People who make the biggest impact working in and around PMOs should also be recognized as candidates for the C and n-1 levels. Obtaining certifications helps to ensure their depth of understanding in PMO management and project management, but there is no substitute for a graduate degree, which is typically short list criteria for C-level applications.

The majority of attendees for AIPMO’s IPMO-P and IPMO-E have a degree and around 20% to 40% have an MSc. Approx. 5% have a doctorate and are typically in a PMO director role. But none are from PMO Management, which is why AIPMO has partnered with SBS Swiss Business School to offer the first MSc and DBA in the world that directly addresses this need.




An MSc takes between 12 to 18 months to complete and requires monthly course attendance at the location of the business school/university unless some or all the courses are virtual. A DBA takes officially three years (in Europe) but you only need to attend five to six classes in the first year and the rest of the time you work with your supervisor. For a DBA, you need to set aside 10 hours or more a week over this period.



The expression you “pay what you get” applies to graduate programs. There are many institutions offering programs that vary by a factor of 10. If you select a reputable business school/university, and depending on the country/location, you will be paying up to 45’000 Euros for a DBA and approx. 10’000 Euros less for an MSc. The course fee is one part of the graduate degree costs, so don’t forget to include travel and hotels. Make sure the business school is close to an international airport because it will reduce your travel time and also costs.  Some people ask if there are scholarships (there are a few), but these are mostly for universities and you have to be eligible, i.e., typically living in the country. Business Schools rarely give out scholarships.



Students will have an idea of a topic, apply, and be accepted on the basis of their topic. However, you will learn in the courses and from discussions that there are topics that are more interesting and impactful. Take time to explore a topic that you are passionate about and make sure that it is the topic you want to spend 2 to 3 years on researching and writing.



An experienced/published supervisor versus a supervisor with no publishing experience will make the difference between passing or failing. If you have an attentive experienced supervisor, then you are likely to enjoy your graduate degree journey, be in the top of your class, be introduced to other academics and students, and publish and build a friendship with your supervisor that will extend after your graduation.

Also note: It is obvious to experienced supervisors whether a student who has submitted a dissertation or thesis has been supported by an experienced or inexperienced supervisor.

When you are on the courses, talk to students who know the supervisors and determine who would be the best supervisor for you. Supervisors are very busy, so you will be competing for the best ones who can take on only a limited number of students.



If you don’t have access to the latest papers, you risk missing important research. Journal access is key; therefore, make sure that you ask the institution which journals or access methods are supported.




We hear stories of students being alone in their graduate journeys. All of us who were students at one time understand this concern and try to encourage the students to help each other. See the actions of the professors in the institution you’re interested in. For example, AIPMO/SBS started the LinkedIn forum for DBA/PhD/MSc and MBAs to bring people together. Also, ask students if the professors invite them to conferences to submit and present papers.




Professor Ralf Müller

Professor Hans Georg Gemünden
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Dr. Peter Kaul

Professor Martina Heumann
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Professor Robert Joslin