The business world, and the jobs within it, have become more and more project-based in recent years — and those projects have become increasingly complex and deadline-driven. The critical skills and perspectives required by today’s project managers must continue to evolve and expand. To meet this rapidly growing demand, Clark’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) is launching a master’s in project management program in the spring 2021 semester.
“We recognized a need in the market that could be addressed by our ability to craft new programs that address student needs — and the information technology (IT) expertise of Clark’s instructors,” says Richard Aroian, assistant dean for STEM programming (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Employers are looking for project managers with the necessary mix of competencies — a combination of technical and leadership skills plus strategic and business management capabilities. The new Clark program emphasizes lean practices and the strategic role project management plays in the performance of global organizations, Aroian says, providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective leaders.
Demand for project managers outpaces all other occupations, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI®). The organization’s 2017 report, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027, indicates that the project management labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33% nationwide, or nearly 22 million new jobs, through 2027. While many of the positions will be in the health care industry, PMI also predicts growth in manufacturing, information services and publishing, and finance and insurance.
“Organizations increasingly rely on technologies and the projects needed to support them, and connect the dots between strategy and action to ensure that project benefits are delivered as expected,” says Aroian. “Clark’s professors of practice all have deep experience in their fields. The project management program instructors will be PMI-certified and have proven track records of managing large and complex projects.”
Recognizing the importance of PMI certifications, Brian LeBlanc, SPS professor of practice, designed the program to align with PMI’s Global Accreditation Center, providing students the basic knowledge necessary to pursue this certification. LeBlanc is a successful entrepreneur, corporate leader, and financial technology veteran with a passion for building highly productive teams and processes.
“Greatness in project management is built upon a depth of experience,” LeBlanc says. “Clark’s program studies PM techniques, presents them in a challenging format to add critical skills, and creates capable project leaders for an increasingly complex business ecosystem.”
With an emphasis on technical knowledge and leadership skills, along with courses including IT Project Management Fundamentals, Agile Software Development Methodology, and Managing Troubled Projects, the program is based on practical, real-world scenarios that give students experience they can use to advance their careers.
“Project management is a critical role that uses unique skills,” says LeBlanc. “Through this program, we want to ensure that students are building skills that will drive their careers in whatever they do. Project management skills apply in most industries, and all roles are at least touched by projects. Understanding how the process works improves chances for success.”
While developing this program, his association with all levels of project managers, skilled and unskilled, impacted the curriculum, LeBlanc adds. “As a technologist, I have been involved in projects my whole career. I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, and why. I want to work with strong project managers, so I guess my motives in creating the courses may be a bit selfish.”
“The master’s in project management provides students with the pragmatic skills to advance their careers and be recognized as leaders within their organizations,” Aroian says. The program is STEM-designated, making it possible for international students to remain in the U.S. for up to 36 months after degree completion.