Inside USD

Supply Chain Master’s Rises to the Top

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Joining USD’s master’s in supply chain management program helped improve Nicholas Baird’s position in his company and his pay. And that was just in the first year, said Baird, an operations manager and safety director for Hadco Construction in Utah.

“Every single class has given me tools and assets that I have been able to implement immediately,” said Baird who earned his degree last fall.

Student satisfaction like Baird’s was a big reason USD’s program was recently ranked as one of the country’s top 20 online graduate business programs this month by U.S. News & World Report.

USD’s program to train professionals in advanced techniques to efficiently design, produce and deliver goods and services ranked 14th in the nation, jumping nine spots from last year’s ranking of 23rd. The program received high marks in the ranking’s criteria of faculty credentials and training and student engagement. Other criteria included admissions selectivity, peer reputation and student services and technology.

U.S. News’ ranking was a “great recognition of our work to create one of the nation’s top programs,” said Lauren Lukens, director of USD’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management. “Our blend of online learning and limited campus sessions make it possible for professionals across the country to participate in this rigorous and career advancing program. Students not only learn from premier faculty within the supply chain management discipline but they also learn from their fellow classmates through the sharing of best practices and lessons learned.”

James Palombo, a Navy reservist and executive recruiter for the Lucas Group, said the flexibility of the program “greatly benefited me. As a reserve officer in the Navy, I’m not in a fixed location.” But with the online format he was able to participate in the program from a variety of locations including South Korea, Northern California and Virginia. The program “gave me the opportunity to interact with my cohort, my professors and receive the curriculum in a way I couldn’t have with a traditional brick and mortar education,” said Palombo who earned his degree last fall.

Supply chain management continues to be one of the hottest career fields in today’s global economy. USD’s program, which can be completed in 24 months, is a hybrid online program allowing professionals to work regular business hours while connecting with students and professors online and in person. Students also visit the campus five times in two years for invaluable face-to-face time. The rigorous curriculum is case-based and rich with simulations, reflecting current practices by real-world professionals. In place of a thesis, students identify an issue within their own company and discover ways to save $50,000 or more.

USD’s supply chain master’s program was the first of its kind to be approved by the U.S.-based Institute for Supply Management (ISM). It was also the first U.S. degree accredited by the United Kingdom-based Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply (CIPS). Professionals who are benefitting from USD’s program and moving up within their organizations come from a variety of industries including high technology, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy, and higher education.

“Our ranking in the top 20 is a tribute to the high caliber, skill and dedication of both our faculty and students,” said David Pyke, dean of USD’s School of Business Administration.

Graduates say the program has set them up for career success and advancement. Rebecca Johnson, a purchasing manager at Intuitive Surgical, a medical device firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, who graduated in 2012, credited the program with giving her the skills to “move into more of a leadership role within my company and transition to more of a strategic focus for the organization.”

– Liz Harman

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