Is A Masters in Construction Management Worth It

Last Updated on August 8, 2022

A master’s in construction management may make the difference when it comes to getting a good job out of college. The extra education could help a graduate get into a good position right out of school. This could lead to a rewarding career as an engineer, architect or construction manager that helps create some of the most important buildings in the country. Is it worth it?

For individuals looking to find out more about a Masters Degree in Construction Management and Construction Management Degree Salary, you are at the right place. I have provided details on the very best universities in world for studying construction management as well.

The Construction Management field is booming. The Collegiate of construction management experts boast that the construction industry is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in the world. As reported by the US Bureau Labor Statistics, students with a degree in Construction Management can expect to make an average salary of  $86,900.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Project Manager?

“A project manager takes a project and drives it through an organization, helping the organization achieve the project goals set forth by executive leadership,” says Christopher Bolick, lead faculty for Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Project Management program.

The main responsibilities of a project manager, he says, focus on oversight of the five stages of the project life cycle, which include:

  1. Initiating: Define the primary objectives and scope of the project, identify the key stakeholders, discuss overall expectations, and secure the permission to move forward.
  2. Planning: Create an integrated project plan based on project goals in order to manage elements such as scope, cost, timelines, risk, quality, and communication.
  3. Executing: Complete the work as scheduled and resolve issues as they arise.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: Throughout the project, compare actual performance with planned performance and adjust project plans as necessary.
  5. Closing: Release resources that are no longer needed, close contracts, pay invoices, archive project files, and lead a post-implementation review.

Is A Masters In Construction Management Worth It?

The project management field is expected to see substantial growth over the next decade, making now a great time to upskill and meet demand. According to the PMI, employers will need to fill about 2.2 million project-related jobs each year until 2027. This need comes at a time when many project management professionals are retiring, which will create even more of a demand for early- or mid-career professionals with the right skills and project management experience.

One way to advance your career in this industry is by obtaining PMP certification from the PMI. Certification helps demonstrate your proficiency in managing projects and teams. It also tends to lead to a salary boost; according to the PMI, the median annual salary of a project manager with PMP certification is $111,000, as compared to $91,000 for non-PMP holders.

However, PMP certification alone does not provide you with the wide range of skills necessary to manage complex projects or increasingly diverse teams. Instead, a master’s degree in project management can be the key to advancing your career, as it focuses on building the critical project management skills you need to thrive in this industry. These skills can include developing cultural awareness, managing interpersonal conflict, and leading remote teams, among others. 

“The foundational goal of the Master of Science in Project Management program is to teach students how to efficiently and effectively deliver projects in an ethical manner,” Bolick says.

5 Benefits of an MS in Project Management

Master of Science in Project Management will help you advance your career in five key ways.

1. You’ll learn project management skills in a real-world setting.

A high-quality master of project management program like Northeastern’s will offer students multiple opportunities for experiential learning—such as co-ops or internships—which allow them to gain real, hands-on experience and put their education to use.

Through these experiences, students acquire knowledge and skills through observation and experimentation in a professional setting. At Northeastern, this is achieved by providing students the chance to support organizations that would otherwise lack the resources to perform critical tasks, including cost estimating, scheduling, and quality assurance.

“We partner with a company that has a project to complete, and develop a project management plan that they will use,” Bolick says. Through this approach, “students see how the processes and tools that they are learning [in the classroom] can be used in the workforce.”

Experiential learning also allows students to build their communication skills, especially with executives and project sponsors who authorize a project to move forward. This alone may make a master’s in project management worth it to some, as a PMP certification will not address the nuances of interpersonal communication in the same way.

2. You’ll identify key project management trends.

Today’s emerging project management trends reflect the changing nature of how organizations define and organize teams. “Teams may no longer be comprised of traditional resources,” Bolick says. “They may not be centrally located. They may be supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.”

This digitization of the workforce requires new competencies among project managers, as well, Bolick adds. As tactical and repeatable processes such as routine cost estimation are automated, these professionals will have to increasingly use their soft skills to facilitate a team’s work. This requires developing a unique range of abilities, including cognitive flexibility, analytical savvy, and managing resource efficiency.

Leading a digitized workforce also requires paying closer attention to cultural dynamics. Project teams, like the companies that employ them, are increasingly global, with employees based in disparate locations and representing a variety of cultural backgrounds. “The cultural awareness factor [in today’s project managers] is important now more than ever,” Bolick says.

