10 Best Online PhD in Supply Chain Management & Logistics [2021 Guide]

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If you are a business professional seeking to advance your career, then you may consider pursuing a PhD in Supply Chain Management. This degree combines management with research in the areas of sourcing, procurement, and logistics.

PhD in Supply Chain Management & Logistics

Achieving success in today’s global economy requires a variety of skills. Your doctoral studies may teach you to manage inventory, to coordinate operations with materials and service providers, and to interact with customers.

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You may also gain expertise in relationship building, negotiating, and legal compliance. This degree may lead to positions as a business executive in areas such as operations, distribution, global systems, manufacturing, and purchasing.

Online PhD in Supply Chain Management Programs

Industrial Production Manager mentoring an employee

Business executives are constantly faced with problems related to national or international commerce. Success often requires knowledge in all aspects of information management, including acquisition, analysis, and assessment.

Critical thinking and smart decision-making may make or break an organization. Choosing the best products and services, making and maintaining contacts with suppliers and customers, and doing it all with ethics and integrity are required skills for today’s supply chain managers.

Your doctorate will help prepare you to conduct, understand, and apply research that aligns with modern theory. Within a business framework, your interdisciplinary studies may include courses in such areas as designing and transforming global supply chains and networks as well as managing relationships with suppliers.

Your courses may also involve developing marketing and sales strategies as well as creating best practices for inventories.

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Universities also emphasize teaching the skills you will need to create and maintain excellent interpersonal relationships with everyone you’ll meet along the supply chain. In addition, you may study marketing, sales, forecasting needs, and customer service.

This wide spectrum of career possibilities makes a PhD in Supply Chain Management a versatile choice. Some universities may also call this an online logistics degree or an operations management degree.

Many universities will have faculty members who have extensive practical experience and will add mentorships from experienced business executives. After completing required core courses, you can often choose to concentrate your research and studies in one particular area of interest.

Once you have your degree, you may be able to use it in the United States as well as abroad. Companies buy and sell the materials and services that lead to successful production anywhere and everywhere. If international travel or living abroad appeal to you, you may want to consider this degree and get your passport!

Supply Chain Management Careers and Salaries

Supply Chain Management Careers and Salaries

A doctoral program in supply chain management provides a solid foundation for many aspects of business management, so your degree may be applied to careers in many industries. These industries may include manufacturing, healthcare, retail, government, transportation, aerospace, or defense.

Your supply chain management online degree may help you develop skills in decision-making, leadership, problem-solving, time management, and communication. With these skills, you may navigate a business executive position to many different product or service industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following are careers that can be pursued with a bachelors degree in supply chain management. With a doctoral degree and significant job experience, you may earn considerably more than the salaries listed below.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executive $185,950
Industrial Production Manager $108,790
General and Operations Manager $104,280
Health Services Manager $103,650
Administrative Services Manager $98,890
Warehouse Operations Manager $96,390
Management Analyst $87,660
Operations Research Analyst $86,200
Logistician $76,270
Cost Estimator $66,610

Salaries will vary not only among industries but also among locations. Salaries often fluctuate in different cities, states, and countries. Another key salary factor can be the size of the company, including the number of employees who will be supervised and the responsibilities of your specific job description.

For example, a Warehouse Operations Manager in the District of Columbia listed an average salary of more than $143,000 while a nonmetropolitan area in Northwest Illinois reported an average pay of $75,600. Meanwhile, a telecommunications company listed its management salary at more than $150,000.

None of these management positions required a PhD. A doctorate may help you stand out against competing applicants and may give you the chance of receiving an increased salary.

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With a doctoral degree, there is also the possibility of joining the business school faculty at a university, either part-time or full-time. College faculty with PhDs have an average starting salary of around $80,790.

With a doctorate, you may also have opportunities for consulting jobs or for conducting research into a particular logistical problem on behalf of a client.

Supply Chain Management Doctoral Curriculum

Industrial Production Manager working in a manufacturing company

Doctoral programs in supply chain management will generally include areas such as theory and research, management, relationship building, critical thinking, inventory management, information gathering, collaboration, and ethics.

