Operations Research Undergraduate Degree Programs

Operations research majors the mathematical masterminds behind business operations. In addition to examining the admission requirements and courses associated with operations research programs, we'll highlight a few career options graduates may opt to pursue.

Overview of Bachelor's Degree in Operations Research Programs

Individuals who study operations research develop an understanding of how to assess processes. They can look at the way that goods are produced or the method of product distribution and break down the steps involved to determine how to improve operations. The skills that are acquired can be applied in both engineering and business fields. An operations research program will ensure that students can work effectively with statistics, calculate the likely outcomes of different actions and determine the best way for companies to be more efficient and save money. Some programs in operations research emphasize its applications to engineering, while others concentrate on a broad base of studies in business and mathematics. Strong math skills are required for students pursuing either emphasis.

Admission Requirements for Operations Research Programs

Once an individual has decided that they want to pursue a major in operations research they must be accepted to a college or university that offers the program. Their high school transcripts and standardized test scores will be reviewed. Many schools have set requirements concerning the number of high school courses that must be completed in different subjects. Once accepted, students interested in the operations research major must ensure that they complete any prerequisites required to be eligible for the major. For example, some schools may require students to complete certain math and economics courses before declaring operations research as a major. Schools may also require that students complete a full semester of studies, while maintaining a 3.2 GPA, before declaring the major.

Operations Research Program Coursework

Some operations research programs focus more on the relationship between operations research and industrial engineering, while others emphasize the mathematical applications related to operations research. It's often expected that all students pursuing this major complete a number of mathematics courses. Some business and computer programming studies are also commonly required.


Students learn about mathematical theories related to calculus. They gain experience using the theories and rules in this branch of mathematics to perform calculations. They work with numeric sequences. In introductory calculus they work with one variable, and in advanced calculus courses they learn to make calculations with multiple variables. Studying calculus prepares students to calculate probabilities.

Principles of Business

Since students who earn an operations research degree typically work in the business sector it is important for them to have a solid base of knowledge of business practices. They will learn about the relationship between businesses and the economy. They will also learn about issues related to managing people involved in a business. Financial considerations are also explored, as well as how to compete in the international market.

Introduction to Economics

What are the governing principles of economics? How do different factors, such as inflation, affect the economy? Students learn how to assess the economy and identify data that will impact economic projections. They also start to learn about economic policies and the impact those policies have on society.

Introduction to Analysis

What is the Reimann integral? How does it apply to the work that operations research analysts do? What is parameter estimation? Students begin to learn different theories and principles related to data analysis.


A course in statistics ensures students understand the methods for calculating the likelihood that something will occur. Students will learn to work with large volumes of data and consider random factors. They also learn about different concepts related to probability and statistics, such as Markov chains. They develop a solid base of knowledge of the terms related to probability and the theories related to probability and statistics.

Computer Programming

Students who pursue a major in operations research are usually required to take an introductory course in computer programming. This ensures that they have a strong base of knowledge of computer programming and how it works. They develop computer language skills and an understanding of some of the techniques used by computer programmers. They gain practical skills by applying these techniques and writing programs.

How to Choose a Bachelor's Degree in Operations Research Program

Operations research programs are offered at both public and private not-for-profit institutions. The type of school may be one factor students consider when choosing as program, as well as the school's location and costs. Some programs have a specific emphasis, such as industrial engineering or mathematical analytics, and the focus of the program may affect the nature of the courses offered. Students should review the course options so that they choose a program with the appropriate emphasis for their career goals.

Career Options with an Operations Research Degree

Individuals who pursue studies in operations research may be ideal candidates to pursue careers as a logistician, an industrial engineer or an operations research analyst. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports comparable incomes for operations research analysts and logisticians, with these professionals earning $79,200 and $74,170 respectively in 2016. The job growth expectations for operations research analysts is 27% from 2016 to 2026, while the BLS expects logisticians to see a 7% job growth rate during that time period.

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