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Management Science Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Management science, sometimes called operations research, applies scientific principles and methods to management decision-making and problem-solving. Management science degree programs are available on every level, from baccalaureate through doctorate.

Essential Information

An undergraduate program in management science may stress the importance of mathematics and economics in developing solutions to business challenges. Students should have their high school diploma or GED to qualify for admission. Graduates might become systems engineers or business technology analysts. Master of Business Administration programs emphasize business and management coursework, and Master of Science programs focus on engineering and mathematics subjects. A bachelor's degree is required before beginning graduate study.

Students of a Ph.D. program will be expected to conduct extensive research as they prepare for careers in academia or research. Dissertations are generally included in the curricula. Graduates who are experienced can seek certifications through organizations such as the Management Science Institute.


Bachelor of Science in Management Science

Although some definitions of management science equate it with operations research, a few bachelor's degree programs stress that they are not a program in operational research. Some programs focus more on the economic aspect of management science. Others stress the mathematical aspect. However, the goal of teaching students to find good solutions to management problems is the intent of both approaches.

Courses offered by different schools are vastly different from one another. Some stress economic courses, while others stress math and science courses. Required courses might include:

  • Algebra of vectors and matrices
  • Econometrics
  • Finance
  • Information systems and management
  • Management dynamics
  • Management, psychology and theory of organization

Master's Degrees in Management Science

A master's degree in management science is as likely to be conferred by a school of business as a school of engineering. When it is offered by a school of business, it will almost always be an MBA with specialization in management science. As one would expect, the MBA candidate will have a greater preponderance of business and management courses, while the Master of Science candidate will have a predominance of engineering and math courses. Although the proportion of the two fields may be different, both programs teach students to apply quantitative procedures in making management decisions.

Although a bachelor's degree is required for entry into a master's degree program, some schools do not consider the GPA of the baccalaureate work. Rather, they look at the last 60 hours taken, whether they are part of the bachelor's degree or some other coursework. Although the particular major for a bachelor's degree is not usually a focus for acceptance, many schools want a solid math background.

Some of the coursework that might be found in both the M.S. and MBA programs include:

  • Methods of management science
  • Research and statistical methods
  • Systems for administrators
  • Operations management
  • Systems modeling/simulation
  • Quality control systems

Ph.D. in Management Science

Management science Ph.D. programs mirror other Ph.D. degrees in basic focus. They are planned to prepare researchers and teachers, in this case for the use of math tools in making decisions. Those interested primarily in research will focus on the type of research done in business schools, and those who wish to teach will be able to do so at colleges, universities and business schools.

A bachelor's degree is the minimum degree requirement for admission into Ph.D. programs in management science. A master's degree may be earned incidentally to pursuing the doctorate, and some programs may require the equivalent of an MBA. Candidates are expected to have a strong background in math and possibly a computer language.

Courses required depend on whether or not the student has a bachelor's degree only or has a master's degree as well. Courses common to many programs include:

  • Corporate finance
  • Dissertation and research
  • Individual research
  • Inferring probability from statistics
  • Linear statistics
  • Managing organizations

Popular Careers

People with a bachelor's degree in management science are often enthusiastic about their ability to work with both the engineering side of a company and the business side (lyle.smu.edu). Some of the jobs available are:

  • Systems engineer
  • Sales and advertising coordinator
  • Business technology analyst
  • Consultant
  • Portfolio analyst

Certifications and Continuing Education

The Management Science Institute offers several certifications that individuals with degrees from associate through Ph.D. can receive (www.msi.ms/). Eligibility is based on points; different numbers of points are earned by the highest degree the candidate holds, score on a certification test and a variety of professional activities. Certifications are automatically renewed annually if the holder sends in proof of meeting the continuing education requirements for his or her certification.

Employment Outlook

Natural sciences management positions were expected to grow 3% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was close to the 4% projected increase for all types of managers. The average wage for natural sciences managers was $136,570 per year in May 2015. Management analysts, on the other hand, could expect faster-than-average 14% growth in job opportunities from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. These professionals made a mean yearly wage of $91,770 in May 2015.

Pursuing a degree in the field of management sciences is a good way for students to enter this competitive field, as jobs in some sectors are becoming more advanced. A degree, along with professional certification, could definitely help students land a job.


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