Logistics, 3PL, supply chain management, e-business, globalization…what do these words mean to you? If you’re starting college this year or deciding what to major in, you may see these as degree choices or class descriptions listed in your school’s course selections. Logistics deals with coordination of complex operations involving many people, facilities, and/or supplies, making it a fairly focused field. And since the modern world is so dependent on the movement of people and goods, there are now hundreds of thousands of 3PL – third-party logistics companies that provide outsourced logistics services for managing all or part of a customer’s supply chain. That also means there is more demand for university-level coursework related to logistics.
A dynamic, global industry
The growth of the 3PL market is driven by a growing recognition of the role of outsourcing logistics services coupled with growth in production and trade in global e-commerce. The ever-growing need for outsourced logistics services and the entrance of new players has made the international 3PL market extremely competitive. That’s without mentioning the consolidation of existing companies through acquisitions and mergers, which contribute to the intense competition. The third-party logistics industry has continued to evolve and become more global in nature. This has created a need for educated, highly-skilled, and valuable logistics executives, which has broadened the choices of logistics-related majors, minors, and coursework throughout many universities across the country. These supply chain and logistics programs are even extending across the engineering and business school spectrum, with technology becoming essential to the coursework.
Choosing a program
As with the choice of schooling for a business program, it is just as difficult to choose from schools that offer logistics at the university level and above. Major state universities such as Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Michigan all offer business administration degrees with concentrations in supply chain management and global supply chain management, transportation and logistics studies degrees, and even Master’s and PhD options in similar areas. More and more public and private institutions are starting to take notice as well. Arizona State, Rutgers, Purdue, Northwestern, and Carnegie-Mellon are all starting to add logistics options to their course catalogs.
What’s your major?
It’s true that some colleges increase the number of degree options in order to make the decision of choosing a major easier, so how will this play out? More degree options relating to a comparatively narrow field like logistics may create more confusion for students than there already is. At the same time, however, there should be a greater number of highly qualified and highly focused graduates ready to start work in the industry. There are already thousands of degree choices, and the increasingly competitive logistics industry already has a strong reputation for good post-graduation employment. The logistics and 3PL markets continue to grow and evolve, making them more and more like any other large, globalized industry. That means they hire for positions demanding a wide range of skill sets, not just those relating strictly to supply chain management. With that in mind, what’s your major?