Online MBA Programs in Supply Chain Management
The supply chain is the flow of goods or services from the point of production to delivery to the customer. Students of supply chain management study the individual parts that make up the supply chain including manufacturing, procurement, transportation and consumer need. When studying supply chain management as part of an online MBA 1 program, students also learn the business skills they need to reach top-level management positions during their career.
Students who earn an online MBA in supply chain management have the opportunity to take on a variety of career paths and may find themselves working for companies of any size or even government organizations. Career options for graduates of this program include logistician, operations manager and transportation manager.
What Is an MBA in Supply Chain Management?
Students who wish to prepare for a high-level career in procurement, manufacturing or distribution of goods and services can increase their chances of success by enrolling in an online MBA program in supply chain management. These programs prepare students for a variety of career options that are often in-demand and offer high pay and potential for growth. Online MBA program graduates who specialize in supply chain management finish their programs with the unique ability to forecast consumer need and the skills required to ensure that need is met. Other skills acquired during this online MBA program include business relationship management and strong negotiating skills.
Students who are considering an online MBA with a specialization in supply chain management typically find themselves trying to choose between this specialization and a one in logistics. While both specializations prepare students for supply chain careers, the specialization in supply chain management gives students a more thorough look at the entire supply chain while logistics focuses mostly on transportation of goods.
Many students also find themselves choosing between a master’s degree and an MBA. While a master’s degree is adequate for prospective students who are interested in a long-term career as a logistician or another supply-chain related role, those who wish to seek management roles may want to consider an online MBA program, which teaches the fundamentals of business including human resources, ethics, accounting and marketing.
Prospective students who are considering pursuing an online MBA in supply chain management should take time to consider the pros and cons of online study. Although there are plenty of benefits including the flexibility to study on the student’s own time and in any place they choose, online education isn’t always a good fit. Some students require the routine of classroom study and the accountability that comes with it. Those who choose online study must have superior time management skills, drive and focus.
Online MBA in Supply Chain Management Curriculum
Students of online MBA programs in supply chain management are equipped with the tools they need to succeed in a variety of careers. The curriculum for this program is designed to help students prepare for everyday, real-world scenarios that occur on the job, as well as unexpected situations they may encounter.
In most cases, online MBA programs have prerequisites that include an undergraduate degree in a related field and a minimum of one year of career experience. Some programs require students to have high GMAT scores, as well. However, many online schools have chosen to waive the GMAT requirement2 recently to attract more students to online MBA programs.
Students who enroll in an online MBA program in logistics management can expect to cover the following topics:
- Forecasting demand
- Inventory management and control
- Transportation management
- Quality control
- Financial decision making
- Change management
In any online MBA program, students are expected to enroll in a variety of business courses that teach students to become leaders of their industries. Business topics students learn while studying for an online MBA include:
- Business communication
- Business law
- Human resources
- Accounting and bookkeeping
Although the specific course titles and descriptions vary depending on the institution, the following list details some of the courses students pursuing an online MBA in supply chain management can expect to take.
- Organizational Behaviors: Students in this course learn how organizations are structured and how the specific roles in a typical organization work together to ensure the company runs as it should. Students in this course are also taught the skills they need to manage teams effectively and ethically.
- Forecasting Demand: Students learn to obtain and analyze data to forecast upcoming trends and predict the demand for specific goods and/or services. They’re also taught how to procure goods and ensure that high levels of demand are met with adequate supply and how to effectively control damaging situations that occur when demand is high and supply is low.
- Supply Chain Systems and Technologies: This course helps students understand common technologies and tools they are likely to encounter throughout their career. It trains students on the use of common supply chain management software programs.
- Transportation Management: Students learn national and international laws that exist to regulate the transport of goods both domestically and internationally, as well as the safest way to store and transport different types of goods. Additionally, students are taught the most effective way to schedule transportation and how to manage unexpected delays.
What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue With an MBA Specializing in Supply Chain Management?
Graduates of online MBA programs in supply chain management have a variety of options when it comes to career choices. Graduates of this program have unique insight into the importance of business relations and have the training required to reduce supply chain costs.
While many graduates move on to take on roles within the supply chain of large corporations, others work with small to mid-sized organizations in roles such as operations managers, cost estimators and logisticians. Thanks to the business management skills online MBA graduates possess, they often find themselves moving up the ranks quickly. It’s not uncommon to find graduates of these programs in top-level management roles.
The list below offers just a few ideas of career paths that are available to graduates of online MBA programs with a concentration in supply chain management.
Logisticians3 are responsible for coordinating the movement of product from supplier to consumer. Their role includes product and inventory planning, procurement, transport, distribution and delivery of goods. Some of the day-to-day duties that a logistician may find themselves taking on include:
- Negotiating contracts with suppliers, transporters and distributors
- Assessing inventory and ordering goods
- Analyzing sales trends and forecasting needs on behalf of the business
- Ensuring the needs of the consumer are met by maintaining quality and quantity of goods
- Preparing and distributing reports to upper level managers
In 2018, logisticians earned an average wage of $74,600 annually. Job growth for this position is average and is expected to see a 7% growth by the year 2026.
