Project Management Institute

Best bets for business schools

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by Audrey F. Bottjen

because project management is a relatively new career, course study still is developing and evolving—even the “old” project management degree programs are barely out of their teens. Trying to choose between schools can be frustrating and daunting; however, it's just a matter of asking the right questions.

While project management is flourishing at the graduate level, there is a remarkable scarcity of undergraduate degrees. As a result, many project managers gain on-the-job experience before advancing their education. “Starting a project management career is baptism by fire,” says Tom Myers, a professor at Bellevue University, Bellevue, Neb., USA. “You get stuck with a stressful job and a lot of responsibility very quickly. Some level of preparation can give you the tools you need to succeed—or help you decide beforehand that this career is not for you.”

Motivation for Success

Choosing where to get your degree can be more difficult than deciding whether or not to pursue it. “There are no consumer reports for this sort of thing,” says Bill Moylan, adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich., USA. “This makes the decision harder for prospective students.”

Unfortunately, students often choose schools based on reputation. “Different schools offer different things—it's not a matter of [who has the best program], but a matter of appropriateness to students’ needs,” says Jim Joiner, professor of project management at the University of Texas in Dallas, USA.

Schools Offering Master's Degrees in Project Management

Those looking to pursue advanced project management degrees should take a good look at the following well-known and respected MBA programs. Note: All monetary amounts are in U.S. dollars.

 

University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta, Canada www.ucalgary.ca

PM Program Size: 431
Applicants Admitted: 52 percent
$ (Resident): $5,000
$ (Non-resident): $10,000
Internet Study Available: No
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 7
PM Coordinator/Director: Francis Hartman
PM Course Standouts: Social Issues in Project Management

Cranfield University Bedfordshire, U.K. www.cranfield.ac.uk

PM Program Size: 338
Applicants Admitted: 58 percent
$ (Resident): $29,600
$ (Non-resident): $29,600
Internet Study Available: No
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 8
PM Coordinator/Director: Melvyn Peters
PM Course Standouts: Freight Transport and Policy Materials Management

George Washington University Washington D.C., USA www.gwu.edu

PM Program Size: 777
Applicants Admitted: 37 percent
$ (Resident): $742.50 per credit hour
$ (Non-resident): $742.50 per credit hour
Internet Study Available: Yes
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 4.3
PM Coordinator/Director: Parviz Rad
PM Course Standouts: Planning and Scheduling Cost Estimation

Lancaster University Lancaster, U.K. www.lancaster.ac.uk

PM Program Size: 700
Applicants Admitted: N/A
$ (Resident): $3,942
$ (Non-resident): $13,394
Internet Study Available: No
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: N/A
PM Coordinator/Director: Alan Haydock
PM Course Standouts: Education-based, as opposed to training

University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia www.unsw.edu.au

PM Program Size: 2,220
Applicants Admitted: 42 percent
$ (Resident): $675 per course
$ (Non-resident): $675 per course
Internet Study Available: No
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 5
PM Coordinator/Director: Samantha Morley
PM Course Standouts: Managing Intangible Resources; Asia-Pacific Business and Management

Northwestern University Evanston, Ill., USA www.northwestern.edu

PM Program Size: 926
Applicants Admitted: 22 percent
$ (Resident): $23,301
$ (Non-resident): $23,301
Internet Study Available: No
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 5.2
PM Coordinator/Director: Raymond Krizek
PM Course Standouts: Financial Issues for Engineers

Western Carolina University Cullowhee, N.C., USA www.wcu.edu

PM Program Size: 96
Applicants Admitted: 84 percent
$ (Resident): $1,957
$ (Non-resident): $9,227
Internet Study Available: Yes Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 5
PM Coordinator/Director: John Adams
PM Course Standouts: Project Plan Analysis and Approval; Legal and Ethical Issues

Lawrence Technological University Southfield, Mich., USA www.ltu.edu

PM Program Size: 800
Applicants Admitted: 80 percent
$ (Resident): $460 per credit hour
$ (Non-resident): $460 per credit hour
Internet Study Available: 20 percent
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 8
PM Coordinator/Director: Bill Moylan
PM Course Standouts: E-Commerce Strategies

University of Wisconsin Platteville, Wis., USA www.uwplatt.edu

PM Program Size: 207
Applicants Admitted: 89 percent
$ (Resident): $500 per credit
$ (Non-resident): $500 per credit
Internet Study Available: Yes
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: N/A
PM Coordinator/Director: Donna Perkins
PM Course Standouts: Human Resource Management; Marketing Management

University of Texas, Dallas Dallas, Texas, USA www.utdallas.edu

PM Program Size: 4,300
Applicants Admitted: 70 percent
$ (Resident): $29,000 for degree
$ (Non-resident): $29,000 for degree
Internet Study Available: February 2002
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 10
PM Coordinator/Director: Jim Joiner
PM Course Standouts: Negotiation and Conflict Management

Keller Grad. School of Management 22 U.S. locations www.keller.edu

PM Program Size: 7,000
Applicants Admitted: N/A
$ (Resident): $1,125-$1,530 per course
Internet Study Available: Yes
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 10
PM Coordinator/Director: David Overbye
PM Course Standouts: Managing Organizational Change; Contract and Procurement Management

Athabasca University Athabasca, Alberta, Canada www.athabascau.ca

PM Program Size: 1,500
Applicants Admitted: 70-75 percent
$ (Resident): $21,000
$ (Non-resident): $25,000
Internet Study Available: Yes
Average Years Students Have Been in the Field: 10
PM Coordinator/Director: Janice Thomas
PM Course Standouts: Power and Politics and Project Management

N/A=Not available

Sources: www.businessweek.com, www.pmi.org

Studying abroad adds an international perspective and allows project managers to be exposed to new ideas and cultures.

