Graduate Certificate Programs in Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management graduate certificate programs are non-degree academic programs offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities. These programs provide qualified students and mid-career professionals with practical training in the principles, practices, regulatory policies, contract law, and information technology (IT) systems associated with managing the procurement, transportation, and overall logistics for industrial, manufacturing, engineering, and other business-based supply chains. The primary qualification for admissions to graduate certificate in supply chain management programs is a bachelor’s degree, although candidates who hold a master’s and/or doctoral degree are also eligible for these programs.
Graduate certificate programs in supply chain management are generally comprised of four, five, or six graduate courses that focus predominantly on knowledge and skills required to advance in the field of supply chain management. This is roughly half the number of courses that master’s programs in supply chain management typically require. Indeed, many supply chain management graduate certificate programs consist of courses that draw on and/or overlap with Master of Science (MS) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with a Specialization in Supply Chain Management.
Students who complete a supply chain management graduate certificate program, which can typically be done in one year or less, are generally qualified to enter or reenter the workforce with newly cultivated skills. In addition, credits earned in a graduate certificate program may be eligible for transfer to a master’s program in business or management, if and when a student opts to pursue further graduate studies.
Supply Chain Management Explained
Modern economies are supported and sustained by the flow of tangible goods and materials from suppliers and producers to manufacturers and then on to storage centers, transportation hubs, retail and commercial outlets, and, finally, the individuals, businesses, corporate entities, and/or government agencies who represent the end users of products and services. Each step in this process represents one or more links in a supply chain that responds to the forces of supply and demand. The design, planning, implementation, and oversight of processes facilitating the movement of raw materials to manufacturers, inventory from one site to another, and information regarding goods and services among interested parties is supply chain management.
Work in the field of supply chain management is technical in nature and requires an understanding of core business functions (accounting, finance, human resource and project management), familiarity with the laws and regulations regarding interstate and international trade, and an ability to use contemporary IT systems to manage the logistical complexities of supply chains. Supply chain management is also an area in which businesses and other organizations seek to gain an edge over competitors through improvements in efficiency, quality control, and other measures that cut costs and maximize value for customers. The specifics of supply chain management vary by industry, but the general principles, practices, and tools of management for supply chains are applicable across a broad range of fields.
Identifying and Classifying Graduate Certificate Programs in Supply Chain Management
Graduate certificate programs are by definition post-baccalaureate academic training programs that culminate with the conferral of a certificate of completion rather than a graduate degree. Supply chain management graduate certificate programs are academic programs of this type that are offered by accredited colleges and universities, often through a graduate school of business and/or management, and that provide practical, career-oriented training in supply chain management. These programs commonly share courses with graduate degree programs in business and/or management, but the number of courses/credits required to earn a graduate certificate is significantly less what is required for a master’s or doctoral degree. Thus, graduate certificate programs are shorter, less time-intensive, and more economical than full degree programs in supply chain management.
While there is no formal naming convention for supply chain management graduate certificate programs, these programs are typically designated as supply chain management certificate, graduate certificate, advanced certificate, or postbaccalaureate certificate programs. Some schools may also refer to these programs using the following names: acquisition and supply chain management, logistics and supply chain management, procurement and supply chain management, and supply chain management innovation. Finally, while uncommon in the field of supply chain management, some graduate certificate programs are post-master’s programs, which means they require applicants to hold a minimum of a master’s degree. GraduateCertificates.com classifies both post-baccalaureate and post-master’s certificate programs as graduate certificate programs.
Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate Coursework
The specific names and descriptions of supply chain management courses vary by school and by program. However, most supply chain management graduate certificate programs offer a curriculum that covers similar topics, including business supply chain logistics, supply chain strategies and sustainability, IT systems for supply chain management, and contracts and negotiations for supply chain managers. These are the same types of courses that are required in an MBA program with a Supply Chain Management specialization, without the coursework in traditional business subjects like accounting and finance. The list below provides a representative overview of courses that are commonly offered as part of a graduate certificate in supply chain management curriculum.
- Contract Pricing and Negotiations
- Information Systems for Supply Chain Management
- Legal Aspects of Contracting
- Maintaining Sustainable Supply Chains
- Purchasing and Materials Management
- Principles of Lean Manufacturing
- Procurement Strategies
- Supply Chain Logistics
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Supply Chain Management
Many schools now offer supply chain management graduate certificate programs in online formats in order to provide students with a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based programs. This is especially useful for professionals who work long hours or have to be on call, where attending campus-based courses at set times may not be an option. Leveraging advances in online teaching tools and technologies has also allowed schools to extend the reach of their programs to students who do not live within commuting range of the school’s campus. Students in an online graduate certificate program in supply chain management take the same types of courses as students in a campus-based program, but they are able to do so from anywhere with a secure internet connection and, depending on the program, may not have to attend any campus-based sessions.
For those who are considering online supply chain management graduate certificate programs, one important factor to take into account is the mode of instruction. Online programs utilize distance learning platforms that are commonly referred to as learning management systems (LMSs). Most LMSs facilitate both real-time instruction, which is known as synchronous instruction, and instruction that does not have a real-time component, such as pre-recorded lectures that can be accessed by students at their convenience, 24-7. The latter is referred to as asynchronous instruction.
Programs that utilize synchronous instruction generally have scheduled times at which online classes begin and end (often once a week in the evening or on the weekend), much like campus-based classes. Programs that utilize asynchronous instruction for all of their courses do not have scheduled class times and allow students to complete assignments and participate in online discussion forums around their personal and professional obligations. While both methods are common, they each have their own pros and cons, so students should reflect on which instruction method best matches their preferred learning style and then choose a program that offers the form of instruction that best matches their needs and preferences.
Most online graduate certificate programs in Supply Chain Management are 100% online and do not require students to attend any campus visits. However, some programs have a small-number of campus-based requirements, typically for orientation sessions, workshops, seminars, and other instructional activities that benefit from having students on-site. GraduateCertificates.com classifies programs that require up to three campus visits per year as online programs. Programs that require more than three campus visits are classified as blended or hybrid programs and may not be practical for students who do not live near a school’s campus.
Examples of Online Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate Programs
Each of the schools below offers an online graduate certificate program in supply chain management. These programs are meant to provide representative examples of the types of programs that are currently offered in an online format by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA offers an online Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate program through its Strome College of Business and its Department of Information Technology & Decision Sciences. The 12-credit program consists of four courses covering topics in transportation management, strategic sourcing, logistics, and distribution center management. Qualified students who hold at least a bachelor’s degree can complete all of the program’s required coursework without having to attend any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit ODU at www.odu.edu.
The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), which is the distance-learning division of the University of Maryland system, offers an online Acquisition and Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate Program. Students in the program must complete an online orientation and five graduate-level courses that cover topics in purchasing and materials management, contracts and negotiations, logistics, and technology management. The 15-credit program can be completed entirely online, although some courses may be offered in a hybrid format for students who are interested in attending campus-based classes. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is the main admissions requirement. For more information on the program, visit UMGC at www.umgc.edu.
The University of Nebraska Omaha offers an online Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management through its College of Business Administration. The 12-credit program is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s and/or a master’s degree and who have completed introductory coursework in business accounting and finance and the US economic system. Students who do not meet those prerequisites can take a business and an economics course offered by the University of Nebraska Omaha online, bringing the total number of courses required for the certificate to six. Students who do not need to complete either prerequisite take required courses in supply chain management and supply chain analytics and then choose two additional electives from business, accounting, and economics courses offered online by the College of Business Administration. The program does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit the University of Nebraska Omaha at www.unomaha.edu.
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