Every successful endeavor begins with a common starting point: a plan. Once a set of goals has been established, the next most essential element is qualified leadership.

This is the purview of the project manager. What is it that makes a project manager? According to Rich Maltzman, a master lecturer in project management at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET)—and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®—the answer is a straightforward one.

“Project management, simply stated, is ‘making ideas real.’ The application of project management skills, tools, and talents to a project is all about getting things done—connecting the strategy of an organization to its operations,” he explains.

“For example, if a medical device company has a strategy to expand and has a new idea for a product, it’s the application of good project management that will allow that device to make it to market and to improve peoples’ lives,” Maltzman says.

To be sure, Professor Maltzman can be trusted in his assessment of the field. He has 40 years of industry experience—primarily at Nokia, where he built and developed their Global Program Management Office—and has been bringing his first-hand insights to classrooms at BU MET since 2015. MET students benefit from the instruction of faculty like Maltzman, whose extensive professional history helps provide relevant and timely lessons on the current state of industry, as well as access to meaningful, far-reaching professional networks—which can make all the difference in career development.

For more than five decades, BU’s Metropolitan College has provided busy, working adults with access to a world-class graduate education. The College also pioneered the academic practice of project management—it was among the inaugural schools to offer a master’s in project management, and was the first of its kind to offer specializations both on campus and online. BU MET’s project management graduate programs prepare students for roles in both the public and private sectors—whether locally, regionally, nationally, or globally in international and multinational enterprises—offering in-depth education on topics such as agile project management; project communications, mega-project governance; IT strategy and management; information systems; software development; 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.

“Today, many schools offer a project management graduate program, but students prefer to come to Boston University due to our reputation of being a thought leader in this field of study,” explains Professor Vijay Kanabar, MET’s director of project management programs. “We have a rich history of teaching project management. Our faculty are globally recognized authors and successful project management practitioners. They dedicate their time and effort to making sure that students succeed while at school and after graduation.”

A Proven Project Management Master’s

The cornerstone of project management at BU MET is the Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM). Offered both via on-campus study and online, the master’s degree program can be completed in 12–20 months, depending on whether you choose to study full- or part-time.

Students at MET—one of Boston University’s 17 degree-granting schools and colleges—earn a globally respected BU degree and join a network of alumni that numbers over 414,000. The opportunities afforded by the project management master’s degree made it the right choice for Anne Marie Kelley (MET’18). “I wanted to gain a broader understanding of the issues and challenges facing project managers in a world where the pace of change is continually increasing,” she says of her decision to attend MET for her MSPM. “I wanted to learn from other professionals in the space about future opportunities, be it as a program manager, consultant, or even potentially a teacher.”

Boston University’s project management program emphasizes three core tenets—technical expertise, leadership, and strategic awareness—and facilitates access to important industry connections.

Since 2006, BU MET’s project management master’s degree program has been accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC), the field’s leading authority. Boston University is also accredited by AACSB International—the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

MSPM students are introduced to the field through lab exercises, case studies, project simulations, and examinations of theoretical and applied concepts, which help build effective, versatile project management skills. The abilities and knowledge students develop serve as an excellent first step for project managers seeking to make connections and grow within the field, as they reflect the knowledge required for PMP certification.

“Our curriculum aims to prepare students with a foundational knowledge of the tools and concepts they will use throughout their studies before they dive into the nuanced world of project management,” says Dr. Kanabar. “We prepare students to obtain professional certifications such as the PMP and ScrumMaster®.”

For Kanabar, earning your PMP certification translates into a major advantage. He first earned his more than 25 years ago, and the significance of the credential—which confers a mastery of managing risk, quality, communications, resources, and project scope—has only grown in the time since, becoming an industry standard across the field of project management, no matter what kind of organization you’re working for.

“This credential is widespread across disciplines,” he says, citing financial services, manufacturing, construction, information technology, business, life sciences, and healthcare. “I’ve not seen a single discipline that does not recognize and appreciate that.”

