Earning a DBA or Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics can take your SCM career to the highest of heights! While exploring cutting-edge theories and tools, you’ll have the opportunity to work on practical research projects that will prepare you to become a supply chain professor, executive, or consultant. Use our guide to learn more about doctoral programs in SCM/L, including curricula, career paths, and the differences between the DBA & Ph.D. Or leap ahead to our degree directory to find a supply chain doctorate that works for you.
What is a Doctorate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs?
A Doctorate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics (SCM/L) is a research-intensive degree that is designed for students who are interested in working in academia or high-level SCM positions within the industry. Students who choose to pursue a Ph.D. or DBA in Supply Chain Management typically have a passion for pushing the boundaries of SCM and logistics through innovation and research. They seek to make a difference in the field of supply chains by asking “what is possible?” rather than “what is standard practice?”
If this sounds like the right fit for your goals, take a moment to explore the opportunities in our listings. As a doctoral student in SCM/L, you’ll tackle courses in business, operations research, marketing, and quantitative methods. You’ll study everything from the ins & outs of consumer behavior to the complexities of global logistics management. In the second half of the degree, you will also be required to complete a dissertation on an SCM/L topic of your choosing.
Types of Supply Chain Management and Logistics Doctorates
Many types of doctorate programs in our listings focus on SCM/L fields, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs. Standard offerings include:
- Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management: This program focuses on the strategic and operational aspects of supply chains, from planning and procurement to delivery and final consumption. In addition, it teaches students how to optimize supply chains through data analysis and modeling.
- Ph.D. in Logistics: A Ph.D. in Logistics is a degree that helps you learn about how companies operate on a global scale. Coursework covers a broad range of topics, including theory development and research methods.
- DBA in Supply Chain Management and Logistics: The DBA in SCM/L is a graduate program that mixes fundamental business subjects with a concentration on supply chain research and management. This degree is best-suited to students who wish to work as supply chain executives.
Your choices don’t end there! A variety of specialty Ph.D. programs in Supply Chain Management and Logistics are also available, including:
- Ph.D. in Operations Management: This program is designed for students who want to work as operations executives or consultants. A Ph.D. in Operations Management will teach you about how businesses operate and how to optimize operations to improve performance.
- Ph.D. in Global Supply Chain: This Ph.D. will focus on the management of global supply chains, including elements such as cultural differences and international logistics. You’ll learn about how to conduct research in a global setting.
- Doctor of Engineering (DE) in Logistics: A DE in Logistics is a degree that investigates how companies operate on a global scale. The coursework covers a broad range of topics, including theory development and research methods.
- Ph.D. in Supply Chain Engineering: This Ph.D. focuses on the design and optimization of supply chains. It is perfect for students with a background in engineering and offers an interdisciplinary approach, allowing students to explore a variety of topics in the field.
- Ph.D. in Supply Chain Analytics: A Ph.D. in Supply Chain Analytics will teach you how to use data analytics to improve supply chain performance. The program provides students with a strong foundation in quantitative methods and research skills that can be used in a variety of industries.
DBA vs. Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics
Both the DBA and Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics programs will teach you about the research and management of supply chains. However, there are a few key differences between these programs:
|Program||DBA Supply Chain Management and Logistics||Ph.D. Supply Chain Management and Logistics|
|Program Length||3 Years||3-5 Years|
|Careers||Executive, Consultant||Professor, Author, Research|
- The DBA in SCM/L focuses specifically on professional and real-world applications, while the Ph.D. focuses more on research & theory.
- The DBA in SCM/L is designed for students who want to work in the supply chain industry, while the Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management is designed for students who want to work in academia or research.
- DBA programs are designed for working professionals, while Ph.D. programs are full-time.
- DBA programs typically take less time to complete (three years), while a Ph.D. is expected to take three to five years.
- Expect 60 credit hours to complete a DBA program and more than 90 credit hours for a Ph.D. program.
Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management Overview
Most Ph.D. programs in Supply Chain Management and Logistics take three to five years to complete. You’ll be required to take advanced-level coursework in supply chain management and logistics, complete a range of research projects and academic papers, and write a dissertation. Credit hours for a Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics will vary, but you can expect to complete a minimum of 90 credit hours.
To be accepted into a Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics program, prospective students must have a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (or the international equivalent). GRE or GMAT scores are frequently required. Some programs will also expect you to have prior work experience in the field of supply chain management.
