What to Know About Online MBA in Supply Chain Management Coursework
A master's degree in supply chain management trains students for leadership roles in several industries. During an MBA in supply chain management, graduate students study operations management, procurement, transportation, and global logistics. They build leadership skills to work at the management level. And depending on the program, MBA students often take core classes in business, management, finance, and marketing to receive a well-rounded business education.
Earning an MBA in supply chain management typically takes two years. Some programs offer a part-time and/or accelerated option to fit students' schedules. During the degree, graduate students often complete an internship to gain professional experience.
Compared to an on-campus program, an online supply chain management degree offers greater flexibility. Students can arrange coursework around their work or family obligations. An online learning format also prioritizes access, because students can enroll in top programs without relocating or quitting their jobs.
What Common Courses are Offered in an MBA in Supply Chain Management Program?
In a supply chain management program, graduate students take classes in decision modeling, operations management, and leadership. These classes prepare graduate students for careers in supply chain management. Classes vary depending on the program, but the following sample curriculum includes common courses.
Many graduate programs in supply chain management begin with a course on advanced logistics. While incoming students may understand the fundamental principles of logistics, this course introduces advanced concepts in inventory control, intermodal transportation, risk planning, and decision modeling. The class prepares graduate students for advanced coursework in supply chain management.
Classes on decision modeling train graduate students to solve problems and anticipate challenges to the supply chain. Graduate students learn about forecasting, cost analysis, and modeling methods. The course may incorporate case studies which students must model to develop solutions. The class builds a career-ready skill for professionals in any area of supply chain management.
Supply Chain Management Leadership
Graduates with a master's in supply chain management act as leaders in their field, taking on management roles in different organizations. The class covers leadership skills required for supply chain managers, including building effective teams, communication skills, and decision making in logistics. Students also study management techniques to prepare for roles in supply chain management.
In operations management courses, graduate students learn to analyze an organization's operations, including the supply chain process. The course covers production management, the role of scheduling, and quality assessment. Operations management courses prepare graduates for roles in logistics or as an operations research analyst.
Classes in strategic procurement explore the role of procurement in the supply chain. Graduate students learn to design a procurement strategy to meet the organization's goals. The course covers topics in supplier relationships, the bidding process, price analysis, and purchasing contracts. The course prepares graduates for roles like procurement manager.
What Specializations are Available in an MBA in Supply Chain Management Program?
Students earning a master's in supply chain management often specialize their education through a concentration or electives. Concentrations like global supply chain management, transportation management, and manufacturing prepare students for different career paths after graduation by offering specialized training. By selecting a concentration or designing one through electives, graduates demonstrate their specialized training in the job market.
- Global Supply Chain Mgmt.
As companies increasingly operate in a global environment, supply chain managers must bring a global perspective. The concentration trains graduate students in global business practices, international transportation, and the import/export process. They also learn about global regulations, the global economy, and the best practices for global logistics.
- Transportation Management
Transportation managers oversee the process of distribution for a good or service to customers and clients. In a transportation management concentration, graduate students explore the distribution process from a supply chain perspective. They study models of transportation, technological advantages, and regulations governing national and transnational transportation.
- Production Management
Within supply chain management, some graduate students specialize in the manufacturing sector, including production management. Students study the production process, including material procurement and inventory management. The concentration also covers management skills, distribution, and the connection between production management and the broader supply chain.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
During a master's in supply chain management, graduate students complete multiple group projects, research assignments, and presentations to build their skills. Classes design projects and exams to test student knowledge throughout the degree, strengthening abilities that graduates need in supply chain management careers.
Many programs conclude with a capstone project that integrates knowledge and skills gained through the curriculum. Graduate students design a project that fits their career path. For example, master's students may analyze a real supply chain to identify problems and propose solutions. Students interested in operations analysis may conduct an operations process review.
How Can I Choose a Quality Online MBA in Supply Chain Management Program?
Prospective supply chain management students can narrow their choices to the most high-quality online programs using several factors. Researching a program's graduation rates, faculty qualifications, and graduate placements helps students identify quality programs. For example, many programs track the percentage of graduates working in their field. Prospective students can compare programs by identifying those with the highest-graduate placement rates.
Fortunately for students, the accreditation process evaluates these factors when granting accreditation. To earn accreditation, programs must meet high standards for academic excellence. Independent accrediting agencies also evaluate criteria like student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and course content to grant accreditation.
In business, specialized accrediting agencies evaluate MBA programs, including the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Unaccredited programs should raise a red flag for prospective supply chain management students.
Career Opportunities With an MBA in Supply Chain Management
A master's in supply chain management prepares graduates for leadership roles in many sectors. Supply chain managers ensure that businesses deliver their products and services to consumers in a timely manner while also saving costs for the company.
In addition to careers in logistics, supply chain management graduates apply their skills as management analysts and operations research analysts, which are fast-growing fields. Specializing in an area like transportation management, purchasing management, or distribution management opens additional opportunities for professionals with a graduate degree in supply chain management.
Logisticians analyze and coordinate the supply chain for an organization. They oversee the life cycle of a product or service, from procurement to storage and delivery. Logisticians and supply chain managers design methods to increase speed and efficiency. They oversee the allocation of materials and supplies, work with suppliers to ensure timely deliveries, and identify areas in the supply chain for improvement. At the management level, supply chain managers propose strategies to minimize cost and time while also analyzing the effectiveness of the supply chain.
- Median Salary: $74,600
- Currently Employed: 174,900
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: +5%
- Management Analyst
Management analysts, also called management consultants, assess an organization's strengths and weaknesses to propose improvements. They advise managers on ways to increase revenue and reduce costs. Management analysts collect information, interview personnel, and conduct onsite observations to determine methods to improve efficiency. They also look at financial data to develop solutions or alternative practices. Management analysts then recommend changes through written reports and presentations with managers and top executives.
- Median Salary: $83,610
- Currently Employed: 876,30
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: +14%
- Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts draw on mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems. They identify problems in the supply chain and analyze data on the issue. Operations research analysts also collect input from employees, managers, and experts. After analyzing the information, operations research analysts develop solutions to the problem. They advise managers on their options to address a problem, often providing reports and data to explain their findings and recommendations.
- Median Salary: $83,390
- Currently Employed: 109,700
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: +26%
- Purchasing Manager
Purchasing managers oversee the activities of buyers, purchasing officers, and others in purchasing. They may create plans to purchase materials, products, or services for their organization. Purchasing managers often specialize in an area like wholesale purchasing or retail trade merchandising. In addition to purchasing, the career path includes opportunities in procurement, where managers ensure their organization effectively and efficiently procures necessary materials to create goods and products.
- Median Salary: $118,940
- Currently Employed: 69,490
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: +4%
- Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers play a central role in the supply chain for national and global businesses. They plan the transportation of products to ensure customers receive them quickly while also coordinating between transportation and storage. Distribution managers oversee the process of sending products to customers or buyers and follow all applicable laws and regulations. As a management role, transportation, storage, and distribution managers often bring work experience in their field and educational qualifications, such as a master's in supply chain management.
- Median Salary: $94,730
- Currently Employed: 124,810
- Expected Job Growth in Next 10 years: +6%
Source: BLS, 2019
What's the Expected Job Growth for Supply Chain Management Careers?
The BLS projects 5% job growth for logisticians, along with 6% growth for transportation, storage, and distribution managers. The fastest-growing careers in supply chain management include management analyst, with 14% projected job growth, and operations research analyst, with 26% projected job growth. MBA students gain strong management and analytical skills, which prepare graduates for jobs in management and operations analysis.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Supply Chain Management
Professional organizations help supply chain management professionals advance their careers. With networking opportunities, professional development resources, and career advice, these organizations also benefit students. Many professional organizations offer scholarship opportunities and career centers to help MBA students with a supply chain management concentration transition into the workforce.
- A nonprofit organization with a global focus, ISM provides professional development resources like webinars, salary surveys, and guided learning resources. The institute runs a career center with job postings for supply management positions.
- ASCM connects supply chain management professionals with resources, research, and publications. Student members can apply for scholarships and access career resources. ASCM offers full-time students a membership discount.
- CSCMP hosts events and conferences with networking opportunities for supply chain management professionals. The organization creates educational resources, grants awards, and offers the SCPro certification.
- NAM represents manufacturing organizations and advocates for manufacturing employees across the country. The association provides reports on manufacturing, offers membership discounts, and creates resources on manufacturing laws and policies.
- CIPS offers information on procurement and supply careers, sets standards for the profession, and hosts events with networking opportunities. The institute runs a student zone with educational resources for students.
How to Pay for an MBA in Supply Chain Management Degree
Students pursuing a master's in supply chain management can pay for their degree with a mix of savings, scholarships, and loans. By researching how to pay for an MBA, prospective students can lower the cost of their degree. Opportunities like federal grants, scholarships offered by professional organizations, and graduate assistantships can save students thousands of dollars.
- Federal Financial Aid
Graduate students qualify for federal financial aid, including scholarships, grants, loans, and the federal work study program. To receive financial aid, MBA students must fill out the FAFSA annually. The application asks for financial information, including the expected cost of the MBA program, to determine a financial aid package.
- Professional Organization Scholarships
Many professional organizations grant scholarships to supply chain management students. The Institute for Supply Management, for example, offers a supply chain management scholarship. Unlike loans, recipients do not need to repay scholarships, making them an attractive option for MBA students. Students can find many MBA scholarship opportunities posted online.
- MBA Program Scholarships
MBA programs often grant scholarships to attract and retain top students. At Washington University in St. Louis, for instance, MBA students receive scholarships through the Olin Business School to fund their degree. These scholarships can save prospective MBA students thousands on the cost of a degree.
- Graduate Assistantship
A graduate assistantship provides a salary and sometimes a tuition waiver for MBA students. During the graduate assistantship, recipients may provide teaching or research assistance to faculty members. George Mason University, for example, grants graduate assistantships to admitted MBA students which provide a full tuition waiver.