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In October 2015, MIT launched the MITx MicroMasters credential, which enables online learners to take a semester’s worth of master’s-level courses on the edX platform, then complete a master’s degree in a single full semester on campus. The first MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management (SCM) has seen incredible success. Over 127,000 students have enrolled in at least one course – including representation from 189 countries – and more than 7,000 have signed up for verified ID certificates in at least one course.

Just one year later, edX has partnered with several other universities to bring the MicroMasters model to even more learners across the globe. EdX, the leading nonprofit online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT, aims to bridge the knowledge gap between higher education and the workplace by offering 18 new programs from 13 universities in rapidly growing fields, ranging from artificial intelligence to project management to supply chain management. Plus, MIT is currently engaging with numerous other schools to create new paths to master's credit for the MITx MicroMasters in SCM.

“We are proud to be a pioneer for higher education’s next step in engaging learners worldwide,” says Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning at MIT. “Not all high-potential master’s candidates can afford to spend a year or more on campus, so it’s important to provide multiple pathways to a degree. MicroMasters gives learners the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities through a series of online courses, earn a valuable credential and, if they excel, complete their master’s with an additional semester’s residence.”

Similar to MITx MicroMasters, edX’s modular programs offer a credential with a pathway to credit, helping students pursue an accelerated master’s degree, advance in one’s career, or break into a new field.

It’s these pursuits that make the MITx MicroMasters in SCM so popular – and so rigorous. The program provides online learners an advanced, professional, graduate-level foundation in a field experiencing a real talent shortage. Through in-depth, hands-on learning across five courses and a final capstone exam, students take graduate-level courses comparable to a semester’s worth of coursework at MIT’s top-ranked SCM master’s program. All while gaining critical expertise in the systems that connect businesses and people around the world.

“Supply chain management is the backbone of the global economy,” explains Chris Caplice, executive director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The need for professionals who can design, manage and operate these complex global supply chains continues to grow. This is why we created the online courses that comprise the MicroMasters credential in Supply Chain Management.”

The next course in the MicroMasters series, CTL.SC0x - Supply Chain Analytics, starts on November 2, 2016. The 8-week course begins with an overview of probability and decision analysis – to ensure students understand how uncertainty can be modeled – then moves into basic statistics, regression and optimization modeling. By the end of the course, students will master and apply the core methodologies used in supply chain analysis and modeling.

Now, the University of Queensland and Curtin University will offer paths to credit for the MITx MicroMasters in SCM. Students who enroll and complete the MicroMasters will obtain a chance for an accelerated master's degree at these institutions. It’s an exciting opportunity for learners as well as the universities.

“Introducing Supply Chain Management to the UQ Master of Business gives our students new flexibility and a lower cost through MIT’s innovative online MicroMasters,” says Andrew Griffiths, Executive Dean and Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Queensland. “We are delighted to be working with MIT to provide another path to a University Master’s degree for the global cohort of MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters learners.”

The broader reach of the MicroMasters in SCM is also valuable for companies looking to develop a smarter, more capable workforce.

“Supply Chain Management is changing from the more heuristic model, based on gut feeling, to a highly advanced model that relies on optimization methodology and analytics,” says Jes Bengtsson, Supply Planning Manager at SABMiller Europe. “The hardest part of this change is making employees think differently about the many tools at their disposal. We recognized a need for broader training, and MicroMasters met this need because we could invest in educating employees on how supply chains work and how to think about them in an effective way.”

For many students, the MicroMasters program provides an opportunity to think differently on a personal level as well. “Discovering the MITx MicroMasters program was a life-changing experience,” says Mohamed Mabchour, who lives in Morocco. “I would have never dreamed of taking top-ranking SCM classes if not for edX! This credential will help me broaden my knowledge in SCM and get a credible certificate to advance my career, while also helping me to achieve my dream of applying for MIT's SCM master’s degree on campus. I believe MITx MicroMasters has given many people around the world, especially those in developing countries, a hope to fulfill the dream of continuing their education at a top-tier American institution.”

Individuals can register for the CTL.SCOx course here: CTL.SC0x - Supply Chain Analytics. More information on the MicroMasters program is available here:  MicroMasters programs offered by edX.

Back to Supply Chain Frontiers issue #62