2022 Best Online Contract Management Certificate Programs

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There are many online contract management certificate programs available for working professionals who want to advance in their careers.

Best Online Contract Management Certificate Programs

If you work for a company that handles a lot of legal contracts, earning your certificate in contract management could potentially be a lucrative career move. Contract managers are vital contributors to their companies’ success.

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Finding the right certificate program for you will depend on several factors, including preferred program length, budget, and career goals.

Online Contract Management Certificate Programs

Online Contract Management Certificate Programs

An online contract management certificate program can help provide you with the necessary skills to create and manage legal agreements. Without someone to correctly handle their legally binding contracts, a company can lose large sums of money.

If you are interested in public or private contracting work, this could be a useful certification for you to earn. Likewise, if you are part of a company that handles a lot of legal contracts, this might be a way for you to move forward in your career.

Throughout your certification program, you’ll likely study many different aspects of contract management. Some of the typical subjects covered include:

  • Contract creation
  • Government contracting
  • Execution of government contracts
  • Clause negotiation
  • Risk mitigation

Your program will probably thoroughly examine each part of the contract lifecycle. As with any online certification course, specific courses and subjects studied will vary between programs.

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Many students who earn their procurement and contract management certification go on to become contract managers or specialists for a range of different businesses.

Legal contracts are an integral part of most business deals, so many companies need employees with the skills to not only author these documents but also monitor them until completion.

Earning a certificate in contract management can open up doors in a variety of professional fields. You can develop your skills in several areas, including project management and financial modeling.

You may choose to pursue a career in:

  • Finance
  • Project management
  • Budget analysis
  • Accounting
  • Business law

Most professionals in contract management play foundational roles in larger businesses or companies.

Contract Management Careers & Salaries

Contract Management Careers & Salaries

Those who earn their contract management certification often go on to pursue essential roles for a variety of companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the careers related to contract management, along with their median salaries.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Purchasing Managers $127,150
Construction Managers $98,890
Labor Relations Specialists $77,010
Project Management Specialists and Business Operations Specialists
$73,570
Compliance Officers $71,650
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists $64,120
Buyers and Purchasing Agents $63,470
Human Resources Specialists $62,290
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers $59,230
Information Clerks $37,450

With a background in contract management, you will likely have opportunities for upward mobility within your career. You may even start by analyzing and negotiating contracts under the supervision of a more experienced colleague and work your way up to a managerial role.

As with any degree or certificate, it is important not to equate your contract management certification with a guaranteed position or salary.

The professional roles available to you will depend on factors such as your previous work experience and your personal interests. Likewise, salaries often vary between geographic locations and are never guaranteed to be within a specific range.

Contracts Management Certificate Curriculum & Courses

Contracts Management Certificate

Every contract management certificate program offers a unique curriculum. Chances are, though, that you will study some of the following topics:

  • Subcontracting: This course explores subcontracting, a common practice in construction or technology. It teaches the basics of outsourcing work outlined in a contract to a third-party subcontractor.
  • Formation: This class discusses the core legal components involved in creating a contract, including how to draft an offer.
  • Negotiation: This course explores the many ways to successfully reach an agreement with another party around the terms of a contract.
  • Financial Analysis: This course pulls from a variety of disciplines, including finance and economics, to equip you with the tools needed to examine a company’s past and paint a financial picture for the future.
  • Government Contracts: This class explores the basics of government contract management, including a deep dive into the proposal and evaluation process.
  • International Contracts: This foundational course in international contracts covers the different aspects of drafting these documents, including payment terms and letters of intent.
  • Agile Methodology: This course is an exploration of the agile methodology approach to project management. It covers the key elements of working with stakeholders throughout each stage of the process.
  • Business Law Basics: This course covers the foundations of American business law, covering topics like court procedures, contracts, and sales.
  • Quality and Risk Management: This class discusses the necessary tools to protect your business and clients and how to analyze and address potential risks.
  • Foundations of Contract Management: This course explores the basics of contract management, including each step in the lifecycle of a contract, from pre-signature to post-signature.

Even though the exact courses that you take may differ, a contract management certificate program can help you develop a working knowledge of how to create, manage, and review legal contracts.

How to Choose an Online Contract Management Certificate Program

Contract Management Certificate Program

Only you can determine the right school for your needs. Here are certain criteria to consider as you search for an online contract management certificate program:

  • Cost. Arguably one of the top determinants for many applicants, cost can help you decide if a school is right for you. Online programs are typically lower in overall cost than in-person certificate programs, although the exact amount will vary between schools.
  • Target audience. Who is the program catering to? Many contract management certificate programs cater to working professionals who are looking to move up in their careers. If you have yet to enter the workforce, you may want to check the program description before you apply to determine your eligibility.
  • Accreditation. Attending a regionally accredited program can help ensure that the materials and staff you learn from meet high-quality standards.

There may be other deciding factors that are personal to your life, but focusing on these items can be a helpful place to start.

Admissions Requirements

Contract Management Certificate admissions

Because every program has different admissions requirements, it is helpful to conduct research prior to applying. Many schools will look for the following items:

  • SAT or ACT scores (only if required)
  • Official transcripts
  • Work experience
  • Letters of recommendation

Many contract management programs are geared toward working professionals, making a resume with proof of experience a high priority on this list. In addition to high school transcripts, programs may ask for any records from recently attended colleges as well.

Accreditation

Contract Management Certificate accreditation

In order to demonstrate that they offer a high standard of education, most colleges and universities elect to undergo a review process called accreditation. A school is then evaluated by a team of internal members along with an external accrediting agency.

This process ensures that the materials, courses, and staff offer a high-quality educational experience that will prepare students for a specific field. Attending an accredited institution can be an eligibility factor for federal financial aid, scholarships, and future career opportunities.

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You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to check if your schools of interest are regionally accredited before applying.  

Contract Management Licensure and Certifications

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) offers many certifications. The right NCMA certification for you will depend on your career goals.

  • Certified Contract Management Associate (CCMA): This is the most basic certification, and it qualifies you for entry-level contract management work.
  • Certified Commercial Contract Manager (CCCM): This certification qualifies you for contract work at the commercial level.
  • Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM): This certification qualifies you for contract work at the federal level.
  • Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM): This is the highest-level certification, and it qualifies you for commercial and government work.

Earning certifications can help you learn new skills and advance in your qualifications.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Contract Management Certificate financial aid

Many online programs offer financial aid and scholarship opportunities to those in need. Federal financial aid is one of the most common forms of support for aspiring students.

You can fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the amount of aid you are eligible for. This aid amount is determined by several factors, including family income level.

You can also apply for scholarships, many of which differ between schools. You can check the eligibility requirements prior to applying, and it’s strategic to focus on the ones for which you meet the minimum criteria.

Many employers offer tuition benefits to help cover school costs as well. This will vary between companies, so you can check your work’s specific benefits package for details.

What Is Contract Management?

Contract Management

Contract management is the system of creating, monitoring, and terminating or renewing legal contracts. For instance, when a company hires an employee, they need to draft a legally binding contract that outlines agreed-upon terms for hire.

A contract manager is responsible for creating the contract, working with the employee to agree to the terms, and managing it for the remainder of its existence. Likewise, when a business or company works with another business, then there will also need to be a legal contract involved.

What Can You Do with a Certificate in Contract Management?

Many people who obtain a contract management certificate also earn their certification and go on to leadership roles within a variety of companies. Since most businesses require a multitude of legal contracts to be drafted on a daily basis, there are a lot of opportunities to enter diverse fields.

Contract Management in Certificate Online

Many certified contract managers choose to become financial or construction managers. Others go on to pursue careers in budget or management analysis. As you gain experience, you can also work your way toward management positions.

Many contract managers choose to earn additional certifications as a means of advancing their careers and increasing their salaries.

Who Should Enroll in a Contract Management Certificate Program?

Contract management programs are generally intended for working professionals, many of whom have already earned undergraduate degrees.

Many people who choose to earn their certificate in contract management have jobs that require them to handle or manage a significant number of contracts. For instance, certificate programs are often intended for contract administrators or managers, project managers, or sales managers.

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Different certificate programs, though, can be designed for different types of students and professionals. If you are not already working in a role that deals with contracts, pursuing a certificate in contract management can help you qualify for entry-level roles and certification in this sector.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Contract Management Certificate Online?

Contract Management Certificate Online

Overall lengths vary greatly between different online contract management certification programs. Typically, you can complete an online program in anywhere from 4 months to 6 months, assuming you do not take any breaks in attendance. Some professionals spread their courses out over a 1 year period.

This is much less time than it typically takes to complete an on-campus or an online business degree program.

If you are in a hurry, there are some accelerated programs that run for about 8 weeks. You may want to consider the extra skills and tools you could gain from a longer program, though. Because program lengths vary, it is beneficial to research your programs of interest to see if they align with your availability.

What’s the Difference between Contract Management vs. Project Management?

While there are many similarities between contract and project managers, they differ in the required skills needed to be successful in each role.

Contract Managers Project Managers
  • Create, design, and implement contracts
  • Arrange terms for both parties involved
  • Manage contracts
  • May work with companies that frequently interact and deal with other businesses
  • Plan, create, and execute projects
  • Ensure deadlines are met
  • Manage teams of people
  • May work across fields, including construction or technology

A contract manager tends to prefer negotiating terms and monitoring contracts over managing people.

