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Online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in knowledge management (KM) are extremely rare. It's more common to find graduate study in KM, including online programs, at the master's degree level. Another alternative is to pursue a graduate certificate in knowledge management. This article profiles the online certificate and master's degree options in the field of knowledge management.
Knowledge management involves the methods that organizations use to obtain and maintain value from their intellectual assets, including processes, technologies and people. Ph.D. in Knowledge Management programs aren't typically offered remotely, but online graduate certificate and master's degree programs are available instead. Both types of programs can be completed entirely online. Some schools may allow individuals to apply the credits earned from the certificate program toward a master's degree in KM. Topics covered in both graduate certificate and master's degree programs include employee expertise, business intelligence, organizational management, intellectual capital and database management.
Students who are looking for online graduate programs related to knowledge management can find a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs in similar subjects. These fields of study include:
An online KM certificate program teaches students - often consisting of working professionals - the tools and methods for mapping an organization's knowledge. To manage this information, students learn how to design and implement business and information systems. Program applicants need to hold bachelor's degrees.
Most knowledge management certificate programs consist of 7-8 online courses. Students usually take about 12-18 months to complete the program. Compared to a master's degree program, this type of certificate program has about half the number of classes.
To access lectures, assignments and conversations online, participants need up-to-date computers with Internet access, Web browser and e-mail. Schools may prefer a particular Web browser, typically Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Software plug-ins, such as Java or Flash, might be required for course management software or media files to run properly.
General education classes are not part of the program. Course management software, usually accessible through a school's website, provides online access to classes.
In this introductory course, students receive an overview of knowledge management's theories, history, tools and technology. Analyzing real-world documents and databases helps participants understand how to design and implement knowledge systems.
This course discusses how knowledge management is generated, acquired, used and deployed. Students analyze the functionality of large, formal organizations to see how they manage KM decision making, system structures and changes.
This class discusses legal, productivity, social and ethical issues related to information flow among organizations, as well as within them. Also covered is a thorough definition of intellectual assets, including how an organization uses these assets in a competitive and global economy.
Common industries for individuals with knowledge management expertise are in consulting, marketing, real estate, telecommunications, information technology and legal services. Graduates can start careers as knowledge analysts or knowledge specialists. In August 2010, PayScale.com reported a salary range of $46,336-$71,216 for knowledge analysts and $49,339-$91,385 for knowledge engineers.
A master's degree program in knowledge management teaches students how to identify, capture, organize, index, store, integrate, retrieve and share an organization's information. Participants learn how to analyze intellectual assets to recognize previous mistakes and identify best practices. Also imparted are the leadership skills required to motivate individuals and teams to participate in the contribution of knowledge.
As working professionals, degree candidates take about 10-13 classes on a part-time basis. Depending on the number of classes, the program can take approximately 2-3 years to complete. Because the program is delivered completely online, participants keep in contact with peers and instructors through e-mail, chat and online forums. Video conferencing may also be used.
Schools usually recommend using a relatively new computer with an Internet connection. It may be necessary to install a specific Web browser or plug-ins that will work best with the school's course management software.
Although programs have many common elements, their coursework emphasis might differ from school to school. For example, one program may emphasize the technology aspects of knowledge management, while another may focus on the library science side.
As an extension of an introductory knowledge management class, this course discusses how leading-edge companies and the military use KM. Also covered are the problems and advantages of KM in a global economy.
In order to remain competitive, businesses must constantly build and enhance business intelligence. This course discusses the tools, cultures, ethics, management and other key considerations of KM acquisition. Also covered are methods to protect an organization's intellectual assets from threats and vulnerabilities.
Knowledge management analysts must remain aware of the technological changes in the field. Students learn how social networking, blogs, Twitter and wikis are changing how people communicate and how they share and create knowledge. Future KM graduates receive an overview of existing technology tools and are shown how to select and apply the most appropriate ones.
Obtaining a master's degree makes it possible for graduates to pursue job opportunities with more responsibilities and higher pay. High-level job titles in knowledge management include chief knowledge officer, director of knowledge management and vice president of knowledge management. PayScale.com reported that as of August 2010, directors of knowledge management earned $61,813-$107,192, while chief knowledge officers earned $78,500-$178,226.
Professional certification as a Certified Knowledge Manager is achievable by passing an exam administered by the non-profit Knowledge Management Professional Society. Other professional certifications may exist for KM through for-profit organizations. It's a good idea to research available certifications for career goal appropriateness and level of acceptance before pursuing a certification program.