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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Supply Chain Management

Majors Overview June 12, 2015

This article talks about graduate degree programs in supply chain management and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and professional certification choices.

Information on Supply Chain Management Programs

The movement of goods and services is the main focus in supply chain management, sometimes called logistics. Many different disciplines in engineering, business, information systems and transportation are in this area. Program graduates of doctoral and master’s degree programs can seek executive and management positions in this profession; they can also seek careers in research and academia.

Advanced study in supply chain management is in numerous types of master’s degree programs, such as a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Graduates from most programs can seek professional certification. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have prior work experience and a bachelor’s degree. Coursework is a combination of hands-on education, seminars, and classroom work.

Holding a bachelor’s degree would meet the prerequisite for pursuing a doctoral degree. However, schools often prefer a master’s degree holder. Coursework in doctoral programs includes seminars and core classes, and the majority of the program is on the performance of research and compilation of a dissertation. At many schools, students are also required to be teaching assistants.

Master’s Programs in Supply Chain Management

Various academic departments and divisions could play a part in the education of supply chain management, but business schools of a university or college usually offer the majority of degree programs. These programs include the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Supply Chain Management or Master of Science (M.S.) in Global Supply Chain Management or Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

An in-depth look at the numerous aspects involved in the transportation of materials or goods, as well as the communication necessary to effect its physical flow, is provided through master’s degree programs in this field. Their programs are tailored by the majority of schools to prepare students for the pursuit of a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) designation offered through the Institute for Supply Management. A shorter certificate program, either for non-degree credit or credit, is also available at many schools – especially those that offer an MBA with a supply chain management emphasis. These programs are for business professionals who aim to pursue supply chain management careers.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to the majority of supply chain management master’s degree programs to hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably from a similar field such as quality assurance or business. Schools may waive some foundation courses, such as operations management, accounting, and statistics, depending on the educational background of the applicant.


Topic areas related to advanced supply chain systems are in the supply chain management master’s program, through a combination of practicum experience, seminars, and classes. A thesis project may also be in the coursework, along with topic areas such as:

•Supply chain risk management
•Advanced operations strategy
•Information technology tools
•Logistics systems
•Conflict management and negotiations

Career Choices

Program graduates from a master’s degree program in supply chain management can choose from various possible career options such as:

•Production manager
•Operations analyst
•Purchasing agent
•Purchasing manager
•General manager
•Management consultant

Professional Certification Choices

The Certified Professional in Supply Management designation is available through the Institute for Supply Management, a large professional organization. Interested individuals can earn the certification by passing three national examinations, apart from possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and three years’ professional work experience in supply management. Passage of the organization’s Bridge Exam is necessary for ensuring re-certification.

Doctorate Programs in Supply Chain Management

The focus of doctorate programs in supply chain management is on the research and analysis of every aspect of movement of information, goods, and services between organizations. These programs include the Ph.D. in Business Administration with a supply chain management emphasis, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Supply Chain Management, or Ph.D. in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. The program targets individuals aiming for careers in research, the private or public sector, or at the college-level. Students typically have the opportunity for preparatory research and teaching experience.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field. At many schools, students are expected to have educational or professional experience in computing, business, statistics or mathematics, in addition to a master’s degree. A shortened Ph.D. program is available at some schools, targeted at students with significant research experience and an MBA.


Coursework combines independent study, a dissertation, and seminars. It covers seminar or class titles such as:

•Information systems research techniques
•Economic research techniques
•Introduction to business research
•Principles of supply chain and information systems
•Optimization research techniques

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek to become operations research analysts.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a much faster than average job growth rate of 27% has been predicted for these professionals (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these workers brought in an average annual wage of $72,100.

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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