PMP® Prep: 35 Contact Hours of PM education to fulfill PMP® Exam eligibility criteria

One of the key eligibility criteria for qualifying for the PMP® exam is successful completion of 35 Contact Hours of formal Project Management education. While discussing with many of the PMP® aspirants, we found a lot of confusion around this topic like, what are right platforms to earn these contact hours? Is there any difference between PDUs and “Contact hours”? Does a college or university course qualify for these contact hours? And many more.

Relax! In this blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about the project management education requirement for the PMP® exam. Let’s get started.

# Understanding the requirement:

The requirement for contact hours has been detailed out by PMI in the Project Management Handbook. The highlights of the requirements are as under:

  • The requirement is minimum 35 Hours of education. (As per PMI, one hour of classroom instruction equals one contact hour.)
  • It should be Formal & demonstratable.
  • The Course work should be complete at the time of your application. In-process courses would not count.
  • The education should include content based on Project Management topics like project quality, project resource management, project communication management, project scheduling, project budgeting & cost control etc.
© PMI Project Management Handbook

In order to bring more clarity, let us elaborate further on few of the requirements –

It is not necessary to earn these contact hours in a single course. There is a big misconception that all these 35 contact hours should come from a single course which is totally untrue. You can undertake various course which would add up to the total time requirement.

The contact need not be in-person. It is not necessary to undergo a classroom training where you meet the instructor in-person. Specific Online courses also qualify for the contact hours. We will discuss the various platforms to earn these contact hours in the later sections of this blog.

The actual learning time needs to be recorded. You need to record the actual time given to learning the topics and not the break times in between. For example, if you attended a “one-day” workshop on the Project Management principles by a reputed and authorized education provider, you cannot count it as 24 hours. For that matter if the workshop timeline was from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM with 1-hour lunch break, you will only count it as 8 contact hours.

Similarly, while you may be able to record applicable classes that counted toward a degree, you cannot record the degree program in its entirety because some classes within the program will not apply to the requirement.

Another note from PMP Certification Handbook quotes:

One hour of classroom instruction equals one contact hour. If you have completed a university or college course on project management that met for three hours per week for 15 weeks, you would record 45 contact hours. If only a portion of a course dealt with project management, only the hours spent on project management can be applied toward the total.

Learning must be formal. Self-directed learning like reading books, watching instructional video on video streaming platforms will not count as contact hours. Any online course taken should be verified properly for the PDUs on offer.

Demonstratable. The contact hours being claimed should be demonstratable to PMI during the application, i.e., you should be able to prove that all the trainings / workshops / courses put together satisfy the minimum eligibility criteria. You will not be needed to submit the training documents to PMI but just to list it (only if there is an audit, you might have to present your documents). The best document to keep as evidence is the certificate of participation in the training.

# Education providers for the learning contact hours:

You can satisfy the PMP exam education requirement by successfully completing the courses / workshops / trainings from one of the following sources:

  • PMI registered education providers / PMI Chapters
  • Company / Employer sponsored Project Management programs
  • Classroom training / courses by Universities or training companies or consultants
  • Online training (which must include end-of-course assessment) by online education providers like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera etc.

# How are the “Contact Hours” and “PDUs” different?

While you might have heard these two terms, Contact Hours and Professional Development Units (PDUs) being used interchangeably on various forums, it is important to understand that these two terms are not necessarily the same.

Contact Hours are the formal professional education you undertake before getting certified to meet the eligibility criteria whereas PDUs are credits given for continuous professional development after you are certified. These can be earned in several ways including volunteering, self-study and also formal project management education.

To explain it further, attending a Project Management Training by your local PMI chapter would give you both Contact Hours and PDUs (depending upon whether you are attending the same before getting certified of after) whereas attending a PMI Chapter meeting would only earn you PDUs but not Contact hours.

# Getting the 35 contact hours Online

As mentioned earlier in this blog, there are multiple online and distance-learning education providers which offer 35 contact hours training through their courses. Here, you would find two options and you can choose one of them based on your learning style.

  1. Self-Paced Online PMP Training
  2. Virtual PMP Training – Live Classroom

While you can find multiple options on internet offering variety of courses, both free and paid-for, you should always choose a comprehensive (preferably but necessarily a single course covering all aspects of Project Management) course best suited to your learning style.


Hope in this blog, we have been able to explain you all the aspects of satisfying the formal project management education requirement for sitting for PMP® exam. It is important to understand the fine line between the Contact hours and PDUs so that you make correct decisions.

Please remember, it is very easy to fall in trap of considering the Contact Hours training just a mean to fulfil exam eligibility criteria but if done with intent, this can well be the foundation stone for your PMP success.

So, do not wait further, go and pick up those 35 contact hours and kick-start your PMP journey with vigor and enthusiasm. See you soon with our next blog.

Happy Learning!

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