Online Degrees in Operations Management

Organizations are always looking at ways to improve their operations, as optimizing outdated, underperforming processes can provide measurable benefits. Customer service, production times, effective use of resources — these are functions that companies want to make as efficient as possible in order to raise productivity. These positive changes can eliminate excess waste, reduce needless expenditures and help increase revenues.

Apart from knowing how to manage the development and manufacture of products and services, the College Board states that operations management requires practical individuals who are creative and flexible in their thinking. An online operations management degree can help recent high school graduates, working professionals and career changers develop the knowledge and skills they need to work effectively in the field while still adhering to work, family and other commitments.

Operations managers typically perform the following duties:

  • Understanding client needs and working with various departmental heads to ensure they are met
  • Directing the allocation of materials, supplies and products
  • Developing and implementing processes to ensure operations are carried out in a cost effective manner and on time.
  • Monitoring expenses and curtailing them as necessary

Operations managers focus on turning raw materials into high-quality products in the most efficient manner possible. Their expertise helps businesses save money, reduce turnaround time and produce products that better meet consumer expectations.

Businesses large and small often seek ways to operate more efficiently and effectively. This may involve improvements in supply chain management, resource allocation and disbursement, warehousing, quality control, and response times for customer service. Graduates of online operations management degree programs may find employment opportunities in health care facilities, large corporations, nonprofit organizations, or even government agencies.

The table below uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to list occupations related to the field of operations management along with associated mean wages, job openings and employment projections for decade spanning 2018-2028.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
General and Operations Managers2,400,280$123,0306.9%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What can I do with a major in operations management?

It can be important to choose a degree program that meets your career goals along with the time and finances needed to complete the degree. Associate degrees may help individuals gain entry-level employment. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for many management occupations according to the BLS. Master’s degrees and higher may allow individuals to move into leadership and upper-management roles. With work experience they may also become top executives in a company.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Students earning an operations management associate degree online can learn how to analyze productivity problems, improve efficiency and solve sourcing problems. They may also learn to develop their leadership and supervisory skills.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics may include process analysis and control, project management, business statistics and supply chain management. In addition to the fundamentals of operations management, students usually take general education courses in order to complete their associate degree. These classes can include mathematics, communications, history, English composition, and social and natural sciences. Some courses you may take include:

  • Computerized accounting
  • Global supply chain management
  • Introduction to business
  • Lean operations management
  • Principles of purchasing

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in operations management?

An associate degree may allow you to apply your credits toward a bachelor’s degree program or enter the workforce. Working professionals may become eligible for promotion to supervisory roles in their workplaces. Potential job titles include:

  • Customer service representative
  • General logistics/ecommerce/warehouse worker
  • Logistics clerk,
  • Management trainee
  • Performance leader
  • Team lead

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

An online operations management bachelor’s degree program may offer students a deeper understanding of quality management, project administration and supply chain management than an associate degree program. Students may learn how to help businesses save money, reduce turnaround time and produce products that better meet consumer expectations.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Curricula include introduction to fundamental business topics with a focus on the specific skills needed to manage logistics or operations processes, such as labor relations, manufacturing, cost control and resource planning. Topics may focus on quantitative skills such as accounting and cost analysis as well as theory and modeling courses that prepare students to analyze processes and improve inefficiencies. Possible course topics include:

  • Continuous Improvement Tools and Techniques
  • Decision Support Systems
  • Introduction to Management Information Systems
  • Introduction to Relational Databases
  • Trends in Operations Management

You may have to complete a capstone project and/or an internship to satisfy your online operations management degree program’s requirements.

Possible electives: Information technology teams and group dynamics; adaptive project management; reverse logistics

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in operations management?

A bachelor’s degree in operations management helps to prepare students for a range of careers in the business world. Graduates may qualify for entry-level management roles which may include job titles like:

  • Distribution manager
  • Inventory control analyst
  • Materials manager
  • Production planner
  • Supply chain manager
  • Warehouse manager

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Students can usually earn this degree in one of two forms:

Master of Science (M.S.): typically teaches students how to manage personnel and production

Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in operations management: focuses more on training individuals to make decisions for businesses as a whole

However, there can be a considerable overlap between the two.