While classes will vary among universities, the following are examples of courses you may take during your program:

  • Research in Supply Chain Management: You’ll learn doctoral level research design and methodology, including collection, analysis, and interpretation of data.
  • Supply Chain Management: This courses teaches you to apply management science concepts to supply chain planning to meet the changing needs of businesses.
  • The Economics of Supply Chain Management: You will study the economics of supply chain operations, including design, competition for materials, and information gathering.
  • Statistical Analysis: This course will cover inferential and descriptive statistics and when to apply each to problem solving.
  • Theory of Supply Chain Management: You’ll gain a deep understanding of all supply chain elements, including raw materials, processes, finished goods, transportation, and the ultimate consumer.
  • Contracts and Negotiations: This course will help you to understand, negotiate, and write contracts that maximize value to the party you represent.
  • Interpersonal Aspects of Supply Chain Management: Because human behavior and communication impact each level of supply chain management, this course focuses on relationships between various parties.
  • Global Supply Chains: This course deals with how foreign markets operate and how they differ among cultures and societies.
  • Logistics: This course focuses on concepts, methods, and strategies that will reduce costs while maintaining value, which leads to a competitive advantage.
  • Computer Simulation: In this course you will design computer models to assist you in creating research tools to improve business processes.

Courses like these provide foundations necessary for any subsequent area of specialization. They will help prepare you to conduct the culminating research and projects that are often required in doctoral studies.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Supply Chain Management & Logistics student studying online

Admission requirements will vary among online doctoral programs, but most require:

  • Master’s degree: Many programs require a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution, with transcripts showing a minimum GPA requirement of 2.75.
  • Experience: A minimum of 3 years of related professional experience may be required for certain programs.
  • Test scores: Some universities will require standardized graduate admissions tests, such as GRE or GMAT, so you may want to read applications carefully to find out if any test scores are required.
  • Personal recommendations or essay: Some applications may require one or more letters of recommendations from professional or personal sources, such as employers or professors. You may also be asked to write a short essay about your experiences or goals.

You may want to read all application requirements thoroughly to make sure nothing is missing and deadlines are met.

Accreditation

PhD in Supply Chain Management & Logistics Accreditation

Attending a regionally accredited university will assure that you are getting a quality education that meets high standards in such areas as curriculum, facilities, faculty, and student services. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees this process.

In addition, schools of business often gain accreditation from their professional accrediting organization, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). ACBSP accreditation can also add value to your degree.

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Future employers usually want to hire candidates who have attended accredited institutions. Accreditation is the best indicator of educational merit because it proves that a university has passed rigorous quality assurance reviews.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Supply Chain Management & Logistics Financial Aid

Tuition costs may put a strain on any budget. The Federal government recognizes this and has created a simple-to-use online application process with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to FAFSA, scholarships may be available from a variety of public or private entities. You may contact the financial aid office at the universities you’re considering for information on where you might locate these opportunities and their qualification requirements.

Your current employer may also supply tuition assistance. Many companies may be willing to cover or partially defer costs for those who show advancement potential.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Supply Chain Management?

Operations Research Analysts checking inverntory

Virtually every institution needs goods and services in order to operate. Experienced workers with a PhD in Supply Chain Management are needed in leadership positions by all enterprises. You may ensure that necessary components leaves their original source and reach their ultimate destination.

Your doctorate will combine foundational business administration classes with supply chain management classes. It combines scholarship, research, and management studies. We are in a global economy. Effective competition demands knowledge, experience, and familiarity with new trends, models, and discoveries.

A doctorate in supply chain management may give you an edge to move up in your job or relocate to a growing field.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Supply Chain Management Online?

Logisticians working in a factory

A doctorate typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete. The length of time it will take to get a PhD in Supply Chain Management will depend on how many units are required and how many you are able to complete each semester. Unit requirements vary, but most universities require between 40 and 60 credit hours.

If you are able to take on a full load of about 15 units per semester, you may finish in 3 years. But, if you are like most working professionals, you may take between 6 and 8 units each semester, which may take about 7 semesters to complete.

Pursuing your doctorate online may allow for more flexibility as you are able to tailor your course load to your work schedule.

