The 2020 Guide to Online Master of Supply Chain Management Programs

How does food get from the field to the grocery store? How do spare parts get from the factory to the showroom? These may not be questions you’ve ever asked—but supply chains often play an important role in the modern economy. 

If you’re interested in learning about supply chains models, strategies, and ultimately launching a career in this field, earning an MS in supply chain management (SCM) may allow you to do that. This page will walk you through the basics of supply chain management, explain what you’ll study in a graduate degree program, and discuss possible career opportunities.

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What Is Supply Chain Management?

As the term suggests, supply chain management is the active management of supply chain activities. Strong supply chain management increases value for customers and gains a competitive advantage for the business. Running supply chains in the most efficient way possible, supply chain managers cover everything from sourcing products to organizing IT systems.

Though their focuses overlap, a master’s in supply chain management differs from a master of business administration. An MBA offers a general introduction to business, while an MS is more focused. The length of study is therefore generally longer for an MBA vs a master’s in supply chain management. Learn more about whether an MBA is worth it and how to get into business school.

Logistics vs Supply Chain Management

What is logistics? How does it relate to supply chain management? If you’ve ever thought about taking an SCM course or enrolling in an SCM graduate program, you may have asked these exact questions—especially as both terms are sometimes used interchangeably. In fact, logistics and supply chain management are two related but distinct concepts. 

Supply chain management is a broad field, linking different processes with the ultimate aim of gaining competitive advantage. Conversely, logistics refers to the movement, storage, and flow of goods, services, and information within the overall supply chain—with less emphasis on saving money. 

Why Earn a Master’s in Supply Chain Online?

There are multiple benefits of completing a master’s in supply chain management online. Like other online business degrees, this starts with flexibility. With many courses available part-time, you may be able to balance study and work. An online program also lets you study from home, saving money on rent. And for candidates craving interactive learning, some online courses offer live, in-person classes on weekends. 

How Long is an Online Master of Supply Chain Program?

The length of an online master’s in supply chain management varies by institution, and whether you decide to study part-time or full-time. In general, a full-time option takes between 18 and 24 months, though some programs can be completed in just 12. Whatever path you choose, you may graduate sooner than if you pursue an MBA, which takes around two years of full-time study. A part-time option takes longer, with some MS programs taking as long as five years. 

Online MS in Supply Chain Admissions Requirements

Though the specifics depend on the university, many online MS in supply chain degree programs have similar admissions requirements. 

  • Bachelor’s Degree. As a master’s degree, an MS in Supply Chain requires candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with many expecting an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
  • A Resume and Personal Statement. Like nearly all graduate degrees, online SCM degrees require candidates to submit a resume and short personal statement describing why they’re interested in studying supply chain management.
  • Official Transcript. All candidates must submit a copy of their official results transcript to the institution of choice—typically in an official sealed envelope.
  • Letter of Recommendation. Most courses require students to submit (at least) one letter of recommendation with their applications. These typically come from students’ undergraduate professors, mentors, or a supervisor at work.
  • Proficiency in English. Students who don’t speak English natively must demonstrate their proficiency in the language, via a TOEFL or similar test. 

Online Supply Chain Degree Programs That Don’t Require the GRE

Many online MS in supply chain programs require no GRE qualifications. Others require no GMAT. Here’s a list of some of the programs that don’t require specific testing qualifications, and where they’re based:

Institution Location
University of Arkansas Little Rock, AK
Charleston Christian University Charleston, SC
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
Georgetown University Washington, DC
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana-Champaign, IL
Kettering University Flint, MI
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ
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Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
University of Washington Seattle, WA
University of Wisconsin, Platteville Platteville, WI
University of Wisconsin, Stout Menominee, WI

Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Curriculum

Supply chain courses cover a range of topics—from leadership and communication skills to problem solving. They leave graduates with a robust understanding of how supply chains work, and how to sharpen them.

  • Introductory Courses. Most graduate supply chain management courses introduce students to supply chains and how they work. Students may cover the fundamentals of competitive supply chains, their benefits, and how to make them more efficient.
  • Concentration Courses. An MS in supply chain management normally allows students to prioritize the work that interests them. Universities typically offer many concentration courses, covering areas as varied as blockchain, network design, and additive manufacturing. Alternatively, an MBA might offer a concentration in supply chain management.
  • External Courses. Though an MS in SCM focuses on supply chains, many courses allow you to take general business courses too. For example, you might study modeling for machine learning, or take classes in digital marketing and market intelligence.

What Can You Do with a Supply Chain Management Degree?

A degree in supply chain management may lead to business careers across numerous industries. Here are some of the supply chain jobs you may qualify for with an MS in SCM. 

  • Logistician. Logisticians coordinate and analyze their organization’s logistical set-up. By developing strong relationships with a client’s key logistics personnel, they keep products flowing smoothly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), logisticians make an average of $74,750 a year.
  • Distribution Manager. Distribution managers oversee a firm’s storage and distribution facilities. Hiring new staff and keeping their work environment safe, they’re a fundamental part of many supply chains. The BLS reports that distribution managers make an average of $94,560 a year, though this varies by location and job.
  • Supply Chain Manager. Supply chain managers direct and coordinate supply chain processes to limit costs and customer service. Using data forecasting, they identify possible changes to a supply chain—and react before they happen.

Supply Chain Salary and Career Outlook

The BLS suggests that an MS in supply chain management may be profitable. Though it doesn’t have precise statistics for supply chain managers, and exact figures vary by job and location, it reports that the highest 10% of logisticians made an annual salary of $120,400 in 2019.

The BLS also reports that the projected job growth for logisticians—who analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—is 5% between 2018 and 2028.

According to Allied Market Research, the global supply chain management market was valued at $15.85 billion in 2019, and it is projected to reach about $37 billion by 2027. Career openings in supply chain management can be found across a range of industries. If you’re interested in working as a supply chain manager, a Master of Science program in SCM, may prepare you to do that.

 

Last Updated August 2020