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Online Colleges for Project Management

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At a time in which business degrees seem to draw the most attention, project management is a field that can fly under the radar. However, the Project Management Institute is quick to note this is a specialty that provides great value to both the business world and other organizations. A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, for instance, found that 80 percent of global executives credit project management as helping them weather the recent recession.

Students interested in project management should keep reading. We'll review the best online colleges for project management, explain the differences between an online master's in project management and an online MBA in project management, and go over certification and career options.

Best Online Colleges for Project Management

To help students pinpoint the best programs in the nation, OnlineColleges.com created a methodology that considered the likelihood of students getting into a program and walking away with their desired degree, among other criteria. Based on that analysis, here are the top schools offering an online degree program in project management.

1

Davenport University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$13,113
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
50
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Davenport University has ten campuses scattered across the state. Its campus locations offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its four colleges. The College of Technology offers an online bachelor's program in technology project management.

One factor that distinguishes Davenport University from the rest of the list is its accessibility. It admitted 93 percent of applicants in 2014, a number that is reassuring to busy adults who don't have time to complete multiple applications and wonder whether they will be accepted. The university also scored high for prominence with nearly a quarter of its 2014 graduates earning a degree under the larger umbrella of business administration, management and operations.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

45 Ottawa NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
Go to School Website 
GO
2

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$7,029
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
7
Accredited
School Type
4-year

While the campus for this school is in the rural Wisconsin community of Platteville, its project management program enrolls students from most states as well as people from around the globe. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers two online project management certificate programs as well as an online master's program in project management through its College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture.

The university ranked high for accessibility, with an admission rate of 94 percent in 2014. It also came in the second spot in terms of prominence since nearly 3 percent of the degrees awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2014 were in the field of project management.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center

Location:

1 University Plaza
Platteville, Wisconsin 53818
Go to School Website 
GO
3

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$23,040
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
N/A
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a global institution with a stellar reputation. It has main campuses in Prescott, Arizona and Daytona Beach, Florida as well dozens of other locations on military bases worldwide. For those who want to study online, the School of Business offers a project management major for its online bachelor's degree in technical management as well as an online master's degree program in project management.

The school is less accessible than some other institutions on the list and only accepted 69 percent of applicants in 2014. However, when it comes to prominence, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University took the top spot in the OnlineColleges.com analysis. More than 4 percent of the degrees it conferred in 2014 were in project management.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center

Location:

600 South Clyde Morris Blvd.
Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
Go to School Website 
GO
4

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$18,729
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
6
Accredited
School Type
4-year
This private university has a main campus in Winona and secondary campuses in Rochester, Oakdale and Minneapolis. The school offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs. An online master's in project management is run through the university's graduate school. Using a school issued iPad, students can typically complete the 36 credit program in 24 months.

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is notable for its strong graduation rate. OnlineColleges.com found its rate of 65 percent was the highest of all the schools included in the top ten. The school also ranked high for accessibility, admitting 74 percent of applicants in 2014.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center

Location:

700 Terrace Heights
Winona, Minnesota 55987
Go to School Website 
GO
5

New England College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$22,180
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
35
Accredited
School Type
4-year
New England College is a private, liberal arts school that likes to say "You Belong Here." The school's campus is located in Henniker, New Jersey, but its School of Graduate and Professional Studies has two options for students who want to study project management from the comfort of their own home. The first option is a master of management in project management. Another choice is a master of business administration in project management.

The college is tied for first in terms of accessibility, according the OnlineColleges.com analysis. New England College admitted 96 percent of applicants in 2014, and it also has a strong background in business. More than 2.5 percent of the degrees it awarded in 2014 were in project management, helping the school rank third for that metric.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Location:

98 Bridge St.
Henniker, New Hampshire 03242
Go to School Website 
GO
6

Malone University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$17,730
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
6
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Founded in 1892 as the Cleveland Bible College, Malone University now has four colleges and schools that confer degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The School of Business & Leadership is based at the university's Canton campus, but students with some previous higher education credits can enroll in an online degree completion program to earn a bachelor of business administration in project management.

To earn its spot on this ranking of best online colleges for project management, Malone University scored high in terms of prominence and accessibility.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

2600 Cleveland Ave. NW
Canton, Ohio 44709
Go to School Website 
GO
7

Florida Institute of Technology

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$29,231
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
12
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Known informally as Florida Tech, this school offers associate, bachelor and master's degree programs both on its Melbourne, Florida campus and online. Florida Institute of Technology has five colleges, and its Nathan M. Bisk College of Business offers project management programs alongside accounting, business administration and other majors. Options for distance learners include an online master's in project management and an online MBA in project management.