When project managers are looking at a prospective school's curriculum, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is a good place to begin. Many courses should be based around it. The curriculum should ask questions about professionalism: What is project management? How does one contribute to the profession?

Look at a school's approach to project management and whether it is vertical or horizontal. The profession is diverse, and finding the common ground between industries such as information technology, construction or engineering can be difficult. Is it more important for a school to focus on the universal aspects of project management or on an industry-specific bank of knowledge?

To avoid being constrained to a specific field, seek a broader curriculum, focusing more on the management aspects, Joiner says. If, however, you are already within your chosen field, seek schools with programs tailored to your career. On the whole, “You should keep your degree as broad as possible, while still fulfilling your interests,” he says.

Another consideration when choosing a school is location or, rather, the unimportance of location. As more and more programs move online, geographic residence is becoming less of an issue, and remote locations are as close as your laptop. But there also is a benefit to overseas learning: Studying abroad adds an international perspective and allows project managers to be exposed to new ideas and cultures. This experience is important for project managers who will be working on worldwide teams.

Before applying, prospective students also should realize program requirements. For example, the University of Texas at Dallas will not admit students without three years experience in the field. In addition, some schools require students to work on their actual projects in class—on-the-job experience is used to relate book principles.

Check out PMI‘s SeminarsWorld educational offerings for the remainder of 2001 by visiting www.pmiseminars.org.

San Diego, California, USA: 11–14 September Oslo, Norway: 18–21 September Scottsdale, Arizona, USA: 2–5 October, 6–9 October Orlando, Florida, USA: 9–12 October Dallas, Texas, USA: 23–26 October Charleston, South Carolina, USA: 4–7 December

Learn From the Best

An institution's faculty is possibly the most important aspect of a project management program—it is the faculty that really sets the courses, and their experience is invaluable. “Look for a core of professors with extensive experience as professionals in project management,” says Myers, who himself is a Project Management Professional (PMP®) and asserts that all classes at his university are led by PMPs. “Ask [the school] about the qualifications of their faculty. Find out what their experience is and of course make sure they're certified project management professionals.” The Project Management Institute (PMI®), Newtown Square, Pa., USA, offers PMP certification.

“Talking to recent graduates can be an excellent way to find out what's being taught,” Joiner says. “Most schools will give you names to call.”

 

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PMs Point to Education Needs

by Janice Thomas

Results from a large global survey of project managers, executives and consultants suggest that project management education is in high demand. The Project Management Institute-sponsored survey reports that project management personnel are well-educated, with 75 percent of respondents claiming some university education. However, only 6 percent have graduate-level project management education, and 8 percent report no project management education.

The 2001 survey, conducted by researchers from Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada, received 1,867 responses from more than 40 countries, with many respondents from North America (35 percent from Canada and 55 percent from the United States). Fifty-three percent identified themselves as project personnel, 26 percent as project management consultants and 21 percent as executives with project responsibilities.

Demand for PM Education

Three quarters of those responding expect to either participate in or send staff to project management courses in the near future (51 percent were already enrolled in project management education and 45 percent expected to enroll in the next 12 months).

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) stated that one of the main criteria for selecting a program would be PMI® certification. The next largest criteria included cost (45 percent), quality of instructors (37 percent), company approval (32 percent), instructor experience (28 percent), instructor reputation (19 percent) and online courses (17 percent). In addition, 32 percent of those interested in pursuing further project management education are interested in taking a post-graduate degree, such as an MBA, ME or Ph.D.

Demand for Part-Time Education

Most of those responding are interested in part-time education. In fact, 73 percent of respondents report being willing to invest in three or more years of part-time project management education.

Full-time study did not appeal to them because of work demands (51 percent), personal obligations (35 percent) and course availability (69 percent). Additionally, 65 percent expect their employer to pay all or some of their expenses (69 percent of these expect their employer to cover 76 percent to 100 percent of the costs).

Online Graduate Education

The survey supports the shift in preferences for online master's level education. Forty percent are interested in a combination of online and classroom courses, with 17 percent interested in strictly online courses. Only 6 percent prefer a traditional classroom setting.

Janice Thomas is the director of the new Executive MBA in Project Management to be offered online through Athabasca University. She also is an adjunct faculty member of the joint Engineering and Management Project Management Specialization at the University of Calgary. In addition, she has 10 years experience in managing information technology and organizational change projects.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM Network September 2001

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