Help...MS in Project Management

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by faero13, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. faero13

    faero13 Member

    Hello all. First, I would like to thank Degreeinfo for helping me achieve my bachelor's degree from COSC in 2005. I am currently attending a B&M university, and I am pursuing a MS in Project Management degree. I chose this degree because it seems useful in any industry. I have already finished 9 credits, but I am starting to have second thoughts. (1) The MSPM degree is a business degree of sorts; however I do not have any business experience. (2) The courses focus strictly on business. (3) Almost all of my classmates seem to have true business careers except me. I feel like the odd man out, but I still feel that this degree will help me in the future. I don't know, maybe I'm just looking for a little encouragement here.... Has anybody else felt the same way? Are there any project managers, MSPM students, or anybody else that can offer some advice? Thanks in advance.
  2. Vinipink

    Vinipink Accounting Monster

    One time in my studies I felt the same way you do, but that did not stop me from finishing the degrees, this can be an opportunity to make connections with these people and get into the industry, bottom line if you are doing well don't give up!
  3. FLA Expatriate

    FLA Expatriate New Member

    Well, you are in a good school that has a great local name brand. A fellow co-worker of mine is also currently in the St Edwards MSPM program. He's completed approximately 1/2 the degree thus far, and gives it high marks. This gentleman holds a master's from TAMU as well, I believe.

    My former manager earned her MBA at St. Ed's a couple years ago. Her GPA was 4.0. She really put forth a considerable amount of effort to attain that average. Another co-worker also earned his MBA from St. Ed's back in the late-80s. Both speak rather highly about their experiences.

    I seriously considered earning my bachelor's there, but instead chose Texas State, which was Southwest Texas State at the time. SEU tuition is a bit too expensive for my pocket.

    My best advice is to go with the flow. Don't sell yourself short. I've felt out of place in a few classes, but always found some way to contribute.
  4. vewdew1

    vewdew1 New Member

    I'm shopping around for an online graduate program in Project Management right now. I've all but settled on UW-Platteville at this point, but during the course of my investigations I couldn't help but observe that some of the PM programs out there were, as you say, "strictly business."

    Some of the M.S. degree's were practically MBA's and had me scratching my head a little. Obviously you need a solid business foundation for the field, but some of them only lightly tickled the specific discipline of Project Management while diving neck deep into other functionally specific business areas. Seemed kind of odd to me.

    Anyway, even if you have no business experience to provide a context for those classes I'd say that they are still valuable (if not critical) to the field of Project Management, particularly in the areas of finance and general management/leadership. Plus, as Vini points out, it can provide you with many networking opportunities that might prove to be very useful to you later on.

    Hang in there!
  5. rtongue

    rtongue New Member

    Have you considered an MBA? It may provide more utility for you at this stage. Even if you are certain you want to work as a Project Manager, it may be difficult to land a PM position without real world experience. For example, in IT many PM’s were previously software developers or systems analyst.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2008
  6. DLG

    DLG New Member

    Columbia Southern MBA - Project Management


    Have you seen this program? I know it's an MBA program but it's light on business. The PM portion is only 12 credits but the basic MBA courses are mostly subjects that would support PM activity. An MBA is a respected degree for technical managers and this could be right for you. Also, CSU has a very liberal transfer credit policy so that your accumulated credit might not be wasted if you transfer. CSU is a DETC accredited school so you have to be sure that this fits your needs. If you aren't interested in continuing for a doctorate or teaching, this is probably not a problem for a project manager.

    Good Luck,

    - DLG
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Also, there are MBA programs that offer a concentration in PM.
  8. DLG

    DLG New Member

    My suggestion of CSU is for just such a program.
  9. skidadl

    skidadl Member

    I just realized that CSU takes part in federal financial aid programs.