Florida Tech is notable for its prominence score. Of the degrees it conferred in 2014, more than 25 percent were in the category of business administration, management and operations while 1.8 percent were specifically for project management.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center

Location:

150 W. University Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32901
Go to School Website 
GO
8

SUNY Empire State College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$8,270
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
Accredited
School Type
4-year
SUNY Empire State College has a main campus in Sarasota Springs, New York. It also has a network of 35 locations throughout the state where students can earn associate, bachelor and master's degrees. It has received accolades as being a good school for veterans and ranks #1 in satisfaction among SUNY students. The school offers an online advanced certificate in project management through its School for Graduate Studies.

SUNY Empire State College is another good choice for students who are looking for an accessible institution. Its admittance rate in 2014 was 81 percent, ranking it 5th out of 19 ranked schools.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

Two Union Avenue
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
Go to School Website 
GO
9

Charleston Southern University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$22,800
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Located in South Carolina, Charleston Southern University has seven colleges and universities that offer degrees at all levels in diverse fields. An online bachelor's degree program in organizational management and an online master's degree program in organizational management are offered through the College of Adult and Professional Studies. Both offer a project management track.

Charleston Southern University has received high marks from U.S. News & World Report in its online degree rankings, which may be why so many students choose the school for project management. More than 1 percent of its total degrees are awarded in the field, and nearly 18 percent fall under the larger business umbrella.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

9200 University Blvd.
North Charleston, South Carolina 29406
Go to School Website 
GO
10

Regis University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$21,342
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
67
Accredited
School Type
4-year
Referred to as Colorado's Jesuit University, Regis University is based in Denver and is comprised of five colleges. Within its world campus, the College of Business & Economics offers an online bachelor's degree program in business with a project management specialization as well as an online master's program in organization leadership with a concentration in project leadership and management.

Regis University makes the OnlineColleges.com list of top online colleges for project management in large part because of its accessibility. It is tied with New England College for first place in this metric and accepted 96 percent of applicants in 2014.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

3333 Regis Blvd.
Denver, Colorado 80221
Go to School Website 
GO
Want to see additional online colleges for project management?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

Interview with an Expert
UW-Platteville has a long history and a lot of experience in graduate education
in the online environment, particularly project management education.

D.W. (Bill) Haskins

Director of the Master of Science in Project Management Program

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Interview with an Expert
D.W. (Bill) Haskins

D.W. (Bill) Haskins

Director of the Master of Science in Project Management Program

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Q: What qualities make the University of Wisconsin-Platteville's online project management degree an outstanding program?

A: First and foremost, the program is accredited by the Project Management Institute, and we view that accreditation as the gold standard worldwide for project management education.

Aside from that, UW-Platteville has a long history and a lot of experience in graduate education in the online environment, particularly project management education. The program dates back to the late '90s, and we've graduated probably 700 students in that period.

The [current] student body ranges in age from 22 to 62 in this program, and that makes for a very interesting dynamic between younger and older students. At any given time, I have students in 40 out of 50 states and probably half a dozen foreign countries. That brings a range of perspectives and life and professional experience into the classroom like no other project management program of which I am aware.

Q: What support does the University of Wisconsin-Platteville offer their online student body?

A: In terms of student services, we have a separate department called the distance learning center (DLC), and they have created a one-stop shop for our learners who study at a distance. They have won a number of awards and they handle nearly every non-academic aspect of a student's experience.

That begins with helping a student navigate the admissions process and then after that providing a regular structure of communication and deadline reminders. The DLC is a student's first stop for financial aid and help with veteran's benefits. The DLC provides a staff of academic advising specialists who know and understand the field the student is in and provide regular and periodic academic advising during the student's entire time in the program.

Beyond that, the DLC offers a really competent help desk for technical issues. We also employ a group of instructional designers, and they ensure our courses work well in the online environment.

Q: How does the online project management program differ from the on-campus program?

A: This is a really interesting question because we don't offer this degree on-campus, and there's a key reason why we don't.

This campus is located in a rural community away from any large metro area. It's difficult to attract all the talent you need to run a project management program on-campus. So the vast majority of my instructional cohort are not based here. We have instructors in Kentucky, Florida, New England, California and even one in Riyadh. Their physical location is immaterial to whether we can use them in the program, and we take full advantage of that.