Online operations management master’s degree programs can help students develop specialized expertise and leadership skills in the production of goods and services. They may learn to manage personnel and inventory efficiently, ultimately increasing a company’s cash flow through streamlined operations.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in operations management or a related field

Typical coursework: Curricula emphasize universal business practices such as finance budgeting and resource allocation. Topics may also explore the interconnectivity of global markets and various techniques in conflict resolution. Some courses you may take include:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Operational Disruption Management
  • Project Management
  • Quantitative Analysis for Decision Making
  • Six Sigma Quality Improvement Methods: Black Belt

You may also have to complete a capstone project and/or an internship as a part of your online operations management degree program.

Possible electives: Management of service operations; business research; applied statistics for managers

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in operations management?

A master’s degree in operations management can qualify individuals for upper-level management roles overseeing one or more departments or projects. Job titles can include:

  • Branch manager
  • Information systems manager
  • Operations manager
  • Process improvement manager
  • Project director
  • Quality assurance manager
  • Supply chain analyst

Graduate certificates in operations management online may suit working professionals, small business owners or career changers who want to expand their expertise. You may find graduate certificates in operations management that can provide a general overview of the subject or online graduate certificate programs that have a narrower focus and explore one or two areas of the field in depth. The generalized programs may typically suit individuals with degrees that are not closely related to operations management while the more focused programs may help those individuals who want some graduate education in the field but do not have the time or for a full-fledged master’s degree.

Typical duration: One year of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree

Typical coursework: Classes you take can vary depending on the focus of your certificate program. Some courses you may take include:

  • Data management and warehousing
  • Global supply chains
  • Production planning and lot sizing
  • Quality and six sigma management
  • Strategic logistics management

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Online doctorates in operations management typically come in one of two forms:

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Operations Management: typically geared toward individuals who want to enter academia or conduct research in the field.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a concentration in operations management: typically designed for professionals looking to improve real-world operations management practices through advanced theoretical knowledge.

Those pursuing a DBA may learn how to run businesses that cater to a global marketplace and the cultural, ethical and legal challenges involved therein. Students who choose to enroll in Ph.D. programs can find courses that teach the theories and practices of research, including qualitative and quantitative analysis. Although the end goals may be different, there can be a considerable overlap between the courses taken in each.

Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree in operations management or related field, GRE or GMAT

Typical coursework: Courses can provide a background in understanding the process of innovation, focusing on five levels of analysis: individual, team, network, organizational and industrial. Students may also learn about the social responsibilities of corporations, and how they can operate ethically while still maximizing profit. They may also study the philosophy of science and the impact that producing research can have on public discourse and knowledge. Some courses you may take include:

  • Applied econometrics
  • Designing a global operations and supply chain network
  • Leading processes, technology and people
  • Probability and stochastic processes
  • Research design and implementation planning

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in operations management?

By learning advanced theories and practices of how to manage companies and personnel, graduates who earn Ph.D.s and DBAs in operations management may have the opportunity to move into managerial or executive positions within their current companies, become researchers, or teach at the college level. The possibility of advancement brings with it the chance to earn more money and handle more responsibilities. Some possible career titles include:

  • Chief operations officer (COO)
  • Consultant
  • Director of global sourcing
  • Full-time business faculty
  • Operations director or vice president
  • Product development and/or planning director
  • Supply chain director or vice president

Some doctoral programs may require residencies on-campus for a few semesters.

Dissertation: Along with core curriculum courses, students are generally required to produce a dissertation before they complete their degree program. The dissertation is an original contribution to the field of operations management produced through extensive research and analysis. Typically, students work with faculty mentors, who, after approving the dissertation topic, offer guidance when needed. A panel of faculty members chosen by the doctoral candidate and his/her department chair reviews the information and conclusions formed through the research. The student must then successfully defend the dissertation to the panel, answering any questions that may come up.

