The number of Master’s Degree programmes is growing in the Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland, including the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK). Currently, there are about nine Master’s degree programmes in VAMK with three English and six Finnish programmes. The English programmes are Cloud-based Software engineering, International Business Management, and Project Management. Since most of the companies in the Vaasa region are global companies, the goal of the Master’s degrees programme in both programmes designed by VAMK is to offer students not only academic education, but also multi-cultural skills, which will prepare them for the future challenges both in the local and global environment (e.g., Alexander, Kruczek, and Ponterotto, 2005). The key critical success factors for studying in a Master’s degree programme are: motivation for applying, the application process and number of years spent at school (Ramírez et al., 2013). In this article, the focus is on the motivation for applying to the Project Management programme.
The objective of this study was to determine and assess the motivation of studying Project Management Master’s degree programme at VAMK. The key objective of the study was to understand the motivation for studying project management and the expectations of the students, so that VAMK can design a curriculum that meets both the needs of the student and the job market.
Studying project management at VAMK
The Master’s programme in project management is a two-part time programme held on Saturdays between two Universities of Applied Sciences (Vaasa University of Applied Sciences, and Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences) usually from 9.00 a.m. to 4 p.m. The total number of credits is 60 ECTS for engineering and 90 ECTS for business students. A component of the programme also includes a professional training certificate. The programme also has some constraints such as coordinating courses in different IT systems between the schools and sometimes finding relevant thesis for the students. Despite these constraints, the programme has enjoyed great success in attracting students to the programme. Therefore, it is essential to determine and evaluate the critical success factors, such as the motivation for studying in the program. This can assist both institutions to develop processes and maintain the quality of the programme with the goal of increasing the number of students interested in the programs.
This study used survey research design approach (Creswell, 2005). The survey was adopted from the study of Ramirez et al. 2013 and 14 first-year students studying Project Management (academic year 2022-2023) at VAMK, and attending the orientation date responded to the questionnaire. The students were asked the following questions:
What is your current job description?
How are you feeling about your first day at VAMK?
What is your future job title after graduation?
What is your motivation for studying project management at VAMK?
Data and analysis
The results of the study are presented below. The current job description of the students is presented in Figure 1 below. The results showed diverse backgrounds of students studying project management, such as economist, entrepreneur, IT engineer, production supervisor, and system designer.
Figure 2 describes the way the students feel about studying project management at VAMK. The results showed that most of the students are excited and interested in studying at VAMK. Some students also viewed the studying at VAMK as a new challenge in their career development.
Figure 3 shows the motivation for studying project management at VAMK. Career development, knowledge enhancement, and networking are the key reasons for the students choosing to study at VAMK. Increase in salary was the least motive for studying project management at VAMK.
Figure 4 shows the result of career expectation after studying at VAMK. The results show that most students want to work as project managers after completing the project management degree program, followed by leading project teams.
Conclusion and discussion
The Master’s programme in project management in VAMK has proved to be a successful programme. The key motivation for studying the programme was career development and knowledge enhancement. This calls for more industrial and research cooperation between VAMK and companies in the Vaasa region related to the role of project management in technology development. This may provide opportunities for students in writing their thesis and finding topics relevant to their companies. Most of the students want to develop their project management skills, and this is in harmony with the goals of the programme. Future research on the application process can be explored since the ease of processing applications is a critical success factor in attracting students to the programme.