Study Acquisitions and Contract Management: MBA & Master's Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree or MBA in acquisition and contract management? Find out degree program requirements and online course options.
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Acquisition and Contract Management: Degrees at a Glance

Students in acquisition and contract management graduate degree programs receive training in the practical aspects of purchasing, business and negotiations. Bachelor's degrees are the most common academic credential for purchasing managers; however, employers may prefer individuals with master's degrees for management positions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of purchasing managers is expected to grow 7% from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations. Growth may vary within specific industry areas, such as manufacturing and government.

MA/MS MBA
Who is this degree for? - Experienced professionals who want to enhance their managerial skills
- Students who want to eventually pursue a PhD
- Professionals who want to advance their current skill set
- Individuals who want to begin careers in acquisition and contract management
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Purchasing manager ($103,000)*
- General manager or operations manager ($115,000)*
- Same as MS/MA
Time to Completion Typically 18 months (part-time) Typically 18-36 months (part-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Complete coursework
- Maintain GPA standards
- Satisfy thesis requirements, if applicable
- Complete coursework
- Complete internship/practicum requirements, if applicable
Prerequisites - Provide undergraduate transcripts
- Meet GPA standards
- Recent GRE scores
- Previous math and business courses, if required
- All of the master's requirements, plus GRE/GMAT scores, if applicable
Online Availability YesYes

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

Acquisition and Contract Management Master's Degrees

Master of Science (or Master of Arts) degrees are designed for students who want to study the theories of contract management or eventually pursue a doctoral degree. Curricula often focus on understanding the acquisition process, including statutory and regulatory requirements. Acquisition and contract management master's degree programs typically emphasize the theory and applications of procurement, contracting and operations.

Although a bachelor's degree is typically required for admission into a master's degree program, some schools may not require previous related coursework. However, students with deficiencies in their undergraduate coursework may need to take some prerequisite courses. You should note that degree programs may be hard to find because some schools offer acquisition and contract management more often as concentration within a business degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A master's degree may be required for advancement into top-level management positions.
  • Because most purchasing agents have bachelor's degrees, you may stand out from your peers with an advanced degree.
  • Individuals with master's degrees are well-poised for admission into doctoral programs.

Cons

  • A bachelor's degree is the baseline education requirement in this field.*
  • In addition to your degree, you may need to obtain certifications to remain a competitive job applicant.
  • Overtime is common in this profession, so consider that you may need to work long hours.

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

Common Courses and Requirements

In a typical master's degree program, courses may include advanced topics, such as acquisition law, operations management, logistics, managerial accounting and negotiations. In addition to academic coursework, students in a master's degree program will probably need to submit a final research paper, or thesis. A thesis typically demonstrates a student's ability to question theoretical issues or examine trends in their field of study. Students who do not choose a thesis track may need to complete additional coursework.

Online Degree Options

Online master's degrees are available. If you find an accredited online program, consider that some requirements may vary from traditional on-campus programs. For example, some online programs do not include a thesis option; instead, students complete additional coursework. The coursework in online programs is generally very similar to that of a traditional academic institution.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

When considering job applicants, employers commonly place an emphasis on relevant work experience. If you do not have a strong employment history, consider ways to enhance your resume while you are enrolled in school. Some programs offer students credit for completing an internship, which can provide relevant on-the-job experiences.

Acquisition and Contract Management MBA Degrees

Students in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program can typically select a concentration in acquisition and contract management. As a student in an acquisition and contract management MBA program, you will likely learn to build capital in a responsible and valuable manner. In addition to your core contracting courses, you will likely acquire practical skills to achieve success in the business world.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • MBA programs provide an education in general business skills, which are valued in nearly every industry.
  • Typically, the required undergraduate degree doesn't need to be in business (though it may be encouraged).
  • Graduate courses are often taught by respected faculty who bring their real-world experiences into the classroom.

Cons

  • Despite your academic credentials, many firms also emphasize formal in-house training.
  • Purchasing managers typically have at least 5 years of relevant work experience.* As a result, individuals without prior work experience may have a harder time finding a management position.
  • It can be difficult to estimate earnings prior to graduation; salaries typically vary by industry and by the level of responsibility required in the position.*

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

Common Courses and Requirements

In an acquisition and contract management MBA program, you will spend approximately two years completing academic coursework and studying independently. Depending on the school, you may need to apply your newly-acquired academic knowledge into a real-world capstone project or paper. MBA candidates can expect coursework in the following topics:

  • Cost analysis and negotiation techniques
  • Financial strategy
  • Legal topics in contracting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Contracting business decisions

Online Degree Options

Online programs are available. Similar to traditional on-campus MBA programs, students should look for online programs with a concentration in acquisitions and contract management. You should consider that some online programs are tailored for working professionals and may require applicants to have several years of relevant work experience and a basic understanding of business concepts.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Many MBA programs offer focused courses in 'concentrations' such as information technology or risk management. Consider specializing in an additional concentration that interests you, and seek related professional groups that can round-out your academic and professional experience. Specializing in more than one topic can help you stand out to hiring managers and may come in handy if you ever need to broaden your employment options in your job search.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

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    Master's
      • MA/Organizational Management - Media Management
      • MBA - Media Management
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      • MBA
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    Master's
      • Master : Business Admin
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      • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
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    3. Johns Hopkins University

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      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
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    4. Northcentral University

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      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • MBA - Management
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      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management
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    5. University of the Rockies

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      • M.A. in Organizational Development & Leadership - Innovation & Entrepreneurship
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    6. Grand Canyon University

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    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
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    7. Herzing University

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    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
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      • Master of Business Admin
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    10. Regent University

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Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • MA/Organizational Management - Media Management
  • MBA - Media Management
  • MBA - Business Economics

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

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

What is your highest level of education?

University of the Rockies

  • M.A. in Organizational Development & Leadership - Innovation & Entrepreneurship

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

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

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