Overview of an Online Bachelor's Degree in Supply Chain Management
A degree in supply chain management is designed to provide students with the practical knowledge and hands-on experience to efficiently manage the flow of goods from manufacturers to consumers. Supply chain management includes transportation, packaging, quality control, and investment recovery. Students can choose an area of focus, such as strategic sourcing or manufacturing supervision, to launch a career. Data from Burning Glass shows that 6,538 supply chain management degrees were awarded in 2020, which is up by 27.4% since 2016.
Students can enroll fully online for a bachelor's degree in supply chain management. As participation in distance education increases, there is some evidence indicating that employers are paying more attention to the value of online degrees while the stigma surrounding them is fading. A 2018 Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy survey found that over 60% of human resources leaders believe online degrees are comparable to on-campus degrees. These online programs are designed to take full-time students four years to complete the required 120 credit hours, and it takes longer for those with part-time schedules.
Which Degree Type Is Best for You?
Students can earn either a bachelor's of arts or bachelor's of science in supply chain management. While B.A. degrees focus on the humanities and tend to be broader in scope, B.S. degrees emphasize STEM. The majority of supply chain management programs award B.S. degrees because they teach skills in predictive modeling, statistics, and information technology.
Curriculum for this program is designed to prepare students for managing the flow of consumer goods — from cars and building materials to food and medicine. The curriculum covers various components of supply chain management, such as inventory management, information systems, and supplier relations. If students are interested in pursuing a niche, completing electives may help them choose a concentration, such as government contracting or transportation and logistics. To graduate, students may need to complete a senior capstone project, internship, or a comprehensive management exam.
Courses are similar across various supply chain management degree programs, and typically include the following:
Fiscal Management focuses on applying accounting principles and processes to supply chain management. In addition, students discover the importance of managing business information systems as they apply to inventory control and finance.
Fundamentals of Contracting and Acquisition
Fundamentals of Contracting and Acquisition introduces students to federal acquisition practices, policies, and procedures. Faculty discuss contract planning, execution, and management, which may interest students embarking on public service careers.
Global Demand Management studies the demand for goods and services as well as how to prioritize demand based on supply availability. Students examine ways to balance supply and demand while appeasing both management and customer needs.
Principles of Procurement Management
Principles of Procurement Management develops students' understanding of the strategic impact of purchasing and supply chain management in terms of profitability and competition. Students also study the relationship between production, order fulfillment, billing, and revenue.
Transportation Principles explores the various principles and modes of transportation, including air, sea, rail, automobile, and pipeline. Instructors discuss the impact of each on the economy, environment, and future developmental prospects.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Supply Chain Management Degree
Accreditation is one of the most important factors when considering an online degree because it ensures that a school has consistently met quality education standards. In addition, accreditation is necessary for using federal financial aid. Most non-profit universities are regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is preferred over national accreditation because of its prestige and longevity. This level of accreditation also allows students to transfer college credits from one regionally accredited institution to another. Students can visit Ed.gov to check an online school's accreditation status.
ACBE and ACBSP ensure that a program's committed to continuous improvement and is designed to prepare students with the skills employers want. However, graduating from an accredited degree program is not required for certification or credentialing.
Programs can also be accredited to make sure that they not only meet rigorous academic standards but also industry standards. The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (ACBE) and Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) evaluate supply chain management degree programs because many are part of business programs. ACBE and ACBSP ensure that a program's committed to continuous improvement and is designed to prepare students with the skills employers want. However, graduating from an accredited degree program is not required for certification or credentialing.
How Much Do Online Supply Chain Management Programs Cost?
Out of 24 top schools, the median annual tuition for supply management programs is $14,947. For online programs in general, tuition is $13,919 across 846 schools.
Online degrees can sometimes be less expensive than on-campus degrees because students don’t have to pay for housing or transportation. In addition, schools may waive on-campus fees for distance learners, and in-state tuition is usually available regardless of a student's location. Students should also consider ROI and if it justifies tuition costs.
To help pay for school, students should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their federal financial aid eligibility. You may qualify for government scholarships, grants, work-study programs, or low-interest student loans. A school's financial aid office can also assist students in finding private scholarships and grants to help make college a reality. Additionally, students should consider ROI and the resulting benefits of a supply chain management degree program to determine whether the tuition costs are worth it in the long-run.
Careers in Supply Chain Management
A bachelor's degree is typically required to become a supply chain manager, who typically oversees every step of an item's production, including purchasing and transporting products and maintaining storage and inventory. The Association of Supply Chain Management and the International Society of Logistics offer programs that grant licenses and certificates in this field. Obtaining a license or certificate is not usually required, but it can increase marketability and prove competency. In addition, direct job experience is also helpful when looking for a job after graduation.
Supply chain management jobs can be fast-paced and demanding. Career Explorer reports that supply chain managers are in the bottom 18% of careers in the U.S. in terms of job satisfaction. This role can be stressful because managers often face emergencies with shipping, labor, and the integrity of products. However, this position may be an appropriate fit for an enterprising individual who possesses strong people skills and enjoys the challenges of a dynamic environment. It's a growing field with many career opportunities, such as those listed below:
General and operations managers
Median Annual Salary: $103,650
Job Growth Rate: 5%-10%
General and operations managers plan, direct, and coordinate an organization's daily operations, including managing personnel, materials, and equipment. They also oversee activities related to the production, sale, and distribution of goods.
Industrial production managers
Median Annual Salary: $108,790
Job Growth Rate: 5%
Industrial production managers ensure production schedules stay on budget and on time. They coordinate employees' labor and the equipment they need to meet goals while monitoring performance and safety requirements.
Median Annual Salary: $76,270
Job Growth Rate: 15%
Logistics analysts investigate supply chain processes for efficiency to make recommendations for change. They may monitor the flow of vehicles and inventory using data information systems.
Median Annual Salary: $125,940
Job Growth Rate: 5%-10%
Purchasing managers oversee an organization's purchasing and procurement processes. They develop and implement contracting policies and procedures and develop cost reduction plans and strategies.
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers
Median Annual Salary: $96,390
Job Growth Rate: 5%-10%
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