Project Management

Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Should I study a masters in Project Management

I'm considering studying a masters in Project Management to further my career. Is this something that's worth doing?

In my PM network there are a lot of people I look up to who have achieved a lot in their careers and are managing huge projects. None of them however have done any further study than a bachelors degree. Through their years of experience they're able to be the brilliant Project Managers that they are.

I'm sure that this is somewhere that I'll get to eventually, but it's my opinion that in future, further study will be required to jump to the next level. I have the opportunity to complete this study now.

Appreciate your thoughts on the topic

Sort By:
Page: 1 2 next>
Hi Warwick,
It depends on what type of project manager you are. I did an MBA with some project management electives but this caused some problems as I crossed between two different schools.

I found that project management courses in universities are normally aimed at the construction industry. So all the worked examples were for building something. The lecturers were building PMs as well.

I found the MBA a better option as it gave me the fundamentals of business management and allowed the core project management courses to be taken as electives. An MBA is more widely recognised than a PM masters and assures the business people you can understand where they are coming from.

Good luck with your research.
Hi Warwick,

I totally diasgree with what Julie has stated for a number of reasons:

a) MBAs are a dime-a-dozen. Most MBAs offer a subject or elective in Project Management. This does not qualify an MBA graduate to 'properly' run projects. They think they do, but until they do a masters degree, I am afraid they are not as qualified as they think.
b) Have you ever heard of a General Manager with an MBA who becomes a project director? Nope! It's the other way round. Why? Organisations want managers who have the great skills that project management gives you. They value these skills greatly and I know lots of people who have gotten senior roles as a result.
c) I have my Masters of Project Management and this qualification sticks out in my CV when I apply for great jobs. I know lots of guys with MBAs who are still in low management jobs. A Masters in this great field is definitely sought after and sticks out more than an MBA.
d) I did mine at RMIT and yes, a lot was around construction. However, most of what I learned was generic and extremely valuable.'I work in IT.
e) Lots of people get their PMP or RegPM and coupled with years of experience think they know everything about project management. They don't and get caught out quickly. What you need to do is work in the field, get your RegPM or above and then do your Masters as the cherry on top and to fill the gap between just plain experience and academic study and shows you a whole new way and world regarding project management.

I had a PM come to a risk workshop I held who cliamed that he had 20 years experience and knew what risks were..Risk of not meeting schedule, budget and scope! No idea and get found out quickly.

Go for it and good luck!

My recomemndation is absolutely go for it! You will learn heaps and it will put you in great stead. I rin a PMO of around 140 staff and have seen lots of CVs and heard lots of claims. MBA or not, without the combination of experience, accerditation and some sort of academic study, I won't hire.
1 reply by Melissa Nicole
Dec 22, 2016 9:14 AM
Melissa Nicole
Hi Les,

I would like to pursue a Masters Degree in PM at RMIT as well. I want to be a PM in the construction industry in the future. May I know what bachelor major did you take? Do you recommend taking a bachelors that is construction related or a business one? Thank you
Hello Mr Anon,
I wonder why you are so against MBAs? You need to look at the quality of the MBA. Mine was a 32 unit MBA from University of Queensland. The difference between a Master of PM and an MBA is not great when you put in the PMs subjects as electives. In fact to get a PM Masters I would have only had to do another 6 subjects. All of which were very similar to subjects I had done in my MBA. When I enquired about doing a PM Masters with QUT they looked at my MBA subjects and said it was not worth me doing one as it was the same as what I had already done.

I also have the Australian Institure of Project Management (AIPM) competency based certification of Certified Practicing Project Director (CPPD) which tells employers I am a competent project manager. i.e. Certification based on an audit of my PM practice.

Have a read about what David Hudson says about competency based certification in the "Great Certification Debate"

Cheers Julie

Regards Julie
My advice would be the classic, "It depends." Are you looking for a credential to to add to your CV, or are you looking to gain further insight and knowledge into a subject area?

