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University of Virginia Presents

Review: Product Management Specialization by University of Virginia

Reviewed By Product Expert and Coach
Elizabeth Hogue
April 16, 2024

Program Overview

Product management is becoming a super hot career, but it’s a tricky one to break into without having a structure and mentorship to start. This Digital Product Management Specialization Program is offered by the Darden School of Business at the prestigious University of Virginia. The program is hosted by Coursera, and consists of 5 courses with a recommended 4 weeks of work each. This nets a total of 20 weeks, or 5 months for program completion.

The five courses to complete the specialization are:

The material is taught by real industry professionals and covers both the high-level and practical aspects of the digital product management profession. Some of our favorite concepts included an intro to agile planning, lean startup principles, and various prioritization methods. Most course curriculums are meant to be consumed over a 4-8 week period, but they can also be completed at your own pace.

The program is targeted at individuals who already have some work experience, though anyone can audit or sign up for the class. At our time of posting, more than 150,000 people had completed the curriculum. We’d tag it as a mid-level class– if you feel lost by any of the nitty-gritty principles, they’re a quick google search away. That’s the real world, huh?

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Weekly Breakdowns

We’ve recapped the learning objectives from each week to set your expectations for course material. The great part about this program is that you can jump to any course, and any section if it’s interesting to you. For example, if you’re an established PM only looking for prioritization processes, jump to week 4. However, you only can get the certificate if you complete all 20 weeks of content.

To audit an individual week-- find the exact course (we've linked them individually here) and click "audit" to save it to your profile. Then open the desired week on the side panel.

Course 1: Modern Fundamentals of Digital Product Management

Learning Objectives from Week 1

  • Create prioritization methods around where to invest resources based on completing a product assessment.
  • Identify and evaluate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators, also known as success factors) with your cross-functional team members.

Learning Objectives from Week 2

  • Understand various product management concepts including Agile, Design Thinking, the Hook Framework, Lean Startup, Story Mapping, Prototyping, and Usability Testing.
  • Analyze and answer various customer growth, engagement, and monetization questions with qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Conduct qualitative interviews, takeaways and best practices.

Learning Objectives from Week 3

  • Create and use a MVP to test a product idea without using too many resources.
  • Identify product maturity to set expectations and timeframes accordingly.
  • Use the Business Model Canvas as a business plan to plan a product roadmap.

Learning Objectives from Week 4

  • Distill business objectives into actionable roadmaps and metrics
  • Create a prioritization matrix based on things like profitability and product impact.
  • Adapt new product techniques for new feature prioritization and development.
  • Scale your teams effectively by evaluating and testing work patterns.
  • Identify and evaluate potential opportunities to improve the business using  big data/data science.

Course 2: Agile Meets Design Thinking

Learning Objectives from Week 1

  • Communicate the problems agile can solve and methods for applying to your individual team.
  • Assess the agile maturity of your current organization and identify areas of improvement.
  • Contrast agile with other project management methodologies like kanban and waterfall.

Learning Objectives from Week 2

  • Write agile and cohesive user stories.
  • Draft user personas using the THINK-SEE-FEEL-DO framework.
  • Face potential problem scenarios with solution examples.

Learning Objectives from Week 3

  • Conduct persona interviews that yield actionable insights.
  • Develop and test value propositions (often referred to as "value props" for your product).
  • Turn personas into testable user stories for the development team.
  • Know the difference between epics and stories, and how to distinguish.

Learning Objectives from Week 4

  • Create effective storyboards to communicate epics, stories, and user personas.
  • Train your team to think with a user-centric perspective.

Course 3: Hypothesis-Driven Development

Learning Objectives from Week 1

  • Learn how hypothesis-driven development works across a product pipeline.
  • Facilitate the measurement strategy discussions so your team knows what constitutes success.
  • Structure problem/job-to-be-done hypotheses for testing.
  • Identify when and how to test your hypotheses.

Learning Objectives from Week 2

  • Frame your product ideas as hypotheses.
  • Identify situations where an idea/feature can and should be tested.
  • Use lean startup principles to learn experimentation best-practices.

Learning Objectives from Week 3

  • Structure ideas and objectives about usability into testable hypotheses.
  • Rapidly formulate and run usability tests, including the application of design sprints.

Learning Objectives from Week 4

  • Sketch and learn use cases for delivery pipelines and automations.
  • Use the test pyramid to prioritize highest impacts in a sprint.
  • Identify reasons why a team may want to invest in deployment automation.
  • Understand the role of DevOps.

Course 4: Agile Analytics

Learning Objectives from Week 1

  • Enhance your agile development process with analytics sprints.
  • Pair design thinking with testable analytics strategies.
  • Leverage customer touch-points to create actionable insights.

Learning Objectives from Week 2

  • Identify and structure demand modeling.
  • Break down more general hypotheses into more specific items for clean testing and best practices.
  • Design, run, and act on the results of experiments.