We’ve included links to admissions requirements in our listings so you can assess whether you’re ready to apply. Be prepared to provide the following items:
- Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
- Professional résumé
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE or GMAT scores
- Statement of purpose
- Application fee
- Financial guarantee form
- TOEFL scores (international students)
- Relevant background experience
Note: If you only have a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to apply for a streamlined bachelor’s-master’s-doctorate pathway within the university. Ask the Ph.D. program coordinator about your options.
Universities are at liberty to develop their own plans of study for a Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics. A doctorate founded on business administration is not going to have the same focus as a doctorate in engineering. However, most SCM/L doctoral programs will offer a range of intriguing courses that will teach you about the research and management of supply chains.
Here are some subjects you can expect to encounter in a standard SCM/L doctorate in our listings:
- Supply Chain Management Theory
- Strategic Sourcing
- Logistics Management/Systems
- Business Analytics
- Supply Chain Strategy
- Organizational Research Methods
During this time, you could also be writing up academic papers for submissions to journals & conferences and working on industry-related projects.
Ph.D. coursework is frequently completed in the first few years of your doctorate. Before you’re allowed to write your dissertation, you’ll usually be expected to pass a Comprehensive Exam. This exam will test your knowledge of the material covered in your Ph.D. program in Supply Chain Management and Logistics. It’s typically a written exam, although departments often have the discretion to make it an oral exam as well.
Dissertation & Defense
Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics Programs almost always include a five-chapter dissertation. (DBA programs could contain a doctoral thesis.) Here’s how the Ph.D. dissertation process works:
- Choose a Dissertation Topic: You’ll collaborate with a faculty advisor to find a topic of interest. A dissertation should be a deep-dive into a specific realm of research. Examples of real-life SCM dissertation titles include: “A Study of the Relationship Between Lean Manufacturing Practices and Supplier Performance;” “A Diagnosis of Supply Chain Integration in the Health Sector;” and “Product-Service Bundling in Manufacturing Firms.”
- Defend Your Proposal: Once you’ve selected your dissertation topic, you’ll be expected to develop a research proposal and gain departmental approval to write your dissertation. For example, you might be asked to deliver an oral presentation about your proposed topic.
- Write Your Dissertation: If your dissertation proposal is accepted, you can begin gathering data and pursuing research avenues. A Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management and Logistics dissertation is typically around 100-120 pages long, so be prepared to spend a few years in writing up your work.
- Defend Your Dissertation: Before you can graduate, you will need to defend your dissertation in front of a committee. The committee will usually consist of three to five members, including a chairperson. The committee will ask you questions about your research and dissertation. You may also have to answer questions from an audience.
What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Supply Chain Management and Logistics?
A doctorate in SCM/L can provide you with the skills & knowledge to work in a range of high-paying fields, including academia, research, and logistics management. Most Ph.D. graduates secure positions as university professors, but the right DBA or Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management & Logistics can also open doors to various executive & consultancy positions.
Possible career paths for doctoral graduates include:
- University Professor or Lecturer: Many Ph.D. in SCM/L programs are explicitly designed to prepare you for a career in academia. Upon graduation, you’ll be qualified to teach undergraduate and graduate students about the research and management of supply chains. Look for Ph.D. programs that include teaching assistantships, opportunities to submit academic papers to journals, and conference presentations.
- Research Scientist: A doctorate could also help you secure a position as a top-level researcher in numerous SCM/L fields. Take a look at recent job postings for titles such as Senior Operations Research Analyst, Research Scientist, Senior Technical Analyst, and the like. High-paying research jobs may be available within global companies and the federal government.
- Supply Chain Executive: Earning the right doctorate in SCM/L can qualify you to become a supply chain executive. Doctoral programs like WashU’s DBA in Supply Chain Management are designed for this kind of purpose. If you’re considering Ph.D. programs, check if the curriculum is relevant for consultants & executives and ask about career paths for alumni.
- Consultant: Graduates of SCM/L doctoral programs are also in a prime position to become supply chain management consultants. As an industry freelancer with extensive research experience, you’ll be qualified to step in and help companies improve their supply chain operations through various initiatives.
All Doctorate in Supply Chain Management Programs
Ready to start assembling a shortlist of Ph.D. and DBA options? Use these listings to narrow down your choices. Keep in mind that many Ph.D. programs will be full-time, campus-based, and fully funded by the university. DBA programs will have more flexibility in scheduling and may be available online. But you will also have to pay quite a bit for tuition.