PhD in Supply Chain Management


The doctoral program in Supply Chain Management is designed to produce outstanding scholars in the fields of logistics, transportation, and supply chain management. Graduates of the program are well-qualified to take academic positions in colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Recent graduates have accepted full-time positions at the following academic institutions: the University of Texas at San Antonio, Arizona State University, Ohio State University, Lehigh University, University of Houston, Michigan State University, National Taiwan University and the University of Arkansas. Students in the PhD program achieve excellence through (1) extensive preparation in the major, a related minor, and associated research tools (primarily statistics or operations research); (2) joint research with faculty; (3) independent research culminating in a doctoral dissertation; and (4) the teaching of courses for undergraduate majors in logistics, transportation, and supply chain management.


The Supply Chain Management faculty at the Robert H. Smith School of Business seeks to attract PhD students with strong academic credentials interested in pursuing academic careers. Applicants should have a strong interest in both research and teaching. Only students willing to work on their PhD on a full-time basis will be considered for admission. No part-time students will be admitted into the program. Competition for spots in the Supply Chain Management PhD program is keen. In recent years, 30-40 applications have been received for admission into the Supply Chain Management PhD program but only two or three students per year have been admitted. Admission totals depend on the quality of the applicant pool and the availability of resources to support students. Although the completion of a master’s level degree is not a requirement for admission to the PhD program in Supply Chain Management, it is one criterion used to assess the potential ability of applicants to complete the PhD program. Other criteria used to assess applicants include interest in pursuing an academic career in Supply Chain Management; relevant academic and work experience; math, verbal, and oral communication skills; and English language abilities.

Applicants seeking admission into the Supply Chain Management PhD program should follow the procedures outlined on the website of the Robert H. Smith School of Business PhD program. The required "Statement of Purpose" should indicate the applicant's career intentions and program goals as closely as possible. Preparation in differential and integral calculus (2 semesters of calculus) is an admission requirement. All applicants must be interviewed as part of the admissions process. Interviews will take place either face-to-face or over the telephone.

Applications to the Supply Chain Management PhD program will be considered during the spring semester, generally during March and April. Interviews will take place during that time. Admission decisions are made by the Supply Chain Management faculty subject to approval by the Director of the PhD program and the availability of financial aid as determined by the Dean’s Office.


Each student develops a detailed Program Plan in consultation with the Supply Chain Management PhD Advisor and the Director of the PhD Program. The process of program planning can begin at the time of application and continue at orientation/registration. A complete Program Plan should be in force for each student by the end of the first semester, and subsequent modifications require explicit approval.

Formal transfer credit is not granted; however, course work successfully completed at other institutions may be accepted as fulfilling some part of the Program Plan, with the approval of the PhD Director and the Supply Chain Management PhD Advisor. As the Graduate School Handbook emphasizes, a doctoral degree is "earned by competence" (as demonstrated in exams and research), not by the completion of course requirements alone.

The Supply Chain Management Doctoral Program consists of the following four elements:

1. Major field – Logistics & Transportation (18 credits)
2. Minor field (12 credits)
3. Research tools (12 credits)
4. Additional course requirements vary depending on the educational background of the student but may include a graduate course in economics, two MBA core courses, and a research methods course. A student wishing to pursue a double major would need to take 18 credits in a second major field (instead of 12 credits for a minor field) increasing total requirements by 6 credits.

Both major and minor field courses are typically satisfied by taking doctoral seminars. Although the title and content of the Supply Chain Management doctoral seminar are subject to change, the six major field seminars may be as follows:

1. Logistics Research
2. Supply Chain Research
3. Supply Chain and Information Technology
4. Logistics Modeling
5. Industrial Organization
6. Transportation and Supply Chain Economics

In each of the seminars, students read relevant research papers and are tested on their knowledge of these papers. As well, students are required to write research papers for each of the seminars.

Students are encouraged to choose a minor field that fits well with their academic interests. Minor fields that work well with Supply Chain Management majors include Marketing, Management Science, Information Systems, and Strategic Management.


Conducting high-quality research is an integral part of the doctoral program, and writing publication-quality research papers is an important component of the doctoral seminars in Supply Chain Management. As part of the curriculum, each student is required to write one research paper in the first year of his/her program and a second research paper in the second year of his/her program. The grades received on these papers count towards course grades. In addition, students are expected to submit the research papers to reputable refereed journals; i.e., one submission at the end of the first year of the program and one at the end of the second year, after receiving permission from the Supply Chain Management faculty. Students must meet this requirement in a timely manner to remain in good standing in the program.


  1. Course Work – A typical path toward completion of a PhD degree would begin with two to three years of course work. This time will vary depending upon a student's background and requirements.
  2. Paper Requirements - Two research papers must be submitted to acceptable refereed journals before comprehensive exams are taken.
  3. Comprehensive Exam – After Supply Chain Management major credit requirements are completed, typically after two years of course work, and the paper requirements are met, students write their comprehensive exam. The general policy is that the comprehensive exam is subdivided into six questions, each testing knowledge from one of the Supply Chain Management seminars.
  4. Oral Comprehensive Exam – An oral exam is only required if the student earns less than a grade of pass on the written comprehensive exam.
  5. PhD Dissertation Proposal – The dissertation proposal is defended by a PhD candidate after the student has made progress on defining a dissertation topic and writing about the proposed topic. All faculty and other PhD students are invited to attend and participate in the proposal defense.
  6. PhD Dissertation Defense – The final step is for the candidate is to complete the thesis research and defend the results. The dissertation must exhibit the candidate's competence in analysis, interpretation, and presentation of research findings, and should be a major contribution to the literature. The candidate must defend the dissertation in a public defense.

The typical time for completion of the PhD program is 4-5 years of full-time work. Throughout the PhD program, a student will have the opportunity to discuss plans and progress with a number of faculty members. In addition, there will be an annual review of the student’s progress with the Supply Chain Management PhD advisor.


Please see the PhD Program website for a discussion of financial aid.


National prominence among leading universities requires, among other things, a strong faculty research orientation. Maryland's faculty clearly has this orientation and the research efforts of faculty members have led to numerous publications in leading academic journals. The members of the Supply Chain Management faculty are also active in various editorial and reviewing capacities for the leading journals. High-quality teaching is an essential requirement demanded of our Supply Chain Management faculty and the faculty's teaching efforts have consistently ranked among the best in the College.


Through the University of Maryland and the Robert H. Smith School of Business, students have access to a wide array of software packages that may be used for research purposes.


Further information is available from the PhD program website

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