Online project management master's is attractive

August 11, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - Obtaining a master's degree in project management is becoming more and more popular every year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In only its fourth year, enrollment keeps growing with every class admitted, and the program has seen its first 10 graduates exited the University's halls.

Though, in reality, the program's students never had to step foot on the UWP campus in the first place. The University's project management program is one of only a few project management master's programs in the country that is 100 percent online.

"Students don't have to come to our campus ever, for anything," Munos said. "We even have virtual graduation, though several graduates did come this past spring to participate in the graduation ceremony."

A broad term, a project manager is simply someone who organizes and directs some sort of formal project. It can be big or small, from managing construction of the Empire State Building to building a garage, from planning a trip to planning a wedding.

"It encompasses about any industry you can think of," Munos said.

Likewise, students in the UWP program come from a diverse set of occupational backgrounds.

"We have students from just about any field, from education, law and manufacturing to communications, government and the military," Munos said.

Students come from not only a variety of fields, but a variety of places.

"We currently have students from 33 states in the U.S. We just recently admitted one from Hawaii," Munos said.

The program also has six international students, from places as diverse as South Africa and Australia. Because the program is 100 percent online, it is easy for students from points beyond to enroll.

Since the project management degree program began in 1999, enrollment has increased steadily every year. Sixty-six students entered the program in 2001; eighty-eight in 2002. Through eight months that number has already been matched in 2003.

Munos believes the quality of the program is what attracts students. UWP is a registered education provider with the Program Management Institute, which boasts a membership of more than 100,000 project managers.

"They are the largest organization in the world for project managers," Munos said.

In the UWP program, students complete courses in topics like quality management, organizational communications and management techniques. Thirty-six credit hours are required for completion of the degree.

In the capstone class, students actually administer an approved project at an actual company, often their place of employment.

"One individual developed a training program for a U.S. naval vessel. That was quite an accomplishment," Munos said. "Another one out at Avista improved the project management processes within the company."

In order to be eligible for admittance into UWP's project management program, students must have obtained a bachelor's degree and have maintained a minimum grade point average. Students without a sufficient grade point average may be admitted on a trail enrollment basis.

However, enrollment isn't restricted to those just beginning post-graduate studies. Several people with master's degrees in other fields have also enrolled in the UWP program.

"We have several students with a master's of science in business administration degrees who have found that the MBA really didn't meet their needs," Munos said. "Now they're finding that project management can really be a benefit to them." PR#3-1560

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