Do I need an MBA or an MS in Supply chain?

Man sits at computer desk
Do I need an MBA or MS? - Photo by Olia Danilevich

I see a lot of folks asking the question if they should get their MBA or MS in Supply Chain. The answer is not always cut and dry, so make sure to read thoroughly and decide for yourself if it's the right time to go back to school for either of these post-graduate degrees.

Do I need an MBA or MS in Supply Chain?

No, you do not need an MBA nor an MS in Supply Chain to progress in your career. Many people are able to get promotions through experience and applying to new positions. Experience, an eagerness to learn, and positive attitude are the three biggest factors in progressing through a Supply Chain career.

Asking the Right Questions

Outside of director roles, having an MBA or MS is not typically a hard requirement. However, you should consider a few different factors when deciding yes or no. What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in 10, 15 years?

Start looking at job postings for your dream position or a position above your current role. What do those postings state in the "qualifications" section of the posts? Is an MBA preferred? Or an MS?

What is an MBA vs. MS Degree?

An M.S means a Master of Science degree. It is normally a full-time 2-year degree focusing on a specific field. High level, it typically has a requirement for a thesis or a research component. This is going to be a much more focused degree compared to an MBA. An MS is a great option if you want to specialize in a specific area of supply chain and you are eager to do technical research.

An MBA is Masters in Business Administration. It is a professional degree geared towards general business and key business management practices. Topics include a wide array of subjects, such as statistics, communication, corporate law, operations, marketing, finance, ethics, and more. An MBA is a good option for someone looking to become a director or manager, as it's more a high-level management degree compared to an MS.

My Company pays tuition reimbursement. Should I get a degree?

This should be given serious consideration. If your employer offers reimbursement for a degree, you should absolutely consider going back to school. Make sure you check the requirements as far as how long you'll have to stay after graduation though. Something like 1-2 years is fine, but longer than that and you could be leaving money on the table by not switching into a new role with a higher-paying company post-degree.

There are a few considerations to getting a degree

  • Does my current job leave me the energy needed to go to school while working?
  • Does my current company offer tuition reimbursement?
  • Do I have time to complete my studies? (1-2 hours at least per weekday and more on weekends)
  • Do I have the motivation to learn and get all I can from my degree?

Will I make more money with a MBA or MS In Supply Chain?

Not necessarily. There isn't a magic wand that's waved that increases your paycheck. It will be up to you to apply for promotions or (more likely) new roles at a higher-paying company.

Typically you can use a post-graduate degree as leverage to get your foot in the door at a new place. Both programs love to tout that their graduates make more money after graduation, which can certainly be true. But in the end you'll have to actually apply to get those increases in income.


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