If a person is in enrolled in Software Engineering in university and wishes to get into software dev. related project management, would it be better for them to finish their software engineering degree and do project work/certifications on the side, or to switch to a business degree. That is, for software related project management, which degree would help better?

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    What does your software development degree consist of? I think that my BS in Software Engineering and minors in business management and communication gave me the framework that I needed for going into process and project management. I took courses in my major in process, project management, quality, measurements, and metrics. My minors enabled me to take courses in org behavior, leadership, human resources, and team dynamics/communications. Are you taking any classes like this? From here, I'm now looking at a Masters in Engineering Management or Engineering Leadership for the near future.
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:34
  • My apologies, I meant Software Engineering. Unfortunately our program allows very few elective, most courses are already picked out for us. I guess I can take project management related courses on the side though. Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:37
  • What university is this? I find it difficult to believe that anyone could offer a software engineering degree without teaching at least a course in software engineering process, the SDLC, and project management. I'd also find it tough to believe that there wouldn't be a course in measurements and metrics for process and product quality.
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:40
  • We have courses on Software Engineering. We have courses on Software Engineering Methods, we have to write work term reports but still we don't have any explicit project management courses. In one of the courses, we studied Gantt charts, but we did not look at Precedence Diagramming Method or anything. Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 17:45

4 Answers 4


To be the best Software Dev Project Manager - in my opinion - it is helpful - but not mandatory - to have worked as a developer or otherwise be intimately familiar with the work that you'll be managing. A few years of software development would give you that experience, and you would only need your current degree. Then, perhaps you could pursue a masters degree in Project Management if you want more formal education. I could be wrong, but I don't think it would be possible to start out - fresh out of school - as a software dev PM. I think it would be a miserable experience, because without any experience with the business world first, you would have only theory to go by. It would also be hard, I think, to get the respect of the developers if you had no experience in either Project Management or Softwared Development under your belt.

I actually think there is value in education. I just received my Masters in Management of Programs and Projects. It wasn't the degree itself that helped me with my career - it was the content of the classes. I applied the concepts I learned to my job and voila - I was recognized and moved progressively more into project management roles.


Study what interests you. By the time your career evolves to leadership roles, no one will care where you went to school or what you studied. At that point, proven results and demonstrable skills become the focus.

  • But won't the right education get me there faster? Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 18:08
  • I see very little correlation in career growth, in terms of where they evolve and how fast they get there, with what a person studied in school. It will get you in the door. After that, it's all about performance. Study what interests you. Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 18:24

There is no degree out there which can turn a person into software project manager, although there are multiple Project management certifications and Master in Business Administration. But frankly in my experience you could good make use of these certifications only if you have good experience of few years in engineering under your belt.

IMHO there is only one way to become a good software project manager the hard way.

  1. Spend some years in engineering.
  2. Observe how the project management is done in your team what are the mistakes made what are good practices.
  3. Learn to communicate well.
  4. Keep enhancing your knowledge in PM practices.
  5. Whenever an opportunity for PM comes throw yourself (at this point certifications may help) .
  6. Improve/learn by doing yourself, from your peers and from seniors.

I think that someone who wants to get into managing of any sort should at some point get a degree in communication. Yes I think you should get your certification in development and master those skills before becoming a manager at all. In terms of being in control of a team though, I think the most important aspect of that is communicating with your team and knowing how to handle certain situations. Completing a certificate in communication would look very good for someone who is trying to make it as a manager or leader of any sort. If you're interested I would check out http://www.degreeincommunications.net that is a great resource to programs you might be interested in.

Along with communicating I do agree with what #2 answer said and that is you should be familiar with what you are managing. Many managers struggle because they teach a certain way but don't know the most affective process to get projects done. In all, I don't think you can go wrong with comm degree or going further with your development certifications, as long as you focus on whats best for your team as a leader and not what you think will work best for you.

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