PhD in Supply Chain Management

Who Gets One & What to Expect

Supply chain professionals seeking an advanced degree in the field must put forth a serious investment of time, energy, and finances. A Ph.D. in supply chain management online can help current professionals achieve career goals such as moving into top management, teaching at a university, or doing consulting. These fields show excellent growth potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in business careers of 10% between 2016 and 2026, and 15% for postsecondary teaching careers in the same time frame. While earning a Ph.D. represents a more significant investment than a master’s degree, a doctoral program equips students with valuable skills in research, leadership, and analysis that can enhance career and personal growth.

Reasons to Pursue an Online PhD in Supply Chain Management

Earning a Ph.D. means making a significant commitment along with many personal sacrifices, but the degree provides great benefits, too. Professionals who earn a Ph.D. can teach others in the field, conduct research, manage organizations, or assume leadership roles in the industry. The following list delineates a few of the reasons to pursue a Ph.D. in supply chain management.

  • Icon College Teaching Opportunities Current professionals who want to teach up-and-coming business leaders in higher education settings need a Ph.D. Both full-time and adjunct positions can prove satisfying for committed supply chain professionals who love teaching.
  • Icon Advanced Research The distinguishing hallmark of any doctoral program is its emphasis on research. A Ph.D. can support supply chain professionals who want to launch research projects that contribute new ideas to the field.
  • Icon Publication Opportunities The academic credibility, along with the research and writing skills a Ph.D. nurtures, can position supply chain professionals to conduct new research and publish their findings in industry journals.
  • Icon Organizational Leadership Roles Earning a Ph.D. can position current professionals to move into top executive roles such as CEO or COO. Gaining knowledge and skill in organizational engineering means new Ph.D. recipients can bring much-needed expertise to these positions.
  • Icon Personal Growth Many people who pursue an online Ph.D. in an applied field such as supply chain management enjoy the personal growth, new relationships, intellectual stimulation, and academic rigor that an advanced degree brings to their lives.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Supply Chain Management?

Experienced supply chain management professionals can pursue new career opportunities after earning a doctorate in the field. A Ph.D. in supply chain management online can equip current manufacturing employees to move into second careers teaching in collegiate-level business programs or working in higher education management.

Professionals who want to stay rooted in the industry can use their degrees to seek new jobs as team leaders, organizational executives, management consultants, or industrial engineers. A Ph.D. can also support supply chain managers who wish to do research, publish, speak, or lead associations within the larger scope of the manufacturing industry.

Common Career Paths and Salaries

Pursuing a Ph.D. in supply chain management online can help current professionals find new opportunities leading organizations or providing high-level business efficiency consulting. With this advanced degree, business professionals can also switch careers by moving into higher education administration or teaching supply chain management at the postsecondary level.

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers improve production processes. Their career requires skills in creativity, critical thinking, math, and problem solving, which professionals can gain by pursuing a Ph.D. in supply chain management online.

Average Annual Salary: $87,040

Management Analysts

Management analysts work with organizations to help improve efficiency and profit through cost reduction and revenue increases. Many management analysts hold advanced degrees in business-related fields such as supply chain management.

Average Annual Salary: $83,610


Logisticians coordinate and analyze the supply chain for manufacturers, including government agencies and pharmaceutical companies. An advanced degree and industry certification can help provide the skills needed to succeed in the job.

Average Annual Salary: $74,600

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators serve as academic leaders or heads of finance, student life, fundraising, or other sectors of a university. Nearly all higher education administration jobs require a Ph.D.

Average Annual Salary: $94,340

Postsecondary Teachers

College and university teachers instruct learners, advise students, design courses, and assess student learning. They may also conduct and publish research along with serving on school committees.

Average Annual Salary: $78,470

Supply Chain Management PhD Program Requirements and Outcomes

Each school determines its own specific requirements for a Ph.D. in supply chain management online. In general, however, applicants should hold a master’s degree, preferably in business administration or supply chain management. The degree should come from a school with regional accreditation. Future students must also meet a minimum GPA requirement, typically 3.0 or better. Some institutions also expect applicants to meet a minimum number of years working in the field. Once admitted, students usually complete 60 credits, including a 15-credit dissertation requirement.

Most students take 3-5 years to finish a doctorate online. Typically, universities require their doctoral students to complete their programs within seven years or face termination. Doctoral students should expect to do more than accumulate credits in a Ph.D. program during that time. These learners should also plan to complete comprehensive exams, take research courses, write a dissertation, and perhaps conduct an internship.

