10 Best Online Doctorate in Project Management [PhD & DBA Guide]

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Explore the top online doctorate in project management PhD programs. Discover rewarding career opportunities in teaching, research, and business.

If you’re looking to play a direct role in managing the scope, budget, and timeline of a project, then an online doctorate in project management may be a good fit for you.

Doctorate in Project Management

This degree may lead you to an exciting career path that offers flexibility coupled with the potential to work in several different sectors.

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With an online PhD in Project Management, you may be well suited to pursue rewarding career options in teaching, research, or business. You may have the opportunity to work on projects that allow you to utilize advanced management, organization, and problem-solving skills.

Online Doctorate in Project Management Programs

Project Manager meeting colleagues

With an online doctorate in project management, you may find yourself with oversight and control of full project management responsibilities. These responsibilities may include project scope, budgeting, time management, and quality control.

At times, your responsibilities may extend to managing and supervising other teams or individuals who are contributing to a project. Other contributing roles include construction managers, operations managers, and logistics support personnel.

In many cases, the final degree you obtain may be granted as a doctorate of business administration in project management. This depends, though, on the school and program you choose to attend when pursuing a PhD in Project Management online.

The curriculum in an online project management PhD program may cover advanced project management principles, quality control, and human resource management practices.

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Courses may also include an in-depth review of qualitative and qualitative research design and analysis methodologies. With a Ph.D., you may be well prepared to pursue a career as a professor or teacher, researcher, top-level executive, project manager, or consultant.

These positions may exist in various industries, such as academia, pharmaceuticals, engineering, marketing, software, and government. Depending on your previous work experience and education, you may qualify for positions like architectural and engineering manager, construction manager, or industrial production manager.

While these positions can benefit from the expertise you may gain in a project management PhD program, they may also require previous work experience or education in a relevant field.

For example, previous work experience as an engineer coupled with a PhD in Project Management may prove to be a valuable combination for architectural and engineering managers.

Project Management Careers & Salaries

Project Management Careers & Salaries

Becoming a Doctor of Project Management may provide you the opportunity to pursue a variety of career paths and enjoy flexibility in your professional life. Project management is a skill set that can benefit all types of industries, including those in business, nonprofit, and government.

With your online project management degree, you may find positions in education, science, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, engineering, marketing, and software development. Other industries that may value your expertise could include federal, state, and municipal governments as well as nonprofits and NGOs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not only are there a number of different career paths available with a Ph.D. in Project Management, but many careers also boast a higher than average annual salary.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executive, Manufacturing $208,000
Chief Executive, Healthcare and Social Assistance $160,950
Human Resources Manager $121,220
Chief Executive, Government $113,270
Industrial Production Manager $108,790
General and Operations Manager $103,650
Postsecondary Business Teacher $88,010
Management Analyst $87,660
Operations Research Analyst $86,200
Business Operations Specialist $77,420

Many positions in the realm of project management are predicted to experience job growth for the decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this includes positions like top executive (4% growth), general and operations managers (6%), business operations specialists (6%), and postsecondary business teachers (12%).

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Other positions like management analysts and operations research analysts are poised to experience significant growth at 11% and 25% respectively.

PhD in Project Management Curriculum

The curriculum offered in many project management PhD programs aims to build on intermediate project management principles and provide you with a new level of expertise, all while developing advanced research skills. Some courses may be similar to those of an online graduate certificate in project management and are listed here.

