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Online Degree in Materials Management with Program Summaries

Find out about online materials management courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Materials management degree programs are typically referred to as supply chain management programs. Both bachelor's and master's degree programs in supply chain management can be completed fully online. Master's degree programs are usually designed for working professionals and can be completed on a part-time basis. Although rare, doctoral degree programs may also be found in an online learning format.

Some programs may offer all major coursework online but require an on-campus residency component so that students can gain hands-on experience; for example, some programs require 4-day and week-long residencies. Hybrid degree programs that include both on-campus and online courses are also available.

Bachelor's in Supply Chain Management

Enrollees in online bachelor's degree programs in this field study the effects of technology and globalization on the supply chain. Components of an organization's supply chain typically include production planning, purchasing, shipping, warehousing, quality control and waste management. Online bachelor's degree programs in the field are generally geared toward those looking to work in supply, procurement or materials management.

Program Information and Requirements

Programs may be offered completely online, and the Web-based learning environment might allow students the opportunity to follow an accelerated track toward graduation. In some cases, classes may run just five weeks and consist of weekly assignments that can be completed online. Some schools may require students to have computers meeting certain specifications, for instance a Mac OS X 10.2 or Windows 2000, NT, XP or greater. Broadband Internet capability, basic computer skills and a working e-mail account are also required.

Course Topics

Students in these programs learn how to reduce costs and adapt to changing markets in order to implement successful supply chain strategies.

Total Quality Management

This class focuses on the methods used to enhance an organization's good and services. Acceptance sampling, process control and quality planning are all discussed.

Decision Modeling and Analysis

This course forces students to combine the use of statistics and management science techniques to make business decisions. Necessary components of problem solving are discussed, including problem analysis and the evaluation of alternatives.

Management for Organizations

Students learn how different components of the supply chain are interrelated and affected by technology. A special emphasis is placed on applying management theory to work environments.

Hazardous Materials Management

This course specifically focuses on the handling of harmful materials in a supply chain. Students learn the latest technologies being used to treat hazardous waste.


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Master's in Supply Chain Management

Working professionals looking to enhance their leadership skills can earn awards such as a Master of Science or Master of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management through distance learning. These programs allow students to learn at their own pace while immediately applying course concepts to their jobs. Common prerequisites include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, an overall grade point average of 2.5 or higher and a resume highlighting a minimum of three years work experience in supply chain management.

Program Information and Requirements

The online program gives full-time professionals the opportunity to earn a master's degree in as little as one year. Programs are offered both in an exclusively online format or as a hybrid of online and evening courses. In some cases, students may have to complete a 1-week summer residency program in which they have the opportunity to network with faculty members and other professionals in their field. Most classes can be accessed via the Web any time of day. Broadband Internet capability is also required.

Course Topics

Emphasis is placed on the effective management of business cycles on a national or global scale. Students develop the skills needed to reduce costs and harmful wastes while raising the overall efficiency of an organization.

Managerial Economics

Students learn to apply economic principles when making managerial decisions in business. International trade, inflation, pricing policies and risk analysis are all discussed.

Materials Management

This course covers the portion of the supply chain known as materials management. Planning, purchasing, distribution, transportation and warehouse management are all part of materials management.

Lean Principles in the Supply Chain

Classes focus on the systematic prevention and elimination of waste while continuing to sustain a strong customer service record and economic growth. Course topics cover value stream mapping, quality improvement and total productive maintenance.


Career Information

Supply chain management jobs can be obtained with a bachelor's degree and experience, and the highest-level jobs may require a master's degree. There are also various certifications available in the field, which typically required several years of work experience beyond earning a degree. Students may want to keep in mind the importance of practical experience in obtaining an entry-level management job and the fact that on-campus programs more commonly offer internship or practicum opportunities than online programs. Potential students should find out if online programs they're considering offer experiential learning opportunities.

Graduates of supply chain management programs can find employment as logistics managers, production planners, transportation managers, warehouse operations managers and customer service managers, as well as materials managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2014 and 2024, overall employment of buyers and purchasing agents is expected to increase by 2%, while logisticians is projected to increase by 2% (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, purchasing managers had a median annual salary of $108,120, and logisticians had a median salary of $74,260, according to the BLS.

Numerous colleges offer bachelor's and master's programs in supply chain management completely online, featuring courses like total quality management, managerial economics, and hazardous materials management. Growth is expected to be slower in some of the careers that graduates of materials management programs can pursue.

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