Students with little to no prior experience with online learning may find it intimidating to take up a full-fledged online degree.
While there are some nuts and bolts new students must familiarize themselves with, access to online education can be a boon for those who wish to pursue a full-time job or personal priorities along with advancing their skills. Online courses are also beneficial for students who live away from the campus and cannot fit in-person attendance into a packed daily schedule.
Most online programs allow students the flexibility to complete work on their own time throughout the semester. In some cases, they may be asked to attend a few live or synchronous classes. It is important for students to adhere to the academic calendar that their institution follows and turn in assignments within their due dates.
With more flexibility comes added responsibility. Students are responsible for setting their own schedules and ensuring they keep with classwork.
This is why self-motivated and organized students perform best in an online environment.
Applying to universities can be stressful if you don't know exactly what to expect from the process. If you are planning on pursuing an online degree in operations management, it is important to make a note of the application process and prepare accordingly.
For enrolling in an online operations management program, aspiring students must first meet a number of admissions requirements. There's no universal set of admission guidelines for all universities, there are a few common admissions criteria across programs that students must note.
For almost all undergraduate programs, the admission requirements would include proof of SAT scores with a copy of a high school diploma or GED. Some colleges might also ask students to submit a personal essay and letters of recommendation. Generally, students will also be asked to offer additional information regarding their academic experience and their reasons for choosing a specific program.
The admission requirements for graduate students would be quite similar to those of undergraduate admissions. Instead of submitting SAT scores, graduates may be asked to submit the scores they received on the GRE (or on a separate graduate school entrance examination). Additionally, they may also have to submit undergraduate transcripts, diplomas, and letters of recommendation.
Overall, individuals who are interested in enrolling in an online program should speak to that program’s administration staff to learn more about relevant dates and deadlines.
In the process of choosing an online program, students should also program accreditation while evaluating prospective programs.
Accreditation by a recognized authority indicates superior quality in terms of curriculum, student outcomes, program facilities, faculty accomplishments, the administration of finances, and other relevant factors. It’s important to note that not all accreditation entities are created equal, and this approval process is available at differing levels.
The entities that provide accreditation to operations management programs and universities include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), among others. There are also regional bodies such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) which approve programs.
Above all, students should ensure that their school or program of choice is recognized by an institution with approval from the Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Specific courses across operations management programs will vary for different schools, but students can expect a few common topics and themes to appear across all curricula for this degree.
For example, students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels will likely take classes on operations management, supply chain management, project management, and process management. Undergraduate students may have to complete several elective courses to meet core requirements.
In some cases, students in an operations management program may be able to pursue an additional specialty, although this is not guaranteed for each institution. Areas of specialty for a student of operations management, particularly at the master’s level, may include logistics & transportation, project management, decision analytics, and supply chain management.
Aspiring students interested in pursuing an online program in operations management should not assume that all universities and programs are created equal. The quality of education and experience will vary across universities.
Each university or college will have faculty members that are stronger in one or more areas. In light of this, it's best to research each program yourself and find the one that suits you best.
How do you choose the course that's best for you? We recommend taking prospective online courses for a test drive, which some schools allow you to do. You may wish to consider one of the seven following schools, known to offer strong online operations management programs.
Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offers an online bachelor of applied sciences with a concentration in operations management technology program. The program will prepare students for management and supervisory functions in manufacturing, public service, industry, and other service organizations. They will be provided with the required tools for becoming successful as a manager.
Consisting of 120 credit-hours, this program allows students who have earned an AAS (associate of applied science) from a regionally accredited institution to transfer 60 to 75 credit-hours toward a bachelor of applied science at Arizona State University. Courses include computer systems technology, statistics in science and technology studies (CS), leading the enterprise, enterprise planning and implementation, industrial human resource management, enterprise operations, enterprise strategy and innovation, and quality assurance.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) from a regionally accredited institution. Additional admission requirements include a completed online application, and official transcripts sent directly to Arizona State University from each educational institution attended.
Upon successful completion, graduates can take up roles such as compliance manager, general manager, manufacturing plant manager, manufacturing supervisor, office manager, operations research analyst, quality control technician, quality control manager, and sales manager.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth offers a 100 percent online bachelor of science in operations management program providing students with a strong foundation in operations management.
Through this program, students gain proficiency in quantitative methods, computer technology, supply chain management, and planning and problem-solving techniques.
The faculty of the program includes seasoned practitioners who provide personal attention and high-quality instruction to students.
Admission requirements to the program include a completed online application and official transcripts of all previous college or university courses for which they enrolled. Applicants with fewer than 13 college credits will be required to have their high school transcript and official SAT or ACT scores sent to UMass Dartmouth, and a personal statement of up to 500 words that demonstrates qualities of community service, leadership, work experiences or other significant interests.
Consisting of 120 credit-hours, the program includes courses in quantitative business analysis, managing quality, supply chain management, project management, process management, and business logistics.
