Earn an Operations Management Online Doctorate

A PhD in Operations Management online degree program teaches students how to use administrative and organizational skills to best improve the efficiency and profitability of an organization or project. Classes look at topics such as reducing a company or organization's overhead costs and making sure that all processes followed are as safe, efficient, and cost-effective as possible, with the end top goal being an increase of return on investment, or ROI for the business.

In addition to earning a PhD in Operations Management Online, students might also choose to earn a DBA in Operations Management.

Whichever you choose, online operations management doctoral programs tend to be designed around the needs of experienced professionals. That means they’re likely to build on practical experience and prior education.

Overall, online doctorate in operations management programs aim to best enhance students’ strategic, leadership, and research skills. They also discuss the top ways in which students might apply those skills in the field.

Because the kind of expertise honed in operations management programs is so broadly applicable, some programs may also cater to the needs of specific career functions or industries.

PhD in Operations Management Online Information

What Is Operations Management?

The plan of attack in setting up a best Operations Management strategy depends on the person, their areas of responsibility, the product, the type of organization, and the industry. Although Operations Management practices might look different in each individual workplace, department or project, the end goal is the same: to help their team become and stay profitable.


Fifty percent of manufacturing jobs in the United States fall under just 5 industries: (1) industrial machinery and equipment, (2) transportation equipment, (3) electronic and electrical equipment, (4) fabricated metals, and (5) food stuffs.

But Operations Management spans all industries, from retail companies to education, from government institutions to manufacturing and even the service sector.

PhD in operations management online

PhD in Operations Management Online programs tend to be interdisciplinary. As such, students may practice skills as wide ranging as accounting, management, engineering, and project management. Programs may also take a variety of potential approaches to said curriculum.

For example, while some might be broader and touch on all different aspects of operations management, others focus solely on operations management in one area. This could include construction management, quality assurance, engineering management, and more.

Operations Management PhD Online

What to Expect Earning a PhD in Operations Management Online

Online operations management doctoral programs are frequently designed for students already working in the field. That fact could impact student experience in a few different ways.
For one, it means programs may expect each doctoral candidate to possess a minimum relevant background. This could include both prior study and professional experience.

As a result, rather than touching on the basics of what operations management entails, online doctoral programs are also likely to build a more advanced practice on that foundation.


Operations Management optimization tools make use of telecommunications, robotics, fiber optics, laser technology, computer software, computer hardware and peripherals, commercial printing, and medical technology.

Pursuing a doctorate online may also be a unique day-to-day student experience. Especially at the doctoral level, alongside their more formal courses, students become researchers and may be expected to complete independent research with minimal oversight. That may especially be the case if they’re enrolled in a program that emphasizes research practice.

Online doctoral programs may also encourage collaboration through digital interfaces, working together to complete capstone projects, and engaging in digital classroom discussion. The specific elements of each online program may vary depending on the school, instructor preferences, and the goals of the program.

For more information, reach out to the colleges in question.

Doctorate in Operations Management Discussion

Types of Online Doctorate in Operations Management Programs

Students working toward a doctorate in operations management online may choose between two different degree types. These are the Doctor of Philosophy or PhD, and the Doctor of Business Administration or DBA. While individual programs may vary, the degree type offered by a doctorate in operations management program could tell you a bit about the goals of that program and the skills one might learn in it.

  • PhD in Operations Management Online Programs are a fairly diverse set. In some cases, they might resemble DBA programs fairly closely, with the only differences being nominal. That being said, PhDs tend to be more academic in nature. That means these programs are likely to emphasize practices and scholarship. Within operations management, study of research practices tends to center on problem solving—that is, identifying a specific challenge and using empirical methods to understand that challenge and come across a solution. These types of programs may attract students interested in advancing the discipline though thought leadership, or in applying analytical expertise in consulting roles to help organizations evaluate and improve their processes.
  • Online DBA in Operations Management Programs may emphasize business, administrative, and leadership skills to a greater degree than the PhD alternative. The DBA is the doctoral equivalent of an MBA. As such, many candidates working to earn a DBA in Operations Management online already hold an MBA. The resulting programs may be designed with that idea in mind, building on the business acumen students presumably already have, and emphasizing those types of skills across the board. Operations Management DBA programs take that business-oriented perspective, and combine it with analytical rigor. This might help students to develop the skills they need to be effective, hands-on operations management leaders.

The options listed here may be the degree types you come across more frequently. However, they might not be the only ones available. Individual schools may offer more alternatives. Additionally, not every program might comply with the description above in all ways.

For more information on what makes each degree type unique at a given school, or which one may be a good fit for you, contact the programs you’re considering.

PhD in Operations Management Online Concentrations

On top of offering different degree types, some PhD in Operations Management Online programs may be designed around certain professional roles. These types of programs don’t just enhance a student’s overall operations management expertise. They might also offer a unique window into the challenges of working in a particular setting, or the industry-specific knowledge one might need to thrive there. Even if the program you choose does not itself focus on a particular area of interest, individual courses or course sequences might still center on them.


Eliyahu M. Goldratt's The Goal is a fast-paced, blood-pumping novel (yes, for real) about an overworked plant manager--Operations Management in action!

Here are a few examples of the kind of topics an online doctorate in operations management program or a course sequence might focus on.

Supply Chain Management & Logistics

Supply chain management and logistics programs center on the acquisition and management of manufacturing resources and inventory. That includes everything from sourcing and purchasing components, to storing the inventory produced with those components, and making sure those items are accessible through effective supply chains when they need to be utilized. Doctoral programs may touch on a variety of interdisciplinary topics and skills, each meant to help professionals understand the supply chain landscape and build more effective strategies. Examples of this may include supply chain modeling and algorithms, supply chain marketing interfaces, economics, cross-border management, data mining, and more.

Quality Management

Quality management is a unique branch of operations management, which aims to balance overall quality control with efficiency and profitability. In some cases, these programs might focus specifically on certain types of quality control, for example, in manufacturing or engineering contexts. Quality management doctoral programs may cover process management, algorithmic and statistical analysis, organizational behavior, operational tactics, among other topics, in order to best support operations leaders in overseeing overall quality of product or service.

Programs offering a doctoral in operations management

Distribution Management

Doctoral programs that focus on distribution management may share some elements with supply chain management doctoral programs. The primary difference between the two is that instead of focusing on acquiring materials and storing inventory, distribution management may center on getting the product to customers. Also sometimes referred to as delivery management, these doctoral programs may use logistics and statistical analysis to analyze distribution processes. The goal is generally to enable students to help those processes become as efficient and cost-effective as possible, while meeting customer needs.

Construction Management

Construction management is one example of an industry-specific area of expertise within operations management. As the name implies, Construction Management PhD programs focus on the application of operations management principles to oversee and manage different types of construction projects. As such, these programs may combine business skills like workforce management, with quality management and engineering skills, supply chain management, and even project management. All this may support students in helping to ensure their organization’s projects are safe, efficient, high-quality, and profitable.

Example PhD in Operations Management Online Curriculum

Because there are so many variables to what an operations management program—or even a career—might look like, it’s important to make sure that the program you choose to attend will support your goals. Whether you’re earning a doctorate because you want to get involved with research and scholarship, move into leadership, or find out more about the best operations practices in your industry, choosing a program that aligns with your interests could be a major element in your overall experience as a student. One way to evaluate whether a program is a match for you is to look at its curriculum.

Six course topics 

  1. Supply Chain Modeling: Courses like this look at ways that supply chain models could help one to plan one’s inventory management and production. Topics covered may include forecasting methodologies, inventory control, operations and project scheduling, planning for the acquisition of materials, and more.
  2. Quality Control: While in some cases Quality Control may sometimes be a whole program concentration, most other operations management programs will at least touch on the subject. This involves discussing the principles of quality management as applied to different types of goods and services, as well as statistical techniques. Other topics include continuous improvement, sampling plans, processes, and more.
  3. Strategic Supply Chain Management: As with quality control, this topic may sometimes be represented as a concentration option, but is usually touched on even when that’s not the case. Courses may discuss strategic management theory, research paradigms, and the different types of relationships that comprise a supply chain network.
  4. Optimization in Production and Operations: This course discusses technical and mathematical skills that may be used in linear and non-linear systems modeling. Classes may cover topics like dynamic and integer programming, heuristic algorithms, and unconstrained optimization.
  5. Operations Strategy: This type of course would discuss the different techniques and thought leadership surrounding operations strategy. In addition to reviewing literature, students may discuss operations research paradigms and discuss current research issues and challenges.
  6. Project Management: Some operations management programs will examine the essentials of project management as relevant to operations management. In addition to the basics of how to manage projects, courses may discuss scheduling problems, time/cost tradeoff, and other topics.

PHd Online in Operations

Remember, each curriculum may be unique, so you might not find all of these courses in every program. What’s more, the topics discussed in each course and how they’re approached could also vary. Reach out to the program you’re looking at for more information.

Offline Requirements

Earning your doctorate in operations management online may be a unique experience—and one that could vary depending on the school you choose. For one, some online doctoral programs still require students to complete certain limited campus components. A common example of this would be the proposal and presentation of a dissertation or capstone project, or testing.

However, it’s possible that some programs may also incorporate field experience elements that also need to be completed in person. For more information on potential in-person requirements in the online program of your choice, reach out to the school.

Operations Management Salary & Career Info

Let's get to the point here.

FIVE careers for students of operations management

  1. Operations Research Analyst - 2016 Median Annual Salary $79,200i
  2. Operations Manager - 2016 Median Annual Salary $99,310ii
  3. Executive Leadership - 2016 Median Annual Salary $103,950iii
  4. Logistician - 2016 Median Annual Salary $74,170iv
  5. University Faculty - 2016 Median Annual Salary $75,430v

Employment of Product Managers

Source: bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm

Online operations management doctoral programs may be designed for students who already have academic and professional experience. As a result, students are likely to have started their careers prior to enrolling.

In many cases, entry level employment in professions in and around operations management could be found with a relevant bachelors degree. However, earning a doctorate could support students as they work to advance to leadership roles, move to a new area, or engage in research.

    Product Management PhD

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    [i] bls.gov/oes/current/oes152031.htm |[ii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm |[v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm

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