The annual supply chain management department’s Meet & Greet event at Rutgers Business School was launched five years ago as a way to connect undergraduate supply chain management majors with potential employers in the field. The first one was a modest affair, attracting 112 students and 20 companies. As interest in the major has skyrocketed the last few years, the gathering has become one of the hottest events on campus, with campus police needed to monitor crowds. More than 650 students attended the one held at the school’s campus center last fall, eager to hobnob with the 87 companies who descended on the new Piscataway, N.J., campus.
It has become so popular – more than 100 employers plan to attend this year’s event — that plans are underway to hold the next one at the mammoth New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, said Eugene Spiegle, instructor and undergraduate program director of the department of supply chain management and marketing sciences. “There’s nothing on campus that is big enough anymore for us.” Spiegle said.
Most undergraduate students enter business school barely even knowing what supply chain management is, instead setting their sights on more comfortable and well-trodden paths like finance or accounting. That is starting to change as supply chain management, a once sleepy subject that used to be the sole domain of MBA students and master’s programs, is becoming a popular, sought-after major on undergraduate campuses.
PLACEMENT RATES ARE BETWEEN 85% & 100% FOR SUPPLY CHAIN MAJORS
Those who study it learn how to oversee the movements of raw materials, inventory and finished goods from the conception, or point-of-origin, to the end-point, the consumer. There are now at least 150 undergraduate business schools that offer bachelor’s degrees either in supply chain management or with a concentration in the area, according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Supply Management, a Tempe, Arizona-based industry group.
In the last 15 years or so there has been an explosion of college programs in the subject, said Ashley Anne Peightal, a senior research associate at the Institute for Supply Management. “About 20 years ago, companies on both the non-manufacturing and manufacturing side realized how valuable supply chain management is because of the need for globalization and other factors,” she said. “Supply chains became inherently more complicated for this reason and obtaining formal training has become more and more important, and the positions, well paid.”
Supply chain undergraduate placement rates are between 85% to 100% and, in many cases, graduates are accepting higher starting salaries than finance and accounting majors. The average starting salary for undergraduates is $53,584, and top students are commanding premiums $25,000 or more beyond this.
RUTGERS BUSINESS SCHOOL WILL HAVE 835 STUDENTS IN THE MAJOR THIS FALL
What’s more, the future is nothing but bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, supply chain management is projected to continue as one of the fastest growing industries for jobs over the next ten years. As a result, many undergraduate programs have been eager to get their students up to snuff in the field.
Rutgers has been on the forefront of this trend, and now has one of the leading undergraduate and graduate supply chain management programs in the country. The school first delved into the field back in 2000 with a supply chain major certificate program for MBA students, and a year later made it into an MBA concentration, said Lei Lei, the dynamic dean of Rutgers Business School—Newark and New Brunswick and the founding director of the Rutgers Center for Supply Chain Management. The program quickly became one of the largest MBA concentrations, and was such a success that the school decided to introduce an undergraduate supply chain program in 2009 and an undergraduate major in 2010, Lei said.
There will be 835 students from the New Brunswick and Newark campuses majoring in supply chain management this fall, up 15% from last year. In the next year to year-and-a-half, Spiegle projects that number to reach 1000 students. Students are drawn to the field because of bright career prospects and attractive starting salaries, he said. The median starting salary for a undergraduate major Rutgers is $78,000, well above the overall average at other schools, and students are hired for jobs such as senior procurement specialists, purchasing agents and demand mangers, the school said. Nearly 100% of supply chain management juniors at the school obtain a summer co-op or internship, and more 95% of graduating seniors secure jobs three months out of school.