Best MBA Programs in Supply Chain Management for 2021

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

The world is a much smaller place than it was a mere 30 years ago. Business and culture are moving more and more toward global platforms and global supply chains. This brings an exciting sense of inter-connectivity, but also increasing complexity. Businesses in Des Moines can easily source materials from China, Indonesia, or Brazil and need supply chain professionals to hold managerial positions in manufacturing, corporate, and warehousing sectors to control these shipments. The finished products then need to find the most efficient route to paying customers, whether they are next door or all over the world.

To meet this challenge, many MBA programs are offering accredited concentrations in supply chain management. Once they gain admission, students have the opportunity to learn everything they need to move into operations management and meet the challenges of the global marketplace. A student can find a campus or online college study program by using the Online MBA strategic search function. Dozens of colleges all over the US offer faculty who have held professional positions within the industry, connections to organizations with excellent internships in office and pre-management positions, and development of real-world skills that can be used to earn a position sourcing materials in international business or industrial project management.

Once a student knows what their focus will be, they can prepare to earn their degree within a year or two depending on whether or not they plan to attend full-time. They then have options to choose between a public or private school, request info on financial aid or tuition help from a current employer, choose a master of science degree or a specialized MBA, and check out the student resource center at their school(s) of choice.

Why Should You Get a Supply Chain Management MBA?

If you are considering an MBA and looking for a focus area, supply chain management will serve you very well. The economy is increasingly global in nature and shipping matters now more than ever. Thus, all sorts of firms are looking for ways to streamline their shipping and receiving processes. With an MBA that focuses on learning logistics/supply chain management, you will be able to effectively manage and support a team of logisticians while being the final decision maker for how to improve your systems and meet your business’ requirements.

What Can You Do With a Supply Chain Management MBA?

  • Purchasing Agent
    Where you can work: Any large manufacturer needs a purchasing agent to oversee the purchase of supplies. Other significantly large companies need someone to oversee purchase of everyday materials, along with new equipment and even real estate for expansion.

    Salary: $62,000 (average before bonus)

    Job Description: Professionals in this position are in charge of purchasing goods and services for their firms. That might involve finding the best price on the highest quality raw materials for a manufacturer or determining which products will sell best on retail shelves. Purchasing agents are adept at negotiating prices, maintaining a purchasing budget, and tracking receipts. Other skill sets include customer service protocols, supply chain management, quality assessments, quantitative analysis, and organizational acumen.

  • Supply Chain Management Director
    Where you can work: Nearly every industry hires supply chain management professionals. You can specialize in supply chain management and continue achieving success in your chosen industry. However, your expertise with transportation, purchasing, or expediting deliverables will serve you in firms from nearly any industry.

    Salary: $89,067 (average before bonus)

    Job Description: This position will most likely require an MBA with a focus on supply chain management. In a Director position, professionals will most likely oversee a department. Depending on how the firm organizes its professionals, a director might equate to a c-level position.

  • Operations Manager
    Where you can work: Nearly every sizable organization needs an operations manager. If you have experience in a certain industry, an MBA will help launch you into a position in operations.

    Salary: $64,000 (average before bonus)

    Job Description: This position entails full working knowledge of nearly every facet of an organization. Operations managers oversee aspects as wide-ranging as human resources, finance, production, sales, and supply chain management. The ultimate goal of every operations manager is to maximize their firm’s overall efficiency and expand the bottom line. In this position, you might spend time producing new protocols, analyzing current systems, and making decisions regarding new technology. The most successful operations managers have a range of skills and abilities that span the scope of all business functions.

  • Logistics Analyst
    Where you can work: Larger firms often hire logistics analysts to review their logistics protocols and processes.

    Salary: $56,000 (average salary before bonus)

    Job Description: Professionals in this position use logic, mathematics, and statistical analysis to scrutinize how a product is produced and then brought to market. They might work with marketing and sales departments to scrutinize demand and supply needs, while also coordinating with production facilities to ensure that best practices are followed. Where other employment sectors might include analysts as entry-level workers, the logistics field places them near the top. Firms frequently require up to five years’ experience for new analysts.

  • Fleet Dispatcher
    Where you can work: Dispatchers work in transportation companies, often tracking drivers, trucks, and payloads from pick-up to drop-off.

    Salary: $44,900

    Job Description: To excel in this position, professionals need to be able to coordinate with a range of individuals. If you work for an independent shipping company, you will need to coordinate with a client at the origin point then see the payload clear to its destination. Dispatchers need to have customer service skills, logistical abilities, and the ability to account for variables such as weather or mechanical difficulties. This position would be perfect for those seeking a long-term career in logistics.

MBA in Logistics Management

  • MBA in Logistics Management
    An MBA in Logistics Management will train you how to manage complex systems with ease. Your degree will show that you know how to deliver goods and services to and request them from vendors and clients worldwide. Logistics is an ever-growing field and firms need the very best logisticians using strategy and analytics to ensure that they keep pace with and outrun the competition.

    Average Salary: $78,000

    Length of Program: Approximately two years, though some programs add a term or two for more in-depth work in the specialty area.

  • MBA in Logistics and Operations/Transportation
    With an MBA in Logistics and Operations/Transportation you will be set to work with top firms in their efforts to streamline how goods, services, and raw materials are transported worldwide. Even in this era of ever-changing technology, your MBA will provide the tools and skills to adapt to new trucking technologies, for instance, and even position you to be a decision-maker in how supply chains operate.

    Average Salary: $78,000

    Length of Program: Most MBA programs take two years, though some will offer additional coursework to help you complete your concentration.

