Product Management Overview
There are tons of super expensive bootcamps and programs that promise to teach all the basics of product management-- they'll happily take your $3,000+ and show you, but they're hoping you won't look into self-service options that are just as good (or sometimes better!). We here at Bridged aren't into gatekeeping, so we'll show you a great hack for learning product management affordably.
Coursera hosts several beginner-level specializations that focus on digital product management and cost anywhere between $49-$80/month. The programs are often several courses and recommend 4-5 months to complete (so roughly $200-$400 for completion), but after comprehensive reviews of several we're confident you could complete in 1-2 if learning every day and on a budget crunch.
Our top recommended specializations in digital product management:
- UVA's Digital Product Management Fundamentals
- Maryland's Product Management for Beginners
- Duke's AI Product Management for Advanced Tech
Our Top: UVA's Digital Product Management
We’d tag it as a mid-level class– but if you're a beginner but looking to learn fast, a lot of the concepts are a quick google search away.
This program was a great sweeping overview of how a product manager interacts with the full range of a product, from design to dev to analytics and the company as a whole.
We absolutely enjoyed course 3 of the specialization-- Hypothesis Driven Development. This course dives into user problem-solving, measurement strategy, and AB testing, all which are our personal bread-and-butter.
That being said, this is the most expensive of the three product management courses at $79/month. The maximum cost would be the suggested 5 months at $400, but even this is well under most of the suggested product management bootcamps. And the University of Virginia, more specifically the Darden School of Business, is a very prestigious add to your resume.
By the way, if planning to eventually apply to an MBA at Darden, UVA asks you mention your completion of this course to inform the admissions process.
Beginner Basics: Maryland's Digital Product Management
This specialization would be a great place to start if you have no prior exposure to product management (other than some glamorous tiktok videos, of course). It hits harder on ideation and design, and does not touch analytics other than a course other than some funding principles in course 5.
There are 5 courses in the program, including Intro to Innovative Ideation, Product Essentials, Product-Market Fit, Design & Testing, and Financial Management. It's not as team/department oriented as UVA, which felt like very real day-to-day exposure.
The concepts taught in the financial management class go far beyond product management. The professor walks you through super interesting concepts like how to validate when a project/product deserves funding, where to obtain funding in an organization, and how to create a compelling pitch deck. We absolutely ate it up.
To maybe determine which one you like better, it might be worth it to audit the first class of both specializations. This way it's totally free for you to try both, and you can move on and get the certification for your favorite.
AI x Human Factors: Duke's AI Product Management
This specialization is not focused on helping new product managers to learn the ropes-- it's designed to demonstrate how to product-manage in these industries effectively. The courses focus exclusively on ML principles and do not feature basic product management concepts. For example, there is no mention of agile, analytics, design or team management.
There are 3 courses in the program, including Machine Learning Fundamentals, Managing ML Products, and Human Factors. As current product managers ourselves, we absolutely adored this specialization and found the classes incredibly interesting.
Human factors is essentially the study of how to make a real-life product intuitive to a daily user, but in the real world. Usually this involves products like cars, airplanes, computers and physical things. We loved the AI tint on this class, and think it's a great intro to the field. PLUS, putting a course with human factors from Duke on your resume is definitely a way to upskill and stand out.
We'd recommend this class to established/associate PMs, or as a stackable certification on either UVA or Maryland to prove your aptitude and interest for the industry.
Hacky Trick: Auditing
If you have a learning budget at your current company, or are dedicated to upskilling your career into product management– we recommend completing the program and getting the shareable certificate from the established university (GET RECEIPTS!). This will help make your Linkedin and resume more searchable to recruiters who may be looking for specific keywords and programs.
To audit the program and simply learn the material, this program is completely free! Thanks Coursera! We always recommend auditing the first course of a specialization for those who might be unsure of the concepts. To audit, simply click "Enroll for Free" and click "Audit" on the bottom of the second step. Voila, you're in!
- UVA's Digital Product Management Fundamentals Review & Syllabus
- Maryland's Product Management for Beginners Review & Syllabus
- Duke's AI Product Management for Advanced Tech Review & Syllabus
Here at Bridged we are extremely skeptical of any bootcamp or program that costs you more than a thousand dollars. We are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve the same career results, and are dedicated to helping you find a job in the most affordable way possible. Stick with it (and us)!