MMM Graduate Degree Develops Leaders in Manufacturing


Continuing education is vital for business growth, which is why it is important to invest in programs and services that can best benefit an organization and its workforce for the future. Penn State Behrend now offers a master’s in manufacturing management (MMM) program, which will be delivered online and weekends beginning this fall. Here, Ivor Knight, Ph.D., associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies and professor of biology at Penn State Behrend, discusses the MMM and what it can mean for today’s employers.

Why should someone consider an MMM program versus a master’s in business administration (MBA)?
The full name of the degree is the Master of Manufacturing Management in Quality Manufacturing Management, which communicates the distinctive focus on manufacturing. If someone is considering an MBA to grow their leadership and organizational-management skills and they want to advance their career in a production environment, the MMM degree will tie those goals together.

The MMM is jointly offered by Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which is ranked in the nation’s Top 30 by U.S. News & World Report, and the college’s Black School of Business, the only business school in the region accredited by AACSB International. Deep engagement by both business and engineering faculty make it possible for the MMM to teach students a holistic set of engineering, business and quality skills.

What are some of the most interesting facts about the MMM program and its curriculum?
The MMM is one of only a handful of exclusively manufacturing-based management programs in the nation, which makes it both interesting and unique.

Students now can pursue the degree in a format of primarily self-paced online learning, which is hugely helpful when family and work obligations make it difficult to commit to a traditional “seat time” learning model. For each course, MMM students spend one late Friday through Saturday with their faculty and classmates at Penn State Behrend. This offers a solid middle ground between the convenience of online learning and the opportunity to form professional relationships with mentors and peers.

The curriculum has four major components: Manufacturing Engineering; Manufacturing Management; Quality and Lean Manufacturing; and Leadership and Communication. Students take courses in quality management, manufac-turing systems planning, design practice and experimental design, manufacturing processes and materials, supply chain strategy, leadership, and communication. It’s a 32-credit program with 11 courses that can be completed in three semesters of full-time study (including summer) or five semesters of part-time study. During the summer courses, students have a three-day “residency” that includes visiting company operations, conducting lean audits, and reviewing the results.

How will the program better prepare students and their employers for future manufacturing needs?
The future of manufacturing will require being responsive to even subtle shifts in market forces. The MMM’s interdisciplinary emphasis on engineering with business expertise creates manufacturing leaders who have the knowledge to respond to changes in production methods and materials that may affect an organization’s bottom line.

MMM students tell us that they often take what they learn in class and apply it on the job the next day, so we’re confident that employers see immediate value for any investment in an employee’s graduate education.

Who is an ideal candidate for the MMM program? What pre-enrollment competencies should they have in order to realize the full potential of the MMM?
The ideal candidate for the MMM holds an undergraduate degree in engineering, business, Manufacturingor the sciences and is building a career in the manufacturing sector. The program requires pre-enrollment competency in math, computer science, business and engineering. We can direct applicants who lack any of the necessary foundational knowledge to low-cost, online options to get up to speed.

What is the best way to apply?
Admission requirements and the link to Penn State’s graduate application can be found at Program staff members are happy to evaluate a candidate’s pre-competency educational needs before application. If you or one of your employees is interested in possibly pursuing the MMM, you can start the process by emailing

Is there anything you would like to add?
We are very excited about this program and the potential to contribute to the renewal of manufacturing in western Pennsylvania and into New York and Ohio. Our faculty and industry advisory board members are actively engaged in ensuring course content meets current and future industry needs — and the hybrid form of course delivery makes it easier for both current and aspiring managers from within our region and beyond to complete the program around their work and family schedules.

How can someone learn more about the program?
Visit and email our Office of Graduate Admissions at