  • MBA in Quantitative Approaches
    Every business runs according to the bottom line. That means that professionals need to understand how to crunch the numbers. Your MBA in Quantitative Approaches will steep you in various quantitative models to ensure that you are able to best streamline supply chains and maximize profit margins. Your bonus check will reflect your terrific results.

    Average Salary: $106,000

    Length of Program: MBA programs take approximately two years if you work full-time. Online or part-time programs might allow as many as five years. Consult with an admissions counselor to plan your academic career.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Supply Chain Management

  • Quantitative Analysis:
    This course will demonstrate how statistics and probability are applied to maximize supply chain efficiency. A strong mathematics background as well as experience in IT will be helpful in this course.
  • Global Economics:
    You'll need to create international relationships to facilitate an effective supply chain. This will necessitate a full knowledge of foreign economies in order to leverage global economic realities to the benefit of your firm.
  • Digital Supply Chain:
    This course covers how to manage digital products from production to end-user. IT issues such as data compression, optimal file types, and metadata are included in this increasingly important field.
  • Green and Sustainable Supply Chains:
    Your education needs to address the growing need to implement green technologies. Not only do green technologies attract customers, but they can also increase productivity and fuel growth into the future.
  • Robotic Process Automation and Supply Chain:
    This technology has great potential to streamline a firm's supply chain. However, it is still expensive, and firms are struggling to create a positive ROI. This course addresses those issues with case studies to help you determine how your firm can best benefit from RPA.

What to Look For and Consider?

  • Reputation:
    The business world is often most concerned with the reputation of your MBA program. A school with a highly regarded name will bolster your resume, but it will also look great next to your bio on your employer's website and other materials. Along these lines, you might consider pursuing an MBA in the state you most wish to work in.
  • Concentration Areas:
    Not all MBA programs are made the same. In fact, two programs with equally high reputations and rankings can produce very different graduates. This likely comes down to the concentrations they offer. Seek out a program that offers two or three of your top picks. That way, you will have a bit of wiggle room in case you decide to change your mind.
  • Accreditation:
    This is perhaps one of the top considerations. Look for MBA programs that have either AACSB or ACBSP accreditation. Those programs should have national recognition. Further, if your chosen program has national accreditation it is more likely to be acknowledged by your employer's tuition-reimbursement program, if they have one.
  • Accessibility:
    If you intend to keep working while studying for your MBA degree, you need to find a program that is nearby. Barring that, you can find an online program that offers the flexibility you need. After all, there's not much point in enrolling in a program if you can't make it to class.
  • Longevity:
    There are many new MBA programs in the educational market these days. Most of them offer a great education. However, look for schools with a long, proven track record. If that is not an option, scrutinize the new programs to see that they have a strong faculty and local reputation.
  • Forward-Looking:
    Business is constantly changing, so look for programs that are integrating new technologies and methodologies to their curriculum. Such programs often feature faculty with lots of practical experience. While there is no way for any academic program to stay fully current with business trends, you need an assurance that the degree will provide the flexibility and adaptability necessary to thrive.
  • Alumni Network:
    The old adage, "It's not what you know but who you know", is perhaps most applicable in the business world. Look for programs that seek to foster alumni gatherings and networking opportunities. Even online programs offer some on-campus seminars and gatherings to ensure that their students meet one another and form long-term collegial bonds.

Who Should Consider a Supply Chain Management MBA?

An MBA in Supply Chain Management is an important part of professional growth. The degree will educate students in the specifics of the field and help them attain their next great job. Many will wonder to whom the degree is best suited. Are there specific prerequisites or a career trajectory that is best suited to applicants?

The short answer is no. Logisticians come from a wide range of backgrounds. However, most seem to come from fields related to supply chain management. Some may have worked in purchasing, others could have long resumes in warehouse management, or consulting. Thus, there do seem to be positions that are better suited to supply chain professionals than others.

In fact, the American Production and Inventory Control Society, a leading industry association, studied its members to determine their career paths. Of its 6,000 members APICS found that three job titles stood out: Supply Chain, Buyer/Planner, and Materials Manager were the three most common. There were a significant number who selected other. Of those, their jobs tended to be closely related to supply chain management and tended to include positions in transportation, systems engineering, and accounting.

However, if you are seeking a complete career change, you can begin to take an inventory of your skills, strengths, and career aspirations. For skills, it’s important to note that supply chain professionals all are very logical, they are logisticians after all. They tend to do well with statistics, probability, and mathematics generally. Thus, accountants or even academic mathematicians might consider a transition into supply chain management.

Other strengths to consider include a knowledge of economics and the ability to analyze foreign economic trends. Supply chain professionals should also have strong communication skills and the ability to multi-task. Frequently, professionals need to coordinate with a diverse group of suppliers, customers, and even co-workers in order to achieve the best results.

Lastly, it will be very helpful to have an undergraduate degree that supports your aspirations in logistics. Barring that, while academics may be important, many MBA candidates apply to programs with an application that features strong, business-related experience in addition to any required courses the program may expect. Keep in mind that many professionals started in the more practical aspects of the field, such as trucking, allowing them to explore their field from the ground up and know a lot about the environment within the industry. However, based on APICS’ numbers, it may help future candidates to work toward a position as a buyer/planner. After all, nearly half of all survey respondents indicated that position as a role they’d held in the course of their career.

Potential Scholarships to Consider

  • Material Handling Education Foundation
    Award: $3,119 (On Average)
    Deadline: January 15

    Students from a range of major field are encouraged to apply to this prestigious scholarship fund. Previous winners include scholars that range from PhD candidates to undergraduate students.

  • ISM-Pittsburgh Scholarship
    Award: $750-$2,500
    Deadline: Varies

    Duquesne University students who are currently studying a supply chain management degree at the graduate or undergraduate level are encouraged to apply.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources