Top Online MBA Programs in Operations Management

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Operations managers enjoy one of the best-paying and fastest-growing occupations in the country, according to Business Insider magazine. The periodical issued a 2020 report of the nation’s 30 best jobs, ranking operations specialists in the top 15. The magazine based its judgement on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, which projected more than 70,000 new jobs in the field from 2018-2028.

Online MBA in operations management programs prepare graduates to step into one of these lucrative jobs. Read on to learn more about top programs in the field, what to look for, where to find money for school, and where to find help upon graduation.

What Is an MBA in Operations Management?

An MBA in operations management combines the standard business administration degree with an intense focus in logistics and operations. MBA programs vary, but they all give students a well-rounded education in the fundamentals of business, including coursework in accounting, finance, economics, and leadership. This particular degree adds classes in supply chains, data analysis, project administration, business forecasting, quality control, and production planning.

These skills prove valuable in the current job market. According to the BLS, management jobs outpace other occupations when it comes to growth and demand. Graduates of online MBA in operations management programs can take their degrees in a variety of directions. They may work as executive directors, CEOs, supply chain managers, procurement specialists, or administration service professionals, among other professional positions.

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Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Operations Management?

Executive positions in the business world, including operations management positions, generally require an MBA or comparable degree. Most employers in the field want their top staff to hold graduate degrees. Online MBAs in operations management give graduates a competitive edge in this fast-growing business market.

The online format is ideal for MBA education. It both provides networking opportunities and allows learners to continue working while earning their degree. Online options also offer cost savings over traditional brick-and-mortar programs, since distance learning rarely requires travel or accommodation expenses.

MBA degrees often pay for themselves in short order. According to a 2017 report by the Wall Street Journal, business professionals with an MBA can double their salaries. Some even saw pay increases of almost 120%. As demonstrated below, an online MBA in operations management can lead to a salary range of $79,000-$124,000.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Operations Management?

  • Operations Manager

    Operations managers run their organization’s day-to-day operations. These might include hiring and firing, overseeing new projects, executive-level strategizing, and implementing policy. Some work in the public sector and others in the private sector, but all bring similar skill sets to their jobs.

    These professionals need good communication and people skills, as well as the ability to prioritize, problem-solve, and make decisions. The mean income for these middle managers sits at $124,000.

  • Executive Director

    Executive directors typically work in the public sector, running nonprofits or government agencies. Some serve as top executives, while others work under a CEO. They often report to a board of directors. Most set policies, direct staff, make daily decisions, and establish and manage the budget.

    Skills required for these positions include excellent communication, critical thinking, personnel management, strategic vision, and troubleshooting. They earn an average salary of $79,000.

  • Procurement Manager

    Procurement managers maintain their organization’s supplies. They source the products their companies need, negotiate supplier prices, and ensure materials arrive in a timely manner and remain well-stocked. To do so, these professionals must work closely with other managers, track inventory, and prepare budgets.

    Procurement managers need top organizational and logistical skills, plus the ability to communicate effectively, make decisions, and solve problems. Average income for these positions sits at $82,000.

  • Administrative Services Manager

    Another logistics-based position, administrative service managers oversee the support services that keep an organization running. These services might include manufacturing, printing, recordkeeping, or facilities management. Administrative services managers work closely with staff and executives, coordinating operational flow. These professionals must understand logistics, statistics, and budgets, and they should know how to communicate well.

    These managers typically need problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking skills. These positions earn a median of $96,000 annually and enjoy above-average growth.

  • Director of Operations

    Sometimes called chief operations officers, directors of operations run their business’ day-to-day workings. Ranking just below the CEO, these professionals manage staff, oversee projects, implement policy, and ensure their business meets budgets and standards.

    Often executive-level positions, directors of operations need people skills, as well. They must know how to make decisions, solve problems, think strategically, analyze data, and lead staff. Directors of operations bring home an average annual salary of $90,000.

