Why Study Supply Chain Management?

Western Washington University students sat on campus

Have you ever wondered how all of the things needed to build your phone or your computer make their way to the factory? The simple answer is through supply chains. These make sure everything gets from one place to another through behind—the—scenes processes, helping ensure society runs smoothly.

Each piece has taken a fascinating journey, sometimes crossing oceans and travelling thousands of miles, to get to where it needs to be. Dozens of people have worked on the logistics, organizing the planning, sourcing, production, distribution and—on occasion—returns of each item.

And it’s not just technology. Everything from the clothes you wear, to the finances we rely on, and the data that powers our world has passed through some kind of supply chain. In this article, we’ll explain why supply chain management is important, and how by studying it at Western Washington University, you can help ensure the flow of goods, services and information remains as seamless as possible.

Why is supply chain management important?

Businesses of all kinds run as a sort of ecosystem, relying on each other to ensure they can pass their goods or services down the supply chain.

Take cheese, for example. Dairy farmers need to deliver their milk on time, so the cheese makers can make cheese, which can then be shipped to a supermarket, so you can buy it and take it home. Any delay along the way disrupts the supply chain. But that’s only one layer.

To make the cheese, the cheese maker also needs tools and other ingredients, all of which are passed down their own supply chains. The supermarket needs fridges to store the cheese, which require energy that comes from yet another chain. And to allow you to drive or walk to a shop, the roads need to be functional, which takes many more supply chains.

Simply put, everything is connected, and every business feels the benefits of supply chain management. When supply chains function properly, customers are happy, and costs are reduced. Businesses become more efficient, and being known as reliable allows them to benefit from significant competitive advantages. While disruptions can negatively affect business relationships and, in extreme cases, reduce sufficient cash flow, resulting in business closures.

Organizations that maintain quality supply chains can pivot quickly to look for alternatives quickly if they encounter issues and continue to meet their commitments. There is also the simple fact that time is money, and in supply chain management, every little counts. If a business can find ways to cost—effectively speed up its supply chain, from sourcing materials to delivery to the consumer, it can sell more products. For a business that sells a million units a year, saving just one cent per unit equates to annual savings of $10,000.

Career in supply chain management

Because supply chains are essential for almost every industry and organization, a degree in Supply Chain Management can lead to numerous career paths. These include:

  • Supply chain analysts analyze data and methods to forecast disruptions and work to improve overall supply chain operations. This is a technical and sometimes challenging role that improves supply chain efficiency.
  • Logistics managers are supply chain experts who oversee purchasing, shipping, and overall operations. To succeed, they need to be savvy negotiators, as well as excellent organizers and shrewd problem—solvers.
  • Procurement specialists ensure that not only the correct purchases are made from outside suppliers, but that they meet their company’s standards and were acquired for the best possible price.   
  • Operations managers oversee the entire supply chain, coordinating travel, and storage, while ensuring all materials and products are properly cared for until they are sold to the consumer.

These aren’t the only roles available in supply chain management. As the world becomes more connected and industries grow, there is an ever—increasing number of supply chain professionals needed.

According to Forbes, supply chain jobs already make up almost one—third of the entire US economy, and the sector isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. Research suggests that the supply chain management industry will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 9.4% between 2022 and 2027. And with new global events occurring increasingly regularly, the need for professionals who can build strong, reliable supply chains will only become more necessary.

Study Supply Chain Management at Western Washington University

Supply chain management careers can be lucrative but require good qualifications for success. At Western Washington University, one of the top 10 public schools in West USA, according to US News and World Report (2024), you’ll benefit from our world—class facilities and experienced faculty in and out of the classroom—almost three quarters of which hold the highest possible degree in their field.

You will gain a hands—on learning experience that is supported by a strong liberal arts environment. This means that alongside your core lessons, you will also be able to broaden your horizons and take classes that will vary your learning, expanding your understanding of areas you choose to study, and helping you to become a well—rounded global citizen.

Upon completing the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)—designated BS in Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, international students can also qualify for the extended STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT). Through this extended OPT, graduates may remain in the USA for up to three years.

Visit our Global Pathway Program’s website for more information on our International Year program, entry requirements, tuition fees, and documents international students need to study at Western Washington University. If you meet the requirements, you may apply for direct admission to Western Washington University.


What do you learn in supply chain management?

Studying for a degree in supply chain management will include learning how to coordinate essential activities, such as demand forecasting, logistics, and inventory management to ensure the efficient flow of goods and services.

Is supply chain management difficult to study?

Supply chain management can be a challenging subject to study, but with dedication, quality tutorage and the right education, you can grasp the concepts and learn how to fully succeed in this career.

Is studying supply chain management a good career move?

Supply chain management offers a diverse range of career opportunities that can be rewarding for individuals who enjoy problem—solving and working in dynamic environments.