Online Project Management Degrees

Project management degrees are available at several different levels and in several variations. While some degrees focus exclusively on project management, others treat it as a concentration or specialization within another field, most commonly business administration.

Here's a closer look at the most common project management degrees available online.

Online Associate Degree in Project Management

Often completed in two years and available through technical schools or community colleges, an online associate degree in project managements provides an introduction to the field. At some institutions, these degrees may be focused on a specific type of project management such as construction management. After graduation, students may be able to work in an entry-level position or transfer their credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management

The online bachelor's degree in project management is more commonly found at colleges and universities than the associate degree. These programs can traditionally be completed in four years although some may be available in an accelerated format to allow students to graduate earlier. Some schools offer a Bachelor of Science in project management while others have a bachelor of business administration in project management. The difference may largely lie in the number of general business classes required for graduation.

Although the curriculum may vary by institution, these programs typically include courses on leadership, project procurement and risk management among other topics. Some degrees may offer specializations in healthcare, construction or other industries. Upon graduation, students should typically have the necessary skills to work as project management professionals.

Online Master's in Project Management

Those who already have a bachelor's degree in project management and want to advance their skills may want to consider enrolling in an online master's degree program. A graduate degree may open doors to promotions or managerial positions. A master's degree in project management is also an option for those with an undergraduate degree in another field who want to transition into this line of work.

As with undergraduate degrees, master's degrees can often be customized for a student's career goals. Tracks of study may include enterprise architecture, supply chain management or an independent topic of interest. A master's degree usually takes two years to complete if someone is studying full-time. However, many institutions let part-time students stretch out coursework. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville, for example, gives its students seven years to earn their degree.

Online MBA in Project Management

Another graduate degree some students may choose to pursue is an online MBA in project management. Both an MBA and a Master of Science in project management provide a comprehensive education in the field, but the focus may be different. An MBA may include more general business and leadership courses and is intended to help graduates learn how to develop high-level strategy decisions. Meanwhile, a Master of Science in project management may concentrate more on the steps needed to execute that strategy.

An MBA in project management normally could take anywhere from one to two years to complete, depending on the program. Some schools have part-time MBA programs which can go longer. Graduates may go on to work as executives in firms large and small or use their newly acquired skills to become an entrepreneur.

Online Colleges for a Master's in Project Management

In addition to the ten schools listed above, several other colleges and universities have notable master's in project management programs. Here's a quick look at what they have to offer:

  • Sam Houston State University 
    With a campus in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University offers an accessible online master's degree program in project management that is designed for professionals already working in the field. The school admitted 74 percent of applicants in 2014.

  • Brandeis University
    This university had a stellar graduation rate of 91 percent in 2014, ranking it third highest for that metric in the OnlineColleges.com analysis. Brandeis University has a campus in Waltham, Massachusetts and offers online students the opportunity to earn a master's degree in project and program management.

  • Drexel University
    The Philadelphia-based university scores in the top ten for both graduation and admission rates, at 67 percent and 76 percent respectively in 2014. Drexel Online offers a Master of Science in project management program.

  • George Washington University
    Students can attend campus programs in the District of Columbia or study online to earn a master's in project management. The school had a 79 percent graduation rate in 2014.

  • Lehigh University
    Lehigh University is another school with an impressive graduation rate. In 2014, its number was 87 percent. Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the university offers an online program for an MBA in project management.

PMP Certification

Professionals who want to demonstrate their mastery of project management may want to earn a voluntary certification, and the PMP designation is widely considered the most important credential in the field.

Standing for Project Management Professional, the PMP certification is conferred by the Project Management Institute. The group reports those with a PMP designation earn, on average, 17 percent more than non-certified project managers. Beyond having higher incomes, certified managers may also have access to better jobs. For example, a PwC survey discovered 80 percent of high-level projects undertaken by surveyed companies are led by certified managers.

However, not everyone can be PMP certified. The credential is only available to those who meet one of the following sets of criteria.

  • High school diploma, associate degree or the equivalent
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Or

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Qualified individuals must then sit for a 200 question exam which costs $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members. Once certified, professionals must complete 60 professional development units every three years to maintain their PMP status.

