Everything You Need to Know About Studying A Master in Supply Chain Management
A Master of Supply Chain Management can help you carve out a career in the rapidly changing world of supply chain across industries. It’s a specialized business master’s degree, aimed at bachelor’s grads who want to set themselves up for long-term success in global supply chain operations.
Grads from Master of Supply Chain Management programs go on to launch exciting careers, landing jobs in a wide range of industries and companies, including Amazon, Philips, PwC, and Microsoft. If you’re exploring your business master’s options, this program could be a great fit for you.
Here, we break down everything you need to know about Masters of Supply Chain Management – who the program is for, what you can do with it, what graduates can expect to earn, and how to apply.
Who is a Master of Supply Chain Management program for?
Master of Supply Chain Management programs are usually designed for pre-experience and early career professionals who want to launch a career in supply chain management – that is, the handling of the flow of production from raw materials to the final product.
According to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the majority of Master of Supply Chain Management applicants (62%) consider pursuing the program before they enter the workforce full-time.
Men and women consider Master of Supply Chain Management programs at equal rates, and the most common undergraduate degree for applicants to hold is in a STEM subject.
“The Master of Supply Chain Management is designed for candidates with strong quantitative aptitude and a passion for the intricate realm of supply chain management,” explains Kaci Kegler, director of one-year master’s programs at Michigan Ross School of Business in the United States.
Types of Master of Supply Chain Management
If you choose to study a Master of Supply Chain Management program, you have a couple of different delivery options:
Masters of Supply Chain Management
Traditional Master of Supply Chain Management programs tend to be one year in length, and are usually delivered on campus.
You’ll study a wide range of topics, including logistics, procurement, risk management, and strategic sourcing, along with general management topics.
These programs often give students the chance to take part in study trips, placements, and on-site projects with local companies. These are great opportunities to build your knowledge, network, and skills in your desired industry.
For example, the Supply Chain Management and Logistics program at Coventry University allows students to take part in study trips to locations in Europe, India, China, Dubai, and the USA.
Online Master's of Supply Chain Management
You can also choose to study your Master of Supply Chain Management online. Online master's programs cover the same core curriculum, but may take longer to complete due to the flexible delivery. Unlike in-person programs, which tend to follow the usual academic calendar, online courses are more likely to offer flexible start dates.
When studying an online supply chain management course, you’ll be expected to undertake more independent study than on a campus-based program.
This will include attending online lectures and classroom discussions and accessing online resources through the university library. Even your final exams may be completed online.
Despite being conducted remotely, online courses still give students a chance to take part in group work. Many programs offer online message boards for students to connect with classmates and professors, and some programs may offer a residential component.
One highly-ranked Online Master of Supply Chain Management that does this is the program offered by USC Marshall School of Business.
This online program is designed to be completed in four semesters. During their first year of study, students are able to attend a week-long Experiential Learning Trip to an international hub of the supply chain industry, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, or Shanghai.
In their second year, students travel to the school's Los Angeles campus for an industry project and graduation ceremony.
When should you consider studying your supply chain management program online?
You might consider applying to online courses if you have caring responsibilities or disability access requirements that would hinder you from completing a full-time, campus-based program. It is also a good option if you simply want the flexibility to combine work and study.
Master of Supply Chain Management syllabus
Here’s what you can expect to learn during a Master of Supply Chain Management program:
General business knowledge
Although a Master of Supply Chain Management is a specialized program, you’ll still be exposed to broad business knowledge that helps place supply chains into their larger context. Some programs, including the supply chain master’s at Michigan Ross, offer a business fundamentals boot camp course.
The topics covered will give you a broad understanding of business administration concepts, which might include strategy, economics, financial accounting, and marketing.
Also available to help you master the core business concepts before you begin your program is the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Business Fundamentals on-demand courses.
