Marines Corps officers earn master’s degrees from Penn State fellowship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Marine Corps supply officers spent the past 12 months completing two years’ worth of coursework thanks to a partnership between the Marines and Penn State aimed at training military leaders in supply chain management.

“It’s important for professional development and diversification of knowledge in our functional area,” said Maj. Adam Chu, who is now stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. “If the Marine Corps didn’t participate in programs like this, we’d be operating in a vacuum. We’re here to learn from best business practices in industry.”

Chu and Lt. Col. Matt Hakola will graduate on Saturday, Aug. 12, with a master of professional studies in supply chain management after completing their degrees through a special program between the Marine Corps, Penn State World Campus and the Smeal College of Business. The officers will be among more than 900 World Campus students who will graduate during the University’s summer commencement.

“We’ve been exposed to new theories, processes and technologies,” said Hakola, who now works at the Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon. “The Marine Corps is not as fast at implementing things as commercial industry, and we can bring back what we’ve learned to make our processes more effective.”

Hakola and Chu completed their degrees through the Marines Corps Logistics Fellowship Program at Penn State, which condenses the two-year supply chain program offered online through Penn State World Campus into a hybrid program that combines online courses with classes MBA students take at the University Park campus. The fellowship, which is taught by the faculty from Smeal’s department of supply chain and information systems, placed the pair full time in State College.

The fellowship began in its current form in 2007, but its roots date back to 2000 when World Campus offered a supply chain certificate program through the Marine Corps Logistics Education Program. Since 2007, the fellowship has had 21 graduates, including Hakola and Chu, and boasts three alumni who served or are currently serving as generals.

Robert Novack, an associate professor of business logistics, said Penn State has the highest percentage of generals who have graduated from a Marine Corps fellowship. The certificate program was one of the few instances the Marines partnered with an academic institution outside the military.

“Our Marines give so much of themselves,” Novack said. “This is our way to give something of value to them so they can return to military service with the knowledge base to improve Marine Corps operations and to protect service members. If the education the fellows obtain can help save the life of one person, then it’s well worth the investment.”

“The curriculum we’re learning is great,” Hakola said. “I wish I came here earlier in my career.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information.

Last Updated August 10, 2017