An online Supply Chain Management degree (SCM) could prepare students with the strategic and tactical mindset to tackle logistics challenges in business and operations management. Many online SCM graduate programs meld coursework in business analytics and forecasting with leadership development and case studies. Participants might therefore learn to evaluate performance metrics, problem solve, and make sound decisions.
written by Rana Waxman
Graduate-level online Supply Chain Management degree programs may be available at the Masters and Doctoral levels. Curriculums often help at-work learners to expand their ability to oversee materials, information and finances as they move from concept to supplier to consumer, with minimal disruption to a current career and lifestyle.
That said, students who pursue a supply management degree online should know that program formats could vary between schools. Tuition, required number of credits, time of completion, courses offered, capstone projects and one’s professional goals could all factor into determining which SCM online program could be suitable.
Supply Chain Management (SCM) involves the entire life cycle of a product: how it is acquired, manufactured, distributed, allocated, stored and delivered. The way these inter-enterprise flows are coordinated and overseen to provide a competitive advantage is one of the things that defines SCM. By contrast, Logistics Management focuses on how goods are moved through an organization to a consumer with a view to maximize client satisfaction. Logistics is thus a part of SCM, and one that could more narrowly highlight end user needs.
DID YOU KNOW?
When surveyed, 20% of Logistics Analysts reported they had a Master's degree.i
Individual courses vary among online masters and doctoral degree in supply chain management programs. Some universities might take a more business-focused approach in their curriculum while others might hone in on the science of supply chain management. Below is a list of several types of courses you may encounter.
Supply Chain Analysis: This type of applied data analysis course delves into the quantitative and statistical methods behind decisions. Students might learn things such as hypothesis testing, regression and correlation analysis, forecasting, linear programming, decision analysis and project management.
Global Supply Chain Management: Students could learn to explain the global infrastructure for supply chains. Coursework might explore the requirements for global operations and strategy development as they work to understand what facilitates and hinders global SCM processes.
Strategic Sourcing: Students might discuss the integration and coordination of product innovation, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and logistics for global competitiveness. This could fuel insights into issues related to procurement strategy.
Online Masters in Supply Chain Management programs may lead to different degrees: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Professional Studies (MPS) are three examples.
Typically, an MBA with a SCM concentration aims to provide supply chain management skills for broad management career paths. MS in SCM programs could have a more technical focus through a comprehensive curriculum that might explore current issues. MPS in SCM programs often meld traditional MS courses with industry-focused skills. Thus, there may be options for students at different stages of their career, and with distinct objectives.
While application material could vary between schools, candidates need a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university (or its equivalent) and minimum GPA. Along with transcripts, students may need GRE and GMAT scores, CV or resume, statement of purpose, and references.
An online MBA in Supply Chain Management is often designed for applicants who have a sold background in business (administration). Those who enter an MBA without an undergrad degree in business may need to start out with core courses to prepare them for the advanced coursework ahead.
Often, an online MBA curriculum is designed to provide managerial operational theories and concepts, as well as quantitative and qualitative methodologies for product design, warehousing, procurement and contracts. Students are often required to complete between 45 and 48 credits and a final management project.
Typically, the bulk of MBA courses devoted to functional business areas and could therefore include courses such as the ones listed below.
Students may find online MBA programs with several possible areas of emphasis. A concentration usually rounds out the course of study with specifically themed topics.
Supply Chain Management: Emphasis courses in SCM could bring in courses in operations management, strategy, logistics, inventory and distribution. SCM often blends business and leadership skills. Graduates might develop their ability to solve problems, plan and coordinate a supply chain operation
Logistics: An online logistics degree might stress the theory and science of supply chain management rather than the daily realities. Logistics coursework could be blended with instruction on practical supply chain management skills.
Global supply chain management: This degree might allow students to focus on the complicated world of international trade, industrial shipping, and global logistics strategy.
An online MS in SCM may be intended for those who want to understand the “big picture” of supply chain management through cross-functional courses. Applicants may be supply chain managers and mid- to top-level executives who want to advance their knowledge through analysis and research. Some programs could entail the completion of about 36 credits, which full-time students might complete in about two years.
Curriculums could focus on the processes of distribution, operation and procurement. These courses may be offered through the lens of how to solve supply chain challenges, drive innovation and implement specific strategies. Some of the possible topics students in an online Master of Science in SCM program might explore could include the examples below.
