Operations research (OR) per se does not give out a lot about the subject as well as its implications and impact on the world and industries per se. And like any other branch of mathematics, operation research also called Decision Science or Operations Analysis has an expansive reach and implication on an industry that touches large sections of modern life and society. Operations research is an analytical method of problem-solving and decision-making that is useful in the management of organizations. In OR, problems are broken down into basic components and then solved in defined steps by mathematical analysis. The concept of OR arose during World War II by military planners. After the war, the techniques used in their OR were applied to addressing problems in business, the government, and society. The field of OR provides a more powerful approach to decision-making than ordinary software and data analytics tools. Employing OR professionals can help companies achieve more complete datasets, consider all available options, predict all possible outcomes, and estimate risk. Additionally, OR can be tailored to specific business processes or use cases to determine which techniques are most appropriate to solve the problem. Hence, in essence, OR is the study of applying mathematics to business questions. As a subfield of Applied Mathematics, it has a very interesting position alongside other fields such as Data Science and Machine Learning.

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Best Operations Research Masters Online Programs

Operations research master’s programs are popular among students. However there are not a whole of universities that offer these degrees in online format. While these degrees are mostly offered on campus, there are some universities that offer them online. We collected a list of such universities that ranked based on the program quality, graduation rates, tuition fees, student success and many other factors. Based on our research and methodology, here are the best operation research masters online programs:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/operations-research-masters-online/">Masters in Operations Research</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Wisconsin, Madison
500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
University of California, Irvine
501 Aldrich Hall, Irvine, California 92697
Rutgers University
83 Somerset St, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
University of Washington(on-campus)
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
Georgia Institute of Technology(on-campus)
225 North Ave, Atlanta, Georgia 30332
Bentley University
175 Forest St, Waltham, Massachusetts 02452
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
Carnegie Mellon University(on-campus)
5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
Massachusetts Institute of Technology(on-campus)
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Stanford University(on-campus)
Stanford, California 94305
Brandeis University
415 South St, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454
Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011
DePaul University
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604
Kent State University at Kent
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 44242
University of Baltimore
Charles at Mount Royal, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Operations Research Master Programs

The process of OR can be broadly broken down into the following steps:

  • Identifying a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Constructing a model around the problem that resembles the real world and variables.
  • Using the model to derive solutions to the problem.
  • Testing each solution on the model and analyzing its success.
  • Implementing the solution to the actual problem inventory control, optimization models, optimal solution, combinatorial optimization, applied fuzzy set theory, financial support, graduate certificate.

Disciplines that are similar to, or overlap with, operations research include statistical analysis, management science, game theory, optimization theory, artificial intelligence, and network analysis. All these techniques have the goal of solving complex problems and improving quantitative decisions.

Operations Research Masters Degree Types

There would typically be a few variants of an online master’s degree in OR, with a few subjects changing concerning the specialization being pursued. The core subjects though remaining the same as would the credits required, which typically are around 36, and the time taken to complete the course which would be around 24 months. Below we would discuss the different types of master’s that can be pursued in OR

MS in Operations Research

The Master of Science in Operations Research teaches students how to develop and solve mathematical and computer models of systems using optimization and statistical methods. This program seeks to train students in the basic techniques and theory of OR and their applications to real-world problems. Graduates should have developed their analytical skills to attack complex, large-scale optimization problems of both deterministic operations research models and stochastic operations research models.

MBA with Operations Research Concentration

The practice of applying analytical, quantitative decision-making techniques to management has since been adopted by virtually every leading B-school in the U.S. The study of Operations Research provides a powerful career advantage in which students master frameworks for building descriptive, predictive, graph theory, gain theory and prescriptive models using tools from statistics.

MBA in Operations Management

Operations Management is concerned with planning, organizing, and supervising the design, development, and delivery of products and services. It provides conceptual frameworks and analytical tools to optimize key decisions in designing and managing operational processes.

Master of Industrial Engineering in Operations Research and Information Engineering

Businesses in the digital age are awash in data and hungry for skilled analysts and information scientists who can use that data to make insightful, real-time business decisions. A Master’s in OR and Information Engineering will provide students with the mathematical modeling, large-scale computation, and data analytics skills needed to turn heaps of data into effective business decisions.

