I actually had a couple of students inquire about getting their Ph.D.’s in SCM. Pasted below is my generic response to students to sell them on the opportunity. Let’s begin with:

Salary Ranges for Associate Professor Supply Chain Management. The salaries of Associate Professor Supply Chain Management in the US range from $136,000 to $204,000 , with a median salary of $170,000 . The middle 67% of Associate Professor Supply Chain Managements makes $170,000, with the top 67% making $204,000.


Let me begin by saying that I love being a college professor and I have tenure (I cannot lose my job, kind of). It is a great lifestyle but it is a long road. First and foremost, you have to enjoy school, studying, READING, teaching, lecturing, and doing research. If you hate reading or do not have the discipline for it, then this is not for you. You can only get a good college faculty job if you get your “doctorate” in something (like Finance or Accounting).

You do not need an MBA or a Master’s degree to get your Ph.D. If you just get your Ph.D. though, that means you are dedicating your career to academics and being a professor. About half of Ph.D. students have a master’s degree, you do not need it to get into a Ph.D. program (I did not have a graduate degree before starting a doctoral program). You need to take the GMAT (or GRE) to get into a business Ph.D. program. You should break 600 on the GMAT, that means 85th percentile or higher. Most Ph.D. students have at least a 3.3 GPA as an undergrad. Once you take the GMAT and break 600, apply to around 10 Ph.D. programs. The law of averages says you will get turned down by most. It has nothing to do with your qualifications, it is all about timing. They only accept a handful of students each year. They accept students based on their funding.

Most Ph.D. students have to go to school full time, they get their tuition waved, and they get a monthly stipend of around $1500 per month (back in my day 25 years ago, the stipend is likely 2-3 times that today, I hope). In return, you take classes and help professors with research and teaching. There are 3 years of classes and 2 years of a thesis project. A business Ph.D. is 5 years full-time and there is no way around that. If there is a way around that, then it is likely a weak program. It was 5 very good years of my life. I lived like a college student and loved it. In the next 5-10 years, half of America’s business college professors are going to retire. That means 5 years from now, the job market will be incredible. It already is incredible on the SCM side, especially if you have strong data analytic skills. They key is applying to a bunch of places (try to get into a prestigious doctoral program), Big 10 schools are usually a safe bet. Once you are in, just stick with it until you are done, it is intense and lots of work, so you better enjoy studying 50 hours a week. Then you get a job and make well over $100K per year and you have most of the summer off, and you still feel like a college student (young at heart).

The benefits in academia are also outstanding. I say do it if you have the drive and passion, it was the best decision I ever made in my life (other than marrying my best friend), my job feels like a constant vacation. You will love your job if you never keep track of how many hours you put into it. Make your job a part of your chosen and preferred lifestyle. Usually, you have 6 years to get tenure. Once you have tenure, you have 100% guaranteed full-time employment. No other career path will give you that.

Yes, it is tough to get (kind of). You need to publish and teach and serve on committees. However, it was not bad for me since I enjoyed all those things. And that is the key, do you enjoy it? If you enjoy your job you will probably be good at it. After 6 years, if you are not granted tenure, you lose your job and look for another. You will get tenure if you work hard and get along with others. I would say 75% of the people at WMU get tenure. If you do not, you usually take another job at a lesser school and try to get tenure there. Not having tenure means you could lose your job. Tenure means you can never lose your job. It is a way to reward and keep good faculty and encourage free thought and research. People with tenure speak their minds and do research that might be controversial (but could be leading edge and change the world). That is good for everyone but they will only do it if they have job security (tenure). I received a 610 on my GMAT, and that was barely good enough for MSU. I do not know much about the GMAT and GRE study review courses. I studied and only took it once. Either way, I would take the GMAT very seriously. Most schools will usually take your highest score and it typically is good for 5 years. The best time to take it is right after you graduate from college when your academic skills are the strongest. Like I said, the score will last for up to 5 years and trust me, you only get dumber as you get older (from an academic skills perspective). I studied 90% of the time and let loose the other 10% at MSU. I was in my 20s and single and I acted like it 10% of the time. I will say, on a stipend of $1200-1500 per month, you need to be on a budget.

Remember, this was 25 years ago so I am assuming stipends now are around $2,000 -$4,000 (which would be a huge pay cut for 5 years if you walk away from a SCM job that pays $60K per year, think long term though). I made new and great friends while there. They were slightly older and some were married, but they were great people (which is the most important thing). Most doctoral students are in their 30s, I was in my 20s. I like to be around people with the same values as me, that means no drugs, clean cut, honest, etc. Grad school tends to attract a more focused student and that was great for me. You will make great new friends and you will keep the ones that are worth keeping. Being a grad student in my 20s was early and the best time. There is no way I could have pulled off a Ph.D. in my 30s with a family. Then again, a lot of the doctoral students were in their 30s with kids. Let’s just say I did better in school than them, and I also had way more fun. It sounds like you might want to pursue a doctoral degree in business. Most business Ph.D.s make around 120-170 per year, accounting profs make the most. I make 150K in 8 months, then I also pick up another 35K in the summer to teach two classes, I still get July and August off. New Ph.D.’s in SCM are starting out with an8 month base salary of $150K. It bothers me a little that they are starting out at the same salary I am making 18 years into my career. But it is America, we are market driven and if you do not like it then do something about it. No excuses allowed because blaming someone else will get you no where.

