Supply Chain Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Training

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What kind of job can you get with a graduate degree in supply chain management? Find out degree program requirements, online options, and info on courses and supply chain management programs.
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Studying Supply Chain Management: Degrees at a Glance

Supply chain management studies explore the decisions behind what services to sell, how to decide which supplier is the best option and how to negotiate the best deal. Although a master's degree isn't usually required for many mid-level logistics and supply chain management positions, it may open up advancement opportunities and lead to high-level management jobs. PhD programs in supply chain management are strictly geared towards students looking to work in academic settings.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that logisticians were expected to see a 26% increase in jobs from 2010-2020, which was faster than the average for all occupations. If you're interested in becoming a teacher, you'll need to be prepared to face stiff competition for tenured positions.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Individuals looking to advance to leadership positions within their current company Individuals seeking careers as scholars or teachers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Logistician ($72,000)*
- Business administration instructor ($51,000)**
- Logistics director ($116,000 - with 10 years of experience)**
- Supply chain director ($128,000 - with 10 years of experience)**
- Business administration professor ($104,000 - with up to 12 years of experience)**
- Supply chain or logistics researcher (salary unavailable)
Time to Completion Roughly two years, full-time About four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About four core business courses
- Roughly 6-11 courses covering logistics and supply chain concepts
- Approximately 12 graduate-level courses in supply chain management
- Teaching requirement
- Comprehensive exams
- Dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE/GMAT scores
- Bachelor's degree
- GRE/GMAT scores
- Letters of recommendation
Online Availability Yes Limited programs may be available

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (2012 figures).

Master's in Supply Chain Management

A master's program consists of a few core business courses followed by a variety of courses covering supply chain management concepts. Some schools design the program to be completed in as little as two years by part-time students. The structure of the program varies between schools; you may find programs that offer a high quantity of short courses and others that consist of a few long courses. Although most programs are strictly based on coursework, you may come across programs that require a research project at the end of your studies.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most programs are designed so people who wish to continue working can still pursue the degree
  • Can lead to advancement within your current organization or open up additional management-level opportunities at other companies
  • When coupled with experience, this degree could lead to a career with a six-figure income

Cons

  • Rarely a hard requirement for most logistics and supply chain management positions
  • Applicants who have relevant supply chain management experience may be given preference over those who don't, so you may need to work for a couple years after completing a bachelor's degree program to have the best chance at admission
  • Programs are strictly based on coursework and don't usually include work experience opportunities

Common Courses and Requirements

You'll typically take a couple foundation business courses to start off the program, including accounting management, economics for managers, and financial management. Courses covering supply chain principles may include the following:

  • Strategic purchasing
  • International negotiations
  • Global supply chain management
  • Manufacturing control
  • Distribution
  • Cost management

Some schools include a research project or field study experience in the curriculum, but this isn't a feature of all supply chain management master's degree programs.

Online Courses

A supply chain management master's degree program is commonly available in a distance learning format. The structure of the online program is practically identical to an on-campus program, so you won't miss out on any learning opportunities for you decide to take your courses over the Internet. You might come across a few blended programs that require you to travel to the campus for a few days every couple of months. Most programs allow you to access the course materials at any time during the day, so you can schedule your courses around your job if you need to.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you want to stand out from the other supply chain managers who have master's degrees, you may want to look into becoming certified. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management designation to managers who have bachelor's degrees and at least three years of relevant experience. The Association for Operations Management (APICS, formerly the American Production and Inventory Control Society) offers the Certified in Production and Inventory Management and Certified Supply Chain Professional credentials.

APICS and ISM also offer additional learning opportunities for those who aren't interested in becoming certified. You could take online courses, attend seminars, and participate in conferences. You may also receive discounts on educational materials and other services if you become a member of one of these organizations.

PhD in Supply Chain Management

The PhD program in supply chain management is intended for people who which to pursue a career in academia, so if you're more interested in a private-sector job, you probably won't have much interest in a doctorate. Your first two years are usually filled with graduate-level courses covering supply chain management and related concepts. The latter part of the program is focused on research in the form of a dissertation. All students usually spend a semester teaching, which you might even get paid for.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can lead to research and teaching opportunities
  • You can focus your research on a particular area of interest you might have in supply chain management
  • Doesn't typically require a master's degree or work experience, so you may be able to jump into a program shortly after completion of a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • Programs may be extremely competitive (some schools admit as few as two students to the program in any given year)
  • Doesn't give you an edge over master's degree holders for business-oriented jobs
  • You'll spend from 8-10 years to earn a degree that has a very narrow application

Courses and Requirements

The PhD program usually begins with graduate-level courses on global logistics, supply chain modeling, strategic management, and econometrics. Some schools may require you to take some prerequisite courses if you haven't already taken equivalent courses, such as optimization fundamentals, statistical methods, and operations management.

At the end of your second year, you'll take a comprehensive examination before you can present your dissertation for approval. The second half of the program is mostly focused on the dissertation. If you're planning on teaching, you may have the opportunity to get cleared to teach early on so you can teach for longer than the required semester.

Online Options

Most PhD programs in supply chain management require you to be present at the campus on a regular basis, but you may be able to find a few programs offered online. Keep in mind that most online programs are offered at for-profit schools, so you'll need to plan on living near your school if you'd prefer a program from a public school. The online programs also require a couple visits to campus to complete an academic residency, but you generally won't have to make more than a single trip each year. You'll still complete a dissertation in a distance learning program; however, you'd miss out on the teaching experience that is common among on-campus programs.

Stand Out with This Degree

If you're interested in teaching, you may want to see if you can teach more than the required semester. Gaining teaching experience while pursuing your PhD can make you more desirable to potential universities looking for teachers when you graduate. Students interesting in research may want to look for additional opportunities to assist professors with their research. You can talk to the faculty members at a university before you enroll to find out which professors have research interests that closely align with yours.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Logistics and Supply Chain Management
      • Master of Business Admin
      • Master: Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • General Business (MBA)
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Project Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization

Featured Schools

Colorado Technical University

  • MBA: Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Master of Business Admin
  • Master: Management

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Baker College Online

  • General Business (MBA)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Project Management

Are you a US citizen?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?