Manufacturing and shipping a product requires the coordination of inventory, raw materials, production and distribution into a unified system. Known as supply chain management (SCM), the successful execution of this procedure can drastically affect a business’s expenditures. As companies are forced to interact with an increasingly globalized economy, managing a business’s supply chains has become an art of its own. Many variations, including online master’s in supply chain management degrees, have sprung up in recent years to address the growing need for experts in the discipline.
Graduates of online supply chain management master’s programs are commonly required to have a minimum amount of professional experience in order to be accepted, meaning the majority of prospective students are already working adults. Online education has given businesses the opportunity to improve their SCM practices by sponsoring full-time employees to get an online degree while continuing in their current role. Additionally, with so much of the work in supply chain management conducted via digital interaction across thousands of miles, students earning their degree online will find they are incredibly well prepared for the likely online work environment.
In the ranked list below, we look at the best online master’s in supply chain management programs being offered in 2016, profiling each in great detail. In their own way, every one of the seven programs on this list is breaking new ground in supply chain management education.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||University of Maryland - College Park||College Park||$$$$$|| |
College Park, MD 20742
What most differentiates the University of Maryland’s online master of science in management with acquisition and supply chain management specialization from other online master’s in supply chain programs is that it is accessible to newcomers. While most online supply chain management degrees are created for mid-level and senior professionals, UM’s curriculum provides both advanced and foundational courses, instructing students in a range of areas from legalese to strategic purchasing methodologies.
This unique program may be completed entirely online or in a hybrid fashion and students may transfer up to six credits to complete the 36-credit course of study. Supported by innovative apps for numerous mobile devices, students enjoy the flexibility of online coursework. The curriculum includes real-world-client-sponsored projects that teach hands-on skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace. Case studies are also employed to teach new applications.
|2||University of Washington||Seattle||$$$$$||1400 NE Campus Parkway|
Seattle, WA 98195-4550
The University of Washington’s online master of supply chain transportation and logistics program consists of nine courses totaling 43 credits. After the first week-long course—which must be completed on-campus before the start of the fall semester—the entire part-time program may be completed online within two years. The program's engineering-based curriculum teaches advanced transportation and logistics concepts that impact supply chains by emphasizing quantitative principles and data-driven analysis.
Although many of the assignments and materials may be accessed online whenever convenient, students must participate in a weekly real-time lecture held from 5 to 7 p.m. (Pacific Time). These lectures are conducted to make sure that students connect with their professors and one another. This mandatory interaction differentiates this program from many other online master’s in supply chain management programs, but may not be appropriate for those with busy schedules that require greater degrees of flexibility.
|3||University of Southern California||Los Angeles||$$$$$||University Park|
Los Angeles, CA 90089
The University of Southern California’s online master of science in global supply chain management is a 27-credit, part-time hybrid program that trains tomorrow's innovators through rigorous academic concepts and practical real-world applications. Most of the school's 16-month program can be taken online but the program does require two notable, in-person, week-long modules. Each module requires students to travel to a designated city: the first module, conducted in the fall term of the first year, takes place in either Singapore, Hong Kong, or Shanghai. The second, conducted in the fall of year two, is in Los Angeles.
To support students pursuing a master’s in supply chain management online, USC offers three helpful services. First, professors host online office hours to facilitate communication and answer questions. Next, online students have the option to meet with their professors face-to-face, once a month. Finally, the university facilitates opportunities to network with executives and industry leaders.
|4||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide||Daytona Beach||$$$$$||600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.|
Daytona Beach, FL 32114-3900
Having begun its distance learning programs in 1971, today Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University serves students under the sunny, wide-open skies of both Prescott, Arizona and Daytona Beach, Florida. But wherever a student may be, the school's online degrees programs offer opportunities to study at one’s own pace, providing the academic support that one expects from a top university. Each Embry-Riddle online master’s in supply chain management student is assigned a designated online campus advisor.
This 30-credit online master of science in logistics and supply chain management program gives students a well-rounded education in a number of logistics areas including sustainability, collaborative supply chains, and performance measurement. Although students must take 24 credits of required courses, six elective credits allow for exploring other areas of interest. Embry-Riddle's online master’s in supply chain management faculty is comprised of PhD’s drawing from years of industrial and military experience (often both), so students can rest easy with the knowledge that they're learning from the very best.
|5||Florida Institute of Technology||Melbourne||$$$$$||150 West University Blvd|
Melbourne, FL 32901
As one of the only programs of its kind in Wisconsin, UW Stout's online Master of Science in Operations and Supply Management offers an advanced business education unparalleled in the region. The curriculum provides the chance for students to further narrow their focus into one of four specialities: quality management, operations management, project management or supply chain management. Regardless of their track, students learn how to apply current and nascent technologies to effectively manage global and technical business systems.