To earn their degree, students may need to apply course material to problem-solve an issue in the student’s organization.
An online MPS in Supply Chain Management is typically planned-out for the current professional with at least two years of post-baccalaureate work experience in business, engineering, or science. Applicants may also need a strong quantitative background.
To complete their MPS degree, students may take 30 credits of core courses, and may spend time in supervised student activities involving research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis. These projects might simulate real-world business settings, and could be done with the help of online message boards that facilitate interaction.
An interdisciplinary course of study might aim to provide students with a deeper grasp of complex supply chain frameworks and issues as well as how to strategically manage operations. MPS/SCM courses might include the following topics.
Part-time students might complete their program in about two years, and while courses may be primarily online, there could be a brief residential experience. Residency on campus could provide instruction in how to research and write a final paper, and may help match a student with a faculty research supervisor.
An online Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management might consist of about six courses, drawn from a Master's program. Students may be able to work towards a certificate as an add on and stand-alone credential. Or, where possible, apply the earned credits to the full Master's degree later. A certificate might therefore appeal to an employed logistics professional who wants to bring new skills to their organization’s supply chain. A full-time student might complete their requirements in about one year since because certificate programs involve fewer courses,.
PhD in logistics and supply chain management online programs may be harder to find than Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs. A PhD in SCM is a research degree that may have a teaching component requiring students to be on campus. By comparison, a DBA degree is a terminal degree for practitioners who want to earn the highest award in their field of study.
An online DBA in Supply Chain Management program is tailored for experienced professionals who want to gain deeper insight into business practices and how to make decisions around them. Applicants may need to have completed a business or management-related Master's degree and often have to provide transcripts and a resume with work history when they apply.
In some online universities, students may need to complete about 60 credits. Typically, a course of study explores leadership, theory and applied research. In fact, often, online students choose the topic that is most meaningful to them and then use their research to formulate solutions and foster change.
Curriculums often cover multiple areas that could include foundation courses, core business courses, business strategy, research and SCM coursework. In tandem, students typically take doctoral studies courses to learn how to write, think critically and design their final project.
In foundation courses, the purpose is often to help students explore modern business challenges such as change management, crisis management, innovation, and disruptive technology. Students may engage in discussion and analysis that highlights their personal and professional development.
Core DBA business courses could explore organizational leadership to help students gain the skills to assess ethical issues and craft strategies. Other key topics could include the examples below.
A course in business strategy could enable students to develop a deeper grasp of how to create sustainable businesses in the global marketplace through practices that maximize competitive advantage. Research methods courses could then introduce students to quantitative and qualitative frameworks for inquiry as well as business data analysis and SPSS software.
For the SCM concentration, students might take seminars that explore the systems required to identify sources of people and material. This could also discuss the ways to ensure that the supply chain conforms to the highest expected worldwide business standards. Other seminars might discuss IT and how it could be used in business to cut costs, boost customer satisfaction and potentially lead to new growth.
To earn their DBA degree, students often take part in an applied business research project. This doctoral-level project is usually a way to showcase a candidate’s ability to perform research that is tied directly to an organization, and to leverage real-world problems to develop solutions.
Online students might need over 2 years to complete their doctoral study or dissertation.
Students who choose an online Supply Chain Management degree might do so for the flexibility to take courses when it suits their schedule, especially when the courses are delivered entirely online. Distance students might communicate with classmates and instructors via communication tools and applications such as bulletin boards, email, chat, and web conferencing. Online delivery could also provide a means to gain insight into modern practices and then, channel this feedback into a current career setting.
Residencies do dot some online SCM graduate programs and offset the independent study of web-based coursework. These are often brief but could be packed with useful face-to-face sessions where students might network with other business professionals and meet faculty mentors. In doctoral programs, some residences are in place to help students enhance their ability to manage technology, write, research and think critically as they work to complete their dissertation.
Students could study to earn an online supply chain management degree from a regionally accredited school. Institutional accreditation usually speaks to whether a school is academically and operationally up to standards. Some individual SCM online programs may be accredited by industry agencies that provide extra oversight as far as curriculums and quality standards. Two such accreditors are the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Use your attention to detail to choose an online SCM degree next. Compare online supply chain management degree programs at the Masters or Doctoral levels. Then, easily contact the universities with the on-page form.