Learning Objectives from Week 3

  • Structure usability hypotheses and instrument relevant observation to test them.
  • Focus your agile user stories with analytical insights.
  • Pair qualitative testing with an analytics program to enhance insights.

Learning Objectives from Week 4

  • Identify where data science could enhance an analytics program.
  • Pivot on experiments by asking the right questions.
  • Frame key analytical questions to present to a data scientist.

Course 5: Managing an Agile Team

Learning Objectives from Week 1

  • Define your team’s fundamental jobs-to-be-done in a way that will focus your agile practice.
  • Create and explain an agile team charter.

Learning Objectives from Week 2

  • Create a rigorous plan of focuses for your team to learn about your product's users.
  • Facilitate better decisions about what to build based on what you’ve learned.
  • Evaluate key practices from agile that maximize team performance.

Learning Objectives from Week 3

  • Faciliate discussions about managing a self-organizing team.
  • Explain what agile says about emergent design vs. big design up front.

Cost and Auditing

The program is only $79/month, and comes with a completion certificate on behalf of UVA-- in fact, they even send an email to encourage you to put it on your resume and Linkedin! If you complete the curriculum on the proposed timeline, it should take about 5 months and $400. While that seems steep, compared to a degree ($50-90k) or bootcamp ($5-15k), this micro-certification is a steal!

If you can afford it and know in your heart that product management is for you– or already are a product manager and looking to upskill– we recommend completing the program and getting the shareable certificate. This will help make your Linkedin more searchable to recruiters who may be looking for specific keywords and programs. Here’s the real kicker though– to audit the program and simply learn the material, this program is completely free! We recommend auditing the first course (Fundamentals) for those who might be unsure of the product management career path and are curious about the high-level concepts.

To audit, simply click "Enroll for Free" and click "Audit" on the bottom of the second step. Voila, you're in!

Student Reviews

The course is very highly reviewed by real and aspiring product managers alike– 77% of the reviewers rated this course 5 stars, and 19% rated it 4 stars. This basically yields a 96% satisfaction score!

Some of our favorite positive review points:

  • Comprehensive introduction to core principles and exciting frameworks/methods used in Product Management. I really loved the idea of Hook Framework, Lean Startup and Corporate Innovation Pipeline. -Vishesh A
  • Loved the fact that the content was delivered by industry experts who are actually practicing what they teach. -Milan P

Aggregations of negative review points:

  • Lots of high-level concepts (though this is great for an exploratory program)
  • Not enough real-life examples (though this is tricky because data is often confidential)

... and our favorite overall review:

I've been a Product Manager for a little over a year now, and have been working in the digital sector for over two. This is a really great course, consolidated much of my existing Product Management knowledge and built on other areas where I was lacking. I have taken notes to use as my 'cheat sheets' in my day to day Product Management to ensure I don't forget to implement things from it.

-Shiv A.

Supplemental Materials

For the analytically-inclined product leader: Google's Data Analytics

Google sponsors a data analytics certificate program through Coursera. This is one of the more coveted certificates in the industry for Google Analytics. It's free to audit, but if you want the certificate to show off (recommended), it's $49 a month to complete at your own pace.

For the fans of research: University of Michigan's User Experience  

This class is sponsored by the University of Michigan, and has a great rating of 4.8 with 1.5k reviews. This specialization is a great mix of UX research and design. With a Coursera subscription (included with your product management specialization, may we add!), you can get a certificate OR audit for free! Read our full writeup here.

Best Alternate Product Management Specializations

A wild bargain: Become a Product Manager | Learn the Skills & Get the Job

This course on Udemy is incredibly popular with more than 200,000 students, and for good reason. Cole (Lead PM at Soundcloud, ex-General Assembly prof) and Evan (Sprintkick Founder, top Udemy prof) have created a brilliant combination of instructional videos and resources that are both helpful and practical when looking to break into the field of product management. This is a course targeted at beginners, so it reviews topics like types of product managers and responsibilities. It also is often heavily discounted, so don't pay more than $50 for it.

For very beginners: University of Maryland's Product Management Specialization

We thought Maryland's PM specialization was great, but definitely aimed at a more of a beginner audience than Duke or UVA. But great news: it's also the covered under the same premium Coursera plan. If you're really into it, and really a beginner, it might be interesting to start with Maryland move to one of the others. Read our full writeup here.

For the product-manager-curious: Linkedin's Product Management Guide

LinkedIn Learning is free with a LinkedIn Premium subscription ($30/month). This class is great for beginners who want to learn more about product management basics to see if they're interested.LinkedIn Learning subscriptions are great for exploring many options with one cost.


UVA's Product Management Program is a great way to sharpen your product management skillsets without breaking the bank with an additional college degree or bootcamp.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. This program could be one notch in your arsenal to really kick your technical expertise into gear!

View All Product Management Specializations
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