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Is an Online Operations Management Degree Right For Me?

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 up with classwork.

This is why self-motivated and organized students perform best in an online environment.

Admissions Requirements For Online Operations Management Degree Programs (What To Expect)

Applying to universities can be stressful if you don't know exactly what to expect. If you plan on pursuing an online degree in operations management, it is important to note the application process and prepare accordingly.

To enroll in an online operations management program, aspiring students must first meet several 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.

Operations Management Program Accreditation

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, financial administration, 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).

Operations Management Curriculum & Specializations

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.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Operations 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 who 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 (Bachelor of Applied Science)
University of Massachusetts (Bachelor of Science)
Southern New Hampshire University (Bachelor of Science, Master of Science)

1Arizona State University (Bachelor of Applied Science)

Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offers an online bachelor of applied sciences with a concentration in operations management 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 to succeed as a manager.

Consisting of 120 credits, this program allows students who have earned an AAS (associate of applied science) from a regionally accredited institution to transfer 60 to 75 credits toward a bachelor of applied science at Arizona State University. Courses include statistics in science and technology studies (CS); leading the enterprise; enterprise planning and implementation; enterprise operations; enterprise strategy and innovation; understanding the enterprise; and innovation management.

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 managers, general managers, manufacturing plant managers, manufacturing supervisors, office managers, operations research analysts, quality control technicians, quality control managers, and sales managers.

  • Location: Tempe, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

2University of Massachusetts (Bachelor of Science)

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 they enrolled in. Applicants with fewer than 13 college credits must 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 credits, 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.

  • Location: Dartmouth, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

3Southern New Hampshire University (Bachelor of Science, Master of Science)

Operations managers develop, improve, and manage the processes used for producing and transporting services and 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 credits and includes courses such as management science through spreadsheets; continuous improvement tools and techniques; sustainable operations; supply chain management; trends in operations management; and a capstone in operations 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 managers, inventory control analysts, supply managers, production planners, production supervisors, project managers, purchasing managers, supply chain planners, and many more.

Southern New Hampshire University also offers an online 36-credit master of science in project management and operations degree program. Courses include quantitative analysis for decision-making; operations management; project management; a seminar in project management; and topics in operations management.

  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: BS (36 months); MS (15 months)

Online Master’s Degrees in Operations Management

The University of Alabama (Master of Science)
University of Scranton (Master of Business Administration)
Kettering University (Master of Science in Operations Management)
University of Arkansas (Master of Science in Operations Management)

1The University of Alabama (Master of Science)

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 to oversee 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 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, a GRE score of 3077 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 credits. It includes courses such as statistical methods; management science and spreadsheet modeling; supply chain modeling and analysis; production scheduling problems; inventory management; systems simulation; manufacturing scheduling and control systems; and purchasing and sourcing.

The decision analytics track also consists of 30 credits. This track explores topics such as statistical methods, statistical data management, data mining, advanced data mining, management science and spreadsheet modeling, systems simulation, inventory management, and advanced statistical data management.

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months

2University of Scranton (Master of Business Administration)

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 develop the problem-solving and analytical skills needed to succeed in this information—and technology-intensive field.

The program's curriculum reflects the 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 must show proof of English proficiency by submitting TOEFL, STEP, or IELTS scores.

Comprising 36 credits, 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 specializing 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 officers, service operations directors, operations managers, operations management engineers, plant managers, and purchasing managers/agents, among others.

  • Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

3Kettering University (Master of Science in Operations Management)

An online master of science in operations management degree program offered by Kettering University provides students with 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; lean principles in healthcare; management and leadership, supply chain management; or foundation of data science.

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 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.

  • Location: Flint, Michigan
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: MS in operations management MSOM (18 months); MSOM+MBA (24 months)

4University of Arkansas (Master of Science in Operations Management)

The University of Arkansas offers a 100 percent online master of science in operations management degree program providing students with the practical knowledge to lead complex business operations. The program's faculty includes industry experts who help students learn relevant skills that can be applied immediately.

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, a 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, a personal statement, a resume, or essays are not required for admission.

Made up of 30 credits, the program's core courses 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 data analytics for operations managers.

Students gain a high-level view of the global business landscape, increasing productivity, and supply chain, and learning finance as it applies to operations managers, leadership principles, and human resource strategies.

  • Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months

Campus Visitation Requirements For Online Operations Management Programs

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 considered by those whose schedule prevents them from physically attending courses, or who do not live near a quality institution.

Most online operations management programs 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.

Other Considerations for Selecting the Right Program

Students must conduct sufficient research to determine whether 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 and whether 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.

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