Operations Research Master's Programs

Mar 23, 2018

Students interested in studying math and business operations may wish to earn a master's degree in operations research. Learn more about this degree program, common coursework and standard admissions requirements.

Master's degree programs in operations research are usually offered as on-campus Master of Science programs. Students in these programs gain the necessary research and analytical skills needed to help evaluate and improve various kinds of business operations. Here we discuss the program and some of its requirements more in-depth.

Information for Master's Degree Programs in Operations Research

Master's degree programs in operations research are typically 2-year programs that may offer thesis or non-thesis options. Some coursework may vary if programs offer different concentrations, such as analytics, logistics and supply chain management, optimization and more, but below we examine some of the common courses for these programs.


Students in operations research programs typically take multiple mathematics and statistics courses, including introductory statistics courses at the beginning of their program. In these statistics courses students learn the fundamentals of statistics and probability, as well as their real-world applications. Specific topics may include the law of large numbers, random variables, linear regression, central limit theorem, covariance and correlation and more.

Stochastic Models

Students in these courses apply stochastic processes to operations research concepts and problems. Students learn about different modeling techniques and analysis for these problems. These courses may explore topics in Markov chains, decision analysis, renewal processes, Poisson processes, inventory models, simulation and more.

Operations Management

Operations management courses are usually introductory courses that discuss the techniques and tools used in the field to plan, analyze and manage various operations. Students examine the uncertainty of decision-making by exploring variables like costs, demands, lead times and other variables in case studies and simulations. Students may also look at topics in risk pooling, inventory management, quality management, innovation, process design and more.

Queuing Theory

Courses in queuing theory examine queuing processes and the mathematical theories behind delays in a system. This course usually combines theories and concepts from stochastic processes, probability theory, optimization and modeling. Students may explore specific topics in single-server and multiserver queues, scheduling theory, insurance risk theory, semi-Markov and semi-regenerative processes and more.


Students in these programs generally take some kind of course in simulation that further develops their statistical analysis, programming and simulation skills. Students in these courses typically complete various simulation projects that explore the design, testing and analysis of different event simulations. Specific topics for these courses may include the generation of random numbers, variance reduction techniques, sampling methods, output analysis and more.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to master's degree programs in operations research generally are required to submit their official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement with their application. Some programs may also require a resume or CV and students are typically expected to hold a bachelor's degree. Depending on the program, students may need a bachelor's degree in science, business or engineering. These master's degree programs may also want to see evidence of a strong background in mathematics through undergraduate coursework or test scores.

Students can pursue a Master of Science in Operations Research and may be able to further specialize their degree through various concentrations. Some of these programs may require or offer a thesis option, but all of them typically provide hands-on learning and research.

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