What are the key considerations for an online six sigma course? What things should you be "on the lookout for" when considering which provider to choose for your online six sigma training? As you're probably already aware, there are many providers to consider. If you've done any research you're probably starting to wonder "How do I figure out which provider is best for me?"
As a part of running our own online six sigma training business we routinely research what the market is doing to determine where we fit and if the market is shifting. As a result, we have completed a comprehensive review of no fewer than a dozen other popular online six sigma black belt programs and we can tell you exactly what you should consider when looking for in an online six sigma course.
In order to conduct a proper comparison of providers the following attributes should be evaluated before assessing the cost of their course. As you will see, many providers have different inclusions and exclusions that affect total cost:
- Is there a project requirement?
- Is the certification (exam) included?
- Is there a pre-requisite?
- Is statistical analysis software included?
- Is there a time constraint?
- How many PDUs or CEUs will I receive?
Only after you have answered all of the above questions and determined the cost components of each will you be prepared to determine the total cost of the course and which program is best for you. In our review we looked at 12 reputable institutions (listed below). These entities provide online six sigma training and certification programs and most offer several levels of courses.
To level the playing field we focused solely on black belt certification and made the assumption that the differences between "lean six sigma black belt" and "six sigma black belt" are not significant enough to consider them separately. We also assumed that each program could be compatible with SigmaXL software which is the least expensive tool available in the open market if a software solution was not provided by the institution. Let's take a look at what we found...
Online Six Sigma Providers Evaluated:
- Acuity Institute
- Arizona State
- Aveta Institute
- Florida Atlantic
- Ohio State
- Pyzdek Institute
- University of Michigan
- University of South Carolina
1. Project Requirements
All programs evaluated required a project for black belt certification. Some even require 2 projects Moresteam and Ohio State (by the way, OSU partners with Moresteam for their online programs so it makes sense that they share similar certification standards). Some programs such as Acuity Institute provide their own online project simulation to accommodate students who don't have access to projects in the workplace. In many cases, the up-sell of project coaching and mentoring from a Master Black Belt increases the price significantly (e.g. BMGI goes from $995 base price to $2,500 when including mentoring).
When it comes to considerations for an online Lean Six Sigma course, be certain that the program includes a project requirement for black belt because it is a generally accepted industry standard. It is also important that you understand that not all programs include the project cost in their base price. For example. Moresteam requires an additional $750 for the project/certification component while Ohio State requires an additional $1,295. 6Sigma.us is another provider that adds $500 onto their advertised price for the project certification requirement.
2. Certification Exam
The six sigma certification exam is another thing to consider when evaluating online providers. Some do not include the certification exam and require additional costs for certification. In addition to Villanova's steep $3,980 base price for black belt, they also impose an incremental $370 for the certification exam. This is also in addition to their Green Belt pre-requisite requirement which we'll cover next.
Determining if a six sigma black belt training provider requires a pre-requisite is important because it could cost you much more in the way of time and money to get your black belt certification from an institution that requires green belt certification before getting black belt. This is actually not an industry standard and is not necessary. It primarily serves as a means to collect higher tuition for organizations that impose this pre-requisite. The institutions that more commonly require green belt certification as a pre-requisite are colleges and universities who offer six sigma programs. Schools on our list such as Villanova, Arizona State and Florida Atlantic are guilty of this practice.
4. Statistical Analysis Software
Only half of the online six sigma providers we evaluated include statistical analysis software in their course price. This means that for those programs who do not include it, you will have to purchase it on your own. This is problematic to you because of the added cost that is not in their quoted price. You will also have to pay retail prices for the necessary software which will typically be higher than if the cost of the software were included in the course price. This is because most providers who do include software are able to do so because they have re-seller licenses and they don't have to pay retail prices.
5. Time Constraints
Be sure in your considerations for an online lean six sigma course, that you determine how much time you are granted to complete your certification training. Each certification provider may have different time restrictions. In most cases time constraints are imposed by how long you have access to their learning management system. Of the 12 providers we evaluated, time constraints ranged from 3 months to 18 months with most organizations offering 12 months.
6. PDUs & CEUs
Professional Development Units (PDUs) and Continuing Educational Units (CEUs) are learning credits recognized by many organizations and employers. Some people have a keen interest in the number of PDUs or CEUs they receive from their training. Organizations such as the Project Management Institute require their credential holders to maintain certain levels of professional development units. If you're one of those people that will benefit from collecting PDUs or CEUs then it will be an important aspect for you to consider. Of our list of online six sigma providers evaluated, the range of PDUs or CEUs varied greatly. Arizona State for example offers 1.5 CEUs while Ohio State offers 18 CEUs for the same certification course. If this is important to you, be sure to take PDU/CEUs into consideration.