At the undergraduate level, educational opportunities in government contracting are available through single courses or workshops, rather than longer programs. These opportunities could be completed independently or alongside other programs, such as bachelor's degree programs, which might be necessary for certain government positions. Master's degree programs in areas like contract management may be the best option for students interested in studying government contracts.
Applicants to a master's program must have a bachelor's degree, and business degrees are strongly preferred. Program specializations include U.S. Department of Defense contracting, and contracting with private and public sector companies. Students typically participate in experiential learning through attending business conferences and trips to local chambers of commerce.
Bachelor's Level Coursework and Workshops in Government Contracting
Universities may offer special programs in government contracting. Students can learn about how to identify contracting opportunities, market themselves to government agencies, understand regulations and ultimately be awarded contracts.
Courses and workshops in government contracting may cover contracting at different levels of the government, and to different business organizations. Common subtopics include:
- Methods for contracting and subcontracting
- Products and services markets
- Business development
- State government contracting
- Marketing methods
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Master of Science in Contract Management
Master of Science (M.S.) programs in this field may include government contracting as a focus area. These programs train professional contractors to understand procurement techniques, organizational contracting, purchasing systems and contract negotiation. Interdisciplinary topics may be drawn from the fields of economics and financial analysis.
Coursework in these M.S. programs generally feature required topics in finance, organizational behavior and contracting, followed by electives in areas such as ethics and law. Common topics include:
- Procurement and contract management
- Subcontract formulation
- Negotiating contracts
- Incentive contracts
- Intellectual property and business
- Cost principles and analysis
Popular Career Options
These workshops and courses train students to become government contractors, whose line of work varies by government agency and department. For example, individuals could work in customer support, program management, contract management or accounting. Some specific career paths include:
- Program manager
- Contract specialist
- Financial analyst
- Project controller
Students with a master's degree in this field may seek employment with public and private sector companies, or with government departments. The federal government alone signs more than 11 million contracts with private and public companies each year. About 95% of these are awarded to small- and medium-sized businesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of purchasing managers and buyers in general is predicted to grow by 2% between the years of 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The federal government was one of the highest employers of purchasing agents in May, 2015.
Students interested in government contracting can take bachelor's level workshops in contracting, or pursue a master's degree in contract management to study various kinds of contracts, business concepts and negotiation techniques. Graduates can work a variety of contracting jobs in the public and private sectors, as well as the government.