Operations Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an operations management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Operations Management: Degrees at a Glance

Operations managers plan efficient production schedules, manage inventories and purchasing, formulate policies and direct quality assurance departments. Students who graduate with a degree in operations management can work in both service and manufacturing industries, and they may find a wide range of careers open to them. A bachelor's degree is usually required to qualify for entry-level positions in career fields like operations research and operations management, while an associate degree is sufficient for many positions in logistics.

Operations management might appeal to you if you are interested in business and enjoy quantitative analysis. In addition, pay is relatively high in this field. However, job growth is expected to be below average for top executives, including operations managers. Only logisticians are expected to see above-average job growth, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People who want to pursue entry-level roles in purchasing or logistics, as well as those who plan to transfer into 4-year programs Individuals who want to work in operations management or research analysis; purchasing agents and logisticians who want to advance their careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Purchasing Agent ($58,000 - a high school diploma may be sufficient for some positions)*
- Logistician ($72,000)*
Experience may be required for the following positions:
- Purchasing Manager ($97,000)*
- Operations Research Analyst ($72,000)*
- Operations Manager ($95,000)*
Time to Completion 2 or more years full-time About 4 years full-time
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent - Same as for the associate degree, but some programs may have minimum GPA and test score requirements
Online Availability Rare Rare

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011).

Associate Degree in Operations Management

Programs that offer an associate degree in operations management are rare, though there are some available. If you're interested in this field, you may also consider general business associate degree programs that feature concentrations in operations management. Most associate degree programs require you to take a range of liberal arts electives, as well as introductory business courses in areas like accounting and marketing. If you're concentrating in operations management, your electives will be chosen from this area.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may qualify to work as a logistician or purchasing agent, and these jobs pay more than average for occupations open to associate degree holders*
  • If you plan to work as a logistician, you can expect above-average job growth (26% from 2010-2020)*
  • Most operations management associate degree programs prepare you to transfer to a 4-year program upon graduation

Cons

  • You'll most likely need additional education to advance your career
  • You won't qualify for most jobs in operations management and research analysis
  • A degree alone won't qualify you for many operations jobs - you'll still need to gain work experience before moving up to more responsible positions

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

Courses and Requirements

Associate degree programs in operations management typically require you to take general education courses along with your major requirements. Your core business courses will most likely include management, economics and accounting, as well as quantitative classes like statistics and math. The number of general business courses versus operations-specific classes will vary depending on the program's structure. The specialization courses will cover topics like project management, supply chain management and process design, and you'll probably be required to take some information technology classes as well. Here are some specific examples of courses you might take:

  • Production management
  • Process control
  • Quality management
  • Employee development

Online Degree Options

Online associate degree programs in operations management are rare. You are much more likely to find general business administration programs online. These programs will cover core business concepts such as economics, marketing, accounting and general management, and they may still help you qualify for careers in purchasing and logistics, since specialized coursework is not always required for these jobs.

Stand Out With This Degree

Especially if you plan to go into purchasing, simply earning a degree may improve your job prospects. After you launch your career, there are also numerous certifications you can earn that may increase your chances of success in the job market. For instance, the American Purchasing Society offers a Certified Purchasing Professional program, and the American Society of Transportation and Logistics offers several certification programs that are appropriate for operations management careers. In both cases, you'll need to pass a written exam to qualify.

Bachelor's Degree in Operations Management

If you're interested in helping a company use its resources in the most efficient way, and you're looking for a career that offers opportunities in many different industries, a bachelor's degree in operations management may be right for you. You might use the quantitative and analytical skills you gain in school to optimize production or to increase profits by improving inventory and resource efficiency. As with the associate degree, operations management bachelor's degree programs comprise both general education and major-specific courses, and you may have the option of completing an internship or co-op.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You'll qualify for entry-level jobs in high-paying fields like operations management and research analysis
  • Earning a bachelor's degree can enhance your job prospects if you're already working in operations management or a related field, like logistics
  • Earning a bachelor's degree in operations management can give you a choice of jobs in numerous functional areas, such as purchasing, logistics, quality assurance, inventory, distribution, supply chain and plant operations

Cons

  • Growth prospects for operations management and operations research analyst roles are expected to be average or slower than average from 2010 to 2020*
  • A master's degree is required for advancement in some operations management careers
  • Many of the operations management jobs this degree qualifies you for require long hours

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

Courses and Requirements

In addition to general liberal arts courses, you'll also take foundational business classes and specialized operations management courses as part of most bachelor's degree programs in this field. You might even have the opportunity to participate in internship programs that can help you compete for your first job out of school. General business courses usually cover subjects like statistics, marketing, business law, finance, accounting and information technology, and you may also take specialized classes in the following areas:

  • Operations strategy
  • Product development
  • Forecasting and risk management
  • Procurement and supply management

Online Degree Options

There are online programs that provide a bachelor's degree specifically in operations management. Some programs are specially designed for students who already have an associate degree from a community college. These students have already completed most of the required liberal arts classes, so most of their remaining online courses will be in business and operations management. You may find that these programs focus more on the technology aspect of the field than typical campus-based programs do.

Stand Out With This Degree

Since so much of operations management depends on technology, taking courses in the latest analytical software can be helpful to those pursuing these jobs. This is particularly important for operations research analysts. The BLS also reports that career prospects will be better for operations research analysts who can communicate with their peers in other company departments, so coursework in speech or communication could be helpful. Additionally, certification can provide a competitive advantage. Some certification options include the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager, Certified Supply Chain Professional and Certified Manager credentials.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
      • B.A. - Human Resources Management
      • B.A. - Organizational Management
      • B.A. - Project Management
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • BA/Sports and Recreation Management - Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
      • BBA: Project Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
      • BS - Project Management
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Project Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Project Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
  • B.A. - Human Resources Management
  • B.A. - Organizational Management

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • BBA: Project Management
  • Bachelor of Business Admin

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Project Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management
  • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies

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Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

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Trident University

  • Bachelor's - Business Administration

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization

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