Supply chain management — monitoring and directing the entire production, from start to finish, of a particular product — has emerged as a critical issue for businesses that need to stay competitive. To meet the need for qualified supply chain management professionals, several types of training programs exist. Supply chain management degrees are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level both to candidates interested in entering the field as well as to those looking to gain additional credentials. Industry-specific certification programs may also be available to those already working in supply chain management positions to build their skills and stay current on industry changes. Schools ranging from community colleges to big state schools and from Ivy League universities to online colleges offer supply chain management degrees.
Undergraduate supply chain programs generally come in one of two forms — associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees. Candidates can usually pursue these degrees either part time or full time. Some schools even offer courses toward these degrees at night or on the weekends for working students. Like other majors, supply chain management degrees typically offer students a general education with an opportunity to specialize or focus in the area of supply chain management. In the US, candidates generally must take between 12 and 30 credits directly related to areas of supply chain management. These courses are usually taught by business professors, some of whom may also be working industry professionals who have both academic and practical knowledge to impart. Students pursuing these types of supply chain management degrees may aspire to secure an entry-level job which may have one of a variety of similar names including supply chain consultant, demand planner, or allocator. Jobs in the field of logistics are also good fits for those holding supply chain management degrees.
Graduate degrees in supply chain management are typically aimed at working professionals who want to expand their knowledge in the topic beyond what undergraduate degrees typically cover. Often, these candidates are interested in jobs with more responsibility, such as a supply chain manager, which may also be known as a demand manager or logistics manager. Graduate business degrees are almost always offered part time in the evenings or on weekends, although some schools offer full time programs or accelerated programs that allow students to study intensively during the day. Graduate programs often heavily emphasize the practical side of supply chain management. These programs result in either master's degrees or doctoral degrees. A master's of business administration (MBA) in supply chain management is more common however than doctoral or research degrees in the field.
Certification programs are also available for those who want to build their knowledge base of good supply chain management business practices. Some are offered by universities, while others are offered by independent industry groups. These programs can be useful to students and professionals at any level. They're generally flexible, allowing students to work at their own paces; and certification is usually awarded when the student passes the associated certification exams.