Is the Diploma of Project Management a Better Investment than the MBA?

In an age where a piece of paper may be the one thing that puts you above another candidate for a job role, which qualification is the smarter choice?

The title “Master of Business Administration” sounds like it would trump a Diploma, but if we are looking at value for money and getting a return on that money, it’s not so cut and dried. In terms of immediate benefits and ROI, the Diploma of Project Management will likely put you much further ahead than an MBA.

If we think of the return on investment (ROI), the amount of money and time needed to invest in an MBA compared with what is needed in money and time for the Diploma, the difference can be dramatic.

Why a Diploma is a smarter choice than an MBA

  1. The Diploma of PM is the industry benchmark in Australia today – it is your best bet to ensure you get a good job as a project manager.
  2. The MBA won’t give you those practical and very necessary hands-on methodologies required to manage projects.
  3. An MBA can’t guarantee you a job as a project manager.
  4. An MBA financial costs are exponentially higher than a Diploma from CAL.
  5. The cost disparity, in both time and effort, between an MBA and a Diploma is huge.

Adult learners thrive with practical, workplace-based assessments

The time, costs and effort required to get qualified

One of the most obvious differences between undertaking the Diploma of Project Management versus an MBA is the financial cost. With a cost difference of up to 25 times that of a Diploma-level qualification and all the risks that come with student loans, the investment in an MBA is not to be taken lightly. Similarly, the length of study time involved in the Diploma courses and mode of study allow for students to learn around their work schedules and still get qualified within a year or so, whereas an MBA can take up to 4 years of intense weekly time allocation.

Diploma of Project Management

Currently, you can enrol in a BSB50820 Diploma of Project Management with CAL for under $3,000. Not only is this affordable, there are flexible options for payments plans to suit your needs. As a private RTO, CAL don’t inflate fees or add hidden costs to our courses so students have a transparent view of their obligations and aren’t taken by surprise with changeable or salary-indexed interest rates and thresholds.
The time involved in achieving the qualification is only around 400 hours or approximately 50 pretty full days. You can do it comfortably in a year if you’re studying part-time (6-8 hours a week). Given that it’s an online course, you can fit this study around your lifestyle and work schedule without sacrificing anything.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

On the other hand, an MBA from an Australian University can cost up to $75,000 – plus the cost of textbooks & additional resources. If you go down the path or getting the course on a student loan, you’ll be subject to changing conditions, compulsory repayments based on your salary and interest rates that can change at any time. You have no visibility overs extra fees and can’t predict when or how often they’ll increase.
In addition, the cost in terms of time and effort is tremendous. You can expect to spend at least 20 hours a week and still take around 4 years to complete your MBA. It’s likely you will have to sacrifice work hours – and earnings – in order to study for a degree that can’t guarantee you any outcomes.

Qualified Project Manager with high earning potential

The return on your investment

As you can see there is no comparison in the cost, time and effort expended, but what about the return?

Well, a cursory search for PM jobs on there are 12,873 all requiring various degrees of experience and with optional qualifications/certifications but none required an MBA.

Diploma of Project Management career outcomes

According to, graduates with a Diploma of Project Management can expect to earn $80 – 180k as a project manager.

MBA career outcomes

Graduates with an MBA in roles such as operations or business development manager can expect to earn from $50 – 196k. With such a variable salary range and no guaranteed job from earning a theoretical Master’s, it seems the 4 years and $75,000 might be an unnecessary gamble.

If you want to make the most of the market for project managers in Australia today then the best investment you can make for your short to medium term earning potential is to complete the Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820) online.