Institute, the median annual wage for a project manager in the United States is about $116,000 per year — which is much higher than the wages for most jobs. And, even when you’re just getting started in this field, it’s not unusual for introductory salaries to exceed $80,000.

With a master’s degree in project management, it’s possible to earn an even higher salary than the average. Not only that, but recent data shows that more than one-third of project management jobs either require or prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

Before you start your master’s program in project management or enroll in a project management graduate school, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. That includes understanding what common courses are a part of the curriculum for this master’s program.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the application of the skills, knowledge, and tools to take a project from start to finish. So, what can I do with a masters in project management? Project managers have responsibilities that include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing the project.

In a master’s program in project management, you’ll learn all of the knowledge and skills necessary to be an effective project manager. And while a master’s degree isn’t necessarily required for a job in this field, it comes with many benefits and will set you apart in a highly competitive field. Plus, there are master’s in project management jobs that require you to have this type of graduate degree, and knowledge, to be hired.

What Classes Are Common for a Master’s in Project Management?

Principles of Project Management

When you begin your master’s program in project management, expect to start with an introductory course in which you learn the principles of project management. In this course, you’ll learn key terms necessary for the job, the project management process, how to manage time and meet a project timeline, how to manage costs, and how to lead a team through a project.


Project managers are in charge of the budget for a project. Courses in this area teach students how to set an appropriately sized budget based on the nature of the project, how many employees are working on the project, the projected duration of the project, and the expected revenue gained from the completed project. These courses will involve a balanced combination of critical thinking and mathematics, including statistics.

Operations Management

Project managers must know best practices for managing all operations. Managing operations refers to managing all employees involved in the project, all relations with third parties, and all materials needed for the project. Managing employees requires efficient allocation of roles and tasks, as well as maintaining motivation. Maintaining positive working relationships with third parties involves high interpersonal skills, organization of time, and attention to detail. Managing material ordering and tracking their usage requires high attention to detail, strong time management, and excellent critical thinking. This is the essence of the project manager role.

Planning and Administering Project Contracts

Project managers prepare employment contracts with individual employees working on the project, freelance contracts with third parties involved in the project, deadline contracts, and budget contracts. They must accurately draft and uphold these contracts. This takes a great deal of strategic planning and an ability to adjust the project flow as unforeseen circumstances arise. This involves critical thinking skills and confident, quick decision-making. Students in these courses will do a lot of hands on work with practice scenarios.


Project managers aim for sustainability of best practices, sustainability of employee productivity, financial sustainability, and environmental sustainability. Students in these courses will learn about and practice economic efficiency, searching for the most environmentally friendly course of action for various projects, and social equity.

Project Management is an increasingly important role, as many organizations move towards more team and project-based methods of completing work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Project management coursework involves review of the current literature, as well as opportunities for practical application, making it both dynamic and highly applicable. A Master's in Project Management is a great option for students with a thirst for business and a tendency towards leadership and organization.

Construction Management

Construction is one of the most prevalent fields for finding project management jobs, and these careers come with their own set of required skill sets and possible challenges. A construction management course during graduate school for project management teaches you about the tasks that go into managing a construction project, including delivery methods, purchasing, schedule, risk management contracts, monitoring, cost control, and more.


Effective communication is important in almost any field, but it’s essential in project management, where your job is to lead a team on a project. A project management communications course teaches you how to communicate effectively in a variety of ways, including verbal and written communication.


Negotiating is a critical part of the job of a project manager. As the leader of any project, you’ll need to know how to negotiate with vendors, contractors, employees, and others. In a negotiations course, you can expect to learn the basics of negotiations, how to go into a negotiation with specific goals in mind, how to use relationships to help to negotiate, and other useful tactics.

What to Expect From a Master’s in Project Management Program

In order to be admitted to a master’s program in project management, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a relevant field, and may also need to meet a minimum GPA requirement set by the school or program.

You may also be required to have some previous career experience, preferably as a project manager or in a field related to project management. You’ll likely need to provide other documents too, such as letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement or essay. You may also be required to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Once admitted, you’ll find that most programs require at least 30 credit hours to complete the program, which will typically take from one to two years. You may also be required to complete a capstone project, in which you conduct and present a project plan.

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