Supply Chain U.: AMR Rates Top Colleges for Supply Chain Studies

What do companies want college grads to understand about supply chain management? More than what the U.S.'s best university programs now provide, new research shows.

For students enrolled in U.S. universities' supply chain programs, life must be a little different than the average co-ed.

For instance, while most students will think only about where to acquire, say, a case of beer, supply chain students probably take into account: 1. Where the cheapest beer can be found; 2. The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the route to get the beer; 3. The propensity of out-of-stocks at certain stores; 4. The quality of past shipments of beers (QA check!); and 5. What is the backup beer supplier, if something should go wrong with the primary beer-sourcing partner.

All kidding aside, AMR Research has just released its first-ever industry and academic study of U.S.-based university programs that focus on supply chain management. The research is an analytic combination of what 126 companies said they wanted in supply chain grads and what 19 university programs offered today.

Penn State and Michigan State universities topped the list (see below for the rest of the top 10).

Overall, the AMR report states that while many strong programs exist, "unfortunately, most universities are only partially meeting the most pressing needs from industry, with supply chain programs on average teaching only 5 of 11 academic areas [wanted by industry respondents], inconsistently applying supply chain technology, and not ensuring sufficient applied knowledge transfer."

So what do supply chain industry organizations want in university programs? "The additional capabilities required for most advanced supply chain organizations demand a different academic experience that educates generalists," notes the report. "The best programs create a more fully formed supply chain professional that can make a quick transition from recruit to productive member of the new organization...and have a broad understanding of [global] supply chain concepts."

That's easy to see as one looks at the challenges facing supply chain professionals today. Risks are everywhere, even in the best supply chains: a shrinking pool of global suppliers to deal with; pirates at sea and in China, now going after companies' IP; pressing green and sustainability issues; and a decades' old "cheaper, faster, better" mantra that has created huge data blindspots.

Leading U.S. Supply Chain Programs

These universities own the top 10 spots in AMR Research's June 2009 list

Rank / Total Score Institution
1 / 48 Pennsylvania State University
2 / 45 Michigan State University
3 / 37 Arizona State University
4 / 36 Ohio State University
5 / 34 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6 / 33 University of Tennessee
6 / 33 Georgia Institute of Technology
8 / 30 Texas A&M University
9 / 27 Syracuse University
10 / 26 University of Michigan
Source: AMR Research, June 2009

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