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New MicroMaster’s MOOC teaches supply chain design

The second in a new series of open online courses, part of MIT's MicroMaster’s program in supply chain management, is open for enrollment.
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Over 27,000 learners enrolled in the first MOOC of the MicroMaster's in supply chain management program.
Over 27,000 learners enrolled in the first MOOC of the MicroMaster's in supply chain management program.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The field of supply chain management (SCM) is on the rise. For organizations, the logistics behind moving products from factories and warehouses to storefronts and doorsteps across the globe is critical. For employees, the highly valued skills needed to do the job — data and financial analysis, technological know-how, leadership, and the art of negotiation — provide a tremendous opportunity for career advancement. Look no further than Tim Cook, who rose from procurement manager to CEO of Apple after revamping the company’s supply chain system.

“The number one reason to go into supply chain management is career potential,” says Chris Caplice, executive director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. “More and more companies are looking for supply chain managers. It’s such an exciting, growing field right now.”

It’s because of this incredible growth that MIT launched the MicroMasters credential in SCM, a new program empowering learners around the world to gain expertise in the field. Students can take a semester’s worth of courses in MIT’s top-ranked SCM master’s program completely online to obtain a MicroMasters credential, then complete their master’s degree with a single semester on campus or at another university.

The pilot program’s first course, CTL.SC1x (Supply Chain Fundamentals), ran earlier this year with over 27,000 students enrolled — and more than 3,500 of those pursuing a certificate option to qualify for the MicroMasters credential. In other words, MicroMasters SCM students are aiming high — and are ready for the challenge this career demands.

That challenge continues with the program’s second of five online courses: CTL.SC2x (Supply Chain Design), which starts May 18, and is now open for enrollment.

“SC2x explores how you set up and design the entire supply chain system,” Caplice says. “From information flow to the physical flow of products. From procurement and distribution to sales and operations. Other programs silo these elements into different classes, but we believe it requires a systems approach. It’s all interconnected.”

The core idea behind the new MicroMasters program is to make admissions more meritocratic. “Typically, master’s programs simply accept top students from top universities,” explains Erdin Beshimov, lecturer and head of the MicroMasters program. “If you have the same ability but are not at one of those universities — for whatever reason — your opportunities are limited. At MIT, we asked: ‘How can we solve this?’”

One solution is the program’s inverted admissions process: Learners who complete the required MITx on edX courses and score well on a comprehensive proctored exam earn the MITx MicroMasters — and significantly enhance their chances of being accepted to the MIT master’s program.

That’s the thinking behind the MicroMasters credential in SCM. While SCM is one of the hottest, most lucrative fields today, taking a year off of work to complete a full-time master’s program is not an option for most people. Instead, the five courses are online — and on your time.

Those participating in the courses have already seen the benefits. “The MicroMasters supply chain management series has so far exceeded my expectations and challenged me more than I thought would be possible through an online course,” says a current student who enrolled in Supply Chain Fundamentals. “The courses also fit into my schedule when I want them to, which is very nice since I have extremely limited time.”

Companies are recognizing the value of the program as well. “SC1x is a very useful foundational program on supply chain and how to plan for it,” says Jes Bengtsson, supply planning manager at SABMiller, a multinational brewing and beverage company. “If you only know a little, you will learn quite a bit. If you already know the topic well, you will advance your knowledge. Given this broad utility, it has the added advantage of advancing common foundational knowledge across the supply chain, if we roll it out widely.”

Interested individuals can enroll in CTL.SC2x (Supply Chain Design) even if they didn’t take the first course; CTL.SC1x (Supply Chain Fundamentals) will be offered again early next year.

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