Do I Need a Project Management Degree?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A degree in project management can give you a structured way to learn how to be a project manager and let you access career networks. But getting one is not always necessary.

[Featured image] An aspiring project manager looks at degree options

Becoming a project manager will generally mean having the right experience, skills, and expertise to get the job. For some, that might mean getting a degree to sharpen your leadership skills and business acumen, while for others it might mean working your way up from a more entry-level position on a team.

Do I need a degree to become a project manager?

Not necessarily. A project management degree might make the road to managerial positions a little quicker, qualify you for more jobs, and provide a structured way for you to learn about this career path or the industry you want to be in. But there are plenty of project managers that do not have degrees in project management or other fields. Having the actual skills and experience to show you can do the job may matter just as much, or sometimes even more, in project management positions.

Read more: How to Become a Project Manager in 5 Steps

Project management degrees: What should I major in?

As demand for project management skills grows, several schools have begun to offer project management degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level, online and in-person. You may also find MBA programs with project management concentrations, or professional certificates offered by academic institutions. However, project management degrees remain relatively rare in schools. Here are a few other majors you can consider if you’re aiming to become a project manager.

  • Business: With a business degree, you’ll have a good grasp of accounting and finance principles, and how businesses work. This will come in handy when you’re a project manager that needs to keep business priorities in mind while you shepherd a project to completion.

  • Finance, biological science, engineering, and other industry degrees: As a project manager, it’ll be useful—and sometimes crucial—to have some background knowledge of how the industry you’re in operates. If you’re interested in a specific field, like computer science, health care, or civil engineering, majoring in a related field can be a good idea. Since many project managers work their way up from related jobs, taking this route might mean getting an entry-level job and becoming a project manager after gaining some years of experience.

  • Organizational leadership and management: In these majors, you’ll learn how successful organizations run, develop leadership skills, and potentially equip yourself with hard skills like data analysis. All of this can inform your future work as a project manager.

  • Psychology: In getting a psychology degree, you’ll learn why and how people make decisions, what can influence and motivate people, and how to think critically about human interactions. Understanding the science behind psychology can help you become a better manager, improve your communication and negotiation skills, and empathize better with your team members.

I got my degree in something else. Can I still be a project manager?

Yes. There’s no requirement for what kind of degree you need to have to become a project manager. Some places may state a preference for a certain type of degree, especially if the work you’ll be doing requires specialty knowledge—being a project manager in construction, for example, might require a degree in civil engineering, architecture, or a related degree.


How do I become a project manager without a degree?

There are many routes you can take to becoming a project manager. Here are a few you can consider if you’re looking for alternatives to a degree.

  • Work your way up: Many project management professionals get their start in non-managerial positions on a team. This way, you can learn more about the industry and gain the trust of teammates before becoming a project manager. Are you already in a job and ready to take the next step? Try approaching your manager to see if there are any opportunities in your workplace that will let you work on your project management skills. You can also try to gain a project management credential.

  • Build up project management skills: You'll need workplace skills like leadership and communication, as well as knowledge of basic concepts like Agile project management and how to budget for a project. Read more on key project management skills to see how you can fill any gaps in your knowledge.

Read more: 7 In-Demand Scrum Master Certifications

Getting started in project management

If you’re ready to start learning, consider the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate. You’ll learn core skills like procurement and budgeting, use project management software, and get acquainted with Agile and Scrum methods.

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