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Learn project management with online courses and programs

Coordinating everything from large construction jobs to local advertising campaigns require project management skills to help keep teams aligned and projects on track. Learn how to manage projects with online courses delivered through edX.

What is project management?

A project is a set of activities and tasks that lead to a defined goal. Projects are unique and differ from routine operations because each one is expected to reach a conclusion.¹ Projects might need to be completed swiftly to address an urgent problem, or they might require longer periods of time depending on the purpose and scope. Whether it is a quick issue to be solved or a lengthy plan that needs to be implemented, each project needs to be managed. 

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as the use of applicable knowledge, skills, tools, and methods to deliver value.² Project management can involve tasks such as proposing an idea or project, making a plan, tracking progress, assessing risks to avoid problems, and addressing any unexpected issues while managing stakeholders’ expectations.³

Phases of project management or a project lifecycle can vary, but PMI describes five.⁴ They include:

  • Initiation: Define the project and what value it would add.

  • Planning: Develop a roadmap that identifies goals and requirements.

  • Execution: Start work on the project by implementing plans. 

  • Monitoring/Controlling: Track performance and keep stakeholders informed.

  • Closing: Note successes and collect feedback from stakeholders.

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Project management course curriculum

Project management programs can help individuals interested in entering the field, along with professionals looking to advance existing careers. Curricula and coursework typically cover project management skills such as communication, collaboration, teamwork, time management, leadership, organization, problem-solving, flexibility, analysis, and conflict resolution. Individuals looking to gain expertise in a short time frame can consider enrolling in a project management boot camp, which can provide hands-on practice. Project managers can also turn to specialized project management training, such as a professional certification, to help increase their expertise in the various phases of a project.

Explore jobs in project management

Project management expertise is recognized as a strategic and organizational competence for business professionals in a variety of roles, making it a valuable skill set across industries. Regardless of the field, successful project managers possess the soft skills listed above, in addition to the ability to use key project management tools provided by their organization. Project managers can be employees, managers, contractors, and independent consultants.

Project management jobs and their titles can vary. Aside from a project manager, some other roles include: 

  • Assistant project manager: Takes on any duties that the project manager is unable to perform.

  • Project analyst: Supports via data analysis that contributes to strategy and performance.

  • Project coordinator: Contributes to completing administrative tasks that can include budgets and schedules.

  • Project director: Sets the direction for the project and makes decisions that keep it on track.

  • Project scheduler: Maintains schedules and other documents to keep stakeholders informed.

  • Project support specialist: Monitors assignments and can be responsible for training employees.

  • Senior project manager: Oversees a team of project managers and handles multiple projects.

How to learn project management online

Employers can set different requirements for project management jobs depending on various conditions related to the roles. Beginners typically need experience to become project managers; by performing tasks related to a project, they can learn more about the field from others. Alternatively, they may opt to take a free project management course or an introductory boot camp, which can last about six weeks, during which time learners can gain relevant industry experience by collaborating with peers and completing real-world projects. Professionals with a high school diploma or associate’s degree can pursue a Project Management Professional certification if they have 60 months experience leading projects and receive an additional 35 hours of education/training.⁵

To advance a current project management career, employees can pursue various online bachelor’s in business programs or master’s in business degrees, depending on their professional goals and if they are searching for more than project management tutorials. A semester’s worth of graduate-level coursework leading to a project management certification online can take about eight months to complete, although lengths of courses may vary.