Graduate Certificate Programs in Construction Management - Online and Campus
Updated: August 8, 2023
Graduate certificate programs in construction management provide qualified college graduates who hold at least a bachelor’s degree with career-oriented training in the principles and practices used in the professional management of building projects and construction enterprises. These programs are offered by accredited colleges and universities, commonly through schools and/or divisions of business, engineering, and professional studies. Most graduate certificate programs can be completed in one year or less, and they generally cost less than a master’s degree program because they require fewer courses and credits.
Graduate certificates are typically comprised of four or five graduate-level courses, which is about half the number of courses required to earn a master’s degree (i.e., most master’s programs in the field require 10 to 12 courses). Typically, courses in a construction management graduate certificate program overlap with master’s programs in business, engineering, and/or project management. Therefore, in addition to providing career training, construction management graduate certificate programs can also prepare students for enrollment in a master’s program and furnish students with graduate credits that may be eligible for transfer into a master’s program in construction management or a related field in the future.
Construction Management Explained
Managing construction projects involves procuring, tracking, and allocating financial and material resources, overseeing personnel, assuring safety compliance and risk mitigation, controlling costs, setting achievable goals to keep projects on schedule, and communicating effectively with subcontractors and other relevant parties. Professionals in the field of construction management are well versed in construction contract law, federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state statutes and regulations regarding construction projects, supply chain and procurement processes, and other crucial aspects of managing large and small building and construction projects. They may also be responsible for accounting, marketing, and other business functions of construction enterprises, as well as for integrating new building methods and technologies, including building information modeling (BIM) platforms and construction management software for bidding, budgeting, and scheduling. Finally, construction managers are generally expected to have practical knowledge of building materials, electrical and mechanical systems (water, HVAC, fire and flood protection), and architectural drawings and plans for construction projects.
Identifying and Classifying Graduate Certificate Programs in Construction Management
Most graduate certificate programs in construction management are clearly designated as such, and many draw on master’s programs in business, engineering, and project management that have a construction management focus, concentration, or specialization. By definition, these programs are postbaccalaureate programs, meaning they require applicants to hold a bachelor’s (or a master’s degree), and some programs may prefer candidates who have one or more years of experience in a construction field and/or prior training in construction, engineering, and/or project management. Finally, unlike master’s programs, which generally require the completion of at least 30 credits of coursework and can take up to two or more years to complete, construction management graduate certificate programs only require students to complete a limited number of courses (four or five is typical), which many students are able to do in less than one year of part-time enrollment.
Construction Management Graduate Certificate Coursework
Graduate certificate programs in construction management are generally comprised of a relatively small cluster of master’s-level courses that cover central topics in the management of construction and building projects, such as costs analysis and control, the legal and regulatory environment for construction, safety and quality control measures, and personnel and operations oversight. While some graduate certificates have a fixed curriculum that all students must complete, others combine required and elective courses. Courses may explore the use of data analytics, software platforms, and new concepts in construction such as sustainability and alternative energy sources. Finally, some programs augment their didactic coursework by including a required or elective internship in which students are able to apply what they have learned in their classes to real-world construction management projects.
While specific requirements and course names vary by program, the list below draws on actual graduate certificate programs to provide a representative overview of the types of construction management coursework that students typically complete in these programs.
- Alternative Project Delivery Methods and Project Controls
- Construction Cost Analysis and Bidding
- Law for Construction Managers
- Preconstruction Project Management
- Principles of Construction Management
- Safety, Project Risk, and Quality Management
Online Graduate Certificate in Construction Management
Online graduate certificate programs in construction management represent a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based programs. They also provide students who do not live near a college or university that offers such a program with access to graduate training in construction management. For these reasons, there are now a number of accredited, non-profit colleges and universities that offer graduate certificate programs that are fully or partially online.
GraduateCertificates.com classifies graduate certificate programs that do not require any campus visits and programs that offer most of their coursework online but which require students to attend a limited number of campus visits as online programs. As such, programs that require more than three campus visits per year are classified as blended or hybrid programs and not as online programs. While blended/hybrid programs provide students with more flexibility compared to fully campus-based programs, they may not be a practical option for students who do not live in close enough proximity to the school offering the program to commute regularly to the school’s campus. In contrast, online programs that require campus visits generally schedule campus-based requirements in ways that accommodate students who do not live near the school’s campus. For example, they may be held over a long weekend or during the summer when it is easier for students to travel.
For those who are considering applying to an online graduate certificate program in construction management, there is one additional factor that may be worth taking into account: methods of online instruction. There are two basic modes of online instruction. Synchronous instruction is online instruction that takes place in real-time, such as live-streamed lectures or discussion sessions. Asynchronous instruction is the term for online instruction that does not have a real-time component and can thus be accessed and completed at any time, such as pre-recorded lectures that students are able to view at the own convenience, 24-7.
Synchronous instruction is more rigid in structure than asynchronous instruction, but it may be preferable for students who want an online learning experience that is similar to attending live, on-campus classes. Asynchronous instruction affords more scheduling flexibility than synchronous instruction, but it requires students to be more independent learners and to exercise self-discipline in order to ensure readings and assignments are completed by specified due dates.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Construction Management
The schools listed below offer online graduate certificate programs in construction management. These programs are meant to provide a representative overview of the types of programs that are currently offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
Northeastern University in Massachusetts offers an online Graduate Certificate in Construction Management program through its College of Professional Studies. The program consists of four courses that confer 12 graduate credits, all of which can be applied to a Master of Science (MS) in Project Management program that is also offered by Northeastern. The certificate program does not require any campus visits. It is designed for construction and contracting professionals who hold a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. For more information on the program, visit Northeastern University at www.northeastern.edu.
Purdue University in Indiana offers an online Executive Construction Management Graduate Certificate program through Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The 12-credit program is comprised of four courses that overlap with a Master of Science (MS) in Construction Management program that is also offered by Purdue Polytechnic. All 12 of the certificate credits can be applied toward the MS program, if and when a student opts to pursue a full degree in construction management. The certificate program is designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in construction management, civil engineering, or a closely related field, as well as some experience in construction or a related field. Students are not required to attend any campus visits in order to earn the Executive Construction Management Graduate Certificate. For more information, visit Purdue Polytechnic Institute at polytechnic.purdue.edu.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Construction Management program through its College of Engineering and its Extended University division. The 15-credit program consists of four didactic courses and a construction management internship. All four of the didactic courses can be completed online; the internship must be completed in person at a program-approved site. The program requires students to hold a bachelor’s degree and is designed for engineers, architects, and other construction industry professionals who are interested in learning how to manage complex construction projects. For more information on the program, visit UTEP at www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/.