While PMP certification may be the gold standard in the industry, it's not the only credential available to project managers. The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is also offered by the PMI and available to those who have completed 23 hours of project management education. The UK-based APGM International also offers a certificate in program and project management which grants PPM certification. Additional designations may also be available from various other industry groups. 

Project Management Career Outlook

Students interested in online degrees in project management are undoubtedly also curious about their employment prospects after graduation. While project managers can be found in virtually every business sector and industry, here's a closer look at three popular specializations for workers in the field.

Architectural Project Manager
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2014 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$132,800
Annual Job Openings Annual job openings refers to the average job openings each year, 2012-22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
179,770
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Architectural project managers often have an education that spans two fields. They may have a professional degree in architecture or an undergraduate degree in engineering. Then, they add an MBA or a graduate degree in project management, technology management or engineering management to round out the skills needed for their job.
Many of these workers are employed in the manufacturing sector. They may work under tight deadlines as they guide projects to completion. Architectural and engineering project managers are expected to work within a specific budget and timeline.
Construction Manager
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2014 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$87,400
Annual Job Openings Annual job openings refers to the average job openings each year, 2012-22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
239,640
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
Today's construction projects can be highly complex. State laws and local zoning mandates, along with labor considerations, mean managers must juggle many factors to complete a building development on time and on budget. Since few universities offer degree programs specifically in construction management, those hoping to work in the field may turn to project management degrees. Construction managers may be most often employed by specialty trade contractors, but jobs can also be found with a variety of employers. Managers typically work full-time and may need to be on-call 24/7 during a large project. Those working in the field should expect to be on-site for much of their work.
IT Project Manager
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2014 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$131,600
Annual Job Openings Annual job openings refers to the average job openings each year, 2012-22, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
341,250
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
Bachelor's degree
IT project managers are also called computer and information systems managers. These professionals must combine project management skills with technical savvy, and they are often highly compensated. Some workers in the field may choose to earn an undergraduate degree in computer science or a similar field and then go on to get a master's in project management or an MBA in project management. You can find these professionals in many industries, including computer systems design, finance, management and even manufacturing. Regardless of their employer, managers must analyze a firm's technology needs, make recommendations for cost savings or efficiency upgrades and then implement their recommended strategy.
Salary
Number of Jobs
Job Growth
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Methodology and Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. Accreditation and Memberships, Florida Institute of Technology, http://admission.fit.edu/international/graduate/accreditation.php
  2. Accreditation, Davenport University, http://www.davenport.edu/college-technology/accreditation
  3. Architectural and Engineering Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/architectural-and-engineering-managers.htm
  4. Certified Associate in Project Management, Project Management Institute, https://www.pmi.org/certification/certified-associate-project-management-capm.aspx
  5. Computer and Information Systems Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
  6. Construction Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm
  7. Insight and Trends: Current Programme and Project Management Practices, PwC, http://www.pwc.com/us/en/people-management/assets/programme_project_management_survey.pdf
  8. Master of Project Management, Penn State, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/project-management-masters/overview
  9. Master of Science in Project Management, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, http://worldwide.erau.edu/degrees-programs/programs/masters/project-management/ 
  10. MS Project Management, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, https://www.uwplatt.edu/distance-education/online-master-science-project-management
  11. NEASC information, New England College, http://www.nec.edu/about/consumer-information/neasc-information/
  12. Online Master's in Project Management, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://onlineprograms.smumn.edu/mspm/project-management-masters-degree-online
  13. Organizational Management, Charleston Southern University, http://www.csuniv.edu/caps/index.html
  14. PPM Certificate and Diploma, APMG International, http://www.apmg-international.com/en/qualifications/ppm-certificate-diploma/ppm-certification-diploma.aspx
  15. Project Management Major, Malone University, http://www.malone.edu/academics/sbl/degree-completion/project-management-major.php
  16. Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute, http://www.pmi.org/certification/project-management-professional-pmp.aspx
  17. Regis University, http://www.regis.edu/Academics/Online.aspx
  18. School for Graduate Studies, SUNY Empire State College, http://www.esc.edu/graduate-studies/advanced-certificates/
  19. The Value of Project Management, Project Management Institute, https://www.pmi.org/Business-Solutions/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/Value%20of%20Project%20Management_FINAL.ashx
  20. What's the Difference Between a Master's in Project Management and an MBA? Joseph Griffin, Northeastern University, http://www.cps.neu.edu/prospective-students/tips-for-success/masters-in-project-management-vs-mba.php