Powered by Desire2Learn, the virtual classroom at UW Stout is known as Learn@UWStout. For those unsure of whether they are prepared for virtual learning, the school offers an online learning assessment called SmarterMeasure. Once enrolled, students have access to a number of support services, including online orientation, library services, career counseling and eTutoring. A textbook rental service provides a cheap and easy way for students to have physical course materials shipped to their homes.
|6||Portland State University||Portland||$$$$$||724 SW Harrison|
Portland, OR 97201
Oregon’s first and only urban university, Portland State University crafted its online master of science in global supply chain management with a focus on international operations—only appropriate given the school's location in a world-renowned hub of manufacturing and retail. This 52-credit program may be completed almost entirely online (in as little as 21 months, no less) and emphasizes connectivity and real-world applications. Students video conference as they examine actual case studies, build business networks, and form relationships with the broader university community.
An unusual component of this program is its two-week-long global supply chain international field study that takes students to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Beijing, China between the program's first and second years. This required short trip provides students with exceptional opportunities to examine innovations up close, meet industry leaders, and network face-to-face with each other, but may not be the right fit for working professionals who cannot take time off.
|7||Michigan State University||East Lansing||$$$$$|| |
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
Without a doubt, Michigan State University is a leader in supply chain management education. For example, its online master of science in supply chain management is taught by expert faculty whose writings and interviews are relied upon throughout the country.
Unlike other programs, Michigan State's program not only delves deep into manufacturing, but also into procurement resourcing, logistics, transportation, and distribution. By the time they graduate, students have a comprehensive understanding of the entire end-to-end supply chain.
Learners may pursue this rigorous supply chain management degree online as part of a hybrid 36-credit program that can be completed in two years. The majority of the instruction is completed through structured weekly sessions consisting of video lectures, assignments, and quizzes. As part of the hybrid approach, the program requires only 12 on-campus days that are scheduled as three-day weekends. These face-to-face sessions are designed to deepen connections with instructors and provide added value through case studies, teamwork, and presentations.
|8||Georgia College and State University||Milledgeville||$$$$$||231 W Hancock Street|
Milledgeville, GA 31061
Having taught logistics and supply chain education for over 40 years, Georgia College and State University is Georgia’s oldest provider of such programming. The school's 30-credit, online master of logistics and supply chain management program combines the institution’s wealth of experience with the latest in technology to help students complete their course of study at a rapid pace. Students will take 21 credit-hours of required courses and nine credits of electives, and may choose from a variety of subjects, such as commercial law, regulation, and corporate social responsibility and strategic operations management. Note that this program does not provide concentrations or specializations.
Students who enroll in any of the institution’s online programs, but especially its online master’s in supply chain management, are supported by faculty who have real-world experience. GCSU’s logistics and supply chain program is internationally accredited by the AACSB.
|9||Fontbonne University||Saint Louis||$$$$$||6800 Wydown Blvd|
Saint Louis, MO 63105-3098
All of Fontbonne University’s online programs are rigorously reviewed to ensure that students receive the highest quality instruction. The school's online master of science in supply chain management provides students with convenience and flexibility but, just like its on-campus counterpart, the program also requires active participation, critical thinking, and prompt submission of assignments.
The program consists of eight courses totaling 30 credit hours and may be completed in as little as one year. Although all 30 credit hours must be completed, up to six of these credits may consist of electives. Students also have the option to pursue a concentration in accounting, management and leadership, and nonprofit management.
Each concentration offers students an array of subjects to choose from. For example, in accounting: Advanced topics in management cost accounting and auditing; in management and leadership: business policy and strategic planning and organizational psychology and behavior; and nonprofit management: legal environment of nonprofit organizations and revenue streams for nonprofits.
|10||Wright State University||Dayton||$$$$$||3640 Colonel Glenn Highway|
Dayton, OH 45435-0001
The one-year-long, 33-credit online master of science in logistics and supply chain management program at Wright State University primarily consists of nine online courses and a capstone project. However, students are required to complete four on-campus residencies (taking place on weekends), totaling 11 on-campus days throughout the one-year period. These residencies reinforce concepts taught in class through simulated assignments, leadership skills training, and intensive case studies.
Each component of the program is prepared by experts in their field, providing students with a cutting-edge education supported by the latest online learning technologies. The same instructors who teach in the live-classroom format teach their online counterparts. At Wright State, students learn to use advanced technology to build supply chain architectures, innovate supply chain design at a rapid pace, and craft the appropriate metrics for supply chain networks from established, well-respected faculty. To reinforce this real-world approach, the capstone project is sponsored by real organizations, organizations which students will present to as part of the program.
Openings for supply chain managers, also known as logisticians, are growing at a rate of 22%, much faster than average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given that the entry-level requirement for this field is a bachelor’s degree, holding a master’s can set you up to be competitive for top-paying positions. Median salary is $72,780, but with an advanced degree and years of experience, salaries can easily exceed $150,000. Those interested in an SCM position are highly recommended to first have several years of related work experience alongside their undergraduate degree.
Supply chain management graduate programs differ from other degrees, in that they are commonly attended by working adults who are being sponsored by their current employer. If you are sure supply chain management is the field for you, and you haven’t finished your undergraduate yet, be sure to at least get a minor in logistics or a related field. If you already hold your bachelor’s, it is important to work your way into the professional world of SCM before applying for a master’s. The best way to set yourself up for success in the field is to find a company that has an employee education program and apply for a related or lower-level position with solid advancement opportunities.