More colleges are offering programs in procurement and supply chain management than ever before. Some are stand along programs, often housed in the business school, while others are concentrations within a general business degree. While many excellent programs exist, there are relatively few that focus on public sector procurement. 

California State University (CSU) at San Bernardino offers a Management Certificate in Public Procurement (MCPP), which I would like to commend. It is a relatively new program launched by Dr. Alexandru Roman, a name that is very recognizable within NIGP circles. He is a 2016 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award and the editor of the Journal of Public Procurement.

The MCPP program is delivered completely online and is comprised of five rigorous courses offered throughout the academic year. To obtain the certificate, students must first qualify for the program and then successfully complete the following courses:

Fundamentals of Public Procurement is an introductory course that offers an overview of the public procurement profession, both in practice and theory. Everything from the history of procurement to common terminology is covered.

Public Procurement Process, Ethics and Law identifies the key legal and ethical framework those in the profession must operate within. Students are provided with valuable reminders of unethical procurement practices, as the course stresses the high level of responsibility that comes with being a public procurement professional.

Project Management in Public Procurement is a highly relevant course that discusses what most in the profession would readily admit to: public procurement professionals manage many projects and routinely utilize project management skills.

Best Value Analysis and Negotiation acknowledges that public procurement most often focuses on the best value, not simply the lowest cost. Through case studies and lectures, this course provides invaluable tools such as negotiation techniques and conflict resolution skills.

Contract Formulation and Administration stresses the importance of post award activities for the procurement professional. Best practices in scope development and contract administration are covered, along with techniques for ensuring contractual performance.

While it is not a college degree, nor is it a traditional certification (CPPB, CPPO), the MCPP does offer a robust curriculum. It is tailored to public procurement and can prove to be an excellent credential for those who pursue it.

In past columns I have championed the need for education within public procurement. Whether it is a professional development seminar through NIGP, a degree completion program at a local university, or a certificate program like MCPP, there are many avenues to enhance our knowledge.

Numerous studies identify the advantages of education and certification. According to a 2015 survey by the Institute for Supply Management, procurement and supply chain professionals with a degree can increase their earning potential by 20 percent, and a professional certification can increase it by seven percent. In the same year, NIGP reported that 85 percent of public employers financially support education and tuition for their employees. These are very encouraging numbers!

Continuing education is absolutely an investment in yourself and your profession.


Darin Matthews, FNIGP, CPPO, CPSM, is the director of procurement for the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has extensive management experience, speaks throughout the world on procurement issues, and has published several books and articles on supply chain management. Contact Matthews at​.