Should Project Management be a required college curriculum?

Home Forums Program and Project Management Should Project Management be a required college curriculum?

This topic contains 17 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Josh Nankivel 7 years, 7 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #168316

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Anyone who has ever worked in a business environment knows how critical project management is to bridging the gap between strategy and operations. It is the fundamental discipline through which benefits are delivered to end users and stakeholders. It is ubiquitous. And it’s why the federal government is starting to put a strong emphasize on professionalizing the discipline.

    A strong project management knowledge base just isn’t for “official” project managers. All too often projects falter because project participants — whether direct or indirect — are simply ignorant of the basic function of project management.

    I don’t understand why the higher education system doesn’t make project management a requirement for earning an undergraduate degree in business administration, engineering, etc. College graduates are ill-prepared to work in today’s project-based business environment.

    Do you agree that project management should be a required college curriculum?

  • #168350

    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I do agree.

    Everyone in a leadership role of any kind manages projects, whether they know it or not. And many of the techniques learned in project management can be applied more broadly in operations and other situations.

  • #168348

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Josh, great point. There are so many areas in business and life which I apply PM skills.

  • #168346

    Cheryl L. Huckerby
    Participant

    It already is at a basic level if you look at the skills that are needed to schedule classes and complete work on time, etc. There should be a closer look at the current KSA’s of project management and clearly define them with respect to project management in the workplace. I expect we’ll see that the workforce is heavily involved in project management in various ways. There already is a professional organization for this as such, we don’t need another empty certificate that says people sat through a series of classes not to mention the extra expense of preping for the PM certificate and taking the exam which is where this trend seems to be going. For example, how many times have you heard “If you don’t have a PM certificate we don’t consider you a project manager.” And guess what, the bigger issue is the need for program management, i.e. putting all the projects and their results together to move the organinzation/agency forward, That is somewhat intertwined with leadership but there are a lot of program managers that support leadership in that compacity. People have and are using the skills, lets applaude them for doing so instead of requiring additional work and cost to “show” they have the skills.

  • #168344

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Cheryl, I think the point that I am trying to make is that project management is a professional discipline in and of itself — like Accounting. And because so many employees are involved in projects either directly or indirectly, our higher education system (whether it’s an undergraduate business degree or an MBA) should include project management as a requisite course to obtain a degree. I agree that you don’t necessarily need a professional certificate to manage projects or programs successfully, but somewhere along the way that individual has to obtain a command of the project management body of knowledge to be effective. If you’re an undergraduate in Accounting, the school is preparing you to pass the CPA. There’s no reason that higher ed shouldn’t prep students in a similar way to pass the PMP.

  • #168342

    Cheryl L. Huckerby
    Participant

    Hi Chris, I think we will have to agree to disagree. Accounting is a specific practical skill which everyone has and uses to some degree or another i.e. balancing you bank account. Accountants as a profession do the same work on a larger level and for other people due the piece of paper they have attained. Project management is also a skill people use every day and if you want, you can get a certificate to do it for other people. I’ve looked into the program. So what is the difference between the current certificate system and a university program? There isn’t as the programs I have seen use the same courses and require registration with the same body. I think the bottom line is “what is the difference between someone with a certificate versus someone with the skills but no certifcate and who of the two will be hired?” Too often we get focused on having a piece of paper instead of looking at a person’s actual abilities.

  • #168340

    Tracey Harriot
    Participant

    The MS Management degree that I am completing has Project Management as a required course for all five of the available tracts. I have to say, now that I have completed 10 out of the 11 required courses, the PM course was the most valuable to me. Not only was it challenging, but it really helped me connect the dots between the contracting office that I work in, the program offices that I work with, and the contractors that we work with. My classmates held various types of career positions in many different industries and I can say that we all took something valuable away from our time spent in the class. In retrospect, I don’t know how one could get a M.S.M. without this course!

  • #168338

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Appreciate the comment, Tracey. I’ve studied for and earned a number of certifications over the years. Project Management has by far been the most valuable. I apply the tools and techniques nearly every day, whether I’m leading a project or not.

  • #168336

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Cheryl, which certification system are you referring to? Is there one at your agency?

  • #168334

    Anita Arile
    Participant

    Yes, Yes, I whole-heartedly agree with this… at least for the Graduate (Masters) level…

    Many of the projects several of my colleagues, inclusive of yours truly, have been focused on “project management”. What I find interesting (in our office at least) is that although my section, which is a part of the Accounting Division, is comprised strictly of mid-managers (Management Analysts II to Management Analysts IV, which is the highest level in our Division), none of us are afforded a “Project Coordinator” or “Project Management Analyst” title.

    Maybe because our office is the Finance (or Accounting) Division; or, perhaps because our “many” projects are actually short-term (less than 2 years, with 5 at the most). Either way, the many mini-projects (usually a result of various, and quite volumnous, mandates handed to us by our local legislative body) consume our resumes and make seeking promotional growth tiring and cumbersome; partially because we do not have that “certificate” or “title” (Re: Project Coordinator or Project Management Analyst”).

    Or, perhaps as Ms Huckerby had posted, “There should be a closer look at the current KSA’s of project management and clearly define them with respect to project management in the workplace”

    Then again, the experience is challenging and most of us enjoy challenges. 🙂

  • #168332

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Great response, Anita. Thanks. Even in functional areas like accounting and finance where you might think work is highly operationalized, the reality is that a good deal of how things get done is via the project management discipline.

  • #168330

    David B. Grinberg
    Participant

    I don’t know about required curriculum, Chris — I’ll leave that to the experts in academia — however, at least colleges offer business courses in project management.

  • #168328

    Bill Brantley
    Participant

    @Cairns – Yes and because project management is not just for business majors. Every field can benefit from a proven methodology for identifying, scheduling, and budgeting tasks toward the effective and efficient completion of a goal.

  • #168326

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    That’s true, for sure. Every field can benefit. Good point.

  • #168324

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    At least they are electives now. Wasn’t even an option when I was an undergrad.

  • #168322

    Carol Davison
    Participant

    This Training Officer don’t think that most people work on projects of large size which means that the class is unnecessary. SOME people need this competency and should be trained in it.

  • #168320

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Hi Chris –

    I am an adult learner who returned back to school and while it wasn’t a requirement per se….my advisor(s) highly encouraged it. I took Project Management I, Decision Tools and Decision Making in addition to the Project Management classes that my work sent me too and everything was aligned with PMI. I also worked with interns who were much younger than me and they were encouraged by there advisors to take Project Management, MS Project and Decision Tools and Decison making courses. By the timee they were finished with their undergrad they were already applying for at least their CAPM from PMI.

    I know universitites that also offer contracting, supply chain management and other courses that you can incorporate into your degree program. The reason why? Wal-Mart, Amazon, USPS….organizations with complex supply chain management and contracting standards. Out of full disclosure I worked for USPS. I’ve seen students come right out of the gate swinging because they have come from universities that have prepared them well! I’m glad I took a second chance on myself and started school again as an adult because I’m so much better off! I haven’t even touched Federal Project Management which requires separate training! 🙂

    Jenn

  • #168318

    Chris Cairns
    Participant

    Thanks for the comment, Jenn! Great analogy with the supply chain management education. This is what I’m talking about w/r to Project Management. Come right out of the gate swinging.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.