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Project Management at WGU

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Are You Looking to Get a Project Management Degree?

Although WGU doesn’t currently offer a degree in project management, students who are looking to pursue a project management career can get the education and skills they need from other degrees at WGU. A Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Management and Leadership are similar to other project management programs and can prepare you for senior-level or more advanced project management positions or certifications. If you’re curious about entering or advancing in the world of project management, you can learn more about your degree options below.

Pathways to a Project Management Career

Project managers often have an undergraduate degree in management, and some have a master's degree. Internships, on-the-job training, or experience in other areas of business management are also helpful.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), about 46% of project managers hold a master’s degree and 43% hold a bachelor’s.

While a bachelor’s degree can certainly help you get your foot in the door for entry-level project management positions, many employers will require a master’s degree, like a Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Management and Leadership, as the minimum qualification for senior-level jobs. 

Both programs have their benefits, and weighing these benefits is important when choosing a program.


Master of Business Administration (MBA)

One of the perks of an MBA is its versatility. It’s designed to give students a big picture understanding of how a business functions while teaching basic management skills that can be useful in a multitude of industries or fields. This program includes courses in management, accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, and business ethics.  

While an MBA helps students build technical, managerial, and leadership skills, it can also develop skills that employers may consider important for project managers, such as:

  • Managing organizations and people
  • Communication
  • Operations management
  • Ethical leadership
  • Financial management
  • Decision-making
  • Risk management 
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration 

The skills learned in an MBA program, like the ones listed above, are especially relevant to project managers as they play a major role in guiding project success and increasing organizational efficiencies.

Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML)

In this degree program, you'll develop the comprehensive managerial and leadership skills needed to drive large-scale projects, solve complex business problems, and guide high-performance teams—the qualifications many employers are looking for in a project manager. 

Compared to an MBA, an MSML dives deeper into management, helping students to develop strong leadership skills and problem-solving strategies. Much of the knowledge gained in an MSML program can be applied to the role of a project manager, including: 

  • Decision-making 
  • Planning
  • Information management 
  • Managing organizations
  • Strategic management 
  • Managing human capital
  • Management communication
  • Guiding and leading teams
A group of IT professionals examine lines of code.

$111,000

is the average annual salary for a bachelor's-level project manager.

Man and woman in office doing job interview

$119,000

is the average annual salary for a master's-level project manager.

Project Manager Career Path

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The project manager career path can open doors to jobs in a variety of industries, like technology, healthcare, government, and more. But to truly succeed in this role requires more than simply knowing how to manage abstract tasks and projects. You’ll also need strong leadership and management skills to successfully rally a team around common goals. 

Earning an undergraduate degree in management is generally the place to start on the path to becoming a project manager. This degree will give you an educational foundation to build on and skills that directly relate to a project management position. 

Project managers who are interested in taking their careers to the next level can pursue higher education, like a Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Management and Leadership. These advanced degrees can help you gain a deeper understanding of project management principles and practices, and provide a stronger competitive advantage when applying for jobs.

Once you’ve become an established project manager, you may want to seek out higher-level positions along the project management career path, such as a senior or executive project manager or COO.

What does a project manager do?

Project managers make sure projects are completed on time, on budget, and within scope. They have their hands in every part of the project lifecycle—from creating a timeline and budget to managing risks and communicating with all parties involved throughout the process.

How can I become a project manager?

Education, internships, on-the-job training, certifications, or experience in other areas of business management can get you there. As with any job, some of the requirements for this position will depend on the employer. For more senior-level positions, companies might require a person with certain certifications or a master’s degree to be considered.

Do I need a degree to become a project manager?

No, but it’s worth considering if you’re really serious about stepping up your project management skills and want to be more marketable to potential employers.

Are project managers in demand?

As demand for project-based work grows, the PMI predicts that employers will need to fill 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027.

How much money do project managers make?

According to the PMI, a bachelor’s-level project manager can expect to earn an average salary of $111,000 while those with a master’s degree typically earn around $119,000. Of these, professionals in the top 25% average $140,000 per year.

Is project management fulfilling?

While there’s currently no research to provide insight on project manager job satisfaction, project management can be a highly rewarding career full of opportunity and potential for growth. Project managers can, however, work in high pressure situations. So, without a doubt, this position requires the ability to handle stress. 

A group of coworkers meet together on office furniture.

1.5 Million

project management jobs are expected to open up due to a global shortage of qualified project managers.

How Else Can I Prepare to Be a Project Manager?

For anyone considering this career path, here’s the good news: there are multiple ways to prepare for or gain additional expertise in project management that don’t require a project management degree. 

Earning project management certifications is definitely something to consider if you want to hone your knowledge and skills. Not only can certifications give you higher earning power, but they can also make you more marketable to future employers.

One of the most well known is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which is given by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Recognized by organizations worldwide, the PMP validates your competence to perform in the role of a project manager, as well as your ability to lead and direct projects and teams. An advanced degree isn’t necessary to qualify to sit for the PMP, but an MBA or MSML can certainly prepare you for it.

To apply to take the exam and earn your certification, you’ll need: 

  • A four-year degree
  • 36 months leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification

 OR 

  • A high school diploma or associate degree
  • 60 months leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification  

 

Group of young entrepreneurs having a business meeting in front of the transparent wipe board in the office

While the PMP certification isn’t geared toward beginners, it’s definitely one to consider as you build out your project management portfolio. 

If you don’t meet the requirements to take the PMP exam, you can try going for a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. This is an option for people with less project management experience who want to pursue a PM career down the road.

In addition to the PMP, there are also PMI certifications, which are designed to be more specific to the kind of project management you want to pursue. Below are some of the most common PMI certifications: 

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

A PMI-ACP can help you become well versed in agile practices of project management and teach you how to use appropriate tools and techniques efficiently. 

PMI Risk Management (PMI-RMP)

The PMI-RMP recognizes individuals who plan and manage project risk strategy and processes, monitor and report on risk, and analyze special issues. 

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

Some projects are so complex they require a person who focuses solely on creating and maintaining the schedule, ensuring resources are available. That's where a  PMI-SP may be a good fit.

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-BA)

A PMI-BA focuses on the contributing factors to project failure and teaches the tools to ensure more accurate requirement definitions for all project stakeholders. 

Many project management certifications—like the PMP and PMI—expire after a few years. This means you’ll need to retake the exam every few years to show you’re still up-to-date with project management best practices and standards.

Why choose WGU?

Why should you choose a WGU business management degree over a degree somewhere else? There are several reasons:

  • Our competency-based programs allow you to go at your own pace and use your knowledge to accelerate your courses and graduate faster. It’s your terms, your timeline.
  • WGU’s tuition is charged per six-month term, not per credit hour—which means that you can complete more courses in one term without paying more money. 
  • On top of our already-low tuition rates, we offer scholarships and financial aid to help make your education even more accessible. 
  • All of the courses in our business programs are designed to give you skills and knowledge that will translate directly to your job post-graduation. Ultimately, your success is our goal.

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers

Which degree should you choose?

Both a business management and accounting bachelor's degree at WGU can prepare you for a future career in finance. Choosing either degree is a great alternative to a finance degree program and can make sure you have training and credentials that will help you succeed.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: 80% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,325 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

Management and Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree focused on change management,...

An online master's degree focused on change...

An online master's degree focused on change management, innovation, and leading teams:

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,325 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Director of operations
  • Executive director

Develop a comprehensive suite of leadership skills and your confidence to navigate changing business structures.