Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Construction Management: Guide to Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Construction Management: Guide to Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

It is estimated that by the end of 2050, there will be 10 billion people living in cities. To serve the needs of a growing population in metropolitan areas, 13,000 buildings need to be built each day (Policy Advice, 2021). This means that the demand for construction managers will continue to climb, and the online bachelor’s degree in construction management is a good option for students considering this career path.

With an engineering degree, one can go on to become a construction engineer who looks after the design and safety of a construction project. In 2020, there were 234,665 construction managers in the United States alone who were paid an annual salary of $81,322 on average (Zippia, 2021). As such, job opportunities await those who are eager to enter the industry, provided they have gained the right skillset from a related bachelor’s degree.

In this guide, you’ll get acquainted with what to expect when you get an online bachelor’s degree in construction management. Data on estimated costs and factors to consider when choosing a school can help you narrow down your choice of schools to attend. In addition, admission requirements, degree completion requirements, and key differences between in-person and online requirements are discussed to help you set your expectations once you pursue your degree.

Online Bachelor’s in Construction Management Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management
  5. How much does an online bachelor’s degree in construction management cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in construction management?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

Can you get a degree completely online?

A number of schools offer bachelor’s degrees in construction management, which can be completed fully online. However, some schools offer a hybrid approach, allowing students to attend some of their classes online while some are on campus.

In 2020, the shift to online learning contributed to the digitalization of education, an industry that, until the pandemic, lagged behind other industries in terms of having a “digitally-driven, outcomes-focused business model (Harvard Business Review, 2020).” This changed during the first half of 2020 when a surge in global education technology investments led it to reach $4.5 billion, which marked the second-largest half-year for the industry. (HolonIQ, 2020) But with greater vaccine availability, many colleges in the U.S. are now gearing up for in-person classes (Forbes, 2021).

global edtech investment

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Employers have changed their perception of online degrees in recent years. They are no longer hesitant about hiring applicants who obtained their credentials online. In fact, in a survey conducted among hiring managers, 51.4% perceive employees who earned their degrees online as having the ability to work independently (Future Learn, n.d.). However, employers might also look at the reputation of the institution that issued the degree. This boils down to regional or national accreditation for the degree program (U.S. News, 2016).

Source: FutureLearn (n.d.)

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Online degrees are recognized in countries that are leading the way in online education. These countries include but are not limited to the U.S., the United Kingdom, and South Africa (ICEF Monitor, 2012). The pandemic also hastened student acceptance of online degrees. In a survey of online students in the U.S., 37% of respondents said that online education being the only option available was the reason why they chose an online vs. an on-campus option (Statista, 2021).

On the other hand, even Arab countries like Bahrain which did not recognize online education before the pandemic have also resorted to online learning, leading to acceptance of online degrees among employers (Al-Fanar Media, 2020).

why choose online learning

Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

A bachelor’s degree in construction management equips students to handle various important aspects of a construction project. These include overseeing the cost, quality, safety, scope, and schedule of a project. Construction management involves working with the project owner, architect or engineer, and general contractors (CMAA, n.d.). On behalf of the project owner, the construction manager sees to it that the project is completed on time, within or under the budget, and meets the project owner’s standards.

With regard to the difference between online and traditional degrees, the following are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Format. Construction management programs, similar to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in project management, can be done either fully online, fully on-campus, or through a hybrid model. Online options involve studying course materials in modules. On the other hand, students who enjoy interacting with others face to face might find such type of learning highly engaging. Moreover, 86% of American parents with kids aged five to 18 support in-person tutoring in targeted problem areas to help students recover from the impact of COVID-19 (Ipsos, 2021).
  • Schedule. Most online classes have asynchronous sessions, which enable the student to access course content, interact with his professor and classmates, or turn in assignments any time of the week. Online classes can also be synchronous, which requires the students’ presence on a video platform at a specified time. Online course content can also have a self-paced option where the student goes through the material depending on his availability. Hybrid options will also require in-person attendance on campus at specified times. In contrast, traditional courses have a fixed schedule with enrollment generally done during the summer, fall, or spring semesters.
  • Learning experience. An online degree is a great option for students who are self-motivated and can stay on track with course requirements even without prodding from one’s professor. However, students might find technological challenges or connectivity issues can hamper their learning. Despite the convenience it brings, students report feelings of isolation with online classes (PBS Education, 2016). In a study titled “Impacts of COVID-19 and social isolation on academic staff and students at universities: a cross-sectional study” published in BMC Public Health, Filho and his co-authors found that “a substantial majority (70%) felt that the lockdown has adversely affected their work or study. The respondents noted that the main personal challenges due to the mandated social isolation (and not mutually exclusive) are: a lack of personal interactions with colleagues and staff (72%), a lack of motivation (57%), anxiety, and closely followed by boredom and loneliness (Filho et al, 2019)”
  • Pacing. Traditional bachelor’s degrees in construction management typically take four years to complete. However, one can take it full-time, and take summer courses to complete the degree much sooner. There are also part-time options. For online degrees, some institutions offer degree programs that can be done in two to three years.
  • Flexibility. With mostly asynchronous sessions, an online degree offers students a certain amount of flexibility. This gives even full-time students the opportunity to work or take care of family obligations (Wiley, 2020). Traditional degrees also have full-time or part-time options.
  • Cost. An online bachelor’s degree in construction management can cost students $5,800 to $14,000 per semester. However, costs do vary, with some schools offering hybrid courses promising students a tuition of $10,000 per year (SNHU, n.d.). In contrast, data from 50 colleges in the U.S. offering a bachelor’s degree in construction management show that the average cost for in-state degrees is $8,934 while out-of-state costs are $20,301. Other estimates put the cost for traditional four-year degrees between $28,000 to $116,000 per year.

