Study Acquisition Management: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in acquisition management? Find out degree program requirements, online options and course information.
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Acquisition Management: Degrees at a Glance

The typical responsibilities of acquisition management professionals include evaluating suppliers, negotiating contracts and purchasing goods and services on behalf of an organization. Job prospects in this industry will likely vary depending on the industry, but overall employment of purchasing managers and agents is expected to increase by 7% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Required education and professional experiences may vary. Purchasing agent jobs may require applicants to possess a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training requirements, while management positions may require a bachelor's or master's degree and some professional experience.

Associate'sBachelor's
Who is this degree for? - People who are new to the field or are making a career change- Experienced workers who want professional development or advancement opportunities
- Students who want to eventually pursue a graduate degree in acquisition or contract management
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Buyers and purchasing agents, ($61,000 - may vary with experience)*- Purchasing managers ($103,000)*
Time to Completion Approximately 2 years (full time)Approximately 4 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Satisfy coursework requirements
- Maintain GPA standards, if applicable
- Same as associate's
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalent- High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Not widely available Not widely available

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

Acquisition Management Associate's Degrees

Acquisition management associate's degree programs are not widely available; however, similar courses in contract administration may be easier to find. Generally, the curriculum in an associate's program introduces the fundamentals of contract and purchasing administration. Degree programs may be formatted as an Associate of Arts (or Associate of Science) in Acquisition Management, or similar title.

Upon graduation, students can pursue continued studies in a bachelor's degree program or choose to enter the workforce. Some associate's degree programs allow students to transfer their credits to a 4-year bachelor's degree program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Associate's degree programs typically require less time and money than bachelor's degree programs.
  • If you are unsure about pursuing a career in acquisition management, an associate's program can test your interest and skill level.
  • If you want to pursue a higher degree at some point, you may be able to transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program.

Cons

  • Just as associate's programs are not as rigorous as bachelor's programs, they are also not as prestigious.
  • If you know you will eventually pursue a bachelor's degree, it may not be practical to pursue an associate's degree.
  • An associate's degree may not qualify you for leadership or management positions.*

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

Common Courses and Requirements

In a typical associate's degree program, you will spend approximately two years completing academic coursework and studying independently. In an acquisition management associate's degree program, you can expect to study a range of topics, including a series of general education requirements plus core courses in your chosen field of study. Sample core courses may include:

  • Principles of accounting
  • Principles of management
  • Business decisions in contracting
  • Negotiation techniques
  • Introduction to business
  • Principles of finance

Online Degree Options

Online acquisition management courses are available. Students who are interested in a distance learning associate's degree may have a hard time finding an acquisition management program, although similar degrees in contracting and business administration are more widely available. If you do find online options, consider that the curricula and requirements of online programs are generally very similar to those of traditional on-campus programs.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Because employers typically value relevant work experience, a strong employment history is a great way to stand out among other applicants. If you do not have prior experience, consider working at a small company or volunteering for an unpaid internship/apprenticeship, which can help you get your foot in the door and allow you to make a mark professionally.

Acquisition Management Bachelor's Degrees

It may be challenging to find a bachelor's degree program in acquisition management. However, other degree programs, like a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in contract management, are more widely available and typically offer a similar curriculum.

The formats of bachelor's degree programs vary with each school, but generally require approximately 120 academic credit hours in core courses and electives. Some schools offer degree programs specifically in acquisition management, while others offer an acquisition/contracting specialty within their undergraduate business program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Purchasing managers typically have at least a bachelor's degree and some relevant work experience.*
  • Students who plan to continue their studies in their graduate school are well-poised for admission; competitive master's degree programs typically require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
  • There are typically opportunities for advancement as you obtain more professional experience and education. For example, an experienced purchasing agent may become a manager before advancing to director.

Cons

  • Some employers may prefer workplace experience over academic credentials for entry-level positions.
  • Overtime is common in this occupation, so you may be expected to work long hours.*
  • You may be in competition with master's degree holders, particularly for positions in management.

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

Courses and Requirements

In a typical acquisition management bachelor's program, courses may include business economics, interpretation of financial statements, business ethics, statistics and organizational communication. In addition to academic coursework, students in acquisition management bachelor's degree programs will probably need to submit a final capstone project, which may include an internship or research paper. Some programs may encourage applicants to complete courses in math or business, either before they enroll or while they are completing their coursework.

Online Degree Options

Currently, online acquisition management degree programs are not widely available. Students who are interested in online courses and degrees should thoroughly research similar programs in business administration to ensure that they offer a contract/acquisition concentration, and are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or one of its accrediting agencies.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Acquisition professionals who meet certain eligibility requirements may consider taking a certification examination to earn management credentials. For example, the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential is available through various professional associations, and certifies individuals in a wide variety of duties expected of purchasing managers. Eligibility requirements include three years of professional experience or a combination of education and experience.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
      • B.A. - International Business
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. 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
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor: Project 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
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    9. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Business Administration - Bachelor's
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BLS in General Studies - Professional Studies Concentration

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
  • B.A. - International Business

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Full Sail University

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

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Herzing University

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

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Colorado State University Global

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

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American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor: Project Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Project Management

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Grand Canyon University

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

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
  • Bachelor of Arts in Government
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership

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