Online MBA in Operations Management Curriculum

Online MBA programs in operations management include coursework in traditional MBA fields such as accounting, economics, and finance, as well as operations and logistical studies. Every program differs, however, so check closely with your schools of interest. Most feature classes like those below.

  • Supply Chain Management

    This course explores the logistics of moving materials, data, and products. Students learn about sourcing, inventory, and the global infrastructure for moving goods. They also explore the risks involved in the process.

  • Managerial Economics

    Economic theory, as it applies to management, forms the basis of this course. Topics include pricing, sourcing, sales promotion, and capital budgeting. Regression analysis, calculus, and correlation also factor in.

  • Organizational Management

    Distance learners in this course learn to structure, plan, administer, and direct available resources. They delve into assets, obstacles, and the fundamentals of management theory.

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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Operations Management Program

Due to the sheer number of MBA programs in operations management, choosing the right one can prove daunting. You must consider factors such as cost, accreditation, enrollment status, program rigor, and internships and practicums.

Some students get confused about the difference between graduate-level degrees in operations management, supply chain management, and other related areas. A Master of Science in operations research and industrial engineering, for example, prioritizes technical skills over business aspects. A Master of Supply Chain Management focuses on technical considerations, while an MBA in operations management offers a well-rounded business degree with an emphasis on operations.

Cost ranks as the most important factor to many program applicants. Think about whether you intend to continue working, which impacts whether you attend full time or part time. Part-time learners can continue working to earn money and defray costs, while full-time students finish their degree more quickly. Work status also affects students’ ability to participate in practicums and internships, so they should consider each program’s requirements.

Accreditation also plays a major role. The best online MBA programs hold regional accreditation. Some also boast accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Scholarships for Operations Management MBA Programs

Students in online MBA in operation management programs can apply for an array of scholarships. Many companies and foundations sponsor grants and awards specifically for students in business programs. Some even offer money for operations scholars. Hundreds of scholarships remain available for any and all graduate students; these funds can offset the rising costs of an MBA program.

  • John Galt Scholarship for Future Supply Chain Leaders

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps students interested in entering the world of supply chain leadership. Recipients must attend an accredited U.S. university and study logistics, business forecasting, or another supply chain-related field.

    Amount: $10,000

    Apply for Scholarship

  • AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Scholarship applicants must hold membership with AfterCollege, attend an accredited university, and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must study business or a related field, but can pursue any degree level.

    Amount: $500

    Apply for Scholarship

  • AICP Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals, these funds are open to graduate students in business or management. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: $1,500

    Apply for Scholarship

  • InfoParrot Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: InfoParrot opens these scholarships to undergraduate and graduate applicants accepted into an accredited university. The selection committee selects recipients based on essay responses to a provided prompt.

    Amount: $1,250

    Apply for Scholarship

  • PixelPlex Bi-Annual STEM Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Despite its title, this scholarship also is open to students in the fields of business and economics. Applicants must write an essay and attend an accredited U.S. university.

    Amount: $2,000

    Apply for Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Operations Management

Professional organizations offer students and new graduates invaluable opportunities for networking, professional development, and job searching. They also fill in members on the latest field developments, advocate on their behalf, and provide mentoring opportunities. These associations of like-minded individuals can help launch students’ careers.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

The largest association of operations research, INFORMS offers members access to continuing education, professional development, and annual meetings and conferences. The institute also regularly publishes the latest research in its INFORMS journals.

The Association for Supply Chain Management

The largest nonprofit supply chain association, ASCM brings together an international membership of operations management professionals. The association sponsors a conference, hosts events around the country, offers seminars, and maintains a job board on its site.

Project Management Institute

An international organization based in Pennsylvania, PMI provides professional development, advocacy, research, and networking for project managers around the globe. Members gain access to job boards, certification, and a wealth of online resources.

Production and Operations Management Society

An international association, POMS hosts a conference, offers educational opportunities, and publishes a journal. Members can join chapters across the country and receive the society’s job and research bulletins.

Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning

A membership organization dedicated to logistics, IBF sponsors events, webinars, and training programs, including S&OP boot camps. IBF also runs a nationally recognized certification program.

