Can I get a PMP while Pursuing my Degree?

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a globally respected credential that verifies the competency of business leaders to manage projects, and some people attempt to earn the PMP while attending school programs at colleges and universities. The requirements for PMP certification have evolved greatly since the Program Management Institute (PMI) began administering the credentials. Currently, PMP certification candidates must have several years of experience in the project management profession and must have a certain number of education and training hours before becoming eligible to take the comprehensive examination. Even though the barriers to entry for obtaining a PMP is relatively high, here are some ways people prepare for the PMP examination and finish gaining work experience requirements while participating in academic degree programs.

Enroll in Undergraduate Project Management Degree Programs

While project management skills are associated with a number of academic disciplines, the methodology and concepts that most align with PMI’s certification program are learned through the discipline of business administration. A number of undergraduate and graduate level degree programs allow students to specialize in project management through electives and project management minor programs. A few business schools offer Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Project Management degrees that could be used to meet the educational requirements for the PMP and prepare for the associated examination.

Opt for University Project Management Certificate Programs

In addition to B.S. in Project Management degree programs, many universities offer their own certificate programs for project management that are often loosely based upon industry standard PMI methods. This type of certificate program can be taken in conjunction with an undergraduate or graduate level degree program. This is ideal for university students who are enrolled in technical degree programs and want to master the skills to move into managerial roles at work. Depending on the certificate program chosen, PMP candidates earn educational credits and adequate preparation for the PMP examination.

Gain Relevant Work Experience Through Internships

While a college degree is not required to obtain a PMP, relevant work experience is absolutely necessary to be eligible to take the PMP examination. If a person with some job experience decides to return to school as an undergraduate or graduate student, they are likely entitled to take advantage of internships or other supervised field work activities. University academic advisors who understand students’ goals of obtaining PMP certification may help students to customize their work-study programs to meet the PMI requirements for job experience.

Obtain Professional Recommendations and Supervisor Signatures

It is not enough to simply gain relevant work experience to apply for the PMP certification examination; one has to document relevant project management experience and have it verified by a supervisor. A trend for today’s universities is fostering experiential learning opportunities, and this is usually done by student participation on project work for actual, industry clients. Graduate students who have previous project management work experience can likely use a project management assistantship to finish up any PMP experience requirements levied by PMI, as well as gain recommendations and supervisor signatures verifying their work.


PMI’s criteria¬†for earning the PMP certification is flexible enough to include people who have a lot of experience but no degree as well as those who have a degree but who have limited, relevant work experience. Some innovative degree programs include intensive PMP preparation and work study programs that enable students to earn PMP eligibility and take the final certification exam for their PMP while attending school.

Related Resource: What Careers are Available with an Online Business Degree Specializing in Project Management?