  • Advanced Concepts of Project Management: This course is an in-depth look at various project management methodologies for overseeing a variety of project types, from simple to complex and from local to global.
  • Projects as Complex Adaptive Systems: You’ll examine practices to ensure the success of complex and challenging projects, including a look at executing and monitoring projects as well as quality assurance.
  • Advanced Risk Management: You’ll explore potential risks that can be faced during the project management process and discuss methods to mitigate the impact risks have on the final outcome of a project.
  • Program and Portfolio Management: This course evaluates various portfolio management practices to improve the execution of complete projects from beginning to end, including alignment with business values through to effective quality control mechanisms.
  • Qualitative Research Design: This course takes a look at qualitative research design best practices as it relates to project management.
  • Quantitative Research Techniques: You’ll examine quantitative research techniques utilized in project management research initiatives, including best practices and ethical considerations.
  • Operations Management: This course reviews methods that are commonly used in the management of operations personnel and business processes within private organizations and nonprofits.
  • Global Project Management: You’ll take a look at project management from a global perspective, including cultural and political implications, global distribution, and the role of geography in the management process.
  • Human Resource Management: You’ll examine key human resource management practices and discuss the use of training, development, and performance management as it relates to project management.
  • Quality Management and Control: This course explores methods to evaluate and improve the quality of processes, production, and products, including an understanding of the impact that quality has on customer relations.

In addition to required coursework, most project management doctorate programs culminate in either a dissertation or capstone project that is a requirement of graduation.

Admissions Requirements

Doctorate in Project Management student studying online

Depending on the school you’re applying to, some admission criteria may include those listed below.

  • Masters degree from an accredited institution
  • Reference letters that speak to your professional and academic experience
  • Proof of funding for your PhD education
  • GRE or GMAT scores, if required

In some cases, schools may prefer that your masters degree is completed in a specific educational area to accept you into their program.

Additionally, a growing number of schools now no longer require GRE or GMAT scores as part of the application process. This is true for both doctorate programs but also for online masters in project management no GMAT programs. So, you may want to double check the specific requirements of the institutions you’re interested in attending.


Doctorate in Project Management Accreditation

When an academic program is accredited, its curriculum has undergone extensive review and has met a certain level of academic quality.

The accreditation status of a program can impact your ability to qualify for financial aid, obtain employment, and register as a member of relevant professional associations. So, the accreditation status of an academic program is of particular importance when applying to PhD programs in project management.

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You can find more information about the accreditation status of programs you’re interested in attending via the US Department of Education‘s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Doctorate in Project Management Financial Aid

There are various financial aid options that can help qualifying students reduce the financial aspect of a graduate degree.

Federal and state grant and loan programs are aid options that may work for you, and scholarships are another avenue of funding that may help with your tuition costs. You can find more information and apply for financial aid through the US Department of Education‘s website.

Many postsecondary schools that offer PhD programs in project management may also offer their own funding packages to students. While packages vary from one school to the next, they often include financial support to cover tuition costs and living expenses while completing your degree.

What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Project Management?

Management Analyst talking to a client

There is a range of positions and career paths available to you with a doctorate in project management, including positions in leadership, project management, teaching, and research.

With your PhD, you may be able to find a position with an employer or branch out and start your own business. Some common career options may include chief executive positions in manufacturing, healthcare, social assistance, or government.

Other career opportunities with a degree in project management include operations specialties manager, industrial production manager, general and operations manager, postsecondary teacher, management analyst, operations research analyst, and business operations specialist.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Project Management Online?

Doctorate in Project Management student studying online

Traditionally, PhD programs take approximately 3 to 5 years to complete if you’re attending on a full-time basis. This time frame includes the completion of coursework and your research-based dissertation.

In some cases, you may be able to complete your PhD in less time. This may depend on the structure and sequencing of the program you choose to attend as well as your ability to transfer credits or count professional experience towards credit hours.

What Is the Difference Between Construction Management vs. Project Management?

Project Manager briefing teammates

While construction management and project management may seem similar, the scope of project management is much wider than that of construction management. Construction managers have a more specific area of expertise and are highly knowledgeable in various areas of construction.

Project managers generally approach projects from a wider lens with a more generalized skillset. In many cases, a project manager will oversee and supervise a construction manager.

What Is the Difference Between Product Management vs. Project Management?

Product management focuses on the development of products, which may include the creation of new product ideas and plans to fit within an existing product line. Project management operates more broadly and will work from product management concepts to execute the development and release of a product.

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This may include sourcing and importing materials, overseeing the actual development of the product, and implementing quality control measures. Project management would also ensure that the product is developed on time, on budget, and within scope.

