Supply-chain management is one of the hottest tickets in B-school, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
That shouldn’t come as a shock, since making sure that goods are ready and available based on demand can’t happen without this kind of leadership. What may come as a surprise, though, is how many businesses don’t have the leadership needed to properly manage supply chains.
According to a study by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, nearly 200,000 U.S. supply-chain jobs will go unfilled each year through 2018 for lack of qualified talent.
Because succeeding in logistics often requires an advanced degree, more supply-chain management programs are being added at business schools to meet demand for this expertise. However, with so many new programs, choosing the right school for a supply chain management degree can be complicated.
Here are four things to consider when selecting a school for supply chain management:
The Type of Supply Chain Management Degree
Although there’s been a lot of talk about getting an MBA in supply chain management, a graduate degree isn’t the only option. Programs vary from MBAs and Master’s degrees that specialize in supply chain management to undergraduate majors, and even departments focused on supply chain management—like that at Michigan State. Depending on your previous level of education and what skills are required for the job you’d like to preform, the type of degree you need may vary.
Cross-Functional Skills the Degree Will Provide
SCM World, a supply chain research organization, surveyed a number of chief supply chain officers to determine the top supply chain universities. According to Kevin O’Marah, SCM World’s chief content officer, “business wants cross-functional supply chain knowledge rather than narrow technical skills.” When looking for a school for supply chain management, make sure you look for opportunities to learn about all aspects of logistics and business in general.
Who Are Your Peers?
When it comes to graduate programs, students often have as much to gain from one another as they do from professors. According to Dr. John H. Vande Vate, professor and EMIL executive director at Georgia Tec, it’s important to seek out supply chain management programs in which other students have a similar corporate and experience level.
Co-op and Internship Opportunities
According to Gartner’s Top U.S. Supply Chain Undergraduate Programs report for 2014, there has been notable growth in the exposure to internships and co-ops—oftentimes for sponsoring companies. If more applied project-work appeals to you, look for a school that can support you in securing these co-op and internship opportunities.
Brian Sutter is director of marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies