Study Project Management, Program & Project Portfolio Management, or IT Project Management

In addition to the 10-course Master of Science in Project Management, BU MET offers an optional master’s degree concentration in Program & Portfolio Management, as well as an optional master’s degree concentration in IT Project Management as part of its Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. Not ready for a full degree program? Pursue a 4-course graduate certificate and hone the skills to jump-start your career with a Graduate Certificate in Project Management, a Graduate Certificate in Project, Program & Portfolio Management, or a Graduate Certificate in IT Project Management.

The success of any given venture rests, largely, on the particular abilities of its project manager to plan, communicate, and anticipate risks and to then coordinate solutions to risks and issues. According to Dr. Vijay Kanabar, director of project management programs at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (BU MET), one of history’s greatest disasters resulted from a lapse in coordination. “I believe the RMS Titanic sank due to several communication failures. From a technology perspective, it certainly was ‘unsinkable.’” he says, explaining that his research indicates that up to one-third of project failures are rooted in communication breakdowns. But while the Titanic project may have been technically sound, it lacked a specialist dedicated to cross-functional dialogue—which is where project management comes into play. “Project managers should make sure there are no communication gaps in the project environment and should be skilled in the art and science of communicating effectively with different stakeholder groups,” Dr. Kanabar says.

The discipline has matured in a significant way over the past decade. Traditional project management practices have been enhanced with both agile principles and an agile mindset. Employers today are more likely to seek project managers familiar with the agile approach, as such project managers know how to blend traditional methods with agile practices to deliver project value faster and incrementally.

Indeed, communication is one of the foremost tenets of successful project management. BU MET pioneered project management as an academic discipline, offering a rigorous curriculum designed and taught by some of the most accomplished individuals in the business. Associate Professor Kanabar is a practiced expert in the field, and he leads a program that is distinguished by being one of the first in the nation to offer a master’s degree in project management.

Delivering the same standout education and credential whether taken online or via on-campus study, the Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM) at BU MET prepares students with a broad base of knowledge in the strategies and practices of the field, qualifying them for careers in major industries such as financial services, manufacturing, construction, information technology, business, life sciences, and healthcare. And while the MSPM degree curriculum imparts a foundation that has helped countless project managers successfully build their careers, students also have the opportunity to tailor their studies more narrowly towards areas of focus that align with their particular academic interests and specific career goals.

Individualized Expertise through Project Management Electives

Like all BU MET programs, the master’s program in Project Management gives you the power and flexibility to align your studies with your unique aims and ambitions. Of the ten courses required to graduate, four are core requirements; four are selected from a list of eight specialization courses; and two are electives chosen from the full range of Administrative Sciences graduate courses (with the help of an advisor). This means that even without pursuing a degree concentration you can focus your studies in a specific realm by strategically choosing specialization and elective courses. And within these classes, you get to make your own decisions about what subjects to focus on in research projects.

One specialization course that you may elect to take as a project management BU master’s degree student is Project Risk and Cost Management—an introduction to project cost estimation that uses case studies to examine some of the more common perils of human irrationality associated with project forecasting. It was a course of particular value to Anne Marie Kelley (MET’18), who earned her MS in Project Management at MET. “I learned about using data analytics to better manage projects,” explains Kelley, the project management office manager at Hollingsworth & Vose, the Walpole, Massachusetts-based manufacturer. “As a result of this class, I was able to go back to my management and we enhanced the monthly project reporting we do to use more quantitative metrics as well as to use metrics to help get ahead of troubled projects.”

But there’s more for the project manager to consider than just bottom-line costs. Just ask BU MET Assistant Professor Virginia Greiman, whose experience as deputy chief legal counsel and risk manager on Boston’s historic Big Dig road project makes her one of the world’s foremost experts on mega-projects. It’s an expertise she brings to teaching Project and Program Governance, another optional project management specialization course, which equips students with the know-how needed to lead large projects, including those headed by government and nonprofit organizations.

“Being a project manager is not just learning how to estimate cost, but how to deal with conflict and ethical questions. I want to make sure our students are well trained to manage difficult decisions when faced with projects,” Greiman explains.

For Greiman, who like so many of BU’s project management faculty is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®), a mega-project manager needs to be prepared to work across enterprise-wide interdependencies to determine the best way to pace a program, accommodating the appropriate time for planning, scheduling, executing, monitoring, and controlling a project in its future.

“The Big Dig consisted of multiple projects that had to be managed as one program,” Greiman says. “As deputy chief counsel, there probably was not an area that I didn’t deal with. I draw upon expertise from the Big Dig, as well as other projects, because it’s important to look at projects comparatively. I am absolutely intent upon teaching and utilizing lessons learned from all projects—not just the tools and techniques, but all the important skills.”

Other BU project management master’s degree specialization courses offer in-depth exploration of topics such as agile project management; project communications; distributed projects and systems; project planning and control; project management life cycle; methodologies of effective leadership and motivation; cost and risk management; and management of project quality and procurement.

An added benefit to the Project Management master’s at BU MET is that it is accredited by the Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC). Students who already hold one of the Project Management Institute professional certifications may earn 45 Professional Development Units (PDUs) for each BU MET project management course completed.

If you do not yet have your PMP, BU MET can help you get started. Dr. Kanabar, a Project Management Professional and Certified ScrumMaster®, was one of the earliest pioneers to ever earn PMP credentials. After completing your first three foundational project management courses you will be invited to participate in Dr. Kanabar’s free PMP preparatory boot camps. He has helped more than a thousand students get certified.

If you are interested in the agile project management credentials, Dr. Kanabar also has the credentials to guide you to become a PMI Agile Project Management Practitioner (PMI-ACP), Scrum Master, or Product Owner. He is happy to help you master core exam concepts at a leisurely pace so that you can take the exam at your convenience.

Specializing in Strategy: Program & Portfolio Management

Overall, project managers are becoming increasingly vital to organizations, and the proof is in their climb up the org chart. “Historically, the project manager was responsible for managing cost and schedules for projects. Today we are noticing that project managers are playing a key role in guiding organizations strategically,” explains Dr. Kanabar, who has advised numerous organizations on training and technology needs, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Staples, United Way, and Fidelity Investments.

Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Kanabar has seen the responsibilities of project managers evolve. “Project and program managers are introducing portfolios of projects and programs that bring strategic benefits to the organization.” he explains. “So, they are no longer back-benchers or passengers on the bus, but are in the driver’s seat leading organizations to their goals.”

To prepare professionals for these growing needs, MET has introduced the MS in Project Management with concentration in Program & Project Portfolio Management. According to BU MET Master Lecturer Richard Maltzman, it’s a degree specialization program that prepares students to take the longer view, past the simple delivery of projects into the greater strategic value they present to the enterprise as a whole.

In Maltzman’s course, Project Value Strategies, a requirement of the master’s degree concentration, he draws the new methodology into focus. “Traditional project managers focus on how we will get project outcomes delivered,” Maltzman explains. “A value-oriented project manager . . . also asks the fundamental why question—why we are doing this project?”

Incorporating value-oriented strategic principles challenges project managers to address bigger picture considerations, such as how does a given project factor into an organization’s overarching mission? How does a project adhere to the endeavor’s overall strategy? And, crucially, what are its sustainable benefits?

The better managers know and understand the mission, vision, and values of their organizations, the better they can judge how a project’s outcome affirms and upholds them. This, in turn, empowers project managers to make important decisions regarding organizational portfolios and priorities.

With the MSPM concentration in Program & Portfolio Management, students come to understand that every project is part of a wider tapestry. “The majority of the learning is about appreciating a broader view of stakeholder engagement, project outcomes, and benefits,” Maltzman says. “And of course, an appreciation of the value that projects bring to their organizations and to the world.”

Start Small: Building a PM Foundation through Graduate Certificates

Graduate Certificate in Project Management

Not everyone has the time or flexibility to pursue and commit to a full degree program, which is why BU MET offers the four-course Graduate Certificate in Project Management. Even as a part-time and/or online student, it’s an option that can be completed in a single year, preparing you for career growth as well as giving you a springboard to pursue PMP® certification through MET’s PMP Exam Preparation course.

What’s more, the certificate program shares core courses with the MSPM curriculum, which means that if you do elect to pursue MET’s project management master’s you’ll already have completed a major component to the degree requirements.

For Alice Santiago (MET’10), who was director of the program management office of the City of Boston for a decade and now works as VP of program management at Sanpac Systems, the certificate option offered reinforcement to her knowledge of PM best practices.

“I thought the certificate would be a great complement to what my office was doing in-house, in terms of training future project managers for the city,” she says. “I did the program in one year, and I loved it.”

Santiago had such a positive experience that she even encouraged city coworkers to pursue the certification. “I think we do a much more in-depth training here now, because if it.”

As Santiago sees it, she made a great decision by earning her BU certificate. “As a skill, project management is highly sought-after,” she says “The skillset can transfer to any field, to any city department. I think people are realizing how important that skillset is, and BU is a great place to develop it.”

Graduate Certificate in Portfolio & Program Management

Ideal for experienced project managers looking to scale up their responsibilities, the Graduate Certificate in Program & Portfolio Management teaches the principles and practices that support good program and portfolio management across industries, all in a matter of months.

Building off a curriculum that shares courses with the MS in Project Management with concentration in Program & Project Portfolio Management, the four-course graduate certificate teaches the mechanics of managing a program, helping you gain the footing you need to inspire, influence, negotiate, and communicate about projects and priorities with appropriate authority.

To help ready you for the rigors of the graduate certificate program, BU MET offers the preparatory, non-credit Introduction to Project, Program, and Portfolio Management—an opportunity to master Microsoft PPM as you transition from projects to programs and portfolios.

IT Solutions: Tools for the Technological Project Manager

Targeted at those engaged in the administration of technical projects—including program managers, project managers, systems analysts, designers, programmers, product owners, and specialists involved in agile software development, among others—BU offers both the Graduate Certificate in IT Project Management as well as the Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with concentration in IT Project Management.

Differing from other BU MET project management tracks due to their technological focus, these programs take their foundation from Information Technology Project Management, a course which teaches you the essentials of leading successful software endeavors by equipping you with the principles, processes, and techniques for planning, organizing, scheduling, and controlling software projects, putting substantial focus on cost estimation and risk management in software ventures.

For O’Shea Bridges (MET’19), the course made a big difference by empowering his sense of entrepreneurship.

“In IT Project Management, I was able use my personal startup business idea as the main focus of my term project,” he says. Now a systems engineer in the engineering leadership development program at Lockheed Martin, Bridges adds, “Embracing the project manager role allowed me to think about more than just the product, and allowed greater focus on how to transform an idea into a reality.”

Whether through the certificate option or the full, ten-course degree pathway, BU MET’s IT project management programs will help you master key tools and techniques while gaining expertise in agile software development practices and software risk management, cost estimation, and quality management.

Jason Wong (MET’21) is an ITS team lead at Boston Medical Center who earned his MSCIS with a concentration in IT Project Management. The program appealed to him because of its balance of technology and business elements, which he says prepared him to think like an IT leader. The concentration unlocked doors, he says, and also prepared him to earn his PMP certification.

“If your career aspirations are to get into IT leadership, this is the program to help you achieve that. You will build the necessary technical skills as well as business knowledge to help you advance in your career,” Wong says.

All in all, there are numerous ways to pursue specialized project management expertise at Boston University’s Metropolitan College, whether through master’s degree, graduate certificate, or degree concentration, via online study or by joining us on campus. By choosing the path that best supports your technical needs, professional ambitions, and career goals, you will find BU MET to be an expert partner in securing your advancement within project management.