3. You’ll be more prepared for a senior project management role.

A master’s degree in project management is not always required for a role as a project manager, but the requirement is becoming increasingly common. According to a recent report from Burning Glass Labor Insight, 34 percent of project management job postings prefer or require a graduate degree in addition to requiring PMP certification.

What’s more, a master’s degree can prepare you to take on additional project management responsibility within your organization and increase your earnings as a project manager. For instance, with a graduate degree, you may get the opportunity to:

  • Take a role as a senior project manager. According to a recent PMI survey of project management professionals in the United States, promotion to a more senior project management role is often accompanied by a salary increase of at least 10 percent. For example, moving from a Project Manager II role to a Project Manager III role typically comes with a 13 percent raise.
  • Manage a larger team. Project managers’ earnings increase as they take on the added responsibility of managing larger project teams. A project manager who oversees a team of 20 or more people earns about eight percent more than a project manager with a team of 10 to 14 people, according to the PMI.
  • Manage a larger project. The overall budget of a project can impact the salary of the project manager overseeing that project. Larger projects tend to have larger teams and tend to be a higher priority for an organization. According to the PMI, a project manager overseeing a project with a budget of more than $10 million can expect to earn about 18 percent more than someone overseeing a project with a budget of less than $1 million, and 40 percent more than someone overseeing a project with a budget of less than $100,000.

4. You can prepare for a project management role in a specific field.

While many of the guiding principles of project management can be applied to a job in any industry, there are certain business processes, regulations, and best practices that apply to specific industries. For example, construction and energy have specific regulations regarding workplace safety, healthcare has strict protections in place for the use of personal health information, and information technology often moves and changes direction at a much faster pace than other industries.

One factor that makes a master’s degree in project management worthwhile is the ability to select a concentration in the field that you currently work in or would like to transition into. In top programs like Northeastern’s, faculty members will have direct experience working in a variety of industries and concentrations, which they will be able to share with students as they embark on this kind of specialized training.

In Northeastern’s masters in project management degree, for example, students are able to choose from a number of concentrations to find the option that best fits their career interests and goals. These include: 

  • Analytics
  • Agile Project Management
  • Construction Management
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Communication
  • Project Business Analysis
  • Leading and Managing Technical Projects

5. You’ll learn skills with an impact beyond project management.

Even if your career path eventually takes you in a different direction, the skills that you can learn during the pursuit of a master’s in project management will help you in whatever new role you take. The key characteristics of an effective project manager—which include organization, discipline, time management, and communication—are well-suited for any job in today’s ever-changing world.

What Else Can I Expect From A Master’s Program In Construction Management?

A master’s in construction management builds skills in management, business, and technology. The field offers students diverse options for specialization, with some schools providing a construction management master’s degree as a concentration of management, and others hosting unique programs in emerging fields, such as sustainable construction and construction technology. Some of the field’s most common concentrations are outlined below.

CONCENTRATIONDESCRIPTIONCAREERS
Construction Project ManagementStudents concentrating on construction project management learn to increase efficiency and maximize performance in a construction business setting. Coursework explores maintaining delivery schedules, meeting building regulations, and meeting investor demands.Construction project manager, commercial project manager, subcontractor manager
Real EstateThis concentration provides students with the combination of real estate development and construction management skills needed to become managers and entrepreneurs. Coursework explores methods of acquiring, creating, and managing various types of real estate.Real estate construction manager, district property manager, real estate developer
Sustainability and Green ConstructionAn emerging concentration in increasingly high demand, sustainability and green construction teaches students to meet the latest regulatory standards in environmentally responsible construction. The curriculum focuses on the LEED green building rating scale.Green building construction manager, sustainability associate, green building/sustainability consultant
Supply Chain and Logistics TechnologyThis concentration provides students with the management and technical skills needed to maintain inventory, sales, procurement, and logistics functions within an industrial or manufacturing environment. Coursework emphasizes apps and software specific to the field of construction management.IT construction manager, technical project manager, engineering technology manager
Facility ManagementFacility management students learn to manage and oversee operations for existing buildings and facilities. Coursework covers civic regulations, safety standards, and project management.Facilities manager, buildings and grounds manager, operations manager

Courses in a Master’s in Construction Management Program

Curricula vary by program; however, most construction management master’s programs offer courses in topics such as budgeting and estimating, materials, functions, and scheduling. The following courses are commonly found in construction management curricula.COLLAPSE ALLBuilding Systems: Materials and Construction

This course teaches students to consider architectural concerns when selecting and working with common building materials. Topics include evaluation methods, innovative materials, and design controls. Coursework places the core concepts of construction management in the context of architectural planning, which is ideal for aspiring architects and civil engineers.Construction Accounting and FinanceBudgeting and EstimatingPlanning and SchedulingFunctions of the Constructor

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Construction Management?

