Skip to Content

Continuing Education Programs


Common Questions about Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is becoming increasingly relevant in the financial services field, healthcare, education, government, as well as traditional services industries such as retailing, restaurants, and food service. Find the answers to help determine if this training is right for you.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

With roots dating back to the 19th century, Six Sigma is a customer-focused, disciplined problem solving process that strives to develop and deliver near-perfect products and services. 

Much of the preliminary work on the six sigma concept was done at the manufacturing arm of AT&T that produced telephone hardware. From 1918 until the 1950s, three important figures, Walter Shewhart, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, and Dr. Joseph Juran, made sizable contributions to the role of quality in business.

In the 1980s, a Japanese company called Matsushita purchased one of Motorola’s failing television manufacturing facilities and dramatically changed the management and operations processes. The factory was soon producing television sets with far fewer defects than Motorola had experienced. In response, Motorola’s CEO, Bob Galvin, challenged his company to achieve a tenfold improvement in performance over a five-year period. This leap in quality improvement required a radically different approach and, by implementing Statistical Process Control Theory, began measuring quality in terms of an unheard of Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO). Motorola equated Six Sigma with only 3.4 DPMO or achieving 99.9997% reliability! Since then, hundreds of companies of varying sizes and industries have adopted Six Sigma as part of their business.

The DMAIC Process

The DMAIC Process is the heart of Six Sigma. It is a rational decision-making approach to improving processes. It stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. 

 

What's the Six Sigma Organizational Structure?

Six Sigma programs have their own organizational structure aside from the company’s. Each level of the organizational hierarchy has roles and responsibilities. The foundation of the USC Six Sigma Program is the Green Belt.

Green Belt

Six Sigma Green Belts are participants in Six Sigma projects and the foundation of the process. They understand problem solving, data collection, data interpretation, variation, process capability, and cost analysis. Green Belts often assist Black Belts on larger initiatives and lead smaller scale projects. Learn more about USC's Green Belt Certification.

Black Belt

Six Sigma Black Belts are thoroughly trained individuals with expertise in using statistical tools and interpreting analytical results. Black Belts are expected to identify opportunities, lead initiatives, and coach Green Belts. Learn more about USC's Black Belt Certification.

Master Black Belt

Six Sigma Master Black Belts are quality experts responsible for large scale strategic implementations within an organization. Master Black Belt responsibilities include training and mentoring Black Belts and Green Belts, helping prioritize initiatives, and selecting or chartering high-impact projects.

Champion

SIx Sigma Champions provide support, resources and remove road-blocks during projects. Champions have an understanding of six sigma methods, measurements, and processes.

Steering Committee

The steering committee identifies projects / black belts; allocates resources; monitors progress; manages project portfolio; establishes implementation strategy and policies.

 

What do participants say about the program? Course participants are often our best spokepersons. Their success is our success and we love to share their stories.
Find out more »

 

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

What industries are using Six Sigma today?

Six Sigma is becoming increasingly relevant in the Financial Services field, Healthcare, Education, Government, as well as traditional services industries such as retailing, restaurants, and food service

What’s the difference between Lean and Six Sigma?

Lean is an improvement approach with an emphasis on waste and streamlining operations for maximum throughput. Six Sigma, a much broader approach, is a customer-focused (internal and external customers) problem solving methodology that strives for delivering high performance reliability and value by improving processes, reducing defects and variation. Some businesses may benefit from a combination, thereby reducing the waste and streamlining business processes before improving the processes.

Why become a Six Sigma Green Belt?

A Six Sigma Green Belt can impact an organization's bottom line through employment of statistically based tools that are taught in Six Sigma Green Belt training. A Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate from USC demonstrates to an employer or potential employer that you have been trained in basic problem solving skills and the statistical tools needed to work effectively on process improvement under supervision of a Black Belt.

How much can a Six Sigma Professional earn?

Continuing your education at USC with a Six Sigma certificate can open a world of opportunities and financial rewards. Here is information [pdf] on what Six Sigma professionals can expect to earn. Maximize your earning potential!

Why participate in the USC Six Sigma Green Belt Program?

The University of South Carolina is one of the most highly respected universities in the Carolinas. At USC, you'll learn practical tools and techniques that will give you the confidence and knowledge needed to apply Six Sigma Green Belt skills in any process within your organization.

Is the focus of the Green Belt Certificate Program technical in nature or more management-based?

USC's Six Sigma Green Belt Program is unique in that it combines the technical aspects of Six Sigma with sound management practices. For example, we use the Case Study approach for assignments based on real business world issues. Participants will often work in teams on the scenarios and activities. This gives participants an opportunity to work in collaborative, team environments 

Will I need to be re-certified as a Green Belt after a number of years?