Top Online MBA Programs in Operations Management for 2020

How We Rank Online MBA Programs

Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, online flexibility, and student success.

  1. University of Scranton

    Scranton, PA



    A Jesuit university in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Scranton offers a top online MBA in operations management with a technological focus. The 36-credit course of study combines solid business fundamentals with an understanding of how to leverage data in modern businesses. Completable in two years, the program requires three years of professional experience.

    In keeping with Scranton's Catholic heritage, the Kania School of Management emphasizes ethics and social responsibility. The program runs entirely online in an asynchronous format. The flex option lets degree candidates choose two areas of specialty or use six advanced electives to tailor their degree plan to their career goals.

    Scranton does not require the GMAT or GRE and offers six start dates per year. Kania carries accreditation from the elite Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Graduates gain connections across the globe, joining 45,000 Kania alumni who work in a variety of fields.

    Other Concentrations

  2. Endicott College

    Beverly, MA



    Endicott's Van Loan School of Business hosts one of the nation's best online MBA programs in operations management. Created to accommodate the schedules of working business professionals, the 42-credit program features asynchronous learning. Ambitious students can complete their degree in under two years.

    Van Loan offers an unusually rich array of MBA concentrations. The operations management concentration requires the completion of four three-credit classes in lean thinking Six Sigma, global logistics, international supply chain management, and high-performance service management. The program uses small classes and provides extensive networking opportunities.

    The Van Loan School of Business does not request the GMAT or GRE. Applicants must submit a resume, college transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a writing sample outlining their professional aspirations. Of Endicott's class of 2018, 90% of graduates found work in their field.

    Other Concentrations

  3. Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA



    Set in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon offers a master's in operations management through its renowned Tepper School of Business. Distance learners convene six times a year for "access weekends" in a variety of locations. Online classes meet weekly, and the remainder of coursework runs asynchronously.

    Tepper's interactive format gives students the opportunity to work collaboratively, build teamwork skills, and network with other professionals. The weekend sessions feature visits with leading companies to give participants an inside look at the business world. Graduates leave with analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, and are prepared to enter industries driven by technological advancement thanks to the program's new STEM designation.

    Carnegie requires that learners select a concentration, and many opt to add multiple specializations to their resumes. Students in operations management can find complementary skills in operations research and organizational behavior. The program carries AACSB accreditation.

    Other Concentrations

  4. Lewis University

    Romeoville, IL



    Lewis' online MBA program in operations management prides itself on small classes and personalized attention. A small Catholic institution based in Greater Chicago, the university welcomes students from any undergraduate background to apply for its master's in business. Available entirely online, the 54-credit program combines career-oriented business theory with practical, hands-on experience.

    The curriculum features 21 credits in foundation courses, 24 in the program core, and nine in the operations management concentration. These include classes in Six Sigma, supply chain management, and operations management. Lewis waives some coursework for those with a business degree and allows degree candidates with expertise to receive exemptions for classes by completing proficiency exams.

    Lewis' rolling admissions policy gives students the opportunity to start in any one of the five terms per year. Classes proceed asynchronously in accelerated, eight-week sessions, so that distance learners can move through the program as a quick pace. Lewis does not require the GMAT.

    Other Concentrations

  5. University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND



    Mary offers an affordable online MBA that students can complete in as little as 16 months. With rolling admissions and start dates every five weeks, the program strives for maximum flexibility. Set in Bismarck, North Dakota, Mary provides adult learners with faith-based education in the Benedictine tradition.

    The school's 36-credit master's in operations management aims to create well-rounded business leaders able to make a positive impact in the global economy. Degree candidates must complete core classes in accounting, finance, leadership theory, marketing, and law. All learners must pass a capstone centered around a literature review of a business topic.

