|Major Code: 8074
||Degree Awarded: Master of Science
|Delivery Mode(s): Classroom, Online, Off-site
||Admission status: Graduate
|Admission Materials: résumé, transcripts
||Location(s): Main Campus - Melbourne; Virtual Site
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 mathematics, 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 under Graduate Academic Information .
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 the 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 written final program examination in the areas of stochastic analysis, optimization and statistics. 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 the approval of the department head. Substitutions are sometimes permitted.