Common Courses

As with any doctoral program, the specific courses in a Ph.D. in supply chain management online vary from school to school. The following list represents a sample curriculum drawn from real programs. The courses below can equip students with industry knowledge, skills in leadership, and insights into logistics and supply chains. Supply Chain Management

Learners in this course gain a solid foundation of supply chain management practices and techniques rooted in the theories and applications of the discipline. Course topics include facility planning, supply chain network design, globalization and outsourcing, capacity planning, global issues in supply chain management, and information technology. Logistics

In this course, students learn the systems and concepts of logistics in relation to their impact on an organization’s performance. The course covers topics such as distribution, demand forecasting, inventory management, planning and implementation, transportation, and warehousing. Typically, a logistics course emphasizes relevant technologies for maximizing logistic efficiency. Total Quality Management

Learners in this course consider quality control and improvement systems, including topics such as design and implementation of quality-related procedures, quality management approaches, and related technologies. The course focuses on enhancing services, goods, and the business environment. Students should leave the course with a clear understanding of Total Quality Management theory and practice. Operations Management

Students in this course learn analytic concepts and practices useful for understanding management of a firm’s operations. The course emphasizes the issues and problems that confront operations managers. Students also consider the concepts, insights, language, and tools of operations management that help organizations gain a competitive advantage. The concepts in this course apply across multiple industries and organizational settings. Strategic Leadership and Management

Students consider leadership and management theories from current and historical perspectives. Topics include the relationship between leadership and management, developing competencies from theories, the impact of executive leadership, and the integration of values with leadership and management styles and practices. Students compare and contrast the concepts of leadership with those of management.

Other Requirements

A doctorate requires more than the completion of coursework. Doctoral students must demonstrate the ability to conduct new research, assess fresh ideas, and communicate creative concepts at an industry-wide level. Students also complete residencies, research courses, and a dissertation.Residency

Residency requirements vary by school and program. For an online Ph.D. in supply chain management, students typically spend long weekends on campus or at approved sites studying with a cohort. Typically, residency sessions come after extensive preparation and make up the focal point of a single course. During a residency, students engage in collaborative and creative problem-solving work with their peers and professors.Research CoursesDissertation

Skills and Competencies

Pursuing a Ph.D. in supply chain management online can help industry professionals expand both their knowledge in the field and their professional competencies and skills. In so doing, these professionals can help lead supply chain management companies into the future.


Earning a doctorate can help elevate a supply chain management professional’s written and spoken communication skills. Professionals can learn to communicate with accuracy and precision through undertaking doctoral level work.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking involves understanding the logic that supports and connects ideas. Critical thinkers also evaluate arguments, solve problems systematically, and use logic to identify relevant and important ideas.

Customer Service

Deep product and industrial knowledge gained in a Ph.D. program can equip professionals to manage efficient business-to-business customer success programs. Doctoral students also acquire critical communication competencies for customer service.


A doctorate can help professionals develop the research, analysis, communication, and decision-making skills needed to solve complex organizational or industry-wide problems. Ph.D. graduates can also build effective teams of problem solvers.

Organizational Leadership

Earning a doctorate can prepare a skilled professional to take on organizational leadership roles, including top executive positions. This academic degree can help supply chain managers transition effectively into advanced leadership.


Doctoral programs equip students with the skills to conduct research that leads to new knowledge in supply chain management. This skill equips professionals to conduct industry-wide research for corporations and academic institutions.

Supply Chain Management Professional Organizations

Supply chain managers who join professional organizations can enhance their industry influence, grow their professional networks, and ramp up their careers. Becoming a member of a professional association offers benefits such as conference discounts, publication subscriptions, and access to industry-specific job boards. To find the right organization, many professionals investigate an association’s mission, focus, and benefits before committing to membership.

By meeting other professionals in supply chain management and taking advantage of educational opportunities, association members can continue learning even after completing a Ph.D. in supply chain management online. After joining an association, members have a chance to do more than enjoy the benefits offered to them. Making the most of membership means serving on committees, speaking at events, helping to produce local conferences, or joining the board. Some members publish their research in association journals or help lead local chapters of the organization.

Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.

  • Founded in 1997, LEI promotes the principles of lean management through conducting research, offering educational workshops, publishing books, hosting conferences, and distributing practical information about lean practice and thinking.

Institute for Supply Management™

  • Composed of more than 60,000 professionals from around the world, ISM conducts extensive research, hosts multiple annual conferences, and offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) and Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD) designations.

Warehousing Education & Resource Council

  • WERC offers members access to research reports, webinars, career resources, and an annual conference. Members can also take advantage of local networking opportunities by participating in regional chapters.

Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals

  • A 55-year-old organization boasting 6,000 members, CSCMP helps industry professionals build relationships through local roundtables, national conferences, and a members-only directory. The council also publishes CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly magazine.

Association for Supply Chain Management

  • As the largest nonprofit association in the supply chain industry, ASCM connects global companies with the latest trends in thought leadership. The organization offers learning and development opportunities, a job board, and a mentoring center.

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