Online MBA in Supply Chain Management

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Master the Supply Chain at Every Stage

Every business has to deal with logistical issues, from sourcing materials to shipping products — and with the emergence of new global markets, companies with an international reach are eager for professionals with supply chain experience. Schools are rushing to meet the demand by adding specialized programs, and their recent crop of graduates are heavily recruited by companies. Earning an online MBA in supply chain management can be a smart move for logistically minded professionals. See what this MBA track is all about in this guide.

Milestone Path: Supply Chain Management

Many individuals can improve their professional standing with an online MBA in supply chain management. Here’s how one logistician used his MBA to gain a higher position within his company, along with other key milestones that led to that point

Volunteering

Organizes his college’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive

Finishes Undergrad

Earns bachelor’s degree in statistics

Entry-level Job

Hired as a logistician for an automobile company

MBA

Completes an online MBA in supply chain management

Advancement

Oversees paint procurement for the company’s main plant

Promotion

Becomes industrial production manager of the entire auto plant

Getting a Supply Chain Management MBA Online

Thirty years ago, students did not have the option to earn an MBA online. Now they do – and many schools have done a good job of making all the benefits of a traditional program available to online students.

For instance, most schools have found a way to incorporate networking opportunities and career advising into their online MBA programs. But there are also benefits unique to students in online programs, such as the flexibility to learn on their own schedule and the cost savings associated with studying from home.

Students in online supply chain management MBA programs can expect to use learning management systems such as Blackboard to submit their work. Some programs may require students to travel to the school’s main campus a few times over the course of their studies, while others can be completed entirely online.

Which MBA Program Type is Right for You?

Schools typically offer one of three online programs: an executive online MBA, a part-time online MBA or a full-time online MBA. Each of these options appeals to students with different time constraints and levels of work experience.

  • Executive (2 years)
  • Part-time (3+ years)
  • Full-time (2 years)

Executive MBA programs assume that their students have management experience. Mid-level managers who need to catch up with recent technological advances might consider such a program, as might career climbers looking for jobs outside their current industry. Executive online MBAs are tailored to full-time employees, meaning the degree has in-built flexibility and allows individuals to continue working normal hours.

Like executive MBA programs, part-time programs assume their students are working professionals. Unlike executive MBA programs, they do not assume their students work in a management capacity. Therefore, online MBA in supply chain management programs offered part-time will incorporate business and management fundamentals into their curricula.

Students who do not have to continue working and can devote themselves exclusively to learning can take a full-time MBA in supply chain management program online over the course of two years. Like part-time students, they will learn about the principles of business and management before developing more specialized knowledge of supply chains. Their course load may be around 20 hours a week, which is supplemented by readings and assignments.

Supply Chain Management: Core MBA Classes

Every program has its own approach to teaching supply chain management online, but several courses consistently pop up across MBA curricula. Here are a few:

Global Operations

Because of globalization, a car at an automobile plant in Kentucky may be put together with parts built in Japan, Mexico and Canada. As a result, colleges have started teaching students about how the global supply chain functions. Students will study global issues related to facility planning and product design, as well as various environmental, legal and ethical issues in operations.

Supply Chain Management

This course teaches students the key indicators of supply chain performance and how they relate to company strategy. It also teaches students how to think through solutions to supply chain problems, such as shipping delays or defective parts, as well as how to coordinate with colleagues, service providers and clients.

Auditing and Financial Accounting

Financial know-how is essential for any student working toward an MBA in supply chain management because costs vary between suppliers and according to quantity. Students will learn the basics of accounting, such as how to read, prepare and understand financial statements; how to calculate short- and long-term costs; and how to invest in and maintain resources.

Logistics

Students will learn the fundamentals of planning and implementation in order to control the flow and storage of goods, services or information. Topics often include inventory management, warehousing and transportation management. They may also focus on a broader understanding of the role of logistics within the context of globalization, such as the need for greater sustainability within manufacturing.

Applied Cases in Project Management

Used throughout most types of MBA programs, this course teaches students the skills to be an effective manager. Students will learn how to properly communicate and cooperate with others, how to analyze and solve complex problems, and how to manage diversity in the workplace.

B-School Selection: Narrowing Down Your Options

Although online MBA in supply chain management programs are not as common as, say, standard MBA programs, prospective students still need to narrow their options to a manageable few. After looking at the big-picture qualifications, such as whether the school is reputable, students should look at how their needs match up with each program’s offerings. Here are a few key things to look for:

  • Make sure the program matches up your lifestyle If you have a work schedule that changes from week to week, look for a program with asynchronous learning options. If collaboration brings out the best in you, find a program that builds group projects into the curriculum.
  • Check the application requirements Most MBA programs require students to have earned a 3.0 in a bachelor’s degree program. Some also require minimum scores on the GMAT.
  • Strike unaccredited schools off your list Schools without accreditation are not respected by most employers.
  • Go to schools you’re interested in Even if it’s just an online program, it’s nice to feel like a part of the community. You’ll know from a campus visit — or sometimes even a call with other students — whether you can see yourself in the program.
  • Make sure the school can support you Networking opportunities and career advising are two essential support services — online students need them just as much as traditional students.
  • Learn about financial aid The school’s financial aid office will give you a sense of how much the program will cost and can point you in the right direction for funding.
  • Evaluate your budget for tuition An MBA is a long-term investment, but be aware of your financial limitations.

The Impact of Accreditation on Online MBA Programs

Proper school accreditation signals to employers and prospective students that an online MBA in supply chain management meets high educational standards. It can also have an impact on financial aid eligibility.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes both institutional and programmatic accreditors. The former evaluate the school as a whole and judge its ability to provide a quality education that leads to positive student outcomes. The latter also judge student outcomes but are specific to individual programs.

There are three major programmatic accreditors for business programs: The Association to Advance Colligate Schools of Business (AACSB), The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP),and The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

For more information on the college accreditation process, please read our full accreditation guide.

How to Prepare for a Supply Chain Management MBA

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Earn a bachelor’s degree

2 years, 3 years
Step 2

Gain relevant work experience in the industry you’re interested in

2 years
Step 3

Take the GMAT, if required

13 months
Step 4

Apply to business grad schools

11 months for Round One admissions

8 months for Round Two admissions

Step 5

Complete the FAFSA and apply for grants and loans

9 months

Students shouldn’t just do the bare minimum; to get into a program, they’ll have to stand out. They can help their chances of admission in several ways.

  • Brush up on math. Supply chain managers handle large volumes of products with different costs, coming and going from various locations. They need to factor in numbers on a daily basis — from unit costs to miles per gallon.
  • Read the business section of the newspaper. The businesses and industries supply chain managers work for are typically regulated by the government. It’s never too early to start seeing the interplay between industry and local, state and national policies.
  • Take an Excel class online. You may be surprised to discover how powerful the program is, and learning Excel will help you create estimates and perform tasks faster.

Career Paths for Supply Chain MBA Grads

MBA graduates face varied job prospects in the globalized economy. Some positions are shrinking while others are booming. Regardless, an MBA in supply chain management can easily lead to any of the following careers:

Logistician

Professionals who analyze and coordinate the entire supply chain of a given company, logisticians need to know how to move a product from supplier to consumer in the most profitable way possible. They are also responsible for properly creating quality control mechanisms that ensure products are acquired, distributed, inventoried and delivered to clients.

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers organize better ways to use workers, materials and information. By reducing inefficiencies in production, industrial engineers maximize company profitability. To become an industrial engineer, additional education and licensure in engineering is typically needed.

Purchasing Manager / Buying Agent

Purchasing managers buy products (such as raw materials or ingredients) for organizations that are to be used or resold. This involves evaluating suppliers, negotiating contracts and checking product quality.

Industrial Production Manager

Responsible for directly overseeing the day-to-day operations of manufacturing and related plants, industrial production managers coordinate, plan and direct the processes used to create goods and materials.

Operations Research Analyst

As experts in the operations field, these professionals use mathematical and analytical skills to help organizations investigate and solve complex problems and make better decisions.

Career National Job Growth(2014-2024) National Median Annual Salary(2014)
Logistician 2% $73,870
Industrial Engineer 1% $81,490
Purchasing Manager 2% $106,090
Industrial Production Manager -4% $92,470
Operations Research Analyst 30% $76,660

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professional Certifications
for Supply Chain Management MBAs

After graduating with an MBA in supply chain management, professionals can pursue several supply chain management-related certifications, including:

  • Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

    The CPSM, awarded by the Institute for Supply Management, is given to bachelor’s degree holders with at least three years of full-time experience in supply chain management. To become certified, individuals must pass three exams covering the essentials of supply chain management and business leadership.

  • SCPro

    Developed by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the SCPro is a three-tiered certification program designed to assess the abilities of supply chain managers. Each level allows individuals to demonstrate their ability to analyze, design and implement relevant changes within a supply chain. The certification requires renewal every three years.

  • Certificate in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)

    Offered by APICS, the CPIM certification helps professionals master the essential terminology, concepts and strategies related to demand and procurement management, supplier and material planning, sales and operations, master scheduling, and quality control. To be officially certified, candidates must pass five exams, each one focused on various aspects of supply management. Certification must be renewed every five years.

  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

    This certification for general supply chain careers requires candidates to hold another APICS or ISM certification plus two years of related business experience, a bachelor’s degree plus two years of related business experience, or five years of related business experience. APICS recommends setting aside three to six months to study for the examination.

Related MBA Programs Offered Online

The MBA in supply chain management is just one type of graduate-level business degree. Here are some similar MBAs:

Entrepreneurship

This MBA program is geared toward teaching students the skills they need to launch their own businesses, with many programs offering specializations within the supply chain management sector.

International Business

Supply chain management and international business are intertwined. Students in this program learn how the global economy operates and how international companies overcome regulatory and logistics challenges.

Additional Resources and Professional Organizations

Multiple professional organizations cater to supply chain managers and those studying to join the field. Examples include: