Master of Science in Operations Research
Operations research is a scientific approach to analyzing problems and making decisions. It uses mathematics and mathematical and computational modeling to forecast the implications of various choices and identify the best alternatives.
Operations research techniques are applied to a broad range of problems in both the public and private sectors. These problems often involve designing systems to operate in the most effective way. Many problems deal with the allocation of scarce human resources, money, materials, equipment or facilities. Applications include staff scheduling, vehicle routing, warehouse location, product distribution, quality control, traffic light phasing, police patrolling, preventive maintenance scheduling, economic forecasting, design of experiments, power plant fuel allocation, stock portfolio optimization, cost-effective environmental protection, inventory control and university course scheduling.
Operations research is interdisciplinary and draws heavily from the mathematics program. It also uses courses from computer science, systems engineering and other engineering programs.
The Master of Science in Operations Research offers concentrations that emphasize those areas of application most in demand in today's job market. Graduates have skills that include probability and statistics, deterministic and stochastic models, optimization methods, computation and simulation, decision analysis and the ability to effectively communicate with clients and managers. In addition, graduates have a breadth of knowledge that allows them to work in teams, interacting with people who bring different expertise to a problem. All areas involve expertise with standard computer software packages.
An applicant for the master's program in operations research should have an undergraduate major in a science or engineering discipline that requires a significant amount of mathematics. Business majors with strong quantitative backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. A proficiency in mathematics covering topics in calculus, probability theory, statistics, linear algebra, and computer literacy must be demonstrated by testing or suitable coursework.
General admission requirements and the process for applying are presented in the Academic Overview section of the university catalog.
The master of science degree can be pursued with either a thesis or nonthesis option; each requires 30 credit hours. Under the thesis option, up to six credit hours of thesis may be granted in place of electives toward the required 30 credit hours and an oral defense is required. The nonthesis option requires a final program examination. Courses taken to satisfy admission prerequisites cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.
The program's curriculum is designed to provide breadth with some flexibility to accommodate the diversity of backgrounds typically found in an operations research program. Greater flexibility is provided for the elective courses beyond the core. A student has the choice of developing greater depth in one area of specialization, aiming at eventual research in that area, or continuing to develop breadth across more than one area. By choosing courses in a related field of application, students can prepare for careers in specialty areas such as management science, actuarial science or economic modeling in addition to conventional areas of operations research.
Each student will complete a program plan that satisfies the requirements listed below, subject to approval of the department head. Substitutions are sometimes permitted.
|Core Courses (12 credit hours)|
|MTH 5411||Mathematical Statistics 1|
|ORP 5001||Deterministic Operations Research Models|
|ORP 5002||Stochastic Operations Research Models|
|ORP 5003||Operations Research Practice or ORP 5010 Mathematical Programming
|Restricted Electives (9 credit hours from the following)|
|MTH 5051||Applied Discrete Mathematics|
|MTH 5102||Linear Algebra|
|MTH 5401||Applied Statistical Analysis|
|MTH 5412||Mathematical Statistics 2|
|ORP 5020||Theory of Stochastic Processes|
|ORP 5021||Queuing Theory|
|Computation Elective (3 credit hours from the following)|
|MTH 5301||Numerical Analysis|
|MTH 5305||Numerical Linear Algebra|
|MTH 5320||Neural Networks|
|ORP 5050||Discrete System Simulation|
Free Electives (6 credit hours)
Nonthesis option: Three courses in areas of interest to the student as approved in the student's program plan.
Thesis option: At least one course plus up to six credit hours for a thesis. The thesis should be an in-depth study of some topic and/or problem in operations research, subject to the approval of the thesis committee.