Specializations in Operations Research Masters Programs

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration prepares for
M.S in Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE)The ORFE program places a strong emphasis on mathematical and computational tools. Students in ORFE develop a unique set of skills that build upon a solid foundation in probability, statistics, and optimization. The theoretical foundations of ORFE are of central importance in many complex problems in engineering and science.  ORFE graduates in a broad range of application areas, such as finance, energy, health, risk analysis, biostatistics, genomics, machine learning, stochastic networks, signal and image processing.
M.S in Computer Science – Specialization in Computational Operations ResearchIn this concentration, students learn the implementation of mathematical simulation and models in computational research. They learn high-level simulation languages. Some of the subjects learned in this course work would be multivariate probability distributions, programming languages like C++/C, linear and nonlinear programming, statistical analysis, and network optimization, etc.  Research Analyst in Decision and Risk management.
MBA in Operations ManagementIn an MBA in OR students learn about applying analytical, quantitative decision-making techniques to operations and management principles. Prospective students would study building descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive models, mathematical optimization techniques, data mining, and machine learning.Finance and Management, Logistics, and supply chain management, etc.
MS in Mathematics – Specialization in Operations ResearchHow does a statistician design an experiment to test a new drug? What is an efficient algorithm to solve a differential equation, and when does it work? How do you determine a fair price for an annuity? Given a complex network of nodes and edges, what is the shortest path from one vertex to another? These are some industry questions that students will learn to solve in this course.  Graduates of this course work in academia, research organizations, and industry as research analysts.
MS in Statistics – Specialization in Operations ResearchThrough the master’s thesis or master’s project, graduate students work one-on-one with a faculty member to explore an area of mathematics, statistics, or operations research outside of the usual coursework. Mathematics and statistics faculty have also sponsored several students through grants. Some students have co-authored papers with faculty and have presented their research at regional, national, and international conferences.  Graduates of this course work in academia, research organizations, and industry as research analysts. Many graduates hold faculty positions at top universities.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Operations Research Masters Programs

A master’s in operations research would have common core courses for most of the credits, but per the specialization of the course, some concentration of the courseware would vary. Below we would discuss a few subjects learned in a master’s in operations research online program, and the skills attained.

CurriculumSkills Gained
Decision TheoryDevelopment and use of systematic procedures for assisting decision-makers in evaluating choices. Emphasis is on problem formulation, uncertainty and risk assessment, Bayes, minimax, and other decision rules and applications. Problems will be solved using appropriate software tools.
StatisticsApplied Statistics for operations research
Computer ProgrammingBusiness Computing Environment
Models and Applications in Operations ResearchA study of realistic and diverse Operations Research problems with emphasis upon model formulation, interpretation of results, and implementation of solutions. Topics include applications of linear programming, goal programming, decomposition of large scale problems, and job scheduling algorithms. Problems will be solved using appropriate software tools.
Introduction to Probability and StatisticsThe goal of this course is to provide students with the mathematical fundamentals required for successful quantitative analysis of problems.
Information Structures with PythonInformation Structures This course presents an effective approach to learn Python. his approach will help build a strong foundation in Python programming that can be used effectively in real-job situations and will provide a foundation for future courses.
Network OptimizationNetwork flow theory and algorithms, including transportation, maximum flow shortest path, and minimum spanning tree problems. Applications to a variety of areas are also stressed. Problems will be solved using appropriate software tools.
Discrete Optimization  Topics include relaxation techniques, constructive heuristics, improving search techniques (simplex method simulated annealing, tabu search), branch and bound schemes, and valid inequalities for branch and cut methods. Problems will be solved using appropriate software tools.
Linear ProgrammingTheory and applications of linear programming. Topics include the simplex method, duality theory, sensitivity analysis, and interior-point methods. Problems will be solved using appropriate software tools.
Statistical Analysis of Simulation ModelsThis course introduces statistical techniques used in the analysis of simulation models. The first half of the course develops techniques for determining appropriate inputs to a simulation model, and the last half develops analysis techniques that are applied to the output of a simulation model.

Accreditation for Operations Research Masters Programs

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Read more about Accreditation.

Therefore, to ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly to be eligible for US federal student aid one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is an accredited university by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is one such body. ANSI typically accredits Operations Research Programs. Students should check for accreditation by ANSI for their Operations Research programs.

Timeline For Graduating From Operations Research Masters Programs

Most master’s in Operations Research online typically takes anywhere between 16-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. In doing an accelerated program, students can save money on tuition. One can refer to such a course here. Typically, for a master’s in operations research, students need to take 30 – 36 hours of credits.

Admission Requirements For Operations Research Masters Programs

Though every master’s in operations research online will have a specific requirement, generally speaking, a master’s in operations research online would require a bachelor’s degree majoring in a STEM discipline, GPA of more than 3, and some universities would require qualifying GRE and GMAT scores as well. Some universities might even require experience and employer references. These are the typical master’s in operations