What’s the Difference between Contract Administration vs. Contract Management?

Contract administration and contract management are both steps in the lifecycle of a contract.

Contract Administration Contract Management
  • Focuses on planning and implementing contracts
  • Determines what a contract covers
  • Plans timeline
  • Assesses contract risk
  • Focuses on overseeing and monitoring existing contracts
  • Tracks deadlines and deliverables
  • Determines when to renew or terminate a contract
  • Reviews and archives completed contracts

Contract administration and management work is often conducted by the same employee as part of a combined process.

Is a Certificate in Contract Management Worth It?

Certificate in Contract Management

Yes, a certificate in contract management is worth it for many students. For many professionals, earning a contract management certificate can be a step in advancing their careers. It can help them learn the necessary skills and tools to earn higher salaries or apply for more competitive roles within their companies.

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In addition to the potential for career advancement, many jobs related to contract management have a projected growth rate that’s as fast, or faster, than the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial occupations overall are projected to grow 8% over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Certificate in Contract Management Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer certificate programs online or in a hybrid format.

California State University – Sacramento

California State University Sacramento campus

California State University—Sacramento offers an online certificate in contract management that covers both practical skills and theoretical knowledge in the field.

Once students finish the prerequisite introductory class on contracts, they are expected to progress to the four online courses that comprise the program. These can typically be completed in four months.

California State University – Sacramento is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Cornell University

Cornell University campus

Cornell University’s fully online certificate in contract management program is designed to supply students with the tools needed excel in their careers. It covers topics such as the interpretation and preparation of contracts, risk management, and basic contract law.

The program can typically be completed in 2 months, with an average of four hours of coursework per week.

Cornell University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City University campus

Oklahoma City University’s contract management certificate program is specially designed for applicants with special interests in government contracts. The curriculum is designed for both new and experienced students in government contracting, and it can often be completed in just 2 months.

Oklahoma City University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University campus

The online procurement and contract management certificate through Oregon State University is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in a variety of roles.

Over the course of 9 months, students in the program study contract financing, law, and negotiation for relevant industries, including government and business contracts.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University campus

Saint Louis University offers a certificate program in contract management. It covers fundamental concepts, like financing, proposal management, and data analysis, which students must understand in order to create, negotiate, and enforce contracts. The certificate consists of 6 courses and is a total of 18 credits.

Students must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA throughout the program.

Saint Louis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University campus

San Diego State University offers a fully online, 7 month certificate in contract management program. It is designed to prepare graduates for the quickly growing contract administration field.

With coursework in key contracting principles, this program is often a great option for applicants hoping to prepare for upcoming contract management certification exams as well.

San Diego State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Shoreline Community College

Shoreline Community College campus

Shoreline Community College’s purchasing and contract management certificate consists of three core courses (14 credits). These courses may also be applied to an associate degree should students wish to continue with more advanced studies.

After completing the certificate program, graduates often qualify for entry-level positions, such as buyer or contract specialist roles.

Shoreline Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Strayer University

Strayer University campus1

Strayer University offers an online program for a diploma in acquisition contract management. It walks students through the comprehensive process of contract management, from development to execution.

The curriculum consists of twelve courses, each of which is 11 weeks long. These courses are designed to help students develop a robust, professional skillset.

Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of the Potomac

University of the Potomac campus

Students seeking to increase their understanding of government contracts may do so through the University of the Potomac’s government contract management certificate program. The certificate requires the completion of 18 credits, and there are both online and on-campus class formats depending on individual students’ needs.

The University of the Potomac is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of California – Irvine

University of California Irvine campus

The University of California—Irvine offers a certificate in contract management. This program is designed for students seeking to further their knowledge of the procurement and contract management process. It can help students prepare for jobs in government, commercial, or small business industries.

The program can span anywhere from 6 to 18 months depending on individual student course loads.

The University of California—Irvine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Getting Your Certificate in Contract Management Online

Certificate in Contract Management Online

If you are a motivated professional who is interested in creating and monitoring legal contracts, then earning your certificate in contract management may be a strategic move.

Contract managers are often leaders who pay sharp attention to detail, possess strong writing and communication skills, and enjoy negotiating terms. They can influence the stability and success of a company and are often faced with opportunities for career growth.

To begin your contract management training journey, you can start exploring online certificate programs offered by accredited colleges and universities.

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Molly Doyle
WRITTEN BY
Molly Doyle
Molly holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco and a B.A in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A Seattle-based educator, she focuses on student-centered instruction and creating culturally responsive curriculum.