FAQs | MS in Project Management

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General Questions

How is the program structured?

Our program is comprised of 12 courses that are two credits each. The courses are taught in 8-week modules. A semester at USC is 16 weeks, so two modules fit into this semester period. Students enrolled in the 1-year track take two courses per module, or four classes per semester. Students enrolled in the 2-year track take one course per module, or two classes per semester.

How many students do you accept per semester?

As this is an online program, we do not have a set cap on the number of available seats. That being said, we are mindful of the student experience and committed to maintaining small class sizes whenever possible. We have multiple start dates each year and encourage all interested applicants to submit their application. We review all applications thoroughly, on a rolling basis, and will accept students that meet our criteria.

Do students in this online program have access to campus resources?

Absolutely. Students enrolled in our online MSPM program have the same access to campus resources as on-ground students. In fact, we encourage you to make the most of your student experience at USC. Enrolled students will receive a USCard (your student ID) which will allow you access to these resources.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

The Statement of Purpose should address why you are pursuing the MS in Project Management degree, why the program at the University of Southern California is the best program for you, and how this program will help you reach your academic and professional goals.

How will students engage and interact in the online classroom environment?

Our classrooms will be interactive with discussion boards and weekly live classroom sessions. Several assignments will encourage group work. The goal of the program is to give you a sense of community, the same that you would experience in a classroom, and maybe even more so, in that you will be able to engage with everyone, instead of those who sit next to you.

Since this is an online program, is there a graduation ceremony?

Yes! All graduating students are encouraged to participate in Commencement, which takes place once a year in May. There will be a university-wide ceremony, followed by a ceremony for Bovard College graduates.

Is there an Orientation for new students? Is it on-campus?

Our Academic department hosts an online Orientation for each incoming class. Orientation is 100% online and self-paced. It provides students an opportunity to test-drive the learning management platform that they will utilize for coursework and engage with their peers through discussion forums and optional live online sessions via Zoom.

Are books and materials included in the tuition?

There is an approximate $150 per-course charge for digital course materials and a one-time $350 program technology fee. Students may opt to secure the materials on their own or borrow through libraries including USC online libraries. PMI is also a great resource for materials. You can view the total estimated cost of tuition here.

Are your live (online) sessions recorded?

Yes, the live, online sessions are recorded. Recorded sessions are added to each course for later viewing. Lecture notes are also provided to support the live session.

Questions about the Project Management program

How is this program different from other PM programs?

Our coursework includes several relevant areas of subject matter including Agile PM, Program Management, Portfolio Management and Business Analysis. The program includes a capstone course (see below) and has an emphasis on communication and collaboration. Students will develop and showcase their presentation skills. For example in some courses, students are given the option to submit a video summary instead of a paper.

Is there a capstone course for the program?

Yes, the program culminates in a capstone course. Students may focus on an industry-specific project or a real-world project that they bring from their workplace. The capstone allows students to utilize skills gained throughout the program to demonstrate the ability to plan and implement a project from conception to conclusion, using input from peers and faculty. The capstone will be completed individually, but students will collaborate and receive feedback from their instructor.

Does the program provide any events or conferences for students to expand their network in the industry?

Yes, throughout the program there will be networking opportunities. Students will have connections to PMI professionals through events like the Student Virtual Summit. Students are also strongly encouraged to join PMI as student members to take advantage of a range of resources and to network through local chapters and the organization as a whole.

What advice could you give someone also considering other master’s programs?

We encourage applicants to carefully consider what they want to get out of their master’s program and what their career goals are. This degree can be very valuable for a project management professional. It will make you more competitive in a more specific way than an MBA would, for example. You will learn in-depth knowledge and skills in project management, versus an MBA, which will cover many topics, but at a general level.

Is prior project management work experience required?

Many of our applicants have experience in project management and want to further their knowledge; however, specific PM experience is not a prerequisite to apply.

Project Management Certification

What are the benefits of a master’s program to someone considering or possessing a PMP® certification?

Our MSPM degree was designed to prepare project management leaders. The curriculum provides a broader knowledge base and more opportunities for student to dive deep into project specifics using real-world case studies than a certification. There is value in certifications and employers recognize both; however, the hiring managers we surveyed when developing this degree program indicated that they value a graduate degree combined with experience and professional certifications, as it makes for a better candidate. Hiring managers value the leadership and management skills a graduate degree brings, as well as soft skills, such as critical thinking, presentation skills, communication and collaboration.

Can I count my class time as PDUs or education contact hours towards my PMP® or other professional certifications?

Yes, effective fall semester 2020, USC Bovard College has been approved by PMI as an Authorized Training Partner (ATP). Your class time can count toward PDUs and education contact hours toward your PMP® certification and other professional certifications. We encourage students to research the requirements for any certifications they are interested in pursuing along with any state-specific requirements for professional credentialing where education contact hours may apply.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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