Over the last two decades, Dr. Kanabar has helped more than 2,000 people prepare to earn the credential by leading optional, complimentary PMP exam preparation courses. He takes special pride in the ongoing accomplishments of his graduates. “Our programs have produced successful alumni—clear evidence that we are doing very well in the discipline of project management,” he says.

Earning your MSPM at BU MET also gives you the additional benefit of being able to waive one of the three years of experience required for PMI’s certification programs. And, if you already have your PMI certifications, you’re eligible to earn up to 45 of the institute’s valuable Professional Development Units (PDUs) for every course you take.

“More important than any specific skill I learned is the project management mentality,” says Johnny Luk (MET’16), a project management master’s graduate, while employed at Accenture. “The whole learning experience, and the way of thinking that it promotes, assisted me in quickly getting a promotion and a TechStar award at Accenture,” he says. Today, Luk is an agile coach for the global LEGO Group, and he credits the development of his expertise to his time at BU MET.

For Kanabar, the program is defined by its excellence and the flexibility it offers as a part-time master’s program available evenings on campus and fully online. In fact, BU MET’s online master’s programs in business and management have a track record so strong that they have been ranked among the top-10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report every year since 2014

“We set the bar high. We prefer faculty with previous experience and with terminal qualifications in project management, as well as the project management professional credential. We are able to leverage our body of knowledge and present it to the students,” he says. “We are proud that BU is among the top five universities in this field—both in education and research.”

An Onramp to Becoming a Project Manager on Your Own Terms

Above all else, BU MET is a resource for professionals seeking to refine their career skills in a manner which suits their ambitions, as well as their individual schedules. That’s why programs like the Project Management master’s are offered on a part-time basis, with on-campus classes held during the evenings, as well as through BU’s state-of-the-art online platforms, which boast best-in-class course facilitators who are experts at making sure the lessons you learn stick. Online programs offer an exceptional 15:1 student-to-instructor ratio, ensuring close interaction with faculty and direct access to academic support.

Courses begin fall, spring, and summer; online courses have two starts per term. The Project Management program’s flexibility was a major asset for Irina Kofman (MET’14). “I was looking for a graduate program that enabled me to continue to work full-time and be with my family, while pursuing my education,” she says. “MET provided the opportunity to study at a world-renowned university, with great professors and experienced peers. The curriculum matched my role and responsibilities at the time, but was also applicable to future positions I was interested in pursuing.”

During Kofman’s time studying project management at MET, she even won a promotion at her company, Google, which brought her in closer alignment with the very skills she was developing. “The program helped me gain credibility and a formal understanding of the steps I was already taking in my project management, increasing my effectiveness in communicating with my team,” explains Kofman, who today works as senior director of product management at Meta AI.

The opportunities posed by online study were what drew James Katzen (MET’13) to BU’s MSPM program. “This was vital for me, since I am based outside of the USA and physical attendance on-campus [would’ve been] impossible,” he says. And while he studied from afar, Katzen still found himself to be an involved member of the school’s community. “The interaction with classmates around the world, spread over various industries, was exceptional. Beyond the normal mechanics of project management, the program helped build my knowledge regarding the interpersonal aspects and the realization of the power of communication and stakeholder assessment in order to be successful,” says Katzen, who today works in international business development for Lockheed Martin.

Avenues of Entry to Project Management

Self-Paced Project Management Laboratories

If you’re just getting your project management career off the ground, BU MET provides a series of different means by which you can get started. As a student in MET Project Management graduate programs you get free access to hands-on, noncredit preparatory laboratories that teach you the fundamentals of the field. These self-paced laboratories (SPLs) introduce you to the building blocks that you’ll lean on over time and help prepare you for the ins-and-outs of project leadership.

