Market demand for supply chain and logistics professionals is growing and so are salaries in the field. Studies show that businesses are filling 270,000 logistics jobs a year and that employment in the field will have increased 22 percent between 2012 and 2022.
If you’ve got an undergraduate degree, earning a master’s may be the best bet to a higher salary. The Institute for Supply Management says a supply chain professional with a master’s degree earns 25 percent more than one with bachelor’s degrees. If an advanced degree is not in the cards, there are also certificate programs that can enhance your skills and credentials, some of which are available online.
Here are a few institutions of higher learning with some top-flight supply chain and logistics programs.
At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Bryan School of Business and Economics just launched a Master’s Degree in International Business program and is accepting applications for the upcoming fall semester. Highlights of the program include a foundation in the practice of global business, intercultural immersion and experiential learning. The program builds on an existing course that allows participants to work on virtual international teams of students from 100 universities in 40 counties and another which connects students with North Carolina SMEs looking to expand their international marketing.
“Students working on virtual teams learn to transcend language, cultural and time-zone differences,” says McRae Banks, the business school’s dean. “Students in the program will also be delivering consulting outcomes to actual companies, and the companies will be exposed to top-notch students from around the world as potential hires for internships and full-time employment opportunities.”
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business supply chain management program emphasizes an end-to-end approach. UT’s Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management, launched in 2017, is conducted in partnership with universities in Germany and China. Students from all three universities study together, spending a semester at each campus for three semesters.
“The program is about to come to Knoxville,” notes Chad Autry, the FedEx Endowed Professor of Supply Chain Management, “and we are looking forward to see how it turns out. Students who move around and work together become fluent in international problem solving. Companies are receiving this program very well and we are in the process of launching an online variation of the program.”
UT also offers an executive MBA directed toward supply chain professionals.
Portland State University’s MS in Global Supply Chain Management combines a core curriculum with real-world case studies, exploration of trends, sustainable business practices, and international field studies to Asia. Portland State also has a master-level certificate designed for MBA students who want a supply-chain credential.
Portland State incorporates the circular economy—a model that minimizes economic waste and environmental impact—into its supply-chain management program. “We teach that the recycling and recovery processes have to start way at the beginning with product planning and design if it is to be impactful,” says Daniel Wong, the program’s academic director.
The program’s field work in Asia—this year, to China and Vietnam—is a two-week trip that involves factory visits and student presentations. “This acquaints students with the geopolitical and cultural issues involved in production,” said Wong.
California State University Dominguez Hills has a Certificate in Supply Chain Management program that offers classes online. The program is directed toward those already in the fields of production and inventory control, manufacturing, quality assurance, purchasing and procurement.
“The program evolved from inventory and production control to supply chain management,” says Joan Hall, a CSUDH instructor. “Now we also cover distribution, planning, transportation and total quality—everything from production and all the way to the customer.”
CSUDH’s Global Logistics certificate program provides training for freight forwarding, shipping department and export/import staff. Topics covered include warehouse and trucking operations, HAZMATs and international finance. The certificate program of six courses can be completed in less than four months.
The University of Southern California’s Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management is offered jointly by the Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering and combines an MBA-like education with strong functional knowledge. The program can be completed at USC’s Los Angeles campus or online.
Topics covered include strategic procurement, outsourcing, logistics, distribution, and information technology—and how they impact the development of new products. Students also have the opportunity to complete a Lean Six Sigma supply chain management certificate course offered by the USC Marshall Center for Global Supply Chain Management.
Most program students are executives in their late 30s with an average of 12 years of experience in large organizations, notes Nick Vyas, an assistant professor and director of the Center for Global Supply Chain Management. The rest are typically 24 years old with two years of supply chain experience.
“The two groups mesh well and learn from each other,” said Vyas. “The younger students benefit from the experience of their older counterparts, while the older ones learn from the younger students about the latest technologies and analytics.”
The recently graduated student batch had an 80-percent placement rate, with some attaining international positions in Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
Lamar University, located in the port city of Beaumont, Texas, offers a very specific and specialized master’s degree in port and terminal management. The program is taught under the auspices of the university’s Center for Advances in Port Management, which has been headed since 2016 by Erik Stromberg, formerly CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities and head of the North Carolina State Ports Authority.
“The program is laser focused on training the next generation of port and marine terminal managers,” said Stromberg.
The fully-online MS program targets professionals working in ports and related industries. The 12-course curriculum covers the waterfront, so to speak, from port economics, competitive factors, operations, safety, security and asset management.
“Every day is different for port and terminal managers,” says Stromberg. “They could be dealing with political leaders or major customers or they could be looking at development and security issues. We’ve encompassed all of that in the curriculum.”
Lamar also offers a concentration in port management as part of its MBA program.