Certified Program Manager Classes & Courses

Learn what it takes to become a certified program manager. Find out about the programs that exist, the classes you might take, and what's required to earn certification. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Education Options Are There to Become a Program Manager?

Program manager is the title given to someone who manages multiple related projects for a business, allowing them to work smoothly together and achieve more than they would otherwise have been able. In this way, program managers are something of a step up from project managers, with both positions requiring similar skillsets and knowledge, differing mostly in scale. Program managers are often promoted from project managers as a result, and relatively few universities offer courses designed to lead directly to a position as a program manager. Still, some programs do exist, primarily as certificates for those who are already working as project managers or have completed project management degrees. Program managers can also receive certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Program Managers Individuals in charge of multiple, interconnected projects, who help to maximize results and minimize redundancy
Program Manager Certificates May be exclusively in program management, or combined with project management
Program Manager Courses Program development, program planning, project integration
Certification PgMP certification through PMI

What Kinds of Program Manager Certificate Programs Exist?

Program management education programs may exist as independent certificates, or they may come blended with more general project management courses. While these certificate programs rarely require that students hold a bachelor's degree, allowing the option for work experience to act as a substitute, many are structured under the assumption that those taking the program already have some familiarity with the field. Those new to the field or who hold general business degrees might be best served by looking for combined project and program management certificates, which go over what is expected of project managers and allow students to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam from PMI. Certificate programs for program managers are often designed to prepare the student for Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification instead.

What Kinds of Courses Will I Take to Earn a Certificate in Program Management?

Program management certificate programs include courses like program development, portfolio management, and program planning. These tackle the differences between running projects and programs, and how best to prepare and organize the projects within your program. Blended courses might cover topics from both areas, such as project integration, schedule optimization, and principles of business analysis. Those without any history of project or program management would also be well served to study the role of a project manager, aspects of successful teams, and project leadership to fully understand what the field requires. There are also focuses one can develop, such as lean, extreme, and agile project management, which can provide the sort of skills that are highly sought after.

What Certifications Are Available for Program Managers?

The primary certification for program managers is the PgMP certification through PMI, and most courses in the field are designed with this certification in mind. To receive PgMP certification, an individual must hold at least a high school diploma, if not an associate's degree, as well as 6,000 hours of project management experience and 10,500 hours of program management experience. Alternatively, if an individual has a bachelor's degree, only 6,000 hours of project management experience and 6,000 hours of program management experience are required. Applicants for the certification must undergo a panel review and take a 170-question exam. Upon receiving certification, 60 professional development units, in the form of continuing education, must be earned every 3 years; many of the courses offered as part of a certificate in program management will count towards these requirements. While certification is not required to work as a program manager, obtaining certification can go a long way in proving your level of ability to employers and will allow you to command more respect and likely higher pay as well.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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