Graduates of the program will be able to analyze external and internal environments, leverage management techniques and strategies to achieve their organization’s goals, and evaluate an organization’s objectives. They will be prepared to pursue a management career in almost all fields such as entrepreneurship, production, retail, information systems, banking, healthcare, and manufacturing.
Operations managers develop, improve, and manage the processes that are used for producing and transporting services, products, and effectively managing people. They reduce costs, maximize profits, and increase customer satisfaction. With an online bachelor of science in operations management degree program at Southern New Hampshire University, students can efficiently manage operations and become an asset to any organization. The program has two concentration options: logistics and transportation and project management.
The major admission requirements include completing a free undergraduate application and providing transcripts from previous institutions attended. For additional inquiries, students must speak to an admissions counselor.
The program comprises 120 credit-hours and includes courses such as management science through spreadsheets, continuous improvement tools and techniques, sustainable operations, supply chain management, trends in operations management, capstone in operations management, and project management.
The logistics and transportation concentration includes courses such as logistics management, reverse logistics, transportation management, and integrated supply chain management.
The project management concentration includes courses such as project contracting and procurement, resource estimating and scheduling, integrated cost and schedule control, and adaptive project management.
Upon successful completion, graduates can take up roles such as distribution manager, inventory control analyst, supply manager, production planner, production supervisor, project manager, purchasing manager, supply chain planner, and many more such roles.
Southern New Hampshire University also offers an online 36 credit-hour master of science in project management and operations degree program. Courses include quantitative analysis for decision making, operations management, project management, seminar in project management, and topics in operations management.
The University of Alabama offers a 100 percent online master of science in operations management program. By earning this master of science degree in operations management, students can acquire the required credentials and skills needed for overseeing the people, equipment information resources, and materials businesses need to deliver goods and services. Students in this program will work in fascinating areas such as service operations, distribution, manufacturing, supply chain management, and logistics. This master’s program offers two tracks: operations management and decision analytics.
To apply to the graduate school at the University of Alabama, an applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or the foreign equivalent. Additional admission requirements include a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.3, GRE score of 308 or GMAT score of 580 (can be waived), a grade of B or higher in calculus I, a statement of purpose, good communication and quantitative skills, three letters of recommendation, and a current resume.
The operations management track is made up of 30 credit-hours. It includes courses such as statistical methods I, management science and spreadsheet modeling, supply chain modeling and analysis, production scheduling problems, inventory management, systems simulation, manufacturing scheduling and control systems, and statistical quality control.
The decision analytics track is also made up of 30 credit-hours. This track explores topics such as statistical methods I, statistical data management, knowledge discovery and data mining I, advanced data mining, management science and spreadsheet modeling, systems simulation, inventory management, and business analytics support systems.
The University of Scranton offers a 100 percent online master of business administration (MBA) program with a concentration in operations management. The program helps students in developing problem-solving and analytical skills needed for succeeding in this information and technology-intensive field.
The curriculum of the program reflects wide-ranging tasks and responsibilities that operations managers often undertake. The expertise developed in this MBA program can prove to be a powerful differentiator for motivated candidates, as they grow their careers.
Applicants to the program must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or the equivalent from an international college or university, a completed application, statement of intent, three letters of reference, at least three years of professional or supervisory work experience, a current resume, and transcripts from all schools attended. International students will be required to show proof of English proficiency by submitting TOEFL, STEP, or IELTS scores.
Comprising 36 credit-hours, the program includes courses such as responsibility, sustainability, and justice, managerial economics, financial management, operations management, introduction to business analytics, supply chain management, data mining, project and change management, business forecasting models, quality management, and production planning and control.
Students through the program will be able to make financial and economic business decisions, apply business law principles and accounting techniques in a business setting, apply management and marketing processes in a business setting, and lead and manage the myriad levers involved in running a business, including supply chain management, operations management, financial management, and project management.
This MBA with a specialization in operations management provides students with the leadership skills, and advanced knowledge needed to qualify for senior management positions in this field. Graduates will be able to take up roles such as chief operations officer, service operations director, operations manager, operations management engineers, plant manager, and purchasing manager/agent, among others.
An online master of science in operations management degree program offered by Kettering University provides students to develop critical skills in operations management as well as people management. This 100 percent online program prepares students to advance in the supply chain and manufacturing industries, while also preparing them for leadership positions in finance, healthcare, logistics, hospitality, distribution, education, and government.
The program also has a certificate component. Along with the MS in operations management, students will also complete a graduate certificate in any one of the following areas: global leadership, operations management, healthcare management, modern business practices, or supply chain management level.
Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, official transcripts from a regionally accredited U.S. university or an international equivalent, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not earned a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution. GMAT or GRE scores are not required.
This 40 credit-hour program consists of 10 courses. Seven of these are core courses, while the rest depend on the graduate certificate chosen by students. The core courses of the curriculum include management science, financial management, managing people and organizations, enterprise information system models, marketing management, operations management, and strategy.
Students through the program will develop quantitative techniques for facilitating the decision-making process, determine the theoretical valuation of stocks and bonds, discuss issues and concepts that concern leadership and management of highly technical staff, and employ best practices in strategy development and market relationship management.