Specializations

As operations management can involve a number of different components, students of online operations management degree programs may be able to narrow the focus of their studies to an area of their interest in order to align their studies with their career goals. Some specializations you may be able to choose from include:

  • Logistics and transportation
  • Process management
  • Project management
  • Quality management
  • Supply chain management

Accreditation

It can be a good idea for prospective students of online operations management degree programs to choose an accredited school or program. Accreditation can demonstrate that the school’s educational offerings meet or exceed the professional requirements of today’s workplace. It can also be an important prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid, scholarships or for transferring credits from one educational program to another. Many professional certifications also require individuals to have graduated from an accredited program.

Online operations management degree programs may be programmatically accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Certifications in Operations Management

Professional certifications are not always mandatory. However, they can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field. Additionally, some employers may prefer hiring candidates with professional certifications over those without. Certifications can vary from industry to industry as well as specializations within operations management. Most certifications need to be renewed periodically through reexaminations or continuing educations. Some associations offering certifications include:

You may find there are quite a few scholarships and financial aid programs out there for eligible students that can help take some of the financial hardship away from a college education. Scholarships, grants and financial aid programs may be offered by schools, professional organizations, businesses and educational foundations. Some scholarships to help you get started on your search are:

Other resources for aspiring operations managers

Employment Statistics

General and Operations Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (except Copyrighted Works)
  • Sound Recording Industries
  • Grantmaking and Giving Services
  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations
  • Other Investment Pools and Funds
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  • Trenton, NJ
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Operations Research Analysts

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Insurance Carriers
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  • Nondepository Credit Intermediation
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • New York
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Boulder, CO
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  • Winston-Salem, NC
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

 

Sources:

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  • Graduate Certificate in Operations Management, Cedarville University, https://www.cedarville.edu/Academic-Programs/Operations-Management-Graduate-Certificate.aspx, accessed September 2019
  • Introduction to Operations Management, Stanford Online, https://online.stanford.edu/courses/mse260-introduction-operations-management, accessed September 2019
  • Logistics and Operations Management Associate Degree Online, Vista College, https://www.vistacollege.edu/degree-programs/business/logistics-operations-management-associate-of-applied-science-online/, accessed September 2019
  • M.S. Operations and Supply Management, University of Wisconsin – Stout, https://www.uwstout.edu/programs/ms-operations-and-supply-management, accessed September 2019
  • Major: Operations Management, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/business-business-management-administration-operations-management, accessed September 2019
  • Manufacturing Operations Management Associate Degree, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, https://www.nwtc.edu/academics/programs/fields-of-interest/business/management/manufacturing-operations-management, accessed September 2019
  • Online Bachelor of Applied Science in Operations Management, Arizona State University, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-applied-science-operations-management-technology/, accessed September 2019
  • Online Bachelor’s Degree, BS in Operations Management, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/bs-in-operations-management, accessed September 2019
  • Online Graduate Certificate in Operations & Supply Chain, University of South Dakota, https://www.usd.edu/usd-online/online-programs/certificate-in-operations-and-supply-chain-management, accessed September 2019
  • Online Master’s Degree Project Management & Operations, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/project-management, accessed September 2019
  • Online Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate, Boston University, https://www.bu.edu/online/programs/certificate-programs/supply-chain-management/#curriculum, accessed September 2019
  • Operations Management Bachelor of Science, Oregon Tech Online, https://www.oit.edu/online/degrees/operations-management, accessed September 2019
  • Operations Management PhD Specialization, University of Washington, https://foster.uw.edu/academics/degree-programs/phd-program/major-areas-of-specialization/operations-management/, accessed September 2019
  • PhD in Operations and Manufacturing Management, Washington University in St. Louis, https://olin.wustl.edu/EN-US/academic-programs/PhD/operations-and-manufacturing-management/Pages/default.aspx, accessed September 2019
  • The Role of an Operations Manager, Chron.com, 2019, https://smallbusiness.chron.com/role-operations-manager-14234/
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