UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State World Campus is offering a new online undergraduate degree that focuses on project and supply chain management. The new program comes as demand for jobs in this field is forecast to increase significantly in the next eight years.
The Bachelor of Science in Project and Supply Chain Management is a 120-credit program that provides students with skills and knowledge to effectively manage projects, programs, and supply chains.
Interested students who apply by June 30 and are accepted into the program can start in the fall 2023 semester on Aug. 31.
Learning by doing
The Bachelor of Science in Project and Supply Chain Management is offered in partnership with Penn State Behrend’s Black School of Business online through Penn State World Campus.
Ray Venkataraman, department chair of the Black School’s marketing and project and supply chain management programs, said the online program’s curriculum consists of the same elements as the successful program that has been taught on campus.
He said the Black School of Business prepares its students for “learning by doing.” Students can apply theories, concepts, and techniques learned in courses — including project planning and resource management, project risk management, purchasing and materials management, and operations planning and control — to real-life business scenarios.
“The fact that it is residential or online does not matter. They will have some kind of learning-by-doing scenarios in every course,” Venkataraman said.
With the program’s asynchronous structure, this type of education becomes a possibility for someone who works full time.
Real-world learning opportunities
Ozgun Demirag, who is a faculty member and serves as associate director of the Black School of Business, said the course work is a mix of theory and practice.
Demirag said courses introduce concepts through readings and apply them through activities. In one course, students learn how to create purchase orders — from recognizing the need for a new product to gathering quotes from vendors and processing products and invoices. She said students use software and complete calculations by hand to ensure they don’t have to rely on the software.
“This way, they can troubleshoot and make some meaning out of those numbers,” she said.
Venkataraman added, “The courses will have relevance to the industry, and to real-life business problems.”
Growing demand for logisticians
Logistician positions, a job that oversees purchasing, transportation, inventory, and warehouse activities, are expected to grow 28% between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average job growth rate is 5%.
Project and supply chain management skills are applicable to any industry, Venkataraman added.
“The skill sets we provide are so diverse and can be applied to any area where efficiency is needed,” he said. “You have to be able to streamline operations, and that’s the kind of skill set we provide.”
Demirag said graduates go on to a variety of jobs like purchasing managers, logisticians, supply chain analysts, operations managers, program managers, and more. In addition to the manufacturing sector and project organizations, graduates can work in the service sector — such as the hospitality industry — hospital administration, and the government sector.
Applicable to military careers
The program may be beneficial to military members who are working with logistics and supply chain but haven’t gone through the academic preparation.
In the military, logisticians support operations at all levels by ensuring efficiency in processes, resources, and systems. This includes extensive planning and coordination with groups within the military and with civilian contractors. Civilian logistics positions in the military can pay around $100,000, according to Indeed.com.
Exposure to industry programs
Demirag said the program includes opportunities to pursue certificates in SAP, which is a leading software in the industry for enterprise resource planning, or ERP. In addition to SAP, students also acquire proficiency in using various data analytics tools and project management software such as Microsoft Project. Employers are looking for students who have exposure to these types of software. Venkataraman said the introduction to these types of software in the program allows students to have a competitive advantage once they graduate.
“They hit the road running. They have an advantage over the other graduates because they are trained in SAP, Excel and its various functionalities, and Microsoft Project. They know the language, and that exposure to an ERP system and project management software is a big advantage for many companies,” he said. “It’s an easier transition for them to move into program management or project management roles.”
Access to faculty and networking opportunities
Venkataraman and Demirag said the program has a strong core of faculty members.
The program also hosts career days during which industry professionals visit and talk with students about different types of jobs. Alumni are connected and often provide internship or job opportunities. Venkataraman said these core components of the program will be translated online.
Visit the Penn State World Campus website to learn more about the bachelor of science in project and supply chain management.