Also, students can earn their MBA as a second degree by taking just four additional courses.
The University of Arkansas offers a 100 percent online master of science in operations management degree program providing students with the practical knowledge needed for leading complex business operations. The faculty of the program includes industry experts who help students learn relevant skills that can be applied immediately.
In order to get accepted into the program, applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a minimum grade-point average of 3.0, completed online application form, TOEFL or IELTS scores for students who are not native speakers of English and who do not have a conferred bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university. Letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, or essays are not required for admission.
Made up of 30 credit-hours, the core courses of the program include an introduction to operations management, project management for operations managers, strategic management, finance for operations managers, human resources management, risk management, quality management, and introduction to analytics.
Students gain a high-level view of the global business landscape, increasing productivity, supply chain, learn finance as it applies to operations managers, leadership principles, and human resource strategies.
While programs do not uniformly report their campus visitation requirements for online programs, we can get a general idea about how much campus time is required from the various programs. Some programs require no campus time at all.
Many programs, such as the one offered by the University of Scranton, may be completed without ever stepping foot on the campus. This should certainly be taken into consideration by those whose schedule prevents them from physically attending courses, or who do not live near a quality institution.
Most online programs in operations management are 100 percent online, which is convenient. These programs may involve submitting physical projects, but that does not necessarily involve traveling to the school's campus.
Students must conduct sufficient research to find out if a program will help them meet their education and career goals.
To that end, they may inquire about the career placement assistance provided by institutions as well as if they have a career guidance program in place. It may also help to look at testimonials from past students, and if possible, speak with a few graduates from a program to get a sense of its advantages and value.
Ultimately, proactive due diligence will help you choose a program that matches your long term career aspirations.
Some individuals are concerned that an online program may not be as high-quality as a traditional campus-based, face-to-face program.
In reality, however, there are many experienced and skilled professors that successfully teach operations management classes online, including the five listed below.
Mahyar Eftekhar PhD, Arizona State University
Dr. Mahyar Eftekhar is an associate professor of supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. He has teaching interests in operations strategy, applied econometrics, data visualization, health and humanitarian logistics, and operations management core courses. His areas of expertise include operations strategy, nonprofit operations management, data analysis, business analytics, and operations management.
Dr. Eftekhar has successfully published in journals such as Production and Operations Management, the Journal of Operations Management, and Decision Sciences. He has received many laurels such as W.P. Carey Dean’s Excellence Award in Research and Young Faculty Award. He received his PhD in operations management from the HEC Paris School of Management, an MS in production and operations management from the Chalmers University of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from South Tehran University.
Laura Forker PhD, University of Massachusetts
Dr. Laura Forker teaches operations management and also serves as the director of the MS in healthcare management program at the Charlton College of Business, University of Massachusetts. She teaches classes on operations management, management of healthcare operations, and process management. Her research interests include prescription drug pricing, service operations in healthcare, the business of aging, and managing healthcare supply chains.
Dr. Forker has previously worked at Michigan State University, Indiana University, and Boston University. She earned her PhD from Arizona State University, MA from Indiana University, and an AB from Cornell University.
Nickolas Freeman PhD, University of Alabama
Dr. Nickolas Freeman is an assistant professor of operations management in the Department of Information Systems, Statistics, and Management Science at the University of Alabama. He teaches courses in operations management, information technology, purchasing and sourcing, and operations scheduling problems. His primary research interests include supply chain risk management, applied scheduling problems, and healthcare operations management.
Dr. Freeman has been published in prominent journals such as Production & Operations Management, the European Journal of Operational Research, and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management. He completed his PhD, MS, and BS at the University of Alabama.
S. Kingsley Gnanendran PhD University of Scranton
Dr. S. Kingsley Gnanendran is a professor of operations management, as well as director of the online MBA Program at the University of Scranton. He teaches classes on subjects such as production and inventory planning, management science, database applications development, and logistics and supply chain management. His research efforts are focused on optimization modeling for supply chains.
Dr. Gnanendran’s work has appeared in prominent journals such as the European Journal of Operational Research, Mathematical Programming, and the International Journal of Production Economics. He is also a member of professional organizations such as the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and the Association for Operations Management (APICS). He completed his PhD from the University of Tennessee, an MEng degree from the Asian Institute of Technology, and a BS from The University of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Gregory Parnell PhD, University of Arkansas
Dr. Gregory Parnell is the director of the MS in operations management program and the MS in engineering management program, as well as a research professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas. He teaches various undergraduate and graduate courses in operations management, artificial intelligence and operations research, stochastic methods in operations research, environmental decision and risk analysis, and systems simulation. His research efforts are focused on topics such as decision analysis, systems engineering, and risk analysis, to name a few.
Dr. Parnell has published in reputed journals such as the International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Management Science, and Risk Analysis: An International Journal. He holds his PhD from Stanford University, an MS from the University of Southern California, an ME from the University of Florida, and a BS from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
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