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John P. Reiling, PMP: Should You go for Your PMP – or and MBA?

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There is a great discussion on this, and many think about it. Maybe you are. But really, there are numerous difference between earning a PMP or MBA. The discussion tends to focus on which is the better investment.

The consensus seems to be that the MBA is a good long term investment, while the PMP is a short term investment. Here are my thoughts on this, and as you will see, there are many variables that will be different for each person:

  1. Since an MBA is a long term investment, you need to have a long time horizon. The most value is gained when you earn it relatively early in your career. It is also a factor if you can do it full time, inwhihc case you are probably paying for it yourself, or part time, where your employer might be paying for it in part or in whole.
  2. Some claim that the MBA value is realized when you reach upper management. I would counter that if you can develop an upper management perspective through your MBA studies, that alone can be worth it. It is that upper management perspective that can help you not only improve your performance on projects, but also earn the respect of upper management and improve your chances of being promoted.
  3. Earning a PMP will likely make you more effective on projects, but it will also likely provide greater opportunity to work on projects that you might not otherwise experience. Thus, from that perspective, while the PMP is usually thought of as a good short term investment, it can also be a good long term investment that opens doors for long term opportunities.

This discussion is about PMP versus MBA, but it applies also to many other business credentials like those in Business Analysis, Six Sigma, Agile, ITIL, PRINCE2, and the like.

You will find a good discussion at the PMI Career Central Group on LinkedIn.

John Reiling, PMP
Project Management Training Online


3 comments to John P. Reiling, PMP: Should You go for Your PMP – or and MBA?

  • Kris

    I have an MBA and I’m going for the PMP next month. I see them as complimentary but distinct sets of information that are both worthwhile.

  • Another consideration- an MBA is great if your career path objective is to be a senior functional manager, but if project management is your career path objective (as it is in construction, aerospace and a few other of the more mature users of project management as a delivery system) you may want to consider a Master of Science, with a focus on a specific sector- i.e. “Master of Science in Construction Project Management” or “Master of Science in Telecommunications Project Management”.

    Masters and even PhD’s in construction management have been around for 40 or more years, but I am just starting to see uni’s such as Stevens Institute or Embry Riddle starting to offer sector specific TECHNICAL masters degrees.

    Bottom line- especially given the “hard times”, you need to be thinking outside the box and trying to find a way to differentiate yourself from “the crowd”…… I would urge my IT and Telecommunications colleagues to pay close attention to how construction project management has evolved over the past 40-50 years and use that as a guide to how project management is likely to evolve in other sectors as well.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

  • David Nurmi Oktavian

    Dear all,
    i agree to both Kris and drpdg as i believe we learn and get different set of knowledge between MBA/MM/MSC and PMP/ITIL (or other international certificate).
    for example, I get complete set of the theory for the company business etc : financial management, human resource management, marketing management and etc. and even i got high level introduction on Project Management and Operational Management (only on theory and high level brief).
    But on PMP, i learn specific knowledge regarding Project Management with all detail process, term and best practice.
    So if you want to have or already have position on functional management, i recommended that you to take MBA or MM as you will get all you need to run a company with all completes set knowledge
    But if you already have or want to have position on specific project management or you involve on company which main business is making project (construction, Telecommunication, software development or aerospace)instead of doing some routine and regular business then you better to take PMP for your better carrier path

    Best regards