Keep in mind, I worked 70+ hours a week during grad school and while I was trying to get tenure at WMU. It was fun though, even though I was only making around 1200-1500 per month at MSU in grad school. I worked 5 years while in college as a undergrad co-op and then 2 years full time for GM. Getting a Ph.D. and tenure is a long and hard road, but you just have to stick with it, I have the next 30 years to live a job that feels like a vacation, not because of the flexible hours, but because it is fun for me. Also, you have to target a big research focused school when it comes to getting your PhD. Where you get your degree will determine the quality of job you get when you finish. WMU HCoB does not have a doctoral business program. Some MAC schools do, but I would highly discourage you from getting doctoral degrees there. You need to target those big schools with great football teams, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Pac 12, Big 12, etc. You could get your PHD from WMU in stuff like geoscience and anthropology, but then you will be unemployed when you graduate or only make 45K per year, a business Ph.D. is where it is at, assuming your passion is there. A doctoral education will be beyond miserable if you hate the material and studying it. There are lots of major options when it comes to a business PHD. Accounting and Finance were only suggestions. The demand for business PHD’s is generally very strong. I would never target a concentration based on what will pay more. Who cares if an accounting PHD makes 20K more per year than an HRM PHD?

The people that make the most long term are the ones that do their job the best. The ones that do their jobs the best are the ones that have the most passion for their area. You can get a business PHD in accounting, finance, SCM, marketing, organizational behavior, etc. Within these areas you can specialize. In SCM you can specialize in operations, logistics, purchasing, etc. In marketing you can specialize in advertising, promotion, sales, international, etc. You generally apply to a general department (i.e., marketing). Then, in your personal essay you specify which area of concentration and why. Most big research focused schools (which is where you want to go) have all sorts of great options and choices, and famous faculty in those areas. Those famous faculty eventually become your mentors. Let me know if you have more questions, glad to help out.


Here is one caveat to all of my encouragement… Now, here is the flip side. With all the content matter of college courses becoming available online (especially since covid), what is the role of a prof in the future? The brand and profile of your doctoral degree is ever more critical now. According to an AAUP union report in 2014: “Non-tenure-track faculty now account for nearly 70 percent of all faculty members, and three out of four hires nationally are off the tenure track.” This varies by discipline I imagine, and I think the data included community colleges, so it doesn’t tell the whole story but back in the 80s non-tenure track faculty accounted for only about 45% of all faculty. That means colleges are hiring fewer PhDs (to save money?).

Some people think in a few years all of the content knowledge will be available for free from a variety of sources. People can find a lot of lectures and videos about almost anything online for free. Major universities are offering many of their introductory courses online for free already (e.g., Harvard, MIT, etc.). The publishers will continue to make better voice over PowerPoints, self-grading exams, videos, etc. So, unless your university is a major research institution that generates a lot of money for the university either through grants or consulting, why would you hire a PhD and lock them into a life-long contract? There are older experienced working professionals that want to get into teaching and can do a good job facilitating discussion without all the tenure and pay issues. Another thought on academia:



From a colleague who would make an amazing SCM doctoral mentor:

From: Jayaram, Jay <jjayaram@ou.edu>
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 3:29 PM
To: Sime Curkovic <sime.curkovic@wmich.edu>
Subject: Potential PhD candidates Hello Sime: 

I hope you are doing well.  After almost 20 years at USC, my wife and I decided to pursue a new opportunity at OU. One of my immediate tasks is to firm up our Phd program. We now have enough qualified and productive TT faculty to get our SCM doctoral program up and running.   If you happen to have any students pass through your program as applicants, MBA students, etc., who are looking for an SCM doctoral program, could you please send them my way.   

Enclosed please find information on our PhD program and application details. 

Thanks for your help. 



The Division of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma is looking to fill a couple of admission slots in the Fall 2022 cycle.   

The official deadline for application for Fall 2022 will be on January 15, 2022.  It is strongly recommended that you begin your application soon through our portal at https://gograd.ou.edu/apply.  