Source: Ipsos, 2021

Is an online degree cheaper?

An online construction management degree is cheaper compared to out-of-state colleges offering the same. The average tuition price of an online bachelor’s degree is $316 for in-state, in-district students. In contrast, the average on-campus price is $311 for in-state students studying on campus (U.S. News, 2020). You can evaluate your options in this list of the most affordable online colleges.

Online degree courses in construction management can cost as low as $5,800 per semester to $10,000 per year. As costs may vary, online options can run as high as $14,000 per semester and thus can be more expensive than in-state options, which cost around $9,000. However, keep in mind that in-state options do not include housing, transportation, meals, and miscellaneous costs.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

An online degree can be considered equally good as a regular degree. Employers consider three criteria when assessing online versus traditional degrees. First, regional accreditation makes online degrees appear credible to prospective employers. Second, online degrees with brick-and-mortar counterparts increase confidence in hiring managers. For instance, 42% of hiring managers in a survey viewed online-only degrees more favorably. The percentage increased to 92% if the degree comes from a brick-and-mortar university offering online courses (Drexel University, n.d.). Lastly, the institution having name recognition and a good reputation also helps.

How much does an online bachelor’s degree in construction management cost?

Students can expect to spend anywhere between $5,800 to $14,000 per semester for online construction management bachelor’s degrees. At the low end of the spectrum, the difference can range from $3,000 for online vs. in-state degrees. On the higher end, the price difference between online degrees vs. traditional degrees can be as much as approximately $6,000. Many factors can affect online degree prices such as:

  • Tiered tuition. Online learners might end up paying more if the tuition is based per credit hour and they take their degree courses piecemeal. There are schools, for instance, that charge a lower per-credit tuition rate if a certain number of credit hours are taken in one term. Students should seek the help of an enrollment adviser to calculate costs, especially if there are some credits that they would like to transfer (U.S. News, 2021).
  • Transfer credits. Transferee students might want to check if they can earn credits for previous coursework they have done in another institution outside the one that they want to enroll in (U.S. News, 2017). Getting course credit means that they would not have to pay for the full academic load in a given term, which translates to lower overall tuition costs. However, some online schools set a limit to the number of college credits. Therefore, it’s important for transferees to know this for them to know how many remaining credits they need to earn and pay for.
  • Financial aid. In the U.S., students can take advantage of Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA, to help pay for a bachelor’s degree in construction management. In the second quarter of 2021 alone, there were over 4.068 million FAFSA applications processed all over the U.S. (Federal Student Aid, n.d.). Eligibility for student aid is largely dependent on the expected family contribution (EFC), which is an index that indicates the ability of the applicant’s family to pay for college. Applicants with families that earn $27,000 or less per year will be given an automatic EFC of zero (U.S. News, 2020). The lower an applicant’s EFC is, the more financial aid one can receive, which leads to lower tuition costs.

There are also hidden or other fees for an online construction management degree such as:

  • Online and distance learning fee. Some schools charge this fee just from being enrolled in an online and distance learning course. Other schools even charge a per-credit distance learning fee (U.S. News, 2021).
  • Technology fee. Students would have to pay a technology fee to defray the costs of software and learning management systems set up by the school. This can be charged per course on a per-credit basis.
  • Technology expenses. Online learning requires the student to access course materials from a gadget, so the costs of buying a laptop or computer must be considered. To attend synchronous classes or access video lectures, one will also need a reliable internet connection. The costs of other gadgets like a headset for attending video conferences should also be factored in (U.S. News, 2021).

