Yet complex and fast-moving supply chains have been given “late recognition” at business schools, says Kasra Ferdows, professor of global manufacturing at Georgetown McDonough Business School.
But chains’ growing importance in the corporate world means there is a problem of supply and demand.
“Supply chain efficiency is becoming an increasingly significant issue for a widening pool of organisations,” says Sara Williams, MSc careers relationship manager at Cass Business School.
“Most sectors recruit supply chain managers, including FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods], energy and pharma, as well as specialist logistics and supply chain providers,” she adds.
Cass is one of a growing number of top business schools to offer a specialist master’s program in supply chain management. The course, MSc in Global Supply Chain Management, which costs £18,000 in fees, is based in London and is spread over 12 months, full-time.
The UK-based business school’s course is one of relatively few offered by top institutions in Europe, alongside those at Cranfield SOM and Warwick Business School.
Most are clustered in the United States. This includes at W.P Carey School of Business in Arizona. It offers an MS in Supply Chain Management, which costs up to $46,700, with the option of adding engineering.
The business school says there will be a 26% increase in logistics jobs by 2020, citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Globalization has made it clear if that if you’re sourcing products from all over world, you need to understand how to get them to your consumers,” says Arnold Maltz, associate professor at the the supply chain department at W.P Carey.
Rutgers Business School was one of the first in the US to launch an undergraduate program in supply chain management. It now offers an MBA in Supply Chain Management, a specialization within the full-time MBA program.
The New Brunswick-based MBA, which costs $21,329 in tuition per semester, has three courses in its specialization – management strategies, procurement management and global sourcing, and a supply chain management industry project.
Other business schools have similar specializations: Houston’s C.T Bauer College of Business offers a global supply chain certificate within its MBA – and will launch an MS in Supply Chain Management in 2015 – and Bryant University’s College of Business runs a global supply chain management concentration within its MBA.
Eugene Spiegle, vice chair of the supply chain management department at Rutgers, says supply chains have become a focus for companies, with “senior level management” being employed. In 2013, 95% of Rutgers’ MBA students secured a job placement.
“They have also become a way of life to sustain competitiveness and manage the fast-paced changes caused by both global markets and changing consumer demands,” he adds.
For MS degrees, there are now plenty of options: Michigan's Ross School of Business, MIT's Sloan School of Management and the Neeley School of Business in Texas all offer master’s programs related to supply chain management, among others.
There are also online learning providers: California’s Marshall School of Business runs an MS in Global Supply Chain Management, for instance, while Governors’ College of Business and Public Administration offers an online MBA with a supply chain management specialization.
Meanwhile, Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School recently launched a dual-degree program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.