A supply chain deep-dive
The bulk of the Master in Supply Chain Management curriculum will be made up of supply chain-specific modules, covering topics including:
- Global logistics management
- Supply chain risk management
- Procurement strategy
- Information technology in supply chain and logistics
- Project management
- Advanced production planning and scheduling
- Sustainable supply chains
The business school case method
Just like in many MBA and Master's in Management programs, many business schools choose to teach students these concepts using the "case method".
What is the business school case method?
The case method is a discussion-based learning tool in which students are given detailed descriptions of business dilemmas and asked to put themselves in the shoes of one of the parties involved. They then have to come to a decision about how to solve the problem presented in the business case by discussing it with their classmates.
This method has long been used by business schools to improve students' critical thinking and argumentation skills and to sharpen their understanding of increasingly complex business environments.
It's an effective learning tool, and one that students embrace.
“One of the highlights of my program has been the case-based teaching approach,” says Lars van Straaten, a current Master of Supply Chain Management Student at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM).
“This really brings alive the theories learned in class – being able to apply them to real-life situations.”
Leadership and management
Management and leadership skills are an important component of any career, and during a Master of Supply Chain Management, you’ll learn how to apply them to the supply chain function.
Some programs offer a specific leadership module, while others incorporate leadership coaching throughout the program.
During your Masters in Supply Chain Management, you can also expect opportunities to apply what you learn to a real-world context through internships or projects. In the Master of Supply Chain Management at Michigan Ross, for instance, students complete supply chain projects within real organizations.
“I got opportunities to work on live projects at organizations like Dow Chemical Co and AT Kearney, where I experienced a wider supply chain in action, the best business practices, and the corporate culture of the US,” explains Shivani Saklani, a graduate from the Michigan Ross program.
Master of Supply Chain Management jobs
There is no shortage of jobs for professionals with skills in and knowledge of supply chain management, as it is critical to business success across a large variety of industries.
In fact, 79% of companies with high-performing supply chains achieve greater than average revenue growth for their industries.
This means that, whatever your specific career goals, you are likely to find success after a Master's degree. Grads get jobs in a variety of roles, typically in areas like logistics, planning, and procurement.
Popular jobs for supply chain management grads
Technology is one prominent sector where Master of Supply Chain Management grads find themselves, but other pathways include consulting and entrepreneurship, where grads can leverage their project management and teamwork skills.
“The career paths of Master of Supply Chain Management graduates are as varied as the alumni themselves,” comments Kaci from Michigan Ross.
“From tech to consumer-packaged goods to the automotive industry, Michigan Ross alumni can be found at leading companies worldwide. Students have started their post-grad career paths as analytics, procurement specialists, product or project managers, and consultants.”
Common jobs for Master of Supply Chain Management grads include:
- Logistics manager
- Logistics analyst
- Logistics planner
- Operations manager
- Supply chain manager
- Supply chain analyst
- Project manager
Top employers for Supply Chain Management grads
Naturally, the importance of good supply chain managers to companies' revenue growth and remaining competitive within their industry means that they are often in high demand with global businesses.
Top employers of Master of Supply Chain Management grads include:
Careers support to access booming job opportunities
During a Master of Supply Chain Management, you’ll have access to a career services team who can help you work out a career plan, and decide which post-graduation route is right for you.
For Gianni Croes, who studied a Master of Supply Chain Management at RSM in the Netherlands, the program opened up career opportunities he didn’t even know existed. After completing a dissertation project with at-home beer supplier, Beerwulf, he joined the organization full-time as a logistics specialist.
“The opportunity to do a company-based thesis project was a great way to get acquainted with the business world,” he says. “I started working at Beerwulf full-time in July 2020, and I haven’t looked back!”
The future of supply chain management
MS in Supply Chain Management grads remain in high demand today. By 2028, Deloitte predicts that the supply chain talent shortage could leave 2.4 million positions unfilled globally.
“We have noticed how the COVID crisis brought home to applicants just how essential supply chain management is to every aspect of modern life,” adds Nick Ellis, director of Master in Management programs at Durham University Business School.
Now you know the wealth of opportunities available after your supply chain Master's degree, what can you expect from your compensation?