No. Once you receive your Green Belt certification through our program you will not need to renew your certification.  

 

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Why become a Six Sigma Black Belt?

A Six Sigma Black Belt can impact an organization's bottom line through employment of statistically based tools that are taught in Six Sigma Black Belt training. A Six Sigma Black Belt Certificate from USC demonstrates to an employer or potential employer that you have been trained in advanced problem solving skills and the statistical tools needed to effectively lead process improvement projects

What type of work experience do you need for the Black Belt?

There is no specific work experience or number of years required to take the Black Belt Program.

Why participate in the USC Six Sigma Black Belt Program?

The University of South Carolina is one of the most highly respected universities in the Carolinas. At USC, the emphasis will be on practical tools and techniques giving the participant the knowledge to apply their Six Sigma Green Belt skills in any process within their own organization.

Will I need to be re-certified as a Black Belt after a number of years?

No. Once you receive your Black Belt Certification through our program you will never have to renew your certification. 

 

University of South Carolina's Unique Program

What are the requirements for USC's Six Sigma Program?

There are some general guidelines for enrolling, which include:
  • A four-year undergraduate degree or four years of professional experience
  • An understanding of basic mathematical functions
  • General proficiency in using computer software
  • Access to the internet (preferably high-speed)
  • To enroll in the Black Belt you must have completed a Green Belt Certificate Program

Is there any external reading for this program?

You will be required to complete the online modules outside of class, but there is no required reading beyond that.

How many online modules are there, and how much time does it take to complete the online modules?

For the Green Belt Program:

  • There are a total of 28 required online modules. How fast you are able to complete the online modules will depend largely on your background and comfort with the topics. Students should expect to spend anywhere from 20-30 hours total completing the online modules. The individual modules range in length from 20-90 minutes.

For the Black Belth Program:

  • There are a total of 34 required online modules. How fast you are able to complete the online modules will depend largely on your background and comfort with the topics. Students should expect to spend anywhere from 60-80 hours total completing the online modules. The individual modules range in length from 20-90 minutes.

How many instructor led online sessions are there?

For the Green Belt Program:

  • There are 10 sessions over 2 weeks. Each session meets from 6:30 - 8:30 pm Monday - Friday.

For the Black Belt Program:

  • There are 20 sessions over 4 weeks. Each session meets from 6:30 - 9:00 pm Monday – Thursday

What if I don't live in South Carolina, can I still enroll in the program?

Our program is structured to make it convenient for out of state students to attend. Since our program offers such a flexible learning format, participants living outside the Columbia area can easily enroll in either program.

How long is the certification exam?

For the Green Belt Program:

  • The certification exam is given online and takes approximately three hours to complete. 

For the Black Belt Program:

  • There are two parts to the exam. The first is a practicum that students do in class. They work together to answer questions about a simulated business that they are running. The second part is a take home exam. In addition to passing the exam, students in the Black Belt program are also required to complete a project before earning the certificate.

Will the instructor be available outside of class for consultation?

Yes, you will have the email and phone contact information of your instructor.

Is enrollment limited?

Yes, each class is limited to approximately 20 students. Email us at pep@mailbox.sc.edu to find out if space is available in upcoming programs

Do you accept financial aid?

The majority of financial aid programs are only available to students attending credit courses which lead to a degree or other academic credential. Since USC Professional and Continuing Education does not offer credit courses, we are unable to process these traditional forms of financial aid.

Do I need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid?

No, the FASFA is used only for degree programs.

Are continuing education loans available for non-credit classes?  

Yes, loans are available through Sallie Mae Continuing Education Loan Program. If you are considering paying for your program with a Sallie Mae loan, please visit their website for information.  Note: Some programs sell out weeks before the start date. If you plan to apply for a loan with Sallie Mae, begin your application early to allow adequate processing time. 

Can I get a loan for the cost of books and supplies as well as tuition?

This varies from lender to lender, but Sallie Mae will allow you to borrow up to 60% over the cost of tuition to cover books, supplies, transportation and other costs.

My credit rating is not the greatest. Should I still try to get a loan? 

Many lenders will be happy to loan you the money if you have a co-borrower who will sign your loan agreement. Be aware that the interest rate on the loan will vary according to your credit rating.

Can I start a class while I am waiting for my loan to be approved? 

No, but we accept credit cards for the cost of the class and would refund the same card when the loan money arrives 

My employer offers tuition vouchers. Do you accept these vouchers?

Yes, we are happy to accept your tuition voucher and invoice your employer. The voucher must clearly give the name and address of the employer as well as the amount allowed for the class.

Still have questions?

To reach a student advisor by phone, please call (803) 777-4954 or watch our Lean Six Sigma information video.