I hold both an MBA and a MPM degree. I disagree that these two degrees are essentially the same. My MBA was definitely focused on business management. My MPM was focused on a very deep dive into project management - it was not an industry specific deep dive (e.g., construction or IT) but rather a much broader view of project management.

I find the two degrees complimentary in the fact my MBA better enables me to speak the "management language" with executive sponsors and couch decisions with a business mindset. My MPM gives me a much deeper understanding of the issues faced in projects and helps me formulate approaches and apply different techniques for addressing these issues.

In my case, I pursued my MBA first - it was logistically easier to obtain and at the time I really was chasing an advanced credential. I later went back and pursued the MPM because I discovered the MBA did help my "business know-how" aspects of managing projects and was then looking to beef-up my "project know-how."

My bottom line answer is advanced learning never hurts, so go for the degree. It may not guarantee you your next job. But, it should definitely help you when it comes to executing in that job.

Best of luck going forward.

Dave V.
Well I will also say "IT DEPENDS". I know that what I do with the "it depends" in my life is that I treat them by applying a SWOT (strenghts, weakenesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. I line up from the perspective of what I am trying to do and see what comes out. More often than not, that will give me the answer to my question.

Remember that the only way that this works for anyone is if you are brutally honest. In your case for example, if time, commitment, funding are a threat you need to add it.

I hope that this methods proves helful to you as well.
Hi Warwick
I answered the call by my organisation at the time for more PMs by doing a MPM, which they paid for. At the end, could I get a job with them? No. They smiled meekly and said that I understood the discipline but they preferred certified PMs to manage projects. The qualification has not really helped me at all in getting a job, its only in combination with experience(how do you get that initially) or certification.
I am now in a PM role (with certification) and I definitely think the MPM has helped me understand with more clarity why we do things the way we do and certainly help in communicate the reasons when I am faced with - 'lets do it according to the KISS principle'.
Apart from that - the MPM is really interesting. You get to meet a range of other students with other PM experiences that you learn from and it is challenging and I think personally rewarding.
As a way to further your career, I am not convinced that the MPM has quite the aaahhh factor that we would like as recognition of our efforts.
My recommendation falls someplace in the middle. I would recommend that you get a Masters in Project Management coming your field of expertise or interest.

While construction project management is the most ubiquitous example, having been around for close to 50 years, I am starting to see MScPM being offered in IT, Telecommunications and Aerospace.

I do want to reiterate the point of view expressed by Dave V as well.

Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia
Hi Warwick,

I don't have a Masters Degree in PM, but I do have two Masters and a Doctorate in Management, plus 18 years as a PM.

Through teaching an MPM program at a local university for the past five years, I wholly believe that the students that have come through this program are much more employable once they have completed the program.

Most MBA style courses focus on essays, term papers, and thesis' documents. I have yet to find a PM who could run a project with an essay. I really prefer the hands-on approach; in that I have my students create project plans based on their current interests, develop schedules, and track budgets using earned value through the lifecycle of a project.

You may find it valuable to shop around to several different schools, for there is a wide assortment of MPM offerings, and there is also great diversity in the quality of the various programs. At the same time, I suggest that you do a cost-benefit analysis, how will spending at least two years, and quite a lot of money payoff in the long term? Would you be better off spending that energy taking on greater responsibility, and proving to your supervisor that you are indispensible?

Hi everybody,

Thanks for your input and comments - very much appreciated.

The fact that some masters courses in PM contain content from disciplines other than mine is a positive. If I one day decide to move into another industry then this may hold me in good stead.

Thanks again for your comments.


What would a study for masters in project management help you with? How long does such a study last? If it is years, I don't think that's worth the effort. Good project managers become such by practicing and continuous self improvement. Yes, they need to know the theory, but professionalism comes from applying, adapting and improving it. For that reason I don't think one-off long theoretical study is what would bring you to the next level.
Page: 1 2 next>  

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:

"When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us."

- Alexander Graham Bell