Students earning a master’s in construction management typically take two years of full-time study to complete the degree, though the timeline varies depending on several factors. Many schools offer accelerated completion times, especially for online degrees, allowing students to earn their degree faster. Students should also consider how many credits they can take per semester while balancing work and family obligations.

Students looking to earn a construction management master’s degree in two years or less should research obligations beyond traditional coursework, such as an internship, that might require additional time and transportation. Generally, online master’s in construction management degrees provide the most flexible options for students seeking to graduate faster. Students can also take classes part time, which may add years to the degree.

How Much Is a Master’s in Construction Management?

Tuition varies by program. Factors that affect cost include the time to completion, type of institution, and whether the program is available on campus or online. Location also affects the price of tuition, as public schools charge more from out-of-state students than in-state students. Some programs, especially those offered online, maintain set tuition rates for all students regardless of residency. Many online programs offer discounts exclusive to distance learners, including lower tuition rates, vouchers toward laptop purchases, scholarships, and grants.

According to a study conducted by Sallie Mae, the cost of a master’s degree in 2017 averaged nearly $25,000. While the study does not specify the cost of a construction management degree, closely related graduate programs in business administration and engineering cost students $21,844 and $25,252, respectively.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Construction Management Prepares For

COLLAPSE ALLCertified Construction Manager

The CCM credential demonstrates that a candidate meets education and experience requirements set by the American National Standards Institute. While construction managers do not need certification, they may seek CCM designation by completing a four-year or two-year degree and four years of work experience, or eight years of industry experience. Candidates must also pass a CCM exam.Associate ConstructorCertified Professional Constructor

What Can I Do With A Masters In Construction Management?

As you will see in upcoming sections, salaries in construction management are quite competitive. With a degree in construction management, students can advance in their career and increase their pay rate. In order to succeed as a construction manager, students will also need to have or get the years of experience required to understand the industry. This position allows job seekers to express their leadership skills, creativity and passion for construction. In addition, the structures and projects managed are visible for everyone to see and can bring an extreme sense of accomplishment.

There’s an increasing demand for construction and re-purposing commercial infrastructure due to the aging infrastructure in the nation as a whole. Employers tend to hire candidates who have both job training and a masters degree. Therefore, before seeking a construction management masters degree, candidates should work a few years in all levels of construction. Alternatively, students can seek experience while they obtained their degree online to gain experience faster without putting off their education.

This is a leadership role and successful graduates emerge as decision-makers. Leadership is part of The DNA of construction managers. Therefore, those who aren’t comfortable supervising others and directing workflow may not be comfortable in this role. For those with natural leadership flair, this could be a very rewarding career path.

Construction managers have a lot of autonomy. For students who love independence and thrive on leadership roles, this is a great position. construction managers are problem solvers and entrepreneurs who must be able to motivate themselves and others and find unique solutions to sticky problems that arise on a daily basis.

In this field, continuous learning is a must. Intellectual growth is part and parcel of the position. This position challenges successful candidates to hone their problem-solving skills. It also requires a creative mind, and many practitioners find it deeply rewarding on both a professional and personal level.

With the right experience and a construction management masters, students can expect to move up quickly. Many CMs manage million-dollar projects at the beginning of their careers. Although this puts tremendous pressure on those new to the playing field, it also creates enormous opportunities for those with a gift for the job.

For students who like to travel, a masters in construction management can bring plenty of opportunities to see the country or the world. Projects can be based anywhere and those who are willing to travel will find themselves with plenty of work to do. This is particularly true for CMs who live in more remote areas. Often, construction managers stay on site for several weeks at a time. This can be difficult for those who have families left behind, but it can be a wonderful way to see the country.

After earning a degree in construction management, students can secure high paying jobs and enjoy job stability. Students learn even more on the job and develop a versatile skill set that becomes invaluable as their career progresses. For students who can solve problems and lead people and organizations, this is a great degree to have.

