Leading in the Workplace

Project Management degree helps students find success

For any student going into college, picking a major can be the most difficult decision. Not only are there 76 majors and 68 emphases to choose from at Minnesota State University Moorhead, but the decision may also determine their career path.

MSUM’s newly established Project Management program teaches students to lead in today’s workplace, while allowing students to find a job and get promoted in this fast-growing field. 

“We want to help students coming into college a little undecided, make the maximum choice for their dollar,” said Pam McGee, program coordinator.

Project managers are goal oriented, determined, and motivated people who lead companies to exceptional performance by working toward organizational objectives. They also understand business strategy and the need to reach project objectives within a budget and deadline.

Ninety-seven percent of executives surveyed by economists said project management was the single most important job category when it comes to looking for employees. Students with a Project Management major, minor, or certificate are able to distinguish themselves from other applicants and be one step ahead of everyone else.

“It looks great for any employer because it shows that you will get things done on time and within a specific budget and every employer loves that,” McGee said.

While the Project Management program consists of mostly transfer students, the degree can be a perfect fit for anyone by providing students with skills that are desired in jobs across most fields.

“I like how many options there are in the field,” said Brittany Shircliff (marketing). “Since it is a smaller and relatively new major, we get the chance to have a more personable relationship with our professors.” It is Shircliff’s first year taking project management classes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, project management careers will grow faster than the average for all other occupations combined. Project-oriented job openings are expected to increase annually by 1.2 million through 2016.

The Project Management program at MSUM began in spring 2014. Its unique delivery model allows students to take classes face-to-face, online, or hybrid depending on their life situation.

The degree program also helps prepare students for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The PMP certification is a globally recognized credential that drastically increases salary potential and maximizes project management skillset.

“Most industry professionals don’t get it until they have been on the job for three to five years, but students have the opportunity to get it before they even graduate,” McGee said.

If a student earns a C or better in the Project Management capstone class, MSUM will pay for the PMP certificate. The annual median salary of all entry-level project managers is between $53,991 and $72,460 per year. But with the certificate, salaries can increase anywhere from $81,364 to $104,801 annually.

Though the degree can be difficult, it is perfect for people who enjoy challenging themselves, working with diverse people and personalities, and doing different things all the time.

“Every day there is a new challenge and you’re never going to have straight guidelines on how to do something on your own,” Shircliff said. “I don’t like sitting behind a desk all day, so I like doing something new everyday.”

Project managers are one of the most desired professionals in today’s demanding job market. Regardless of your year or major, project management is versatile and can provide you with many different career options.

“If you want to distinguish yourself as a graduate, transfer student, or as an industry professional, add on Project Management and any of the faculty in the department will love to tell you how it works for your situation,” McGee said.