Doctorate in Supply Chain Management Online

Degree Options & Potential Careers

Though a specialized professional field, supply chain management connects to several vital areas of business, including production, talent management, product and business development, customer satisfaction, and market forecasting and competitiveness. Additionally, new technological strides, such as cloud computing and mobile communications, create fresh avenues for expansion in the supply chain management arena. An increasingly global economy also provides supply chain management specialists with worldwide career opportunities.

A doctorate in supply chain management develops the skills and knowledge to meet the field's existing and emerging challenges. Several accredited colleges and universities offer a doctorate in supply chain management online, giving practitioners the chance to earn a degree while still meeting their other professional and personal obligations.

Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management?

Many supply chain management doctoral students cite professional advancement as a primary reason for pursuing the degree. Employers know doctoral programs equip graduates with the focused skill sets and in-depth knowledge necessary to keep up with development in the supply chain management field. They often entrust greater responsibilities and leadership roles to candidates with doctoral degrees.

In business, as in many other workplace settings, increased responsibilities usually accompany higher income potential. This marks another major reason many specialists in the field pursue doctorates in supply chain management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace evidence indicates that professionals with higher academic attainment enjoy higher incomes and lower unemployment rates than those who do not hold advanced degrees.

Some employers require candidates to hold doctoral degrees, which is often the case with accredited colleges and universities where professors are required to hold advanced degrees in their field before they can teach college-level courses. Other employers, including large corporations, international organizations, and large government agencies, also require job candidates to hold doctoral degrees.

Whether you earn your doctorate in supply chain management online or on-campus, it should qualify you for a variety of professional arenas. Several industries benefit from the skills and knowledge of supply chain management experts, including transportation, retail sales, and manufacturing.

Regardless of why you choose to pursue a doctorate in supply chain management online, the experience should prove challenging, professionally rewarding, and highly beneficial in the long run.

What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management?

Doctoral degree holders in supply chain management often qualify for employment opportunities in other industries. Because of the high-level training provided by most accredited doctoral programs, graduates can usually find top leadership positions in a variety of professional fields.

Many on-campus and online doctorate in supply chain management programs offer research-oriented coursework, giving students plenty of opportunities to hone their research and writing skills. Several employers from various fields value supply chain management practitioners with highly developed research and writing abilities, including accredited colleges and universities, research facilities, global manufacturing firms, and international agencies.

Most supply chain management specialists assume traditional responsibilities in logistics, warehousing, sourcing and procurement of materials, inventory control, and delivery. However, their scope of responsibilities has recently expanded with the growth of the industry itself. Supply chain management experts, especially those holding doctoral degrees, now perform more advanced duties including accurate and timely industry forecasting, productivity improvement, and operational streamlining.

Most industries value these challenges, but they particularly matter in the business world, where delays or shortages can spell the difference between profit and loss.

Some doctoral degree holders in supply chain management choose to lend their expertise at the policy level. They work for government agencies that lay the foundation and implement the policies that impact the supply chain management field. Doctoral degrees qualify professionals to participate in the legislative process as consultants or advocates, representing either the general industry or a particular profession.

Regardless of how you choose to exercise the skills acquired from a doctorate in supply chain management online, they should qualify you for an array of growth-oriented professional options available to you.

Chief Operations Officer

COO duties and responsibilities often depend on the type and size of their company. For small companies, these professionals assume responsibility for production, transportation, procurement, and supply chain operations. In large companies, they usually focus on just one operations aspect, with other officers taking responsibility for other areas.

College/University Professor

Postsecondary teachers prepare and deliver lectures on their subject matter (in this case, supply chain management). They also keep up with research and practice developments in the field, perform original research, and publish scholarly articles adding to the body of knowledge. These professionals supervise graduate students' teaching duties and research projects, as well.

Global Marketing Manager

International marketing managers take on similar functions and responsibilities as typical marketing managers, but they do so on the global stage. These professionals oversee forecasting and planning activities, ensure the timely and efficient transportation and distribution of goods and services, and negotiate contracts according to applicable and relevant international rules and regulations.

Supply Chain Consultants

Supply chain consultants typically examine a company's everyday operations and logistics processes, aiming to devise streamlined strategies without compromising the quality of products and/or services. They make recommendations aligned with industry standards, state laws, or international policies.

Vice-President, Supply Chain Management

Large corporations usually designate VPs for supply chain management to ensure regulatory environmental, health, and safety compliance. They also develop supply chain strategy supporting company goals to fulfill customer expectations and meet financial and profitability objectives. These professionals streamline and optimize supply chain operations, as well, and integrate supply chain management functions with company policies and business philosophy.

Supply Chain Management Ph.D. Program Overview

Earning a doctorate in supply chain management online offers convenience and flexibility, especially for those pursuing asynchronous programs. Many doctoral programs require another three to five years of study. The following sections present information you should examine closely before deciding to pursue a doctorate in supply chain management online.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Supply Chain Management

Prospective students pursuing a doctorate in supply chain management can choose from a Ph.D. or a doctor of management (DM) with a concentration in supply chain management. Other non-Ph.D., doctoral-level management programs are available, as well, such as a doctor of business management degree. As a rule, these programs resemble DM degrees. The right doctoral program for you depends on your long-term career objectives and how much time and energy you can invest.