Is an online construction management degree worth it?

An online construction management degree is worth it due to promising employment prospects. On average, 34,700 job openings for construction managers are projected to be available every year.

As per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for construction managers is projected to grow by 8% from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than the average for all occupations, which is pegged at 4% (U.S BLS). Moreover, construction management jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree on top of on-the-job training.

FAFSA applications

What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in construction management?

Admission requirements include official transcripts, a resume, recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Students who earned academic credits elsewhere may also need to comply with a certain number of transferable credit hours. General requirements include completion of credit hours, GPA requirements, a capstone or internship, and specialization in a niche if desired by the student. Applicants must also be aware of technological requirements for a specific operating system to be run on their computer or laptop.

Admission Requirements

  • Transcripts. Applicants would need to prepare a high school diploma and official transcripts from their high school or other institutions attended. Qualifying SAT/ACT scores. Applicants may also be required to submit SAT/ACT scores otherwise, they may need to sit through a placement exam.
  • Transferable credit hours. Students who have earned academic units outside the school they are enrolling in must comply with a certain number of units of transferable credit hours. Schools can also mandate that they meet a certain GOA for transferable college work.
  • Resume. Schools may require applicants to submit a resume to help their admissions committee determine which applicants to accept. A good college admissions resume should give admissions personnel a good idea of your academic profile. List down any academic achievements you have, such as belonging in the top 10% of your class. You can also list down co- or extra-curricular activities, skills, and volunteer experience. Also mention work experiences, such as part-time jobs, internships, job shadowing, and the like (The Balance Careers, 2019).
  • Statement of purpose. Also called a statement of intent, a statement of purpose gives the admissions committee an idea of who you are as a candidate. Applicants must tell the admissions committee about why they are applying, why they would be a good fit for the school, and what their professional goals are (Essay Edge, 2021).
  • Recommendation letters. Online schools may require recommendation letters from counselors and teachers so they have an idea of how you are as a student and your impact on campus. Be prepared to give one or three recommendation letters, ideally from counselors and teachers with whom you have built relationships.
  • GPA Requirements. Some schools may require you to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or 3.0, depending on the college you attend.

General Requirements

To prepare themselves for their future careers, students should be able to gain the following skills:

  • Leadership Skills. An effective construction manager should display strong leadership skills. He should get to know them on a personal level, engage with them, and earn their respect. He must also know how to help them with their tasks without resorting to over-managing their responsibilities. When his team members feel stuck, he should be able to motivate them so they can achieve their goals (Toggl, 2018). You may also check out the trends related to this topic by checking out this list of leadership training statistics.
  • Organizational Skills. A construction project has many components. Good construction managers should know how to organize their work to stay on top of the project. Some projects may overlap with others, so construction managers must also know how to prioritize tasks (Ricksoft, 2020).
  • Risk Management. Even if you have a plan, not everything will go as intended in a construction project. For example, the scope of work can change or a project milestone can be achieved earlier or later than expected. As such, knowing the importance of risk management is crucial. A construction manager must know how to anticipate risks even before a project begins. That way, the project team knows how to address such changes when it indeed happens (Toggl, 2018).
  • Strong Communication Skills. Construction managers need to collaborate with the client, various stakeholders, suppliers, and subcontractors. They need to relay project specifications, deadlines, updates, and other changes to the project and ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. As such, they need to communicate clearly and avoid the problems that come along with miscommunication (Ricksoft, 2020).
  • Negotiation. Construction managers need to deal with stakeholders on various matters, such as change orders, scope creep, allocating budget and resources, and more. An effective construction manager should know how to hammer out a deal with stakeholders and clients to ensure the success of the project. They should be able to say no to unreasonable client expectations and compromise if doing so would be beneficial to the project (Ricksoft, 2020). In a 2019 survey, respondents in a worldwide survey said that influencing and negotiating is a skill that they said they most needed to develop (Statista, 2021).

Source: Statista, 2019

What are the Technological Requirements of Students for Online Learning?

Schools may require course content to be accessed through a learning management system from a computer or laptop, which meets certain specifications. Such specifications may include the computer’s operating system, memory, available disk space, video display, and the like. Some schools, for instance, require a Windows or Microsoft-based computer because some applications offered in the program only run through the Windows OS. This will be indicated on the online degree page where applicants will be informed that such requirements are non-negotiable. Applicants are advised to check the school’s online degree requirements to make sure they can meet the technological requirements even before online classes start.

Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

Core subjects for an online bachelor’s in construction management will include:

  • Fundamentals of Construction Management. Students can learn about the basic principles and responsibilities of the construction management team for different types of construction projects. They can learn about various project delivery methods, team responsibilities during each phase of the build, and general contractor duties.
  • Construction Project Management. Construction project management involves handling the direction, regulation, and supervision of a construction project from bidding to project completion. It includes performing different functions like specifying project goals, developing communications between teams, ensuring resource effectiveness. Students are expected to acquire skills related to project initiation, planning, execution, and closing (LetsBuild, n.d.).  In construction management, complicated issues may arise involving “stakeholder preferences, interconnected or contradictory criteria, and uncertain environments.” To solve these problems, multi-criteria decision-making models have been applied to construction management. In a study entitled “A Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Model to Choose the Best Option for Sustainable Construction Management” published in Sustainability, Erdogan et al (2019) stated that “The research suggested the nine-stage model for decision-making problem-solving. The stages are as follows: (a) definition of the primary goal and objectives; (b) definition of alternatives; (c) determining the criteria set; (d) establishment of a criteria evaluation system; (e) selecting the criteria weight determination method; (f) determining criteria values for each alternative under consideration; (g) selecting a decision-making method; (h) counting of the total performance score; (j) choice of an option to implement… The model proposed was used to select a sustainable contractor in the construction of the pool at a seven-story hotel near the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey. After analyzing the alternatives, the best contractor was C3 (with a total score of 0.55).”
  • Materials Used in Construction. In this course, students can learn about various building materials that can be used for building projects. These include different soil types, metals, concrete, and wood. It also includes finishes and materials for buildings. Students can learn how to assess the impact of building materials on the structure and safety of a building.
  • Construction Cost Estimating. Students can gain an understanding of what is cost management, the main types of construction cost estimates, and the factors that influence cost estimation. With this knowledge, students can successfully accomplish construction projects within the financial limits set by executives and stakeholders (Udemy, 2021). They would be able to avoid cost overruns, which run at 16% for nationwide construction projects at a minimum (Propeller, 2020).
  • Building Design and Planning. In this course, students will gain an understanding of the different phases of design construction, from pre-design to construction administration. The process involves doing background research on the design and location, drawing up sketches and models, and outlining projects specifications. It also includes generating construction documents, going through compliance checklists for securing a building permit, and dealing with bidders and contractors (WC Studio Architects, 2019).

construction projects overbudgeted

Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

Not all online construction management degrees are the same. In your search for choices, be guided by the following considerations:

  • Reputation. Getting your online degree from a credible university will greatly improve one’s employment prospects. Be sure to check the university rankings as well as the accreditations of the school and the degree program.
  • Accreditation. Accreditation is important because it signifies to prospective employers that the education you have received passes certain quality standards (Peterson’s, 2017). Accreditation for online degree programs in construction management can be through regional bodies that recognize degree-granting higher education institutions in certain states. Regional accreditation bodies include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Accreditation can also come from industry advocacy bodies like the American Council for Construction Education.
  • Support services. A good institution offering an online construction management degree should not only give students access to digital resources but also on-campus services. Students must be able to get career advice, get help from student experience teams, and get in touch with module leaders (University of Birmingham). In short, the range and quality of online resources for an online degree program should be comparable to its on-campus counterpart.
  • COVID-related considerations. According to the New York Times, at least 50 colleges reported more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in 2021. There have been infections linked to medical schools and teaching hospitals, such as the University of Miami with 3,000 cases (New York Times, 2021). Thus, contracting the disease while attending class on campus is a real concern for students. An online degree can address such concerns, as it can help students stay on track with their educational goals while maintaining social distancing (Wiley, 2020).

Source: The New York Times, 2021

Building Your Future with a Construction Management Degree

The pandemic might have brought construction activities to a halt. But with greater vaccine availability, the construction industry is picking up its pace again. Data from Autodesk’s 2021 Construction Outlook Report, for instance, indicate that real-time bidding for construction projects reached an all-time high of 36% year-on-year in January 2021 (Forbes, 2021). These projects need to be handled by construction managers. An online bachelor’s degree in construction management will equip you with the skills needed to be part of a project management office and help you steer a construction project from planning through to completion. Once you’re ready to take the next step, you can enroll in an online master’s degree in construction management to take your career to the next level.

 

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