    The business operations concentration consists of nine credits, including coursework in operations management, statistics, and executive economic analysis. Applicants must submit college transcripts, which should show a bachelor's earned with a 2.75 GPA or better. The program carries accreditation from the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

    Other Concentrations

  6. Abilene Christian University

    Abilene, TX



    Set in the central Texas city of the same name, ACU hosts an online MBA rooted in Christian values. Available entirely through the internet, the 36-credit program includes coursework in leadership, data-driven decision making, analytics, ethics, and faith. The AACSB-accredited program contains real-world solutions to business problems that students can incorporate into their current careers.

    The program allows distance learners to focus their education in the areas of analytics, healthcare, marketing, global business, and operations and supply chain management. The operations concentration consists of classes in project management, global supply chain, and operations strategy. Most degree candidates earn their diploma within two years.

    ACU prefers candidates with two years of business experience in a position of responsibility, but accepts applicants with GPA over 3.0 and scores above the fiftieth percentile on the GMAT or GRE. Program prerequisites include classwork in accounting, statistics, and economics.

    Other Concentrations

  7. Cedarville University

    Cedarville, OH



    A Christian institution located in Cedarville, Ohio, CU hosts an online MBA that teaches students how to apply a biblical perspective to all aspects of business. The school designed the program specifically for Christian professionals as a platform for their ministry.

    The 39-credit curriculum includes core courses such as biblical and theological foundations for graduate study. Other required classes explore leadership, accounting, finance, and IT. The operations management concentration includes coursework in lean process management, operations research, project management, and supply chain administration.

    Classes take place entirely online, typically in an asynchronous format. Courses use hands-on case studies, simulation games, and collaborative projects to give students an interactive experience. Degree candidates can also pursue a graduate certificate in operations management.

    Cedarville carries accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

    Other Concentrations

  8. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL



    NSU offers a wide array of online master's in business administration programs and the spirit of entrepreneurship and a focus on leadership unites them all. Ambitious students can earn their degree through the Fort Lauderdale institution in less than two years.

    The 37-credit curriculum MBA with a concentration in operations management leans toward supply chain administration. Distance learners enjoy classes with Fortune 500 leaders, gaining a thorough understanding of how to move goods and manage personnel. Case studies and real-world projects prepare degree candidates to step into leadership positions in the field.

    NSU offers five start dates each year. Successful completion of the program readies students to sit for several internationally recognized professional certification exams in supply chain and project management. Those without a background in business may need to complete additional foundation courses.

    Other Concentrations

  9. University of South Dakota

    Vermillion, SD



    The flagship campus of the state's university system, USD hosts an online MBA in operations management through its highly ranked Beacom School of Business. Beacom's MBA programming enjoys AACSB accreditation dating back to the 1960s.

    The school established the 36-credit course of study to prepare students to step into executive roles in the corporate world or to continue on to doctoral-level study in business. The program places a premium on decision-making, leadership, problem-solving, and understanding the role of business in society.

    Distance learners must complete 27 credits in core courses and nine in concentration classes. The operations and supply chain specialty offers six class options, of which degree candidates must choose three. This allows for a deeper focus in areas such as Six Sigma, project management, data, or quality control.

    USD extends in-state rates to all MBA students. Some applicants may need to complete business prerequisites. The school waives the GRE/GMAT requirement for many applicants.

    Other Concentrations

  10. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU offers a highly customizable online MBA. Future business leaders can select from among 20 concentrations, including operations and supply chain management. Accredited by ACBSP, the program develops the leadership, communication, and analytical skills needed by today's employers.

    The 36-credit curriculum delves into business fundamentals such as accounting, finance, marketing, and management. The operations management specialty area includes three classes. Graduates leave with a firm understanding of inventory control, personnel, and technologies such as Minitab, SPSS, and Excel Solver.

    Coursework also helps prepare students for the Six Sigma Green Belt exam. Taking two courses per 10-week term, students can complete the degree entirely online in a little over a year.

    SNHU accepts up to 12 credits toward the program. Applicants do not need to provide GMAT or GRE scores. The university enjoys national ranking for its affordability, and distance learners pay a flat rate for tuition.

    Other Concentrations

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