What College Degree Is Needed to Become a Project Manager?

Project managers oversee various phases of project development.
Project managers oversee various phases of project development. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the requirements for project managers have evolved significantly over the last several decades. In previous decades, project managers obtained much of their training through hands-on experience and obtained formal education only as necessary to continue serving as project managers. Today the situation has changed as the project management role has become increasingly specialized.

General Requirements

According to Tom DiVincenzo's report for the Bureau of Labor Statistics titled "Project Managers Stay in Charge and Out Front," no specific degree requirements exist for project managers, although the bachelor's degree has emerged as the standard degree required for project management positions. DiVincenzo notes that aspiring project managers can be just as well-served to seek a degree in the specific field in which they plan to serve as project managers. For instance, construction project managers should pursue degrees in construction management.

General Education Coursework

Regardless of the degree path pursued, the project manager needs to have a strong grounding in general education courses offered as part of most bachelor's degree programs. Much of what the project manager does requires the development of strong leadership skills. Coursework in areas like speech and communication, English and psychology can all provide the aspiring project manager with necessary skills and insight required to assume positions of leadership in various industries.

Fields of Project Management

There are many different fields that the aspiring project manager can enter. Each field can require a specific degree or simply one related to it. The aspiring project manager can also pursue a degree in project management that teaches a broad range of leadership skills. Project management fields that may require subject-specific degrees include fields like construction management, business, architecture and software. Gaining a strong background in business, finance and leadership methods is essential to careers in all fields in which project managers work.

Project Management Degree

Those who already work in a specific field in which they plan to become project managers, or those who have already been promoted to leadership positions, can pursue a master's degree in project management. These degrees are typically designed to introduce project management professionals to a variety of leadership skills across a variety of career disciplines. Areas of study can include courses in project management systems, project risk management, managerial statistics, finance, cost and schedule control, and organizational change management, among others.

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