Is a PhD in Supply Chain Management Worth It?

Industrial Production Managers meeting with workers

Yes, a PhD in Supply Chain Management is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations. Common careers in this field include logistician, warehouse operations manager, general and operations manager, and industrial production manager.

Your salary may grow considerably as your executive and academic experience grows. This degree is versatile since most businesses and enterprises need a wide variety of goods and services to operate.

Your degree may give you the theoretical skills, research skills, and practical skills to manage all the supplies and processes an employer needs to succeed in today’s dynamic economy.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Supply Chain Management Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University’s PhD in Business Administration with an optional concentration in Supply Chain Management is a full-time, residential program designed for students hoping to teach at universities after graduation. Research plays a key role in the curriculum. Students review and analyze others’ research and conduct and publish their own.

Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Students in Capella University’s Doctor of Business Administration in Global Operations and Supply Chain Management program will gain advanced knowledge in the fields of global operations, global supply chain design, and finance.

The program is ACBSP accredited and includes eight core courses, four specialized courses, two residencies, and a research project.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Colorado Technical University allows students lots of flexibility when designing their graduate program curricula.

By selecting the right electives, students can earn Master of Business Administration degrees in either supply chain management (SCM) or logistics management. The Doctor of Management is similar, allowing students to choose electives from various SCM courses.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The Doctor of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management and Logistics program at Liberty University is 100% online, is ACBSP accredited, and allows students to transfer up to half the required 60 credits for completion.

The curriculum includes advanced courses in operations management, total quality management, logistics, and supply chain management.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

Although Pennsylvania State University – World Campus does not offer a PhD option in supply chain management, students can earn graduate certificates in the field.

Students will learn about transportation systems operation, supply chain strategy, inventory planning, cost analysis and control, performance evaluations, and network design. Every course can also be transferred into the masters program.

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University campus

Seton Hall University does not offer a PhD option in supply chain management, so students seeking advanced knowledge in this field can earn graduate certificates instead.

Required courses include supply chain analytics and logistics and supply chain operations. Electives are chosen from the following: business intelligence, procurement management, and supply chain management with SAP.

Seton Hall University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Sullivan University

Sullivan University campus

Sullivan University’s PhD in Management program allows students to choose from several different concentrations, including one in strategic management, which is the larger umbrella under which supply chain management falls.

Students will learn all about supply chain management, logistics, qualitative and quantitative research, theories of organizational management, and critical leadership skills.

Sullivan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Missouri – Saint Louis

University of Missouri – Saint Louis campus

University of Missouri – St. Louis has a Doctor of Business Administration in Logistics and Supply Chain Management program that features an intense, comprehensive curriculum and periods of required residency on the UMSL campus. The program requires 60 total credits for completion, half of which will be supply chain-related courses.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha campus

Although the University of Nebraska – Omaha doesn’t offer a doctoral degree in supply chain management, it does offer a graduate certificate in the field. There’s no entrance exam required, and all 12 required credits can be earned online. Nine of the twelve credits can be transferred into the MBA supply chain management online program.

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Students enrolled in Walden University’s Doctor of Business Administration in Global Supply Chain Management program have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degrees, but most finish much earlier.

Students will take a combination of foundational, core business, business strategy, and research methods courses. Two residencies are also required.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Supply Chain Management Doctorate Online

Getting Your Supply Chain Management Doctorate Online

If you’re considering an online doctorate, you may want to keep in mind that many employers might value your ability to balance studies with your job and other life responsibilities.

Since most institutions need many and varied materials and services in order to carry out their missions, supply chain managers are needed in various fields. A qualified supply chain manager has the education to understand, research, and carry out the diverse responsibilities of this critical position.

If you are a business professional who is looking to advance or change to a versatile, indispensable, and lucrative field, you may consider researching accredited doctoral programs in supply chain management.

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Maureen Rubin
WRITTEN BY
Maureen Rubin
Maureen has a Juris Doctor, Master's in Public Relations, and a Bachelor's in Journalism. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and enjoyed a career working in public information at nonprofits, and in Congress & the White House. She welcomes an opportunity to share educational or uplifting information with readers.