Procurement managers4 work specifically with suppliers and manufacturers. They purchase products on behalf of clients or the organization that they work for. Procurement managers usually oversee a team of buyers. Day-to-day tasks typically include:
- Negotiating contracts with suppliers or manufacturers
- Forecasting demand and sales trends
- Ordering adequate supply of in-demand items
- Completing procurement reports
- Working with high-level management to determine a purchasing budget
Procurement managers earned an average wage of $67,600 as of 2018. Unfortunately, job availability for this position is expected to decline by 3% by the year 2026.
Quality Control Managers
Quality control managers5 are in charge of the quality of goods that are delivered to the consumer. They work with production teams and quality inspectors to maintain safety and quality standards. Some of their daily tasks usually include:
- Inspecting manufactured goods for flaws and defects
- Providing training to quality inspectors and production teams
- Working with top-level managers to develop quality control standards
- Analyzing profit and loss and creating defect reports
The median annual income for quality inspectors was $38,250 in 2018; however, those who work in a management-level role can expect to earn considerably more each year. Job opportunities for this role are expected to decline 11% by the year 2026.
Transportation managers6 ensure that purchased goods are transported to and from warehouses in a safe, timely manner. They’re responsible for ensuring all transported goods adhere to company standards and government laws and regulations. Day-to-day duties of a transportation manager usually include:
- Creating transportation schedules and making necessary adjustments when delays occur due to weather or other issues
- Planning transport routes
- Performing vehicle inspections to ensure safety and legal compliance
- Inspecting goods upon receipt to ensure they’re not damaged during transport
As of 2018, the average income for transportation managers was $102,850. Job availability for this position is expected to grow 2% by the year 2026, which is below average.
Operations managers7 work across a variety of industries. They’re responsible for planning and directing the operations of the organizations they work for. Some of the day-to-day duties an operations manager may perform include:
- Managing day-to-day operations
- Recruiting, training and supervising employees and mid-level managers
- Formulating company policies
- Overseeing purchasing and warehouse operations
- General administrative duties
While the wage for this occupation differs depending on the industry and size of the company, the median annual wage for operations managers in 2018 was $100,930.
Cost estimators8 are responsible for forecasting the amount of time, money, materials and labor it takes to manufacture goods or provide services. Typically, cost estimators specialize in specific industries such as food production or automotive assembly. Some of the daily duties cost estimators usually perform include:
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Preparing time, cost, material and labor estimates
- Assessing cost and recommend areas for improvement
- Tracking costs and preparing reports
As of 2018, the average cost estimator earned an annual wage of $64,040. Job availability for this role is expected to increase by 11% by the year 2026, which is above average.
Should I Get an Online MBA in Supply Chain Management?
If you’re considering an online MBA with a concentration in supply chain management, you’ll want to take time to ask yourself some of the following questions to make sure the program is right for you.
Online MBA in Economics vs. an online MBA in Supply Chain Management
Both logistics management and supply chain management deal with the flow of goods to the consumer, but logistics management is focused on the transportation of goods. Students who are enrolled in supply chain management programs learn how to deal with both finished goods and the consumer.
Are you willing and able to commit the necessary time it takes to complete an online MBA program?
Obtaining an online MBA in logistics management is a rigorous task. It takes a high level of dedication and superior time-management skills to successfully stay on task when learning at home, and when completing something as intensive as an MBA program online, these skills are absolutely necessary.
Are you interested in a career that’s focused on consumers?
Supply chain managers are ultimately responsible for finished products and the customers who purchase them. If you’re planning to enroll in an online MBA program with a specialization in supply chain management, it’s imperative that you’re consumer-focused.
Are you hoping to take on a high-level management role within your organization?
If you’re already working in a supply-chain related role and are hoping to earn a promotion onto your company’s management team, earning an online MBA is an excellent stepping stone. Online MBA programs teach students a variety of business-related skills and offer further education in their field of specialization.
Are you interested in a career that involves maintaining positive relationships with both external businesses and consumers?
Supply chain managers are responsible for maintaining external relationships with suppliers, distributors and even consumers. It’s important that students who choose to embark on a career in this industry are interested in working with other people and have the confidence to negotiate contracts.
Are all of the schools that offer online MBAs in supply chain management accredited?
There are many institutions that offer online MBA programs in supply chain management, and unfortunately, not all are accredited. If you’re considering applying to any online MBA program, it’s important to first check whether the school is accredited. Students can do this online by checking the United States Department of Education’s database of accredited programs9.
Is it better to obtain an MBA in supply chain management in a classroom setting?
For some students, a classroom setting is a better choice. This is particularly true if students feel they need a lot of additional instruction or if they need someone to consistently keep them accountable for their coursework. However, for many students, online programs are the best choice. This is particularly true for those who work full time or have busy schedules due to family obligations.
How long does it take to earn an online MBA in economics?
Typically, online MBA programs are completed at the student’s own pace, provided they complete the coursework within a time frame that are predetermined by the school. Usually, this is about two years; however, there are some schools that offer fast-track MBA programs that can be completed in as little as six to eight weeks.
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