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MPM vs. PMP: Which Path Should You Take?

If you’re a professional project manager or even have a slight interest in the field, you’ve probably heard about several certifications that can help you get better career opportunities, including MPM and PMP.

Due to the similarities between the two, things can get confusing. PMP stands for Project Management Professional, while MPM stands for Master of Project Management. It’s easy to tell from their names that PMP is a professional certification, while the latter is a graduate-level degree, but that simply doesn’t answer all the questions for most people.

The question still remains: MPM vs. PMP: which path should you take? In this comparison, we’ll help you understand the difference between them as well as their career prospects and potential salaries.

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MPM vs. PMP: The Full Comparison

Before we start, we should emphasize that PMP is a professional certification, while the MPM certification is an academic one that can open doors for you in the field.  The short answer to your dilemma is that practicing professionals should seek PMP certification, while junior-level project managers are better off with MPM certification. 

Acquiring both certifications throughout your career can also be a good idea. The MPM certifications backs you up with the academic knowledge you need to start learning leading small-scale projects. Then, once you start taking on bigger projects and accumulating years of experience, consider becoming a certified PMP.

But back to the basics, what are the differences between PMP and MPM? Primarily, An MPM is meant to help you start a career in project management, while PMP is a way to find better opportunities in the field by validating your expertise as a professional project manager.

Let’s go more in-depth to help you make an informed decision.

PMP

PMP (Project Management Professional) is a certification that validates your project management skills and knowledge that employers need.

Unlike MPM, the PMP certification isn’t presented by universities; it’s awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a non-profit professional membership organization in Pennsylvania, United States.

The PMP certification sets the standard for project management’s best practices, and it’s arguably the highest level of certification a project manager can seek. The certificates awarded by PMI are globally recognized, giving PMPs the possibility to work anywhere around the world.

PMP is based on ten knowledge areas, which are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Schedule Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

The knowledge areas of PMP are broad. They teach you everything related to project management, including utilizing resources with minimal waste, managing teams, and handling financial aspects.

MPM

MPM (Master of Project Management) is a graduate-level degree in project management. This degree essentially empowers you to showcase to potential employers that you’ve spent 1-2 years studying project management and that you’ve come up with your own thesis. 

The courses taught in MPM degrees focus on project management, but you may as well take several courses that teach more broad concepts. Some of the courses you come across in a master of project management program include:

  • Strategic Management
  • Financial Management
  • Project Scope Management 
  • Project Risk Management
  • Human Resources Management 
  • Project Integration

As you can see, not all courses are exclusively taught in project management programs. This is mainly because a project manager must be aware of other functions to lead projects effectively. 

Prerequisites

The PMP certification requires that you have at least 7,500 hours in leading projects. If you have a four-year degree, that number goes down to 4,500 hours. You also need 35 hours of project management education.

On the other hand, the minimum requirements to enroll as an MPM student are less strict due to the fact that it’s not exclusively aimed at professional project managers. You just need to have a bachelor’s degree and less than 3 years of experience as a project manager.

The distinction between the two certifications becomes more explicit in their prerequisites. It’s a no-brainer that PMP is geared towards experienced professionals who want to advance their careers, while MPM is meant to give you the academic background you need to start working as a project manager.

Advantages

Here are some of the benefits you get as a certified MPM:

  • Relevant project management experience. A master’s degree in project management is a great way to validate your project management knowledge.
  • Develop a solid understanding of risk management. A project manager must show high adaptability to challenges and limitations, which is what the MPM teaches you to be.
  • Enhance your communication skills. A project manager spends a big chunk of their time communicating, and they must do it effectively to ensure smooth transmission of information. Through the MPM, effective communication becomes a natural habit.
  • Develop your teamwork and leadership skills. A project manager should show excellent teamwork and leadership skills, which are included in MPM’s coursework.
  • Having a graduate-level degree gives you the opportunity to land managerial roles. Many managerial jobs require at least one graduate-level degree, and an MPM certification can boost your chances in these types of jobs.

There are also several advantages to becoming a certified PMP, which are:

  • Validation of your project management knowledge and experience. PMP is globally recognized, and it’s always thought of as the standard when it comes to project management certification.
  • Enhancing your project management skills. PMP enables you to broaden your knowledge in project management and stay updated with the best practices and methods.
  • Showcasing your dedication. Becoming certified as a PMP is a great way to show potential employers how dedicated you are, which is a fundamental value of a successful project manager.
  • Improving your English. Going through the PMP training materials can help you improve your English, which allows for better communication in projects that involve multinational team members.

Demand

The high demand for PMPs is pretty noticeable in Asia and North America, where the interest for PMP certification is the highest. The PMP certification’s global recognition is definitely one of its strongest points.

Per contra, the demand for MPM isn’t that high. You don’t get global recognition unless you obtain your degree from a reputable university. 

Nevertheless, getting project management education at a young age can positively influence your career path in this field. Not to mention, having a graduate-level degree can help you work as a teacher in universities.

Mean Salary

According to Payscale, the average salary for a PMP in the United States is $106,790. On the other hand, the average salary of an MPM is $81,646.

It seems obvious that getting certified as a PMP can potentially get you a higher salary than becoming an MPM, which makes sense considering that PMPs usually have much more practical experience than MPMs.

Exam

Here’s a comparison between the exams of PMP and MPM. It’s worth noting that exam rules are subject to change from time to time, so keep that in mind.

ExamFees (Per Attempt)Passing ScoreTime LimitQuestionsFormatLanguageDifficultyPractice Assessment
PMP$555, $405 for PMI membersVariable240 mins200Multiple ChoiceEnglish onlyHardYes, third party
MPM$300Variable55 mins20VariableEnglish onlyIntermediateNo

The PMP exam is pretty hard, and you may require more than one attempt to pass it. You must prepare for it really well if you want to pass from the first attempt.

The passing score is determined by how hard your model exam is, but most people reported an estimated passing score of around 70%.

On the other hand, MPM exams are easier since they’re aimed at recent graduates who don’t have much project management experience.

Which One Should You Take First?

The MPM certification is more suitable for recent graduates with little to no experience in project management. It can be a great way to kickstart a career in project management. 

You can later pursue PMP after acquiring enough experience as a practicing project manager. Many MPM programs even have a special course that prepares you for the PMP exam.

On the flip side, the PMP certification is geared towards professionals with many years of project management experience. In that case, getting certified as PMP should be your priority.

You may also need to get an MPM certification if having a graduate-level degree is mandatory to apply for your dream managerial-level job.

Final Thoughts

The choice between PMP and MPM mainly depends on your career level and what your goals are. If you’re a senior project manager with lots of years of experience, the PMP certification is the way to go.

Conversely, if you’re still starting out in the field of project management, consider studying for MPM certification. It’d also pave the way for you to pursue higher academic degrees, like a Ph.D.

We hope that simplified things for you!

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