    Wow, I never knew this.
  10. DLG

    DLG New Member

    They have a very impressive list of funding programs, partnerships, affiliations and reciprocity agreements (including with RA schools). They also manage DL programs for other universities.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    sorry D. somehow I spaced on that.
  12. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    I agree with FLA expat. I would not let a lack of business experience discourage you from completing the program. Many people with the business experience as a PM often complain they don't have enough technical experience. The grass is always greener on the other side I guess.
  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I agree with rtongue.
    I have worked as a program manager, or assistant PM, multiple times over the last 20 years or so in the aerospace business. I never saw a PM without a technical qualification. The key to a successfull PM is keeping a program on schedule and cost (not to mention a good team). I had a person assigned to me that could do that - mostly they had MBAs who kept track for me. In between program management assignments I went back to working technical assignments including proposal writing.
    Incidently I know of only one PM with a MPM degree (and that is from Keller He also had a masters in EE.
  14. faero13

    faero13 Member

    Thanks for the replies. I don't intend to work in the business arena, so will a MSPM or MBA (as suggested) prove beneficial? Essentially a business degree in a non-business related career field i.e. a homeland security/emergency preparedness environment.
  15. DLG

    DLG New Member

    I think the consensus is definitely "yes." First of all, an MBA is a plus in almost any project oriented environment. It can mean the difference between getting a job or not getting one. It gives you a fast-track to project management. I have also seen an MBA or MPA save senior engineers from burnout. After 20 years as an engineer, some guys get tired of trying to be on top of every new technical advance. In times of cutbacks, new graduates at low wages, take the jobs away from more senior higher paid engineers. In these circumstances, the MBA can sometimes make the difference between "up" and "out."
  16. vewdew1

    vewdew1 New Member

    In my experience, people with strictly technical backgrounds and no business management knowledge tend to make bad business decisions (and vice versa). PM's are expected to make informed strategic decisions related to the project based on "expert judgement" from sources both internal and external to the project team. It is far from a one man show. Although it is certainly helpful, expertise in a technical area is not the role of a PM. It's all about managing the triple constraints (scope, time, and cost). In fact, "expert judgement" from sources other than the PM is listed as a tool for a very large portion of the 44 processes in the PMBOK. It is repeated over and over again. I'd contend that your management/leadership, interpersonal, communication, and problem solving skills would all trump your technical expertise as a Project Manager in most scenarios.

    Throughout my coursework I recall a number of studies conducted on the subject of Project Management that revealed a failure rate of ~75% (one of them was a recent PMI study I believe). Yep, the vast majority of projects fail to meet one or more of the triple constraints. I seriously doubt that such a staggering statistic was the result of a lack of technical expertise.

    That said, those business management related courses (as part of an MBA or not), will be hugely benificial to. If you're target is Project Management specifically, you can't go wrong with either the MSPM or MBA. The MBA, however, may provide you with a wider array of opportunities outside of being a PM. The same thing could be said of any other degree concentrating on a specific discipline though. In the end, it's all about what you want to do.

  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Nice post Danny. I've been thinking about PM but wasn't sure it would work for me. I feel like I'm a step closer to a decision. Thanks.
  18. Here's another link that may help you; I've been a fan of this Standish Group report for over 10 years now (it's for IT but often relevant to other disciplines):

    Another thing to remember about Project Management - 90% of the job is all about communication. You can be PMP-certified, know the technology, etc. and still be a LOUSY PM. The best PMs that I know communicate early and often. This is a management discipline, not a technical one.

    Also remember the "iron triangle" - the relationship between scope, time and money. When one changes, at least one other must also change. The reason communication is so critical is to manage or prevent scope creep, to keep things on schedule when other things intrude, and to honestly represent that change requests cost time and/or money. A good PM is worth his/her weight in gold.
  19. SE Texas Prof

    SE Texas Prof Member

    SE Texas Prof

    Consider the program at the Keller Graduate School of Management. I initially completed an MBA with a concentration in project management. I later returned to complete a full Master of Project Management degree. It has opened several doors.

    The key to getting the full benefit from any degree is to have a clear expectation for what you hope the degree to do for you. My degree combined with my project management experience has helped me get the type of opportunites that I felt I deserved.

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