Ph.D. programs prepare students for academic careers, and many graduates pursue teaching or top administrative positions in accredited colleges or universities; however, the degree also qualifies Ph.D. holders for research-focused jobs in academia, government agencies, large conglomerates, and private international organizations. DM programs with a supply chain management concentration prepare students for managerial or leadership positions in business practice.

Companies and organizations often seek DM degree holders to fill roles like chief operations officer, production analyst, and director for business development.

Ph.D. programs in supply chain management often comprise courses focused on subjects like research design, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and statistics. After completing the required program coursework, students continue researching and writing their dissertations, which may take another two to four years. DM programs rarely require dissertations, instead mandating a capstone project in which students apply classroom concepts to real-world situations.

Most students complete the capstone project during their final year in a DM program, allowing them to graduate sooner than most Ph.D. candidates.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Doctoral program admission and application requirements vary between schools. Generally speaking, Ph.D. and DM candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree in a related field from an accredited institution. Most doctoral programs prefer applicants to hold a master's degree plus several years of work experience. Ph.D. programs typically require applicants to demonstrate their writing and research capabilities through published work.

Colleges and universities offering doctoral programs usually require applicants to submit standard graduate admissions exam scores, such as those for the GMAT or the GRE. Most schools only accept scores from tests taken within five years of applying for their program. Other application requirements include at least two letters of recommendation, a recent resume, and a statement of purpose outlining the applicant's long-term professional objectives and why they want to pursue a doctorate.


Doctoral programs in supply chain management typically comprise 36-48 credits. Students usually complete their coursework in two to four years. Most programs require students to take a comprehensive exam after coursework completion. After passing the exam, Ph.D. candidates continue researching and writing their dissertations, while DM candidates begin their capstone projects.

Many schools offer supply chain management doctoral degree curricula covering three study areas: core courses (18-24 credits), foundation and methodology classes (12-15 credits), and coursework in a supporting field (6-9 credits). Core supply chain management courses usually include stochastic models for supply chain management, econometrics, cross-border management, business ethics, and data mining. Foundation and methods classes typically include research design and introductory classes in probability and statistical linear methods.

You can find a more detailed description of some of these and other courses in the following section.

Many doctoral programs allow students to craft individualized learning plans. Working with their advisors, students enroll in courses and seminars that support their educational and professional goals. Both Ph.D. and DM programs require students to enroll in research classes, but Ph.D. programs often require more research-oriented courses than DM programs do.

Behavioral Supply Chain Management
Students focus on the role human behavior plays in the supply chain management cycle by studying the relationships between business owners and their clients, partners, vendors, and regulatory bodies.
Fundamentals of Logistics and Supply Chain Management
This course provides students with a basic introduction to topics such as inventory control, forecasting, current and emerging trends in logistics, cost management, and national and international distribution strategies.
Global Operations and Supply Chain Network
By studying the principles and theories of operations and supply chain management, students learn to make timely, informed, efficient, and effective decisions about vital aspects such as production sites, sustainability, transportation, and order fulfillment.
Multivariate Methods for Business Research
This course introduces students to multivariate data analysis methods to help them develop the analytical skills to evaluate and conduct research in their field of interest.
Stochastic Methods in Supply Chain Management
In this course, students examine how different economic models in supply chain management perform under uncertain and variable conditions. Students learn about concepts such as information asymmetry and contract design.
Supply Chain Management Research
This course teaches students to evaluate the quality of research by examining factors such as the validity of the theoretical framework, the adequacy of the research design and analysis, and data collection and measurement.
Supply Chain Modeling and Algorithms
Students apply the latest management science techniques to examine and find solutions for several supply chain management challenges, including distribution network design, transportation capacity planning, reverse logistics, and location and pricing analysis.
Theories in Supply Chain Management
By examining a variety of conceptual and empirical research articles, students learn how strategic marketing and management theories can apply to the field of supply chain management research.

Program Outcomes

A doctorate in supply chain management gives students ample opportunities to develop critical skills for leadership positions in this expanding field. Doctoral degree holders possess in-depth knowledge and a solid grasp of the areas comprising the supply chain management arena. They also know how to integrate these aspects to craft efficient, effective logistical strategies for the regional, national, and/or global scale.

Graduates of supply chain management doctoral programs know how to design, execute, and evaluate research projects, whether they address a concrete, practical situation or add to an existing body of knowledge on the subject. A well-designed doctoral curriculum in supply chain management develops students' research and writing abilities, enabling them to write publishable articles in professional, peer-reviewed journals, along with research proposals and scholarly papers.

The academic rigor of doctoral programs in supply chain management equips students with a clear understanding of the field, developing their leadership, research, and writing abilities and sharpening their strategic-thinking skills.

Accreditation for Online Supply Chain Management Ph.D. Programs

There is not an accrediting body with a specific focus on doctoral programs in supply chain management. In such cases, learners can look to their school's institutional accreditation status. This affects students' ability to transfer credits between institutions and determines their eligibility for federal financial assistance.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee the accreditation process in the United States. They make sure accrediting bodies apply equal, comprehensive standards and provide a searchable list of regionally and nationally accredited institutions on their respective websites.