Ranking The Top Graduate & Undergraduate Supply Chain Programs

Everyone is learning a lot about supply chains in the coronavirus era. As Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other delivery services assume ever more prominent roles in our lives, the importance of the production and distribution of commodities is something we all have — and must — come to appreciate.

So it’s good timing for Gartner, the research and advisory company, to release its biennial ranking of companies that lead the way in the crucial role of moving needed products or services from manufacturers to consumers. It’s good timing, too, for our purposes at Poets&Quants that Gartner has also released its top-25 rankings of both graduate and undergraduate supply chain programs, giving us insights into the salaries, placement rates, and diversity levels of the best programs in the United States for getting things where they need to go.

Penn State’s Smeal College of Business topped Gartner’s graduate ranking for the second straight time, followed by the University of Tennessee (up from third in 2018), Georgia Institute of Technology (up from 11th), Michigan State University (unchanged), and the University of Texas-Austin. The McCombs School of Business ranked 20th two years ago. The University of Michigan, which ranked second in 2018, slipped to sixth this year.

On the undergraduate list, the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business is best, followed by Rutgers University, Penn State, Texas-Austin, and the University of South Carolina.


Gartner’s biennial pair of rankings are intended to support chief supply chain officers, heads of supply chain strategy, and supply chain HR partners in their quest to identify the B-school programs from which they can recruit the best talent. Foremost among the company’s findings since 2016 is the explosion of Master of Supply Chain Management programs: Gartner now examines 30 at major schools, up from 18 four years ago. Taking part in this year’s survey were 67 universities in all, 59 of which were eligible for the undergraduate program ranking and 50 for the graduate program ranking. The rankings rely on 2018-2019 data.

Looking at graduate schools, Gartner analysts Dana Stiffler and Caroline Chumakov, authors of this year’s study and rankings, found that the average salary for a supply chain MBA at $91,949, up from $88,935 in the last ranking in 2018. The average salary for a Master’s in Supply Chain Management is $85,879, up from $83,066. MBAs from the top 10 ranked programs average well over $100,000 in annual salary. At the top programs, which includes MBA and specialized master’s programs, 45% of current students are already employed and do not plan to switch careers or employers post-graduation; 42% got a new job prior to graduation, while 18% were employed within three months after graduation.

On the diversity front, 47% of graduate students were ethnic minorities, down slightly from 48% in 2018, and 40% were women, up from 37%. International enrollment declined by 5%. Women faculty rose to 28% from 17%.

Penn State Smeal’s Supply Chain and Information Systems Department has 20 faculty and a dedicated recruiting center exclusively for supply chain career assistance. Smeal’s Center for Supply Chain Research supports both theoretical and applied research, with faculty “often working closely with research centers within the college and collaborating with colleagues in other disciplines or in industry,” according to the department’s web page. “Supply chain faculty are nationally and internationally recognized scholars, holding editorships, associate editorships, and editorial board memberships on more than 20 prominent refereed journals.”

Among Gartner’s graduate programs to watch are the University of Houston, ranked 26th this year, Bowling Green State University (27th), and the University of San Diego (28th), all of which “feature global content.”


Gartner found that the average starting salary for undergraduates is $58,569, up from $56,973 in 2018. In the top 10 undergraduate programs, the average salary is notably higher: $63,067, up from $61,654 two years ago. Nor is it a problem for bachelor’s degree holders to find supply chain work: 74% of graduates from the 25 ranked programs are placed by graduation, and 94% within three months of accepting their degrees.

Twenty-four percent of professors in the top 25 were female, and 30% were minorities, Gartner found, with popular areas of focus including customer management, project management, and governance.

At the University of Arkansas Walton College, Supply Chain Management majors complete foundational courses covering the holistic and integrated areas of supply chain management. They complete a required internship and select one of seven minors: Business Analytics, ERP/Blockchain, Finance, Economics, Management, Marketing, or Retail. Students also benefit from the Walton College Supply Chain Management Research Center, which connects them to industry executives, internships, and job opportunities.

Gartner’s undergraduate programs to watch include the University of North Texas, Georgia Southern University, and Wayne State University.

See the next page for Gartner’s graduate and undergraduate supply chain rankings, and click here for the complete 2020 Gartner schools report. 

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.