High Speed Connections
The MS in Supply Chain Management Online
Pursuing a master’s degree was always at the back of Peter Karakashian’s mind. An operations advisor at Whirlpool, Karakashian had firsthand experience in supply chain management and wanted to build on it, but lacked the flexibility as he continued to work full-time. When he heard about the new Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Online at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, he was intrigued. “It simplifies everything for working professionals like me,” he says. “I can sign up for courses, read the textbooks, and participate in discussions and video meetings from anywhere in the world.”
Student Nihar Patel also appreciates the program’s flexibility. “It allows me to maintain a healthy balance between work, life, and school,” says Patel, an account development manager at Pilot Flying J. “The flexible pace is helpful, too.” Students may take between 18 months and five years to complete the program.
The program’s online textbooks include links to supplemental articles, videos, and other media. “We’ve also incorporated interviews with supply chain corporate partners,” Shay Scott, executive director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at Haslam, says. “These executives help the concepts come alive by talking about how their companies are addressing course topics.” As part of the program, the faculty also created “Sole’d Out,” a series of short videos in the style of The Office. “It’s an integrative case study about how a fictional shoe company struggles with improving their supply chain,” says Scott. “This case study helps students internalize the robust curriculum by creating memorable, often humorous, sketches to illustrate concepts.”
Tiffany Mobley, international customer support supervisor in supply chain planning at Cummins, entered the program in fall 2019. “The curriculum is very well organized, and the concepts we’re covering are extremely relevant to my daily experiences at work,” she says. “It’s providing me with insights and strategic thinking skills, helping me have better, more meaningful and relevant conversations with colleagues.”
Launched last fall with 41 students, the program fills the emerging need to educate professionals on the myriad developments in the field of supply chain management. Within the quickly developing field, both employees and employers are searching for educational institutions that can equip them and their organizations to use supply chain management to create competitive advantage. “Our corporate partners strongly advocated that we launch this program to supplement our bachelor’s and executive education offerings as we didn’t have a degree program that was available fully online,” Scott says.
One of the program’s strengths is its emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. An online platform facilitates communication and levels the playing field for students who might not typically speak up in class. “We deliberately admitted students who could learn from each another in addition to learning from the content of the program,” says Chad Autry, department head and FedEx Corporation Endowed Professor of Supply Chain Management. “If students really want to grow in the field, they can learn from faculty and industry leaders, but also their peers.” The online environment eliminates geographic barriers and brings global perspectives into classes. “I appreciate how this program connects people from different industries and countries,” says student Susana Blowfield, a sourcing team leader at Cummins. “When we talk about trade, we have someone in China who can offer a different perspective. Many people don’t have the opportunity to travel, but we can still learn from each other across the miles.”