What Is the Difference Between Operations Management vs. Project Management?

Operations Manager meeting with staff

The main difference between operations management and project management is duration and scope.

Project management covers a set, temporary amount of time required to get a project completed. Operations management, on the other hand, is ongoing and deals with the continuous operations of a business, plant, or organization.

Some of the duties may appear similar, such as budgeting, managing direct reports and teams, and resolving problems. The difference is that project management deals with these issues on a project-by-project, short-term basis while operations management is ongoing.

Is a Doctorate in Project Management Worth It?

Operations Research Analysts in a meeting

Yes, a PhD in Project Management is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common project management careers in this field include chief executive, operations specialties manager, postsecondary teacher, management analyst, and business operations specialist.

Since nearly all sectors of the economy can benefit from project management expertise, your degree may provide you with the chance to experience a broad selection of industries and business models.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Project Management Degree Programs

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

Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Bellevue University’s PhD in Human Capital Management program is divided into four distinct categories imperative for students’ understanding of the field.

These include measuring, analyzing, and assessing human capital effectiveness, human capital leadership, and introduction to measurement, linking human capital to organizational outcomes and strategic human capital management and productivity.

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University’s PhD in Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management is an ACBSP accredited program. The program has 11 core courses and allows a maximum of 12 transfer credits.

Students learn about contemporary leadership theories and practices, complexity theories for improving projects, risk management techniques, and current and emerging methodologies.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Students enrolled in Colorado Technical University’s Doctor of Management program have five concentration options from which to choose, or they can remain in the general track. Students will benefit from in-person symposium experiences and dissertation courses that are built into the curriculum. Most students complete the program in 3 years.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Fox University

George Fox University campus

There are three concentration choices in George Fox University’s Doctor of Business Administration program: accounting, marketing, and management.

Students who pursue management will take a mixture of core business, education and teaching, and management-specific courses and complete a dissertation. They’ll also be required to come to campus a total of six times.

George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Students in the Doctor of Business Administration program at Grand Canyon University can select the management emphasis to learn about the complexities of management, law in business management, proposing organizational restructuring, and how to address complex issues in management.

Courses include business literature, designing organizational structures, and business economics.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The 60 credit Doctor of Business Administration in Project Management program at Liberty University can be completed entirely online in about 3 years.

The program is accredited by the ACBSP and features a Christian-centric curriculum. There are no standardized test scores required for admission, and a dissertation isn’t required to graduate.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University campus

National University’s Doctor of Business Administration in Project Management program puts heavy emphasis on leadership, team building, and the processes involved in overseeing projects.

The curriculum covers a lot of management-related material, such as bid negotiation and contracts, cost control, budget management, risk assessment, cost estimates, and performance reporting.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

Saint Leo University’s Doctor of Business Administration in Management program requires 57 total credits for completion.

Graduates should be able to provide original, intellectual contributions to business management fields, synthesize the global implications of research, and demonstrate a high level of proficiency in written, oral presentation, and critical thinking skills.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

Students enrolled in the online Doctor of Business Administration program at University of Maryland Global Campus will receive advanced training in the fields of organizational leadership, change and sustainability, and management theory and strategic thinking.

The program utilizes the cohort method of instruction and requires 48 total credits for completion.

University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University’s Doctor of Business Administration in Project Management program is a comprehensive program that combines foundational, core business and business strategy courses with specialization and research methods courses.

There are also required courses in doctoral writing and doctoral mentoring. Two face-to-face academic residencies must also be completed before graduation.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Doctorate in Project Management Online

Getting Your Doctorate in Project Management Online

If you like managing, coordinating, and having oversight of large scale projects while helping others work together towards a common goal, then an online PhD program in project management may be a good fit for you.

A career in project management may allow you to work in a variety of industries, from academia to pharmaceuticals, engineering, marketing, software, and government. Positions in the nonprofit sector may also be available.

With high-paying positions and a positive job outlook over the next decade, pursuing an online accredited doctoral degree in project management may offer you a beneficial return on your investment.

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Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.