Program Management Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a program management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Program Management: Degrees at a Glance

Degree programs covering or related to program management are more commonly offered as business management or business administration program options. At the bachelor's degree level, business programs may offer program management options, but associate degree programs in business may not even offer a specific course in the subject. Associate degree holders interested in program management can use their degree to transfer into a 4-year business degree program or to qualify for an entry-level job, such as office clerk, in a business organization. Overall, program management as a concept is designed to address the structure and organization of specific projects within business ventures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general office clerks are expected to see a 17% job growth (or about as fast as average) from 2010-2020, with the healthcare field leading in employment opportunities. In May 2011, these professionals earned a mean annual salary of about $29,000, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported on multiple management positions, including financial managers, who earned a mean annual salary of about $120,000 as of May 2011, and were expected to see a 9% job growth from 2010-2020.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - Individuals interested in lower-level administrative or clerk positions
- Students preparing for transfer to bachelor's degree programs
- Individuals interested in management positions in a variety of business-related fields
- Students preparing to enroll in a graduate-level business program, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) Office clerk ($29,000)* - Marketing manager ($126,000)*
- Financial manager ($120,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years 4 years
Common Graduation Requirements - General education coursework
- Specialized management courses
- Possible business core
- Program management coursework
- Possible internship
Online Availability No Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associate Degree in Program Management

While associate degree programs in the specific field of program management may not be available, related programs are offered at many colleges in the fields of business management or business administration. These programs can teach you fundamental business concepts, including subjects that are relevant to the management of a project, such as organizational behavior and communication. Through a 2-year program, you can also prepare to enter a 4-year business program, which will typically yield far greater employment opportunities in the field.

Pros and Cons


  • You can be prepared to transfer into a business bachelor's degree program
  • Advancement in lower-level administrative or clerk positions may be available through the completion of a college degree
  • You can learn general education concepts for a more well-rounded education


  • Management positions typically require more than an associate degree
  • Office clerks earn a mean annual income that is less than the general average on a national scale*
  • Programs specifically in 'program management' may not be available

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Coursework in business management or business administration programs will typically deal with fundamental concepts involving various facets of the business world. While many of these concepts may concern unrelated aspects of the field, others will allow you to study subjects that are relevant to program management. Additionally, general education courses are commonly included as a mandatory part of an associate degree program. Business courses can include subjects like:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Business communication
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Finance

Online Course Info

Due to the rarity of program management programs at the associate degree level, online options may also be hard to find. However, business management and business administration are available in online formats through some schools. These programs commonly include many of the same concepts as an on-campus program, and can be beneficial if you have a personal or professional schedule that demands flexibility.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

To get ahead as a general office clerk, the BLS stated that particular skills, such as communication and analytical skills, are valued among employers. While completing an associate degree program, you could benefit from developing these skills through relevant coursework. Additionally, because many management positions require at least a bachelor's degree, you could find it useful to prepare to enter a bachelor's degree program upon graduation from an associate degree program. This could include maintaining a minimum grade point average and completing certain approved coursework.

Bachelor's Degree in Program Management

Bachelor's degree programs in business administration are available with project management concentrations, which can allow you to complete multiple courses in this specific field. If you're unable to find a program management concentration option, business administration programs commonly offer relevant concentration options in areas like leadership and management, which can accomplish similar goals and offer courses in similar subjects. These bachelor's degree programs can prepare you for management positions in a variety of industries, or for graduate degree programs such as Master of Business Administration (MBA) options.

Pros and Cons


  • A variety of business managers earn a mean annual salary that is much greater than the national average for all occupations*
  • Many manager positions require only a bachelor's degree for employment
  • MBA programs typically require a bachelor's degree and previous coursework in business


  • For many advanced management positions, a graduate degree is preferred or required by employers
  • Many managers, such as financial, advertising, promotions and marketing managers, work long hours
  • Employment growth for financial managers and top executives is expected to be slower than the average from 2010-2020*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs are distinct from associate degree programs in that they offer more advanced business courses, and commonly offer a specific concentration option. In addition to coursework, students can gain real-world experience through internships. Coursework in a business program that is relevant to the subject of program management can include:

  • Leadership in projects
  • Group dynamics
  • Negotiation
  • Organizational behavior
  • Organizational management

Online Course Info

Business bachelor's degree programs are commonly available online, and can offer concentration options similar to those that are offered solely on-campus. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to complete programs in a hybrid format that combines both online and on-campus experiences. These programs can be beneficial to individuals who hold full-time jobs or who live too far from campus to commute.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Managers in a business setting are commonly expected to have relevant work experience in the field, so obtaining a related job during the course of your undergraduate experience could be useful. Additionally, you could complete an internship as part of an academic program. In some cases, schools have professional connections to prestigious organizations, which could be useful in developing business contacts.

Also, while some job postings list work experience as a job requirement, a graduate degree such as an MBA is commonly given preference by employers. It can be advantageous for you to prepare to enroll in an MBA program while you are studying at the bachelor's degree level. Lastly, professional certification can help demonstrate your proficiency in the field to employers. Certification for managers can be obtained through such organizations as the Institute of Certified Professional Managers or the Association for Financial Professionals.

Degree Alternatives

If you want to work as a manager, but you're interested in the field of information technology, you might consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in management information systems. These programs combine the subjects of information technology and business in order to prepare you to work as a manager in the technology field. As of May 2011, the mean annual salary for computer and information systems managers was $126,000, according to the BLS. The BLS also stated that, from 2010-2020, computer and information systems managers would see an 18% employment growth.

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