Master of Supply Chain Management salaries
What salary can you expect after a Master of Supply Chain Management? Graduating from the program will give you a boost compared to what you would earn with an undergraduate degree alone.
Graduates from MIP Politecnico di Milano’s Master of Supply Chain Management earn an average of US$59,200 six months after graduation. Their peers at RSM earn similar rates, commanding a median graduate salary of US$48,000.
Graduates from the Michigan Ross Master of Supply Chain Management program command even higher pay, with a median base salary of US$94,000.
In top-level jobs, you could make upwards of US$150k. According to data from Salary.com, a supply chain director earns an average of US$153k in the US, and a vice president of supply chain management can make US$167k.
Master of Supply Chain Management cost & ROI
A big factor in whether you'll see a good Return on Investment (ROI) after your degree is the cost of tuition for your chosen program. Every program will be different, but generally-speaking, tuition costs vary according to the program delivery method and geographical region.
In Europe, tuition fees for Master of Supply Chain Management programs tend to sit around the US$20,000 mark.
RSM offers a program that will set you back around $19,000 in tuition, while the program at MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy costs around US$22,000.
In the UK, programs can cost more. At Alliance Manchester Business School, for instance, the Master in Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management program costs around US$32,000 for international students.
Programs in the US typically are costlier still, with the Michigan Ross Master of Supply Chain Management charging tuition fees of US$58,833, and the program at USC Marshall School of Business charging US$63,000.
The above figures all refer to in-person courses. However, you are likely to pay less for an online program than for a full-time, on-campus option.
For instance, the online program at the University of Hull in the UK only costs around US$12,000, and the program is similar at around US$11,000. This is roughly half of what an in-person program usually costs in the UK.
Other program costs
As well as the plain tuition fees, prospective students should also bear in mind the additional costs attached to pursuing their chosen courses.
At USC Marshall, students are advised to budget up to US$10,000 for additional program fees, travel fees, and university expenses. If your course requires you to complete an experiential learning trip, you will need to pay your own airfare and expenses.
So, is a Master of Supply Chain Management worth it?
Financially, the answer is a resounding yes. Graduates from top-ranked Master of Supply Chain Management programs can expect to command impressive salaries, which means you can recoup your initial investment in a relatively short space of time.
A Master of Supply Chain Management also allows you to build a network of relevant employers and peers, and gives you the opportunity to launch a fulfilling, dynamic career.
“Career evolution is interesting since supply chain jobs are multidimensional and offer bridges to many other positions in a company,” reflects Eric David, director of the Master of Science in Supply Chain and Purchasing Management at Emlyon Business School.
Plus, business schools offer generous financial aid opportunities, with scholarships allowing you to offset your tuition fees and boost your ROI.
Master of Supply Chain Management admission requirements
To be admitted into a Master of Supply Chain Management program, you’ll usually need:
- 0-to-3 years’ work experience
- Bachelor’s degree in management, business, or STEM
- GMAT exam score
To apply, you’ll need to provide a resume, undergraduate transcript, and letters of recommendation. You may also have to submit a personal statement or essays explaining why you want to study the program, and why you think you’re a good fit.
Once your application has been reviewed and accepted, you’ll be invited to an interview – whether in-person or over a video call. The interview is a great opportunity to explain your motivations in more detail, and ask more in-depth questions about the program.
Study Supply Chain Management degree for a career with global possibilities
Now you know everything you need to know about studying a Master's degree in Supply Chain Management, including:
- What the Master's curriculum looks like
- When to consider an online program
- How the program can help you achieve your career goals
- What you can expect to earn after your degree
- What's involved in the application process
Whichever university you choose, a Master of Supply Chain Management can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career with leadership opportunities and an impressive scope to work across industries and locations.
While the application process can seem daunting, our guide, Applying to Business School as an Undergrad or Recent Graduate, will help you navigate it, with admission tips on everything from essay questions to who should write your letters of recommendation.