The entire application package will be reviewed by a committee after you have turned in all the documents. Some things to bear in mind to turn in a competitive application are:  

  • Clearly mark if you are applying for the Supply Chain Management track or the Marketing track  
  • Why a PhD in Supply Chain Management (or Marketing) at OU? This should be very clear from your personal statement  
  • Career goals after PhD  
  • Familiarity with our Division’s faculty and research interests  
  • Proficiency in English  
  • Proficiency in Math/Statistics (Analytical skills)  
  • Work experience that is relevant to SCM/Marketing  

Please go through our web pages:   



Please reach out to me at jjayaram@ou.edu if you have any questions.  



Eating humble pie & other tips for second semester Ph.D. students.

The first year in Ph.D. programs can be confusing.

When recruited to a Ph.D. program, you are told that you are elite – one of a chosen few admitted – and likely arrive on campus feeling pretty special.

The first semester can dissipate that special feeling pretty quickly.

If you wonder what you have gotten yourself into, you are pretty normal.

Second-semester students struggle for many reasons, ranging from low compensation & not great health benefits to competition from equally brilliant peers & inattentive faculty to missing home & family.

Some struggle because they find that what you want to study has been studied, or even worse, just isn’t that interesting anymore.

Others struggle because the faculty member who attracted them left, so they wonder if they will ever find an advisor.

When explaining why they left our Ph.D. program, my cohort members cited these reasons.

One left for industry, saying his hour to work ratio just didn’t make sense. Another left, citing disappointment with the faculty. A third dropped because they decided to return home & get married. A fourth left because of faculty turnover, the place no longer fit their research interests.

After all the explanations, in the end, I was left with a cohort of one, just me, to navigate the remainder of the second semester & the program.

So what did I learn? That helped me survive the second semester?

With some faculty nudging, I built new friendships, learned new skills, and, along the way, ate a healthy portion of humble pie.

First, make friends. Because research requires working independently (aka sitting alone), it is easy to grow isolated. Make friends with students ahead of you in your program or with peers in adjacent programs. If you do, your second semester will be a lot better.

Second, recalibrate. General intelligence is not enough to succeed in a Ph.D. program. Switch gears. Rather than relying on just your wits, identify & develop work habits demonstrated by students who have navigated the first few years of the Ph.D. program.

Third, work smarter. Working hard does not mean working more. It means developing teamwork, leadership, & research skills necessary to contribute to a project. In the second semester, identify & develop the skills valued by your faculty & your discipline.

Fourth, explore. Take time in your second semester to explore questions, theories, & methods that pique your interest. The second semester is a good time to start thinking about a novel & new-to-you dissertation topic.

Fifth, find humility. In your first semester, you learned that you had a lot to learn. In your second semester, humble yourself & learn. Humility is essential to survival in a Ph.D. program.

Once humble, you will find friendships more easily, peers more willing to share skills, & faculty more interested in collaboration.


Shirish C. Srivastava 2nd degree connection2ndProfessor and GS1 France Chair at HEC Paris7hGreat insights about survival in a PhD program. All these very strongly resonate with me. Building on the theme of survival — recently I gave a talk at NUS about thriving (not just surviving) in the PhD program. Might be useful for this conversation – so sharing here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU1PvgQLT6U

Saurav Chakraborty 2nd degree connection2ndAssistant Professor at University of Louisville13hOn the other end of the spectrum, I think imposter syndrome runs very strong among some, especially immigrants; in my first couple of years of Phd, I literally did not even understand what the program entails. What helped me in many ways was the realization that it is not just about intelligence or background or connections but the process is all about being organized. Be it with your ideas, or your time or the resources at your disposal, if you can organize them and pace yourself gradually, you will make progress. Repeated baby steps over time is equivalent to a leap.

Jason Thatcher(He/Him)AuthorMilton F. Stauffer Professor in the Department of Management Information Systems, Temple University12hAgreed.

If you don’t have imposter syndrome (in the first year and beyond), you are an unusual academic.

You’ve done a nice job identifying habits and skills of students who survive – be they domestic or international – have to learn to survive a Ph.D. program and to navigate their first job!

Sumantra Sarkar 2nd degree connection2ndAssociate Professor at Binghamton University School of Management12hso so relatable “One left for industry, saying his hour to work ratio just didn’t make sense. Another left, citing disappointment with the faculty. A third dropped because they decided to return home & get married. A fourth left because of faculty turnover, the place no longer fit their research interests.” 😀


Pasted below are the links for the doctoral student handbooks for the PhD programs at both Arizona State and Michigan State. They give some general traits for what qualified applicants would look like:



Please reach out for more advice. Thank you. Sime

Sample Lectures & Should You Major in Supply Chain Management?


Dr. Sime (Sheema) Curkovic, Ph.D., Professor, Operations/Supply Chain
Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business

E-Mail: sime.curkovic@wmich.edu

“WMU Integrated Supply Management (ISM)…Nation’s best undergraduate SCM program (Gartner); 2nd in SCM technology (SoftwareAdvice);  2nd in top global SCM talent (SCM World)”


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