Acquisition Management Degrees: Master's, Certificate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an acquisition management program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of master's degree and certificate programs and potential careers.
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Study Acquisition Management: Degrees at a Glance

Acquisition management programs teach students about procurement, acquisition and contracts for use in a variety of business and government settings. Graduate programs are typically offered at universities and other continuing education centers, and they're often designed for students who are already working. Aside from acquisition management, programs are offered under the titles of acquisition and contract management, acquisition and supply chain management, and procurement and acquisition management.

There are many careers a degree in acquisition management can prepare you for, some of which are expected to have better job prospects than others. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), opportunities for procurement managers were expected to increase by 7% between 2010 and 2020; opportunities for logistics analysts were forecast to increase by between 20% and 28% over the same time period.

Certificate Master's
Who is this degree for? People who work in business and wish to enter an acquisitions-related role People who want more responsibility in the workplace, such as overseeing larger projects
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Logistics analyst ($72,000)**
- Logistics manager ($82,000)**
- Purchasing manager ($103,000)*
Same as certificate
Time to Completion 1 year 1-2 years
Common Graduation Requirements - Coursework Same as certificate, plus:
- Capstone project (varies)
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree Same as certificate, plus:
- GRE or GMAT scores
- Prerequisite courses
Online Availability Rare Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **O*NET Online (2011 figures).

Certificates in Acquisition Management

Certificate programs in acquisition management are typically offered at the graduate level, often by schools that also offer a master's program in the field. These programs usually take around a year to finish and require 15-18 credit hours. Some schools also offer certificate programs in federal acquisition and contracting, which focus on using the field in government work. Acquisition management also might be a concentration within a business administration graduate certificate program. Generally, certificate programs in acquisition management require that you have an undergraduate degree for admission.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Potential careers pay higher-than-average salaries*
  • Good introduction to material without large time commitment
  • Programs offered at many schools

Cons

  • Undergraduate degree is usually necessary before entering program
  • Some potential careers are expected to have slower-than-average growth*
  • Acquisition management work sometimes requires overtime

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Certificate programs typically require completion of between four and six courses. Generally, there are some required core classes, with the rest of the curriculum chosen by the student. These programs often can be completed on a part-time basis. Courses you might take include:

  • Government contracting
  • Purchasing strategy
  • Risk analysis
  • Contract pricing and negotiation
  • Project management

Online Degree Options

Online certificate programs in acquisition management are not common, and those that are available often are offered by for-profit schools. Some of these programs allow for credits earned to transfer toward a master's degree. As with on-campus certificate programs, online programs might be offered in general business administration with an acquisition emphasis or a government contracting focus.

Getting Ahead

You might find it beneficial to join a professional society, such as the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), which offers a variety of memberships, including those for students, through its Institute for Public Procurement. Members are listed in a directory and gain access to the organization's newsletter as well as discounts on educational courses and conferences. The institute also has a resource library and offers in-person and online courses to help you keep up to date with new information in the field.

Master's Degrees in Acquisition Management

Master's programs in acquisition management most often award a Master of Science, though some schools offer a Master of Arts, Master of Acquisition Management or Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in acquisition management. Some programs are designed for those who already work in acquisitions or a related field. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for entering a master's program, but it doesn't necessarily have to be in business administration or acquisitions. Many programs have introductory courses available to students who are new to the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Helpful for advancing or changing career paths
  • Knowledge gained can be useful across multiple industries and government agencies
  • Degree program typically can be completed in a short time even if working full-time

Cons

  • Potential careers require high attention to detail
  • Positions in some industries are growing extremely slowly or decreasing*
  • Career might require spending a lot of time on business trips

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Master's degree programs typically require around 36 credit hours of coursework, the topics of which can vary by the type of degree. For instance, an MBA program might include several courses on marketing, finance and economics in addition to acquisition management classes. Some programs require a capstone project, though this is not standard. Courses you might take include:

  • Supply chain management
  • Contracts and procurement
  • Logistics
  • Managerial accounting
  • Contract law

Online Degree Options

Acquisition management master's degree programs, including MBA programs with acquisition management concentrations, are readily offered online. Some schools only offer an online version of their program, while others offer both online and on-campus options. Local proctors may be necessary for exams.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

As an acquisitions manager, you might find it useful to hold certification. The APICS Association for Operations Management and the American Purchasing Society both offer relevant certifications. APICS has the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation, which requires that applicants pass an exam and, after being awarded certification, earn 75 maintenance points every five years to maintain it. The American Purchasing Society's certifications require three years of experience or a degree and two years of experience. An exam is also necessary.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master : Business Admin
      • MBA: Project Management
      • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
      • MBA: Finance
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    2. Johns Hopkins University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
      • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation
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    4. Northcentral University

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    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - Financial Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management
      • MBA - Project Management
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    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
      • Master of Science in Business Analytics
      • MBA
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    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Project Management
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    7. Colorado Technical University

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    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin
      • Master: Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship
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    8. Saint John's University

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    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Joseph's University

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    Master's
      • MS - Organization Development & Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master : Business Admin
  • MBA: Project Management
  • Master: Management/Project Mgmt

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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American University

  • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
  • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation

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Northcentral University

  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • MBA - Management
  • MBA - Financial Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • Master of Science in Business Analytics
  • MBA

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Project Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Master of Business Admin
  • Master: Management
  • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship

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Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

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