Is The Diploma of Project Management Better Than The MBA?

A young woman sits at a table looking at an open laptop and clicking a pen against her lip.

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 dry. In terms of immediate benefits, the Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820) will likely put you 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 the money and time needed for the diploma – the difference can be dramatic.

Why the Diploma of Project Management is a smarter choice than an MBA

  1. The Diploma of Project Management 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’s financial costs are exponentially higher than a diploma. The cost disparity, in both time and effort, between an MBA and a Diploma is huge.
  5. A diploma is faster to attain and can get you into the industry quicker than an MBA.

How much does the Diploma of Project Management and MBA cost?

One of the most obvious differences between undertaking a Diploma of Project Management versus an MBA is the financial cost. With a cost difference up to 25 times larger than 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.

Currently, you can enrol in a Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820) for under $3,000. Additionally, there are flexible options for payment plans to suit your needs. Online RTOs like the College for Adult Learning can afford to keep overheads and fees low, so our students have a transparent view of their obligations and aren’t taken by surprise by changeable or salary-indexed interest rates and thresholds.

On the other hand, an MBA from an Australian university can cost up to $75,000 – plus the cost of textbooks and additional resources. If you go down the path of getting 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 over extra fees and can’t predict when or how often they’ll increase.

Your Career in Project Management

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How much time do you need to invest in a Diploma of Project Management versus an MBA?

The time involved in achieving the diploma is approximately 400 hours or 50 full days. You can do it comfortably in a year if you’re studying part-time (six to eight hours a week). Given that it’s an online course, you can fit this study around your lifestyle and work schedule without sacrificing anything.

The cost of studying for the MBA in terms of time and effort is tremendous. You can expect to spend at least 20 hours a week studying over four years to achieve your MBA. You will likely have to sacrifice work hours and earnings to fit the master’s degree around your lifestyle.

Project management career outcomes and return on investment

We’ve looked at the comparison in terms of cost, time and effort. But what about the return on investment? Well, a cursory search for project management jobs on SEEK indicates there are thousands of listings requiring various levels of experience with some qualifications or certifications but almost none require an MBA.

According to Glassdoor, diploma graduates who go on to become project managers earn $140,000 per annum or $178,000 per annum as a senior project manager. It also indicates that years of experience may be more influential over getting a role than your level of qualification. MBA graduates may earn $130,000 per annum as a business development manager or $180,000 per annum as a principal project manager.

When you consider the difference in cost of study for potentially similar salaries, the four years and $75,000 in tuition fees may 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.