With so many colleges and universities offering in-person and online supply chain degrees, it can be difficult to find the best program to fit your career goals. One of the most valuable graduate degree options is the Master of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management. Students learn business essentials, develop management and general leadership skills, and get a dose of specialized supply chain coursework. In the end, graduates are prepared to assume leadership positions within the supply chain and logistics industry.
In this guide, we break down the MBA in Supply Chain Management, what to expect, and why you might earn one. Then, we offer a comprehensive directory of MBA programs with specializations in supply chain management and related topics. Get started to learn more about available options and find the best degree programs for your goals.
What Are MBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs?
A Master of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management and Logistics degree is a regular MBA program with added supply chain coursework. It’s a graduate-level business program for students interested in gaining leadership, management, and technical business skills to apply to any number of businesses and industries. However, those interested in supply chain and logistics and related topics can benefit from these specialized programs as they will also elevate their level of knowledge and skills required to assume a higher-level position within the supply chain industry.
Professionals who have some experience in supply chain management and logistics and want to move into a more senior role can fast-track the process by earning a specialized MBA in supply chain management. Or, professionals already in leadership positions can sharpen their skills to be more effective in their current roles or pursue higher positions (e.g., director, executive, etc.).
Supply Chain MBA vs. Master of Science Programs – What Are the Differences?
If you’ve started your search for graduate degrees in supply chain management, then you’ll have noticed various types of master’s programs. Some institutions offer supply chain programs as MBAs and others as Master of Science programs – and some schools offer both. So, what are the differences between them and which is right for you?
An MBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics is rooted in a business administration program. It will focus more on the business fundamentals of senior management. The core of the program will be in business with an emphasis on effective management. The supply chain concentration takes those business fundamentals and applies the concepts to the supply chain and logistics industry. You might learn how to manage procurement or distribution teams or entire supply chain systems. For example, Rutgers University’s MBA in Supply Chain Management trains students in the skills needed to streamline supply chain operations from leadership positions.
The Master of Science in Supply Chain Management tends to focus more on the technical aspects of supply chain and logistics, giving students a deeper understanding of this specific industry. You’ll notice the business foundations found in MBA programs are missing from MS in SCM programs. For example, the University of Colorado-Boulder offers a 10-month program for students to learn innovative ways of operating supply chains using big data. Business students interested in getting into the supply chain industry may benefit more from these programs as they’ll lean toward advanced supply chain coursework over general business coursework.
MBA in Supply Chain Management Overview
An MBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics can be completed in one to two years. Students will exit their programs with a greater understanding of the leadership and management skills required to assume high-level supply chain positions, including managers, directors, and executives. But what can you expect from an MBA in Supply Chain Management?
Admission requirements will vary from school to school, but most will require the following:
- Completed undergraduate degree and official transcripts
- 2.5 or higher overall GPA for all completed undergraduate courses
- Resume showing business or supply chain experience
- Letter(s) of recommendation from former professors or employers
- Written essay
- GMAT or GRE scores*
*Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many programs have waived the GMAT or GRE requirement. You’ll notice schools either removed the requirement altogether, offer GRE waivers for competitive candidates, or have low minimum scores. Check with admissions staff to learn more about the GRE requirement and if you might qualify for a waiver.
As these programs will be focused on both business and supply chain management, many institutions will break their programs into separate components for the business classes and the supply chain specialization. This usually includes a business foundation or core, supply chain specialty coursework, and a final project (thesis, capstone, or other).
Consider Bowling Green State University as an example of what to expect. They structure coursework into foundational coursework, a business core, the supply chain specialization, and a capstone component. Here’s what that looks like:
- The Foundation requires 15 credit hours in coursework that develops crucial business skills. Classes include Financial Accounting and Analysis, Managerial Accounting, and Quantitative Analysis for Managers, among others.
- The Core is where you’ll study business and develop managerial skills. It requires 23 credit hours from coursework, including Topics in Leadership and Management, IT for Managers, and Marketing Management and Strategy, among others.
- The Supply Chain Management Specialization is a 12-credit requirement, meaning students complete four courses. This includes Customer-Driven Design, Integrated Logistics Planning and Analytics, Demand-Driven Supply Chain Planning and Operations, and Supply Chain Management and Negotiation. This is where students apply business and managerial skills to the supply chain industry.
- The Capstone is a three-credit course focused on the design and implementation of corporate strategies. Students assume the role of general managers and gain valuable experience resembling real-world scenarios.
But this is just one example. Each supply chain MBA program will vary in the depth of their business and supply chain classes, as well as student experiences and experiential learning opportunities. Do a deep dive into programs you’re interested in so you can confirm it will focus on the skills you seek.
