How is an MBA different from a Master of Project Management?

Learn the core differences between an MBA and a Master of Project Management to determine which degree is best for you to advance your career in project management.

How is an MBA different from a Master of Project Management?

Deciding to pursue a graduate degree is a significant decision that can impact your future career prospects. Two of the most popular graduate degrees in the business field are Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Project Management (MPM). Both degrees offer unique benefits but are vastly different when it comes to their curriculum, focus and career outcomes. In this article, we will explore some of the differences between an MBA and MPM, and how to choose the right degree for your career goals. 

Differences between MBA and Master of Project Management degrees

Let’s start with a brief overview of each degree. An MBA is a graduate degree that covers a broad range of business topics, such as finance, marketing, human resources and operations management. It’s designed to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of how businesses operate and how to manage people, resources and finances effectively. This degree is ideal for students who want to advance their career with specialist leadership skills and business knowledge.

On the other hand, a Master of Project Management is a graduate degree focusing on the skills and knowledge needed to manage projects successfully. Students in this program learn about project planning, execution and completion as well as budgeting, risk management, communication and leadership. This degree is ideal for students who want to specialise in project management and work in industries such as construction, healthcare, IT or engineering.

Another difference between the two degrees is their length. Most MBA programs require at least 18 months of study, while an MPM program can be completed in one to two years. Additionally, MBA programs usually require students to complete a capstone project, while an MPM program may require students to complete a real-world project or a PMP certification.

How work experience and career goals impact choosing between the two degrees

Your work experience and career goals play a significant role in choosing between an MBA and a Master of Project Management degree. If you already have experience in project management and/or business and want to specialise in this field, a Master of Project Management degree may be the best fit for you. This degree will provide you with the technical skills and knowledge you need to advance your career in project management.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in other areas of business, such as finance or marketing, or you’re looking to pivot your career into project management from another field, an MBA degree may be a better fit. An MBA program will provide you with a broad range of business and leadership skills and knowledge that you can apply to project management.

Understanding the job market for project management positions

When it comes to career opportunities, an MBA generally provides more options than a Master of Project Management. For example, an MBA can lead to executive roles or consulting positions. In contrast, an MPM may not have as many options available since it’s more specialised in project management. 

While an MBA might offer more opportunities for different roles you can expect to occupy, an MPM is equally flexible when it comes to industries. Infrastructure, banking, IT, education, research and development, financial services, health, construction, cybersecurity, not-for-profit organisations and sustainability are just a few industries where specialised project managers are needed. 

According to Jobs and Skills Australia’s Labour Market Insights, the number of project managers through 2026 is expected to grow by 11,900 to 139,700 in Australia alone. Worldwide, the Project Management Institute expects the labour force to grow by 33%, creating 22 million jobs by 2027.

However, the job market for project management positions can be highly competitive. Having a graduate degree in project management or an MBA degree may give you a competitive edge in the job market.

No matter which degree you choose, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in project management. Consider earning project management certifications such as the Registered Project Manager (RegPM) or the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which can help you demonstrate your expertise in the field.

Average salary with a master’s in project management

Another critical factor to consider when picking a degree is the average salary and earning potential. According to Seek, the average salary for a project manager in Australia is $135,000 with a job satisfaction rating of 4.2 out of 5.

As always, earning potential varies based on your location, industry and work experience. In terms of education, approximately 31% of project managers in Australia have a bachelor’s degree, but only approximately 18% have a postgraduate degree (Labour Market Insights). Therefore, if you want to secure higher-paying roles, an online project management course like our graduate certificate or an MBA degree can be an effective way to stand out from the crowd. 

Making the right choice for your career in project management

In conclusion, choosing between an MBA and an MPM degree depends on various factors such as your interests, work experience and long-term career goals. An MBA degree provides you with a broad range of business skills and knowledge, while an MPM degree prepares you for a career in project management.

Deciding on the right graduate degree is one step in building a successful career in project management. Studying online gives you the flexibility to fit study into your own schedule, and with QUT Online you have the opportunity to choose between a flexible part-time or full-time study. With hard work, dedication and a commitment to ongoing learning, you can achieve your career goals and become a successful project management professional. 

If you’re interested in furthering your career opportunities with a Master of Project Management or a QUT MBA, contact our Course Consultants at 1300 104 196 or apply online.

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