Construction Management Degree SalaryConstruction Management Degree Salary

Students may still wonder if a construction management degree is worth it. The only way to measure this is to consider the potential construction management degree salary. Below, we provide typical masters in construction management salary ranges according to 500 positions surveyed. This information comes from Salary.com’s research on a master of construction management salary.

A construction management salary with masters depends on items already mentioned, including your experience, level of education, and your specialization. For those wondering how to get into construction management, we recommend obtaining at least a few years of experience before beginning a masters program.

Is construction management stressful? Due to all the responsibility that falls in this role it can be very stressful. The safety of the crew, the schedule, satisfaction of the client and the final result all fall on the shoulders of the construction manager.

Typical Salaries

  • Average salary with a construction management degree: $75k
  • Senior Project Manager: $126k
  • Project Manager: $92k
  • Project Engineer: $71k
  • Construction Estimator: $65k
  • Assistant Project Manager: $65k

As you can see, a construction management degree salary can be lucrative on every level. in order to achieve a masters in construction management salary, students need to obtain a masters in construction management. With a master of construction management salary, Students can achieve real change in their lives and gain more responsibility and autonomy at work. Those seeking a construction management salary with masters have a lot to prove. If you’re wondering how to get into construction management, start by looking at accredited online program so that you can continue to gain experience in the field.

Top Universities For Construction Management In WorldAlthough we recommend filtering by degree level first, you can view the list below to see which schools give the educational experience for the construction management degree levels they offer. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.

15 Top Schools in Construction Management

Columbia University in the City of New York

Any student pursuing a degree in construction management needs to look into Columbia University in the City of New York. Columbia is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the large city of New York. A Best Schools rank of #22 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means Columbia is a great university overall.

There were about 42 construction management students who graduated with this degree at Columbia in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the construction management major at Columbia University in the City of New York make $45,567 more than the typical graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo

California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo is a wonderful decision for students pursuing a degree in construction management. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a very large public university located in the suburb of San Luis Obispo. A Best Schools rank of #70 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a great university overall.

There were about 94 construction management students who graduated with this degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the most recent data year.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California is one of the best schools in the country for getting a degree in construction management. Located in the city of Los Angeles, USC is a private not-for-profit university with a very large student population. A Best Schools rank of #33 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide means USC is a great university overall.

There were roughly 11 construction management students who graduated with this degree at USC in the most recent year we have data available.

Virginia Tech

Any student pursuing a degree in construction management has to take a look at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is a very large public school located in the city of Blacksburg. A Best Schools rank of #73 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide means Virginia Tech is a great school overall.

There were approximately 120 construction management students who graduated with this degree at Virginia Tech in the most recent data year.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Located in the suburb of Hoboken, Stevens is a private not-for-profit school with a medium-sized student population. A Best Schools rank of #90 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means Stevens is a great school overall.

There were roughly 17 construction management students who graduated with this degree at Stevens in the most recent year we have data available.

San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia is a small private for-profit college located in the rural area of Visalia. This college ranks 93rd out of 203 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

There were about 30 construction management students who graduated with this degree at San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia in the most recent year we have data available. Students who graduate with their degree from the construction management program report average early career wages of $50,500.

Wentworth Institute of Technology

WIT is a small private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Boston. A Best Schools rank of #158 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means WIT is a great school overall.

There were roughly 138 construction management students who graduated with this degree at WIT in the most recent year we have data available. Those construction management students who get their degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology make $10,917 more than the typical construction management graduate.

New York University

NYU is a fairly large private not-for-profit university located in the large city of New York. A Best Schools rank of #53 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means NYU is a great university overall.

There were approximately 10 construction management students who graduated with this degree at NYU in the most recent year we have data available.

Dunwoody College of Technology

Dunwoody College of Technology is a small private not-for-profit college located in the large city of Minneapolis. This college ranks 9th out of 63 colleges for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

There were about 14 construction management students who graduated with this degree at Dunwoody College of Technology in the most recent data year.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

UMN Twin Cities is a very large public university located in the city of Minneapolis. A Best Schools rank of #120 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide means UMN Twin Cities is a great university overall.

There were roughly 24 construction management students who graduated with this degree at UMN Twin Cities in the most recent year we have data available.

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