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April 28, 2017
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University of Michigan revamps SCM program, debuts Supply Chain Consulting Studio

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The Master's in Supply Chain Management program now places greater emphasis on data analytics and leadership skills.

With an eye toward growing its influence in the supply chain management field, the University of Michigan has revamped its 10-month Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM) program to include a stronger emphasis on data analytics and leadership skills. The university also created what it calls the Supply Chain Consulting Studio.

The changes were partially driven by the school's desire to double the number of applicants it accepts for the nine-year-old master's program, from between 20 and 30 per year to 50 to 60. A surge of applicants in recent years meant that the school has had to turn away many high-quality applicants it would have liked to accommodate, said Hyun-Soo Ahn, professor of operations and management science at Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and faculty director of the MSCM program.

One of the biggest changes involved replacing a summer internship format with the Supply Chain Consulting Studio, a six-credit-hour course offered during the winter semester (which runs from January to April) that combines solving a real-world problem with classroom and case discussions. An advisory group of companies will submit their real-world problems to the master's students. Teams of four to five students will then work on the problems throughout the semester. While most of the work will be done at school, the students will also visit company sites to collect data and conduct interviews. The teams will present their solutions to the companies at the end of the semester.

The curriculum has also been altered to more closely align with the supply chain skills that are in high demand in the marketplace. For example, students now must complete seven credit hours focused on data and analytics. The revised program also takes into account student demographics. Currently, many applicants are international students, who come from countries such as India, China, South Korea, and Mexico. However, according to Ahn, many U.S.-based companies, particularly in the automobile industry, prefer not to hire international candidates to management positions. "But even these companies are open to hiring international candidates for [jobs involving] data analysis and business analytics," he said.

To complement these technical, analytical skills, the program also provides intensive training in leadership and other "soft" skills. "The skills that graduates need to get hired include being able to analyze a problem, perform data analytics, and understand lean management, but in order to get promoted once they have been hired, graduates also need leadership and other soft skills," Ahn said.

The new program begins in July. The program accepted students during the first round of applications in December. The deadline for the second round of applications is February 1, and the third is in March. Interested applicants can check out an online information session on February 16.

Susan Lacefield is Senior Editor of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.

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