eSide Supply Management Newsletter Logo

Research & Surveys

The Top 5 Supply Management Programs in America


RaeAnn Slaybaugh

November/December 2009, eSide Supply Management Vol. 2, No. 6

These programs are preparing graduates for increasingly global, integrated roles in the profession.

This summer, AMR Research set out to identify which U.S.-based supply management university programs are doing the best job preparing students for increasingly global, integrated real-world supply management roles. David Aquino and Bob Kraus, authors of Leading U.S. Supply Chain Programs, 2009, surveyed 126 companies and 19 universities to determine how well U.S. universities are teaching 11 key components, or "talent attribute stations," necessary for supply management graduates today:

Top Supply Chain Programs: Scale Showing Money on One Side and Education on the Other
  1. Plan
  2. Source
  3. Make
  4. Deliver
  5. Customer management
  6. Post-sales support
  7. New product development and launch,
  8. Strategy and change management
  9. Performance measurement and analytics
  10. Technology enablement
  11. Governance

"The most successful programs give students the chance to experience more of these 11 stations within the curriculum and deliver applied knowledge through simulation, timed projects, cooperative opportunities and meaningful internships," explain Aquino and Kraus. "The best ones create a more fully formed supply chain professional who can make a quick transition from recruit to productive member of the new organization."

How They Measured Up

For ranking purposes, every program was scrutinized in three categories: industry value, depth of program and scope of program.

Industry value was based on number of recruiting mentions, number of best program mentions and average base salary across programs. "Essentially, we gauged whether or not companies feel the university is delivering as promised," Aquino and Kraus explain.

Depth of program was gauged by number of undergrads, number of grad students, number of full-time professors and number of supply chain programs offered. "This category broadly evaluates commitment," they say. "Industry has spoken clearly about not only needing improved supply chain quality, but also sheer number of graduates."

Scope of program was based on number of supply chain stations taught, number of supply chain courses offered, mean number of supply chain courses required, and academic and research innovation. The breadth of each program was also quantified by determining how many of the aforementioned 11 talent attribute stations are taught within each school's program. Combined, these findings enabled Aquino and Kraus to determine if each university understands what needs to be taught.

The Top 5 Performers

Table: University Program Strengths

Penn State University

  • Ranked No. 1 in industry value Penn State garnered an unusually high amount of mentions for its recruiting attractiveness and "best university."
  • Ranked No. 1 in depth of program Researchers found that its supply management program has a "huge" number of undergraduate and graduate students (more than 800), as well as 29 full-time professors focused on supply chain management versus an median of 12 in other schools.
  • Ranked No. 2 in scope of program (tied with MIT) — Penn State offers the maximum number of supply management programs — five across all levels — each of which graduates about 1,000 students annually.
  • Honorable mention for academic and research innovation Aquino and Kraus appreciated Penn State's academic research efforts in the area of risk management.

Michigan State University

  • Ranked No. 1 in scope of program With more than 39 supply management courses, Michigan State tops the list in the scope of program category. Along with Penn State, it also offers the maximum number of programs across all levels: five.
  • Ranked No. 2 in industry value Michigan State garnered the most mentions for recruiting attractiveness and best program.
  • Ranked No. 3 in depth of program With more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students in its programs, enrollment at Michigan State is among the largest of the schools studied.
  • Honorable mention for academic and research innovation Aquino and Kraus spotlighted Michigan's State's demand-driven, focused research efforts in the area of risk management and sustainability.

Arizona State University

  • Ranked No. 3 in industry value The researchers lauded Arizona State's high amount of recruiting attractiveness mentions.
  • Ranked No. 3 in scope of program ASU teaches four of the 11 talent attribute stations, which was preceded only by Michigan State and Penn State, which each cover five.
  • Ranked No. 5 in depth of program Arizona State has 400-plus undergraduate and graduate supply management students, one of highest enrollment figures identified. It also employs more than 20 full-time professors, compared to the average of 12.
  • Honorable mention for academic and research innovation Aquino and Kraus were impressed by Arizona State's demand-driven, focused research on integrated supply chain management.

Ohio State University

  • Ranked No. 4 in depth of program Ohio State has more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in its programs, among the most of all the schools studied. It also has more than 20 full-time professors versus the median: 12.
  • Ranked No. 5 in industry value It garnered three mentions for recruiting attractiveness, as well as four "best university" mentions, which was trumped only by Penn State's five.
  • Honorable mention for academic and research innovation Ohio State's research on understanding the role of effective partnerships in supply chain management caught Aquino and Kraus's attention.


  • Ranked No. 2 in scope of program (tied with Penn State) — While MIT tied with Penn State in this category, MIT requires completion of four supply management courses to graduate versus Penn State's three.
  • Ranked No. 5 in industry value MIT topped the list of base salaries for bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. graduates in supply management at US$116,000 per year.
Areas for Improvement

While Aquino and Kraus's research showed many strong programs, they point out that most universities are only teaching a median of five of the 11 talent attribute stations needed by supply management graduates entering the profession.

"On a weighted basis, the university group we evaluated would score a 'B,'" they assert. "There are still concerns surrounding incorporating risk management into courses, as well as leadership/management techniques for global or matrixed teams."

To view the report in its entirety, visit the AMR Research Web site.

RaeAnn Slaybaugh is a writer for the Institute for supply Management™. To contact this author, please send an e-mail to

For more research and survey findings, visit the ISM articles database.

Take me to the eSide home page.

Back to Top