What Does It Take to Get a Doctorate Degree in Project Management?

A person who works in the field of project management is like the director of a movie. They go behind the scenes and coordinate all team members to perform certain roles. There are many elements involved in successful project management, including phase development, resource allocation, and numerous forms of collaboration among team members and stakeholders.

The practice of project management is a very extensive subject. And while much of the time project management gets largely associated with information technology industry, it is actually applied throughout all disciplines. To prove yourself as a successful and valuable project manager, you will want to earn a degree that has a specific concentration in project management. Preferably, you will earn a doctoral degree, also known as a Ph.D.

For now, let’s take a closer look at what it takes to get a doctorate degree in project management, including how to choose a degree program and resources you can use to enhance your studies.

Ph.D. in Project Management Concentration Options

Many doctoral project management degree programs are offered through colleges’ business departments. Other areas of concentration that these business departments offer programs in that have a specialization in project management include:

  • Marketing
  • Accountancy
  • Science
  • Supply chain management
  • Finance

There are also other degree concentrations you can choose from that have a research focus in project management. Take for example that you wanted to earn a doctoral degree in computer systems information. You could have the program customized so that it includes a research focus on project management. In fact, once you get to the doctoral level, you can tailor your courses and research focus to meet your career goal of being a project manager.

Two Formats for Earning a Ph.D. in Project Management

In addition to choosing the type of Ph.D. you want in project management, you must select a program format. There are three basic types of formats to choose from:

  • Online
  • On campus
  • Hybrid; a mixture of online and on-campus courses

Each type of format comes with pros and cons. An online program will lack in hands-on learning, but it gives you the flexibility to complete your coursework according to a schedule that complements your lifestyle. An online program is especially ideal for parents of young children and working professionals. And since you are earning a Ph.D., this likely means that you are already working part- or full-time as a project manager.

If you have the time and resources to make it back and forth to classes, an on-campus doctoral program provides a plethora of benefits that you won’t gain through an online curriculum. On-campus programs provide optimal opportunity to interact in person with professors and other students. This interaction is especially valuable for the research you conduct as a Ph.D. student. You’ll also have access to offline libraries, which tend to house a vast amount of content and literature that you won’t find in an online or digital format. More so, on-campus programs allow you to network with other professionals in the field of project management, which can be vital to your employment opportunities upon graduation.

A hybrid program format simply combines online and on-campus studies. For example, a hybrid program may allow you to access and complete all of your coursework online with a mandatory on-campus course that must be attended twice a month.

Understanding An Alternative

Most times, earning a Ph.D. in project management means you will have earned an academic doctoral degree; however, there is another option — a professional doctoral degree. Take for example the doctor of business administration (DBA) in project management offered through Walden University. This degree is equivalent to a Ph.D. but does differ in coursework. Most academic degrees will require students to study various subjects followed by creating their own theories, whereas professional degree programs have students work with existing theories. Still yet, both types of programs have a heavy focus on research.

The best way to determine whether a professional or academic degree is best for you is to research your career goals. By researching other people who have reached your intended career goals, you can pinpoint the educational paths they followed. You will also find that academic publications offer valuable insight regarding project management concentrations and the various ways Ph.D. programs can be customized to meet your occupational goals.

Coursework You Must Complete to Get a Ph.D. in Project Management

Ph.D. coursework will vary from one┬áprogram to the next. Generally speaking, though, most programs will require you to manage┬ámultiple projects. You’ll study the different forms of delegation and how each form complements the projects you are assigned. In addition, you will study how to provide written and oral progress updates on your projects to the appropriate entities. Many programs mandate Ph.D. students to complete a lengthy written assignment that shows their level of competency regarding project development, management, and execution. It is also common for Ph.D. programs to include a series of dissertation courses, which are meant to prepare students for their final exam. Below you will find an overview of requirements for various Ph.D. in Project Management programs.

Walden University
DBA – Project Management

This online program requires students to earn 60 credits and complete multiple residencies. Courses, including three specialization courses, focus on the following project management topics:

  • Research methods
  • Applied business research
  • Global business operations
  • Business strategy
  • Project selection
  • Project development
  • Project evaluation
  • Risk mitigation
  • Delegation

Northcentral University
DBA – Project Management

This is another school that offers a professional degree option in project management. Students are required to earn 54 credits (18 courses), with coursework mainly focusing on:

  • Research
  • Project monitoring and control
  • Enterprise project management
  • Managerial budgets
  • Strategic design and implementation

Capella University
Ph.D. – Project Management: Business

Capella University offers a doctor of business administration program that has a specialization in project management. Courses can be completed online or on-campus. The program includes a total of 11 core courses and five specialization classes as well as three residencies, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation.

What to Expect When Earning a Ph.D. in Project Management

Doctoral-level degree curriculums are unlike lower-level programs. They often take many years to complete and require an extensive amount of study and research. Although many programs are available online, you should still make sure you are at a point in your life in which you can devote many hours a week toward your studies.

"Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet." ~ Henry Mintzberg