With companies investing ever greater resources in their supply chain there is a distinct trend to have the best and brightest employees managing those supply chains. In the past companies have employed supply chain managers with various levels of education that covered a wide range of subjects. But today companies are looking to hire supply chain professionals that have some kind of formal educational qualification in Logistics or Supply Chain Management.
The supply chain professional who is employed full-time has limited options when they are considering further education. Most people currently working in supply chain may have general business degrees or even MBA’s, but the curriculum followed in the majority of MBA courses is very general and most will not cover any supply chain functionality. This leaves employers unable to hire professionals with specific supply chain education.
However, as the importance of the supply chain has become more clearly understood, some MBA courses are including some supply chain education, but this is not a substitute for supply chain specific courses. Industry focused organizations have now become more involved in the education of supply chain professionals and are activity reviewing curriculum from educational institutions across the US and abroad. In October 2007 the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) gave their first approval for a Master’s in Supply Chain Management. The ISM Approved Master of Science in Supply Chain Management is taught at the University of San Diego located in San Diego, California. The thirty-six credit course is a web-based degree that is ideal for those supply chain professionals who are employed full-time but need to reach a higher level of education to advance in their position. The course has now been accredited by the Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).
The University of San Diego (USD) is in a unique position when it comes to supply chain education. They have been providing supply chain management education to students at the undergraduate and graduate levels for more than 25 years. ISM gave their approval of the Master of Science degree not only due to the unique curriculum, but also due to the university’s web-based approach, which is of great benefit to those professionals employed full-time.
The Master of Science Supply Chain Management course at USD is delivered in two twelve month phases. A Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management (GC-SCM) is awarded to those who complete the first phase of the course. This is a distinct benefit to those students who need to take a break between the two phases. They will still have obtained a formal supply chain certification that they can use in their professional career before they return to complete the second phase of the course.
The first phase of the Master’s course is aimed at developing a student’s knowledge and understanding how supply chains operate. This continues in reviewing how supply chains are managed, understanding the financial aspects of supply chain costs and developing a student’s project management skills.
In the second phase of the course students will develop their negotiation skills and learn to work cooperatively with suppliers to achieve maximum efficiency and profitability. The second phase will help students develop their leadership skills in other areas such as change management. Students will use their own supply chain experience to help understand the topics studied over the duration of the course. The subjects included in the course incorporate company-related projects to ensure that students receive an educational experience which is relevant to their specific career objectives in supply chain.
Future Trends for Supply Chain Education
Courses in Supply Chain such as the Master’s degree at USD are a start when it comes to having a formally educated supply chain workforce. In order for companies to be able to hire professionals who have been through a number of years of education specifically targeted at supply chain issues, many more courses need to be available. The course at USD offers a template for other educational institutes to adopt so that they can educate the supply chain leaders of tomorrow.
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