Developing and teaching of a world-class online project management curriculum

Main Article Content

Stephen A Leybourne
Vijay Kanabar
Roger D.H. Warburton




The evolution of the internet and collaboration tools have made it possible to enhance the range of online education, and make it universally accessible and eminently affordable. Around 2000, the faculty at Boston University’s Metropolitan College proposed an online master’s degree in project management, using the emerging learning management systems. The program grew quickly from 40 to 200 students, and was one of the first in the United States to be accredited by the Project Management Institute’s Global Accreditation Committee. This academic model has now been extended to other disciplines and programs.

It was expected from the outset that the BU online and classroom academic experiences would be completely equivalent. This presented several challenges, the first of which was developing online equivalents for the face-to-face pedagogical course components. Second, writing online courses, recording videos and developing innovative discussion topics is time-consuming, and we quickly realised that only fulltime faculty had the commitment and motivation to devote the required effort to produce quality courses. Finally, the technological resources associated with course development and course operation required significant investment, beyond the faculty time, currently estimated at around $60,000 per course.

We surveyed our students and alumni every two years and now have enough data to describe accurately the evolution in attitudes to online education.

As one of the earlier and premier adopters of a rigorous academic online education model, BU has a vested interest to contribute to the growing debate about the academic quality and rigour of online education, the application of high pedagogical standards, and the innovative use of online teaching frameworks and tools. This paper will address and document these issues and assist in raising awareness of emerging “best practice” in the online education domain.


Article Details

Author Biographies

Stephen A Leybourne, Boston University

Dr Stephen A. Leybourne is a well known lecturer in organisational and human behavior, innovation, and project and change management. He has presented at conferences including the PMI® Research Conference and the Academy of Management; winning “best paper” awards from the Academy of Management in 2006 and from the International Management Development Association in 2009. He has been a leading manager for several international banking institutions and was the founding secretary of the Organizational Transformation, Change and Development Special Interest Group at the British Academy of Management. He has published in a variety of industry journals, and is an editorial board member of the Project Management Journal and of the Journal of Project, Program and Portfolio Management. He was an invited keynote speaker at the 5th Brazil National PM Conference in Brasilia in 2010.



Vijay Kanabar, Boston University

Dr Vijay Kanabar, a recipient of several awards for outstanding teaching and research, is internationally recognised for his innovative work in project management and information technology. His contributions to the field of project management are utilised by practitioners in the industry today, and include designing the 4GT parametric project cost estimation model and developing a framework for project risk management. He has authored several books and has been invited to speak at numerous national conferences. He has had substantial business and consulting experience in several Fortune 500 corporations as well as other organisations worldwide, and has been recognised by the Wall Street Journal and other media.


Roger D.H. Warburton, Boston University

Dr Roger D.H. Warburton directs the project management curriculum at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. He has over twenty-five years of professional experience in manufacturing and high technology companies. Previously, as vice president of the Software Technology Division of Jaycor, he was the project manager for the technical analysis of information systems. In terms of research, he recently discovered exact theoretical solutions to the full set of supply chain equations, opening up a new range of information system research opportunities. He has also developed algorithms, heuristics and guidelines for supply chain management systems; developed a formal Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) model to determine when outsourcing is competitive; and calculated the optimal ratio of domestic to outsourced manufacturing.