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Succeeding in the logistics field often requires an advanced degree. But finding the right school to attend sometimes comes with an advanced degree of aggravation. Inbound Logistics is here to help.

Supply chains have risen in prominence within many companies, keeping executives with fine-tuned skillsets in high demand. This, in turn, has led to a rise in graduate-level supply chain and logistics programs across U.S. universities.

Supply chain higher education—including MBA, executive education, certification, and distance learning programs—is increasingly tied to industry in a symbiotic relationship; the school gets funding, curriculum input, and practical research fodder; students obtain real-world practice and exposure to employers; and companies have a place to send executives for supply chain education.

“Never join a logistics education program without strong executive outreach,” advises Dr. Chris Caplice, executive director of MIT’s Master’s of Engineering in Logistics program. “If the program is not affiliated with corporate members, students don’t experience that real-world perspective.”

In addition to MBAs with a supply chain concentration, executive and professional supply chain programs are on the rise. Students in these programs obtain degrees and/or graduate certificates via fast-track programs of nine to 18 months. These are typically designed to fit around students’ work lives, and as such are starting to integrate distance learning.

While distance learning is often a student favorite, a lingering bias exists against this teaching model, and the concept is not taking off as fast as some expected.

Indeed, supply chain graduate students often gain as much from each other as from their professors.

The value of discussions and experiences with other participants is imperative to executive education, says Dr. John H. Vande Vate, professor and EMIL executive director at the School of Industrial & Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

For that reason, it’s important to seek programs in which other students have roughly the same corporate level and experience, he advises.

Reflecting larger supply chain trends, leading-edge logistics education programs increasingly offer international faculty and student enrollment as well as study-abroad options.

“U.S. schools are collaborating on joint programs with European and Asian schools,” says Vande Vate.

Supply chain programs are also becoming broad-based—many cross the engineering and business school lines, and technology is increasingly intrinsic to the coursework.

Regardless of trends, the most important quality in a program is that it fits the objectives of the student: visiting the school, attending a class and asking questions are still the best ways to find the right match.

The following listing will help you learn more about 25 schools offering a variety of logistics education programs for MBA-seekers, professionals, and distance learners alike.

It is difficult to choose from the hundreds of schools that offer logistics higher education, but our sampling of smart choices provides a good place to start.

Arizona State University

Degrees: MBA with supply chain management specialization; PhD

Distance Learning: For executive education

Executive Education: Specialized seminars, college credit courses, and comprehensive certificate programs; e-learning

The supply chain management curriculum at the W.P. Carey School of Business encompasses the integration of supply chains, e-business, and globalization. The program’s goal is training managers to be strategic thinkers, excellent analysts, effective communicators/team leaders, tech-savvy, and focused on cost savings, increasing revenue, and increasing shareholder value. Students perform an internship during the summer between the first and second year of study. Second-year supply chain students are teamed with corporate sponsors to hone project management skills and study real-world issues. A full-time residential PhD program prepares scholars to conduct high-quality research and to teach in the supply chain management field. Formal academic arrangements for graduate and executive education are available in France, Spain, Peru, Mexico, and China. In addition, two formal research centers support the academic/business partnership and research: The CAPS Research Center and The Institute for Manufacturing Enterprise Systems.

California State University—Long Beach

Degrees: Master’s of Arts in Global Logistics

Distance Learning: For Global Logistics Specialist professional designation

Executive Education: Global Logistics Specialist professional designation; half-day to multi-day seminars

The Master’s program, offered through the Center for International Trade and Transportation, combines the analytical skills of a traditional MBA with a strong emphasis on global logistics. The program takes a multi-disciplinary approach, involving the school’s departments of economics, information systems, management and human resources, and public policy and administration. The 21-month program—designed for working adults with several years of professional experience—is constructed in a lock-step format that begins with a new group each September, and emphasizes learning in teams. Students in the professional designation program complete six modules and a comprehensive project applying the knowledge and skills learned in the program. The school’s location in a major port city provides students opportunities to explore global transportation issues, such as an annual town hall meeting to discuss port-related conflicts.

Carnegie-Mellon University (Pennsylvania)

business.tepper.cmu.eduDegrees: MBA with operations and strategy management track includes supply chain; international MBA with global enterprise management track including operations (supply chain and manufacturing); PhD in manufacturing and operating systems

Distance Learning: MBA program delivered at work sites for groups of 8+ students

Executive Education: Multi-day executive courses; custom programs

The Tepper School of Business MBA offers cross-campus curriculum, borderless classrooms, and an emphasis on integrated knowledge throughout each university program. These include the operations and strategy management track, which covers concepts such as agile manufacturing, customer-centric systems, Six Sigma, JIT, SCM, and revenue management. A capstone course requires modeling and methods for planning that are later applied to a client’s operation. Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School places strong emphasis on expertise and research in operations management and technologies. Executive programs include managing global supply chain networks, technology-driven supply chain management, and the Tepper Supply Chain Summit. The international management MBA track features an eight-week global experience, in partnership with The Otto Beisheim School of Management, in which students travel to Western and Eastern Europe to study emerging, transitional, and competitive economies.

Clarkson University (New York)

Degrees: Full-time One-Year MBA with global supply chain management track (GSCM); Engineering & Global Operations Management Master’s with GSCM track

Distance Learning: Certificates available via part online/part campus attendance; part-time Master’s is 80-percent online

Executive Education: 12-credit-hour graduate certificates; executive seminars in global supply chain management

Clarkson’s One-Year MBA Global Supply Chain Management track takes a comprehensive view of integrating business functions by utilizing a multi-disciplinary faculty from operations management, marketing, information systems, human resources, and finance. The Center for Global Competitiveness also serves as a resource. The MBA program emphasizes IT (particularly ERP systems), strategic financial principles, and managerial, strategic, and global perspectives. Students are required to participate in experiential learning through The Clarkson Consulting Group, which provides real-life, team-based consulting experience. An international study option enables MBA students to travel to France, Germany, and Switzerland for an up-close look at how European companies manage supply chains and foster innovation.

George Mason University (Virginia)

Degrees: The Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics Center Master’s program

Distance Learning: Via video teleconference at or near student worksites

Executive Education: Certificate in transportation policy, operations & logistics

The George Mason School of Public Policy’s Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics Center (TPOL) takes a multi-disciplinary approach to logistics—a subject traditionally split between civil engineering, urban planning, and business schools—to provide students a potent combination of managerial skills, technical expertise, and policy perspective. Students dissect the complex institutional and legal environment in which transportation facilities and services are planned, designed, constructed, implemented, and retired. Students work closely with federal highway, transit, and aviation agencies; state and local transportation authorities; and private sector firms and associations, to investigate critical transport issues. Certificate programs include five courses. TPOL is one of three internationally recognized University Transportation Centers in Virginia.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Degrees: 18-month Executive Master’s of Science in International Logistics (EMIL); Master’s of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE); Master’s of Science in Operations Research (MSOR); PhD in Manufacturing/Logistics; MBA program in the College of Management; The Logistics Institute—Asia Pacific Dual Master’s of Science in Logistics & Supply Chain Management

Distance Learning: EMIL combines five required two-week residences in varied international locations with distance learning; MSIE and MSOR can be completed partly online

Executive Education: Supply Chain & Logistics Institute (SCL) short courses lead to a certificate

The School of Industrial & Systems Engineering’s EMIL is focused on the working logistics professional; participants apply new concepts to supply chain concerns within their organizations. Rather than a thesis, EMIL participants follow the program mantra of “immediate business impact” via a global supply chain project, in which a team of classmates—often from different companies—works together on a significant extended project with a sponsor company. The program offers a strong international focus, with a broad international supply chain faculty, venues on four continents, and 20 percent of students typically hailing from outside the United States. Research activities are supported by SCL or the Keck Virtual Factory Lab.

Indiana University

Degrees: Kelley Direct Master’s of Science (MS) in Global Supply Chain Management; Full-time MBA with supply chain and operations major

Distance Learning: Kelley Direct MS and certificate programs

Executive Education: Global Supply Chain Management Essentials Certificate; custom programs

The MS in Global Supply Chain Management is aimed at providing professionals with a working knowledge of the leading-edge global supply chain processes that contribute to the success of an overall business strategy, while the MBA rounds out students’ general business education with supply chain expertise. A strong technology focus is designed to help students effectively use technologies such as ERP systems as an infrastructure platform to provide accurate data and timely information analysis. Custom graduate programs include an MS in Global Supply Chain Management for United Technologies employees. Indiana’s Supply Chain & Global Management Academy is designed to strengthen the traditional MBA curriculum by exposing students to cross-functional global leadership, strategic supply chain management, and skill-building.

Institute of Logistical Management (New Jersey)

Degrees: Certified Logistics Practitioner

Distance Learning: All coursework available online

Executive Education: Yes

Billing itself the oldest logistics distance-learning school in the world, The Institute of Logistical Management, formerly known as the Academy of Advanced Traffic, recently celebrated its 80th anniversary. ILM takes a practical approach with its skill-training curriculum, aiming to enable logistics professionals to excel through knowledge and real-world application. Coursework is available via open enrollment and is accredited with the University of Phoenix and other leading executive education schools. ILM’s core curriculum includes courses in transportation systems, transportation management, business logistics systems, and business logistics principles, with a wide range of electives including law, IT, and logistics management. On-site training programs are available to companies that prefer to train managers at their corporate offices.

Lehigh University

Degrees: Graduate certificate programs

Distance Learning: Supply chain management certificate program available online

Executive Education: Yes

Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics offers a variety of flexible graduate certificate programs and may include courses from the Manufacturing Systems Engineering curriculum in the PC Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. Students may later apply these credits toward an MBA. In a creative, hands—on environment that uses case studies and industry experts, students explore multiple factors that impact corporate supply chains. The broad nature of the curriculum allows attendees to expand beyond a narrowly defined logistics program into one that incorporates the complete supply chain. Online programs provide identical curriculum and faculty as on-campus programs. An additional resource is The Center for Value Chain Research, an integrated research and corporate center that partners with the College of Applied Science to conduct research focused on value chain planning and development activities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Degrees: Nine-month Master’s of Engineering in Logistics (MLOG); The MIT-Zaragoza Master’s of Engineering in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (ZLOG, held in Spain); dual degree within international MBA; PhD, engineering systems division

Distance Learning: For executive short courses

Executive Education: Center for Transportation & Logistics executive courses and workshops; MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Technology, Operations, and Value Chain Management; custom programs

MIT’s programs focus on producing logistics professionals who are equally at home with sophisticated data analysis and complex management issues. The programs have a strong international emphasis, and blend analytical rigor with soft skills. Students learn how to apply leadership skills and solve supply chain problems. In the popular MLOG and ZLOG programs (MLOG students tend to be slightly older), students study together in Spain for one month to learn teamwork through practical application of theory. A six-month thesis project that matches students with sponsoring companies for real-world research efforts is a key aspect of the program. Additional research resources include the Integrated Supply Chain Management Program, Affiliates Program in Logistics, and the Center for Transportation & Logistics.

Michigan State University

Degrees: Master’s of Science in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM); full-time MBA with supply chain concentration; PhDs in supply chain management and logistics; Executive MBA with SCM classes

Distance Learning: MSSCM blends in-residency classes with e-learning segments

Executive Education: Multi-day executive seminars at the Henry Center for Executive Development; custom seminars

The Eli Broad College of Business SCM program incorporates a rigorous cross-functional blend of courses focusing on the relationship of supply chain management to information technology and innovation processes. The program was built specifically for supply chain management study, and includes exposure to SCM technology applications including planning and decision support tools. Courses are taught by leading-edge researchers, teachers, and practitioners with a sizable range of expertise. The Center for On-Demand Supply Chain Research is linked via an advanced computing grid with other leading partner universities specializing in supply chain management, and the MSU Logistics Supply Chain Collaboratory research center facilitates information exchange within the SCM industry.

Northwestern University (Illinois)

Degrees: Master’s of Management and Manufacturing (MMM); Executive MBA with supply chain management coursework

Executive Education: Multi-day programs in supply chain finance and supply chain management; custom programs

The MMM is a dual degree, integrating broad management-skills training from the Kellogg School of Management with engineering expertise from the Robert McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. In the second year of study, students analyze supply chain issues from a C-level perspective; the program culminates with an integration project. Student teams, guided by a faculty member, consult with companies on re-engineering an existing process, or designing and launching a new product. Close ties with industry provide students access to both domestic and global companies. Many MMM students participate in Kellogg’s Global Initiatives in Management program, during which students perform in-depth research on business opportunities around the world. Exec Ed courses focus on real-world case studies in effective management of facilities, inventory, transportation, information, outsourcing, and strategic partnerships.

Ohio State University

Degrees: Master’s in Business Logistics Engineering (MBLE); full-time MBA with operations and logistics management concentration; PhD in logistics

Executive Education: Multi-day, open enrollment in varied locations; custom programs

The full-time MBLE program is completed in nine to 15 months, culminating in a four-hour written examination (no thesis). Producing well-rounded graduates is the program’s chief aim: students undergo rigorous coursework on fundamental logistics disciplines including simulation and optimization through the College of Engineering; and leadership, management and communications training from the Fisher College department of marketing and logistics. Ohio State taps its strong industry ties to provide students with real-world experience, and the program is purposely kept small and selective. Students also benefit from the Supply Chain Management Research Group at Ohio State, which conducts relevant business research; and The Global Supply Chain Forum, which supports research and publications focused on real-world applications and experience of particular relevance to its corporate members.

Pennsylvania State University

Degrees: Master’s in Manufacturing Management (University Park campus); full-time and executive MBAs with supply chain management courses (Philadelphia campus); PhD in Supply Chain and Information Systems

Distance Learning: Master’s of Professional Study in Supply Chain Management; graduate-credit certificate program

Executive Education: Certificates in supply chain management and supply chain leadership (applicable to Professional Master’s); custom and open enrollment programs; Certificate in logistics (Harrisburg campus)

Smeal College of Business’ Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems curriculum focuses on core business processes and provides an integrated treatment of traditional logistics topics such as forecasting, customer service, inventory, transportation, and warehousing. Special emphasis is placed on the critical roles played by information technology, management, and strategy in supply chain management. The Master’s of Professional Study in Supply Chain Management is a new online/distance learning degree debuting in August 2007 for graduate certificate holders, and in 2008 for new students. Smeal students can access the Center for Supply Chain Research, a research community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to shaping practice in logistics and supply chain management in today’s converging economies.

Purdue University

Degrees: MBA with Global Supply Chain Management Option

Executive Education: Global supply chain management executive short courses; custom courses; one-week, open-enrollment engineering/management program each spring includes course work on supply chain management and offers continuing education units

The Krannert School of Management MBA with Global Supply Chain Option includes coursework in logistics, e-commerce, and supply chain management through the Global Supply Chain Management Initiative (GSCMI), a new forum for students, faculty, and industry to collaborate on increasing global supply chain knowledge. MBA students are encouraged to enroll in GSCMI project courses and other activities that promote understanding of the supply chain in a global business environment. The MBA program emphasizes real-world learning, cutting-edge technology, international perspectives, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Industry interaction, internship opportunities, case competitions, and conferences are also included. Study-abroad opportunities are available in Asia, South America, and Europe—for one week or one semester. Focusing on logistics is important at Purdue—its School of Industrial Engineering’s strategic plan identifies logistics as one of several new research focuses.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Degrees: MBA and PhD in supply chain management; International Executive MBA in China, which includes supply chain electives

Distance Learning: Programs are being developed

Executive Education: Supply chain management certificate program; workshops; custom programs

Close ties to industry is one of the Rutgers Business School Center for Supply Chain Management’s strengths; every course includes multidisciplinary faculty and guest lecturers, who continually reshape curriculum and syllabus. Students work together on real-world supply chain projects with industry executives, at times with counterparts from Rutgers’ China MBA program. Program activities include an internal business case competition exclusively for Rutgers students, and an external case competition against other top business schools. Supply chain management has become one of Rutgers’ most popular MBA concentrations, and double Master’s combining supply chain with other majors is also growing. The certificate program includes condensed seminars and extensive interaction with global SCM practitioners. Full-time PhD students enroll in three courses for degree credit each semester during the program’s first two years, take a qualifying exam, then spend two years working on a dissertation.

Syracuse University (New York)

Degrees: Whitman School of Management MBA with supply chain concentration; PhD in supply chain management

Distance Learning: O-MBA with supply chain coursework mostly online

Executive Education: Half- to multi-day on-site courses, executive certificate in supply chain management after six courses; custom programs; APICS and ISM training

Syracuse’s interdisciplinary logistics graduate programs involve faculty from the marketing, management information, and decision sciences departments. Topics covered include demand management, inventory control, risk sharing, supply chain planning, buyer-seller alliances, information flow, transportation, production management, and business-to-business marketing in a global setting. An emphasis on information technology appears throughout the curriculum. The school’s ExecEd training programs are popular; since 2001, 218 Whitman supply chain students have passed the APICS certification exam, and 21 students received CPIM certification. Whitman also has an e-Six Sigma training course offering students Black or Green Belt certification. In addition to its research centers—including the H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management and R.H. Brethen Institute for Operations Management—Syracuse is considering an MBA upgrade program on supply chain strategies.

University of Alaska

Degrees: Master’s of Science in Global Supply Chain Management (MSGSCM); Master’s of Science in Project Management

Distance Learning: Graduate certificate is earned completely online

Executive Education: Graduate certificate in supply chain management

The College of Business and Public Policy’s MSGSCM degree is earned in 20 months, with a focus on global supply chain systems management and an emphasis on managerial leadership, information technology, and international business practices. Program highlights include executive-style instruction, self-contained courses, a balanced curriculum, cohort structure, internships, and use of an e-knowledge portal. The 12-month Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management, launched in Spring 2007, is offered jointly with Boise State University. Coursework is delivered completely online in cohort groups and culminates in a capstone project applying skills in a real-world setting. Students have access to the Alaska Center for Supply Chain Integration and its Department of Defense RFID work, as well as other projects.

University of Arkansas

Degrees: Full- or part-time Master’s of Transportation and Logistics Management; Supply Chain Retail MBA

Executive Education: Seminars for Research Center members; Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) certification; TLOG earns automatic Certified in Transportation and Logistics (CTL) eligibility

The Sam M. Walton College of Business’ full-time supply chain retail MBA program consists of five components focused on consumer products and retailing. This focus integrates the various core and elective disciplines around a central theme, giving students depth as well as breadth. Curriculum is shaped to market demand and serves as a portal to the Fortune 500, balancing theoretical knowledge with hands-on learning experience and skill-building workshops. The Master’s of Transportation and Logistics Management (TLOG) is a 30-credit-hour program designed to provide students with transportation and logistics expertise, general business principles, and quantitative skills in preparation for positions in business and government. The Supply Chain Management Research Center serves as a direct link between the private sector and university resources.

University of Michigan

Degrees: Master’s of Business Administration with manufacturing concentration (MBA/MC); evening MBA in operations and management sciences; PhD in operations and management science, executive MBA

Distance Learning: Combined in-person and distance learning

Executive Education: Certificate and custom programs; Michigan College of Engineering and Stephen M. Ross School of Business offer the Master’s of Business Administration with Manufacturing Concentration (MBA/MC), which includes operations, manufacturing, and supply chain (OMS) coursework.

The OMS department also sustains partnerships with several major groups at the business school, including the Tauber Institute for Global Operations, which focuses largely on supply chain activities, and offers a strong action-based learning component via supervised team project internships through industry partnerships. Technology and international logistics are also emphasized. PhD includes supply chain and logistics coursework. A one-week program in supply chain management can be part of a management certificate through The Center for Enterprise Operations Management and Michigan Engineering Center for Professional Development, which also offers a two-week lean logistics and supply chain certificate program.

University of Pennsylvania

Degrees: Full-time MBA with dual major in marketing and operations management; executive MBA, PhD in operations and information management

Executive Education: Executive MBA, global MBA, open enrollment, custom programs, seminars, certificates

The Fishman-Davidson Center for Service and Operations Management at The Wharton School provides research and a teaching foundation that addresses the operations issues of global firms, including supply chain management. The teaching approach, using the faculty’s own textbook, is analytical and quantitative, providing students practical, usable tools and concepts they can apply in the workplace. Coursework includes real-world, global examples and faculty research. Company partners provide advice and offer guidance on teaching programs and priorities in operations management. Supply chain executive education programs can be combined with other executive education programs to receive the Wharton Certificate of Professional Development.

University of Maryland

Degrees: Full-time, executive, evening and weekend MBAs with supply chain management core and elective coursework; MBA/MS in business administration with concentration in logistics and transportation; PhD in logistics and transportation

Executive Education: Custom programs

The faculty of the logistics, business and public policy (LBPP) department within The Robert H. Smith School of Business is comprised of scholars in logistics, transportation, supply chain management, business law, international economic policy and trade, competitive business strategy, telecommunications and public policy, intellectual property, and Internet economics. These scholars help managers capitalize on the power of technology to manage the supply chain and deal with the legal and economic issues arising in the worldwide network economy. The department is the home of the Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC), a technology-based research and education center that is defining 21st-century logistics best practices. The logistics/supply chain management concentration integrates courses across three areas: logistics and transportation, operations management, and marketing. The curriculum also provides students with hands-on exposure to information technology tools essential to supply chain management.

University of Tennessee

Degrees: Full-time MBA and executive MBA programs with concentrations in logistics; PhD in logistics

Distance Learning: For executive and professional MBA

Executive Education: Targeted supply chain courses; one-week logistics executive development program, integrated value chain forums; collaborative supply chain research consortium; integrated supply chain management certification

The College of Business Administration’s Department of Marketing and Logistics takes a multi-disciplinary perspective to its programs, envisioning value chain management as the dynamic integration of enterprises and their suppliers and customers to determine, create, fulfill, and communicate value in the global environment. The recently revamped MBA program focuses on integrated value chain management and offers a concentration in logistics. The 17-month format uses a non-traditional program structure. Faculty professors have a wide range of experience and expertise in consulting with many Fortune 100 companies. The PhD program links traditional areas of logistics research and development with faculty expertise in demand management and forecasting, logistics operations and modeling, logistics strategy, and developing and managing supply chain relationships.

University of Washington

Degrees: Certificate in global trade; transportation and logistics studies.

Executive Education: Global supply chain management certificate through UW Extension

The Global Trade, Transportation, and Logistics (GTTL) Studies program is available to matriculating graduate students and to non-students as separate certificates. The interdisciplinary GTTL studies program enables students to analyze systems and problems from multiple perspectives, and to collaborate with colleagues from different fields. Core courses provide an overview of academic theories, political-economic structures, industrial dynamics, public policies, and strategic issues concerning global trade, transportation, and logistics. Internships are available. The interdisciplinary seminar in global trade, transportation, and logistics is designed in conjunction with the annual GTTL conference, where students complete and present a research paper relevant to the conference theme. Professionals engage in graduate-level seminars in international trade and transportation systems, and tailor their final independent study project to their specific interests and background.

University of Wisconsin

Degrees: Full-time MBA in supply chain management

Executive Education: On-site open enrollment and custom programs in supply chain management

The Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MBA program combines the marketing or demand side with the fulfillment side of business to focus on the entire supply chain. The curriculum integrates marketing, product development, sourcing, planning, production, and logistics with faculty and guest executive speakers. Program includes numerous out-of-the-classroom learning experiences. Students attend professional enrichment courses through the School of Business Executive Education series, attend the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) annual conference, and CSCMP roundtable presentations. The RFID Lab actively involves leading companies from the UW RFID Industry Workgroup, plus UW-Madison students and faculty in applied research and demonstration of RFID technology and applications.

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