Types of Supply Chain MBA Programs
Not only do institutions offer MBA programs focused on supply chain and logistics management, but many also feature more specialized offerings. These allow students to pursue professional positions within specific areas of the supply chain industry, from analytics to international trade.
Some examples of these programs include:
- Global or International Supply Chain Management, e.g., Baylor University’s MBA in International Trade & Supply Chain Management
- Supply Chain Integration Management, e.g., St. Leo University’s MBA in Supply Chain Global Integration Management
- Maritime Port Management, e.g., New Jersey City University’s MBA in Supply Chain and Maritime Port Management
- Health Care Supply Chain Management, e.g., Wayne State University’s MBA in Healthcare Supply Chain Management
- Supply Chain Analytics, e.g., Central Connecticut State University’s MBA in Supply Chain Analytics
- Sustainable Supply Chain Management, e.g., Rowan University’s MBA – Sustainable Business and Supply Chain and Logistical Systems Emphasis
With so many unique facets of a global supply chain, there are countless opportunities to further your education in whatever field you are most interested in. See our comprehensive list of programs at the end of this guide for a better idea of what is currently available.
One of the most valuable parts of a graduate-level education is the ability to network with like-minded individuals within the supply chain and logistics industry. Many programs will offer students the ability to intern with local businesses and have on-campus clubs and organizations to join.
Michigan State University offers its students an immersive workshop called “Extreme Green.” It’s a three-day workshop held four separate times during the MBA program. The purpose of the workshops is to put students in scenarios resembling real-world business challenges. Students must be creative and find innovative solutions to tackle the business challenges they’re presented with. In the end, they’ll have gained the valuable experiences companies look for when hiring graduates.
Similarly, NC State University has a Supply Chain Resource Cooperative. Its primary purpose is to collect expert knowledge and best practices from the industry and share these findings with students, faculty, and the industry in general. Part of this work includes partnering students with real businesses, which allows them to work on real challenges from the field. This type of experience not only trains students beyond the classroom but provides the networking and resume building needed upon graduation.
Online MBA in SCM Programs
For students who want to learn in a flexible environment, an online MBA program can be the best alternative to a traditional full-time MBA offered on-campus. But online MBA programs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are 100% online, whereas others are hybrid offerings where students complete a chunk of the program in-person. Here are the types of online MBA in Supply Chain Management programs you can expect to find:
- 100% Online: These programs are completed entirely online without any campus visits. Many traditional MBA experiences, including group projects, are replicated through an online format. And students may be able to complete internships close to home or participate in other student experiences (e.g., international travel).
- Hybrid: Hybrid MBA programs in Supply Chain Management are completed both online and in-person. As such, students typically need to be near campus to complete in-person requirements. Schools know many students are working professionals, so much of the on-campus coursework is held in the evenings or on weekends. As a result, students get the convenience of an online program with the value of an on-campus degree.
Online supply chain MBA programs have their pros and cons. For example, the flexible learning environment may allow students to accelerate learning by completing more coursework at once or learning part-time to accommodate a busy schedule. A potential drawback can be the lack of face-to-face time with fellow students and faculty. MBA programs train future managers and supply chain leaders, so in-person experiences can be valuable to your skill development.
One example of an online SCM MBA program is Indiana University’s MBA in Supply Chain Management. The program’s coursework is 80-99% online, with two on-campus requirements at the beginning and end of the program. The on-campus experiences allow students to network with fellow MBA classmates and work together with a company on one of their current challenges. Up to 50% of the courses in this program will be focused on supply chain and logistics so that students can enhance both their management and supply chain skills.
Career Opportunities with an MBA in Supply Chain Management
Earning an MBA in Supply Chain Management can open the door to careers in a variety of fields, such as global distribution, government agencies, military contractors, shipping, and direct-to-consumer businesses.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a list of job opportunities and salaries that individuals with bachelor’s and graduate degrees can earn within the supply chain management and logistics field. Those with an MBA often command a higher overall salary than those without a similar degree.
- Purchasing Manager – $125,940
- General And Operations Manager – $103,650
- Transportation, Storage and Distribution Manager $95,390
- Operations Research Analyst – $86,200
- Logistician – $76,270
Is an MBA in Supply Chain Management Worth It?
If you are looking to advance your supply chain career, move into a new area of the industry, or increase your annual salary, a first step can be to obtain an MBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics. Professionals who have completed these programs report a higher level of satisfaction in their overall career, the network and friendships they were able to build, and an increased level of knowledge and confidence in their current careers. Compare program costs to your earning potential to find out if an MBA in SCM is financially feasible and worth the investment.