There are two levels of SPLs: Project Management Essentials (PM 100) teaches you basic project management concepts aligned with the latest project management standard—the PMBOK® Guide, 6th Edition—using a threaded, Boston-flavored, sustainability-oriented case study. You’ll become familiar with software that’s indispensable to the project manager’s toolkit—namely Microsoft Project Professional and key Microsoft Excel add-ins.

Then there’s Introduction to Project, Program, and Portfolio Management (PM 200), which first helps you master Microsoft PPM, then introduces you to the wider world of going from guiding single projects to making leadership decisions regarding organizational programs and portfolios.

Graduate Certificates in Project Management

BU MET recognizes that not every student has the bandwidth to commit to a full master’s degree program, but the benefits of project management graduate study are still available to those facing financial or scheduling constraints.

The four-course graduate certificates in Project Management and Project, Program & Portfolio Management offer superlative preparation for advancing in the field through a certification that can be completed in just two semesters. The certificates also share specific courses with the master’s degree and master’s degree concentration programs—courses that count toward your degree if you choose to apply and are accepted into the program.

As Professor Kanabar explains, the values that underlie the program reflect those prized most in the project management field. “At the end of the day, completing a project on schedule and within budget is good—but the most important thing is that long after a project is finished, people just remember the quality,” he says.

“When we offer our graduate degree and certificate in project management—whether it’s on campus or online—we emphasize that quality comes first and should never be sacrificed. Because we know that long after students complete the project management curriculum and earn that piece of paper, what they will remember is the quality of our program,” says Dr. Kanabar.

Instruction and Guidance from Those Who Know Project Management Best

BU MET’s Project Management graduate programs are led by highly qualified faculty who draw from active research and substantial professional achievements in areas such as the built environment, mega-projects, earned-value analysis, improvisation, risk management, project governance, cost estimation, enterprise architecture, IT projects, and agile project management.

“Our professors are actively engaged in cutting-edge research in agile project management,” says Dr. Kanabar, noting that Metropolitan College project management faculty are dedicated to exploring innovative approaches and techniques that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of project management processes in dynamic and rapidly evolving environments. “Their research focuses on agile methodologies, lean project management, scrum techniques, and adaptive project planning.”

Kanabar observes that courses such as Agile Project Management and, from the IT perspective, Agile Software Development, prepare students for practical applications of the skill-set, and says that practitioners and students alike appreciate the opportunity to learn about the latest in agile tools and techniques.

“We even organize an annual symposium in mid-January dealing with agile and innovation,” he says.

Within the classroom, faculty research and practical expertise had a major impact on Johnny Luk. “I met very knowledgeable professors throughout my studies and they all had a great deal of experience with different types of projects,” he explains. “The faculty not only shared their professional backgrounds, but also described the techniques they practiced to negotiate with clients. The stories they shared from their own experiences continue to benefit me greatly.”

Anne Marie Kelley agrees. “Faculty were great resources about what is happening in the `real world,’” she says. “All of the faculty do a lot of research or independent consulting and have experience-based perspectives that they bring into the lessons they are teaching.”

At BU MET, project management students benefit from learning about many different perspectives and aspects of the field, from those who bring distinct passions to the fore.

Thanks to her experience as deputy chief legal counsel and risk manager on Boston’s historic Big Dig road project, MET Assistant Professor Virginia Greiman is one of the world’s foremost experts on mega-projects. The opportunity to share with students her breadth and depth of knowledge in the field of projects at scale is the element of the teaching process she values most.

“I cannot imagine running a project management program without the professors having actual, real-world experience,” Greiman says. “It’s one of the reasons I came to BU.” 

Professor Richard Maltzman specializes in another distinct area of interest to forward-thinking project managers—sustainability.

“My research and publishing contribution has been to have project managers think about the long-term in their planning and to consider economic, ecological, and social pluses and minuses of a project’s outcome—not just at the ribbon-cut or product launch, but 2, 5, 10, or even 100 years out in the future,” Maltzman explains. “There are real benefits to a project if long-term thinking is applied to the rather short-term life cycle of a project.”

Like many members of the Metropolitan College Project Management faculty, Maltzman’s accomplishments in the field have made a significant impact. He’s been a contributor to multiple editions of PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide, which lays out the field’s standards, as well as the American Management Association’s Handbook of Project Management. Maltzman has coauthored books that examine green project management, sustainability, project workflow management, and how to build PM competency.

“The majority of the learning is about appreciating a broader view of stakeholder engagement, project outcomes and benefits, and of course, an appreciation of the value that projects bring to their organizations and to the world,” he says.

Kanabar agrees, noting that several project management program faculty are engaged in research related to the built environment, with emphasis on green building practices and construction 4.0—which is related to the application of advanced technologies in order to achieve higher levels of productivity, enhanced safety, and sustainability—and bringing their insights into the classroom.

“Members of our faculty are actively involved in leading projects related to these areas and are collaborating with industry practitioners who recently constructed the renowned, carbon-neutral BU Center for Computing & Data Sciences,” explains Kanabar. “By leveraging their expertise, our faculty incorporate real-world experiences into project management courses such as Principles and Best Practices in Project, Program, and Portfolio Management. This ensures that our students are well-prepared to take on leadership roles in similar projects.”

Upon graduating, says Kanabar, BU project management students have a strong command of project management foundations and essential practices, from agile project management to project and program governance, as well as the necessary knowledge and skills to drive innovation and sustainability in the construction and built environment.

Host of the Project Management in Practice Conference

With the extensive applied expertise of its faculty, it should come as no surprise that Metropolitan College finds itself to be a hub of project managerial acumen. That’s why it has long served as host of the annual Project Management in Practice Conference (PMiP), where practitioners, faculty, and students gather and share project management knowledge.

Held on Boston University’s Charles River Campus, the event features distinguished speakers on cutting-edge topics in the industry, such as women in project management, stakeholder management, the “accidental” project manager, project communications, and agile project management.

PMiP gives students the chance to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and put it into use—while also making priceless professional connections. For Anne Marie Kelley, the conference helped develop vital confidence in what she’d learned. “[Professor Kanabar] got me involved as a presenter and panelist,” she says. “This opportunity enabled me to share some of how we do project management here at the University with the attendees—which was a terrific experience.

Support as Your Education Grows into a Career

At BU MET, your time as a student is only the first step in a lifelong relationship with a community dedicated to your growth, development, and success. As you pursue your studies, you will find that professors are deeply committed to helping you achieve your goals as partners in your ambitions, whether by giving one-on-one advice or offering you the benefits of their networks and connections.

As an MSPM graduate student, you’ll be eligible for employment as a graduate assistant—which offers the chance to not only get paid but also to gain additional expertise in the field of study. BU MET also offers support via financial aid and scholarships—if you are working full-time as you pursue your studies, you may also be eligible for employer-sponsored tuition benefits.

Even after the culmination of your studies, you will find that Metropolitan College continually has more to offer in your advancement. From the time you join MET, you get access to the  Career Development office—which, whether you are seek to enter into the job market or evolve within it, provides meaningful support through one-on-one appointments that dedicated to helping you identify career goals, navigate career transitions, manage internship and job search processes, make decisions regarding graduate and professional school, strengthen interview skills, and tools to create and update résumés, CVs, cover letters, and online profiles. Its services are available to all matriculated degree-seeking students, whether they study on campus or online, as well as to recent alumni.

When you choose to earn your master’s degree in Project Management at Boston University’s Metropolitan College, you are opting into a program that provides boundless benefits to your education, skill development, and ongoing professional success. You’ll be joining a distinguished group of project management students and alumni in a community invested in your success.

“I have been fortunate to have a long career in the ‘accidental profession’ of project management,” says Professor Maltzman. “I have a passion for transferring knowledge in this area, in particular so that students have greater, and more sustainable, success with their projects, and so that they can make this their ‘intentional profession.’