Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Supply Chain Management: Guide to Online Programs for 2023

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Supply Chain Management: Guide to Online Programs for 2023
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of logisticians or supply chain managers, who are responsible for keeping production going by coordinating the supply chain. Despite the challenges, this role can be extremely fulfilling. An online bachelor’s degree in supply chain management equips students with the skills to take on various roles across industries, similar to a degree in business administration.

Supply chain managers are involved with freight transportation, aerospace production, and warehouse storage. Their priority is to guarantee that there’s an adequate amount of resources throughout the whole supply chain. They also analyze logistical plans and create fresh tactics to improve the entire process.

This guide has information on what you need for an online bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, as well as what you should consider when selecting an online program. It also responds to typical queries on costs, core classes, and the standard of online degrees.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management
  5. How much does an Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

Can you get a degree completely online?

These days, students can finish online degree courses in supply chain management online. In fact, nearly every type of higher education degree is offered online. This makes online programs more diverse and accessible to students globally. You can earn your undergraduate degree and even advanced degrees without attending a single in-classroom session, thanks to technological innovations and the many colleges and universities that have made their best programs available through online education.

Based on the latest count from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are more than 6.9 million students enrolled in any distance education course at degree-granting postsecondary institutions (NCES, 2019). More than 3.2 million are enrolled in exclusively distance education courses among these students, while more than 3.6 million are taking at least one but not all courses as distance education.

Source: NCES, 2019

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

The demand for more flexible options in higher education is helping online degrees earn more credibility and acceptance among employers. However, not every online degree will look good in the eyes of a hiring manager.

For example, in a survey of human resource professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that employers have a qualified positive perception of online degrees. Ninety-two percent of employers view online degrees obtained from traditional universities as more favorable than those that were completed from a university that operates entirely online (46%) (Northeastern University, 2019).

Moreover, when it comes to the value of online degrees, it is still important to consider the reputation of the school providing the program. This is because as many as 83% of business leaders see a degree obtained online as having the same value as a traditional one if it was from a well-known university.

employer perception of online degrees

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Whether your online degree will be recognized all over the world or not depends on many factors. For one, it can depend on the location. Some countries might have additional or different requirements in terms of the courses and training for a particular degree, so you might still need to take extra courses for your online degree to be recognized.

Another factor is the institution where you completed your online degree. Though there is no official data on internationally recognized online degrees, you can increase the chances of your online degree being respected in other countries if it was from a well-known college or university or if it was approved by an internationally recognized professional organization.

As the world gets more accustomed to online education, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the distinction between online versus on-campus degrees might become less pronounced. Additionally, the massive demand for higher education—more than 500 million students globally by 2040—might push online degrees as practical options for students instead of traditional degrees.

Source: UNESCO, 2018

Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

Both online and traditional bachelor’s degrees in supply chain management teach students about the production, shipment, and distribution of products to end customers. It prepares them for careers in such fields as manufacturing, business, logistics, and management.

Class format

Most online degree programs in supply chain management are delivered via asynchronous learning—that is, learning does not occur at the same place and time. Students can access course materials and study them on their own schedule. Schools often conduct and organize asynchronous learning using their own learning management systems. Here, students can learn from prerecorded videos, access handouts, and digital files, or submit their course assignments.

On the other hand, in-classroom learning, which is how traditional degrees are delivered, requires students to attend lessons each week at the same time with their instructor and classmates in one location. The obvious benefit is that you get to interact, network, and form bonds with your peers during lessons. However, asynchronous learning offers more flexibility to students.

Socialization

As mentioned previously, one of the benefits of in-classroom learning is that you can easily socialize with your peers and expand your network. This can be especially useful to supply chain management graduates who are looking to land jobs in specific industries. It also makes it easy for students to collaborate on group projects or even help each other study for tests.

In the case of online students, socialization is not completely absent. After all, most learning management systems are equipped with chat functions or discussion rooms and students can always leverage videoconferencing tools if need be. However, unlike when you attend classes in person, communicating with your peers will take extra effort.

Skills developed

One of the key differences between online and traditional supply chain management programs is the skills that the students develop. For instance, should you choose to take face-to-face classes, there is a better chance that you can develop interpersonal skills and a knack for collaboration, both of which are important for supply chain management. Meanwhile, if you take your classes online, you might not be able to hone your communication skills as much but you can pick up other skills like time management as well as self-discipline. Plus, there’s the added benefit that taking classes completely online will force you to become more acquainted with digital tools that are becoming more popular among SCM professionals today.

Is an online degree cheaper?

In general, online degree programs can be cheaper than on-campus programs because students do not need to pay for the many overhead expenses associated with running the latter. In fact, 51% of students who chose to study online had costs/affordability in mind when choosing online schools (Statista, 2020).

Just keep in mind that an online degree program is not automatically cheaper than a traditional degree. Other fees can increase the overall cost of attendance. Some schools charge application fees, fees for transferring credits, and technology fees to their online students. Also, schools may charge different fees for online students depending on their distance from campus.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

Many factors contribute to the quality of a particular degree program. Regular degrees may be perceived as having a higher quality because it is time-tested but this is not necessarily true. Online degrees can be on par with regular degrees if it is duly accredited and the institution has qualified faculty members to teach the courses. Plus, there are also online degrees that offer more rigorous curricula than regular degrees. As such, it all boils down to the program that you choose. To know which types of degrees are most suitable for online education, check these best online degrees.

Source: Statista, 2020

How much does an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management cost?

Public schools usually charge an average of $316 per credit for an undergraduate online program, while private schools charge an average of $488. A typical bachelor’s degree consists of 120 credits. So, you can expect to spend around $37,920 and $58,560 at a public and private institution, respectively.

On top of the tuition, there can be other expenses, such as books and software that both on-campus and online students must shoulder. Supply chain management majors often use essential SCM software for demand forecasting, order processing, and inventory management.

Some programs include capstone courses that help students synthesize what they have learned in the program coursework.  Supply chain management majors can work in groups and be tasked to research and design solutions to real-world supply chain management problems encountered by companies. Also, capstone courses might require a fixed-term residency at the university, which can incur costs in transportation, meals, and room and board.

Is an online bachelor’s degree in supply chain management worth it?

A degree in supply chain management can lead to in-demand jobs not just in logistics but also in transportation, manufacturing, and management. It is a worthwhile degree to pursue because your skills and knowledge can be applied to several occupations and you can even qualify for more lucrative job roles as you advance in your career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  50% of transportation, storage, and distribution managers, which include supply chain managers, had a median annual pay of $94,730 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). This puts supply chain managers in the top tier of high-paying college majors receiving $90,000 and above.

supply chain management annual pay

What are the requirements of a Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management?

The list of admission requirements will differ depending on the program. You should at least prepare your academic records from high school like your diploma and transcript of records. Going into your program with some awareness of the general skills you will need to succeed will also help check your progress along the way.

Admission Requirements

  • Transcript of records. Applicants need to submit their high school transcripts/GED or college transcripts if they are transferring from another institution. Keep in mind that there are schools that would require a minimum GPA or pay attention to your grades in specific subjects.
  • Test results for ACT or SAT. Depending on the school, students might need to submit their ACT or SAT results.
  • Letters of recommendation. Ideally, these recommendation letters should come from former teachers and guidance counselors or, if you already have some work experience, from your boss.
  • Official application form. Prospective students need to fill out an official application form from the school. This will contain information such as their personal details and educational history. This is often submitted alongside an application fee.
  • English proficiency test scores for international students. Many colleges require foreign students to submit their English proficiency test results. These could be from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Some may also admit students with lower scores with the condition that they improve their English by enrolling in an intensive program offered by the university prior to the start of their regular classes.

General Requirements

  • Technology skills. SMCs need tech skills to effectively handle IT systems and other business applications they use in their day-to-day tasks.
  • Negotiation and relationship-building skills. These are important for SMCs to have since they deal with different vendors/suppliers. Part of their job is to get their products to end customers at the lowest cost and most efficient way possible, making maintaining a network of reliable business partners crucial to accomplishing this goal.
  • Attention to detail. SMCs need strong attention to detail as they try to manage different stages of the supply chain. This skill makes it possible to improve efficiency and increase productivity in the workplace.
  • Leadership. SMCs not only manage processes but people as well. They need to facilitate fluid collaboration with all the departments involved in seeing the company’s product or service through from start to finish.

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

Not all students successfully finish an online degree program. The dropout rate of online students reaches 96% on average over five years (Reich, J. and Ruipérez-Valiente, J, 2019). One of the challenges is technology, which can make it difficult for some students to participate in lessons, access their course materials, and accomplish assignments. Make sure you inquire about the technology and devices you will need for the online program, such as the specs for student laptops, the software you need to download and run on your device, and operating systems that are compatible with your school’s learning management system.

online student dropout rate

Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

The exact curriculum of online degree programs in supply chain management varies depending on the school. But the most common courses you can expect to attend in most programs are included below.

Supply Chain Management

Students study foundational concepts in value-driven supply chains. They cover topics such as planning, procurement, asset management, and design and management. This course also introduces students to current practices, trends, and issues in the industry. Supply chain digitization, for example, is now the trend for many companies. However, with the trend comes a serious threat to the cybersecurity of supply chains as well.

The study, “Managing Cyber Risk in Supply Chains: A Review and Research Agenda” published in the Journal of Supply Chain Management focused on this issue and asked how can organizations manage cyber risks in supply chains (Ghadge, A., Weiß, M., Caldwell, N.D. and Wilding, R., 2020). Using the term ‘cyber supply chains,’ authors Abhijeet Ghadge (Cranfield University), Maximilian Weiß (Heriot-Watt University), Nigel D. Caldwell (Heriot-Watt University), and Richard Wilding (Cranfield University) investigated cyber risk management in supply chain contexts. “At its core, supply chain management is a discipline of connectedness; integrating the activities and processes of diverse organizations into effectively functioning networks. But with supply chain integration comes dependencies, some purely commercial, but many arising from integrating IT systems to exchange data/information, giving rise to supply chain cyber risk,” the authors explained.

The study concluded that there is a strong link between IT and organizational and supply chain security systems. It added that human behavioral elements are critical in cybersecurity but companies have been focusing on technical aspects (data, application, and network) risks. “There is a need for raising risk awareness, standardized policies, collaborative strategies, and empirical models for creating supply chain cyber-resilience.”

Operations Management

This course provides students with knowledge on how to run day-to-day operations for a business or how to manage specific parts of a production process. It covers topics such as facilities management, workflow and staffing, distribution, forecasting, and cost control, among others.

In real-world scenarios, students can apply the skills they learn in this course when maintaining inventories or making key decisions in coordinating production, managing sales, and assigning staff schedules and duties. Skills in operations management are also essential when determining customer demand, coordinating pricing, sales, and budgeting activities.

Project Management

Students learn the skills needed for a supply chain manager to effectively plan and control projects so that a defined goal can be met within a set period of time, scope, and budget. Projects are not typically part of day-to-day operations; thus can be more challenging and unpredictable. Experienced supply chain managers usually implement multi-faceted project management to make sure that supply chain tasks within a project flow smoothly and reach set goals. Common topics covered in this course include resource management, project lifecycles, risk management, and integration management.

Business Policy and Strategy

This course covers principles in business management and how they affect strategy development for an organization’s supply chain. Students learn the concepts and strategies that company management use in making high-level decisions that consider the supply chain as a whole—from product development/design, manufacturing, suppliers, vendors, logistics, and customers.

For instance, companies need to plan and establish their digital supply chain systems to gain more actionable insights into their supply chain.  Only 20% of enterprises have visibility into their supply chains compared to the 70% needed to address key future volatility points. Moreover, 84% of chief supply chain officers said that “lack of visibility across the supply chain was the biggest challenge they face.” (Supply Chain Brain, 2020).

Supply Chain Visibility Among Enterprises

Chart context menu
View in full screen
Print chart

Download PNG image
Download JPEG image
Download SVG vector image

Source: Supply Chain Brain, 2020

Designed by

Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

With 41% of online students saying their experience studying online is better than their in-classroom experience, it is hard not to be convinced of the benefits of taking your bachelor’s degree in supply chain management online. However, look for these things before you enroll in a program.

Accreditation

Accreditation is one important factor that can impact the credibility of your online degree. Make sure the higher education institution offering the online program is accredited by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Support Services 

Online students need as much support as on-campus students. As a supply chain management major, you will need access to a slew of reading materials, such as case studies and industry theories to fulfill your coursework. Most of these are difficult or expensive to procure. This is why it is best to choose a university that provides its online students access to online educational support. You should also ask about schedules for faculty consultations and technical support throughout the program. For example, online students might need technical assistance when they are not able to access the school’s learning management system or cannot download course materials.

Professional Associations in Supply Chain Management

If your school works with or has faculty who are members of recognized professional associations in supply chain management, it can be easier for you to establish your professional network and get your footing in the industry. Examples of these professional associations are the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). You can also try to get internships or certifications from these professional associations that you can eventually add to your credentials once you make yourself available in the job market.

online learning experience

Prepare for Your Online Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management

A degree in supply chain management can lead to lucrative careers in industries, ranging from manufacturing and transportation to data analysis and customer service. Plus, fresh graduates can look forward to a positive job outlook for supply chain managers. However, before you pursue this academic path, it is best to choose the best online bachelor’s degree in supply chain management for you.

This guide has laid out some of the most important details you need to know so you can make an informed decision. Just make sure that you set aside enough time to research your prospective schools and programs as well as prepare your admission requirements. You should also try to calculate your cost of attendance, making sure it is something that you can realistically manage. This guide on choosing the best colleges and universities can be a useful resource to help you out on this front.

You might also want to look into the different types of financial aid you can receive as an online student. Start by checking the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and by learning more about student loans.

 

References:

  1. Ghadge, A., Weiß, M., Caldwell, N.D. and Wilding, R. (2020). Managing Cyber Risk in Supply Chains: A Review and Research Agenda. Retrieved from Journal of Supply Chain Management https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-10-2018-0357
  2. Northeastern University. (2019). What Employers Really Think about Your Online Degree. Retrieved from https://www.northeastern.edu/bachelors-completion/news/are-online-degrees-resp
  3. Reich, J. and Ruipérez-Valiente, J. (2019). The MOOC Pivot. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330316898_The_MOOC_pivot
  4. SupplyChain. (2021). The Integrated Supply Chain: AI, ML, and Human Intelligence. Retrieved from https://supplychaindigital.com/technology/integrated-supply-chain-ai-ml-and-human-intelligencected/
  5. Supply Chain Brain. (2020). In 2020, Supply-Chain Digitization Is No Longer Optional. Retrieved from https://www.supplychainbrain.com/blogs/1-think-tank/post/31062-in-2020-supply-chain-digitization-is-no-longer-optional
  6. UNESCO (2018). Massification of Higher Education Revisited. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/36975860/Massification_of_higher_education_revisited
  7. US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019). Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes113071.htm

Newsletter & Conference Alerts

Research.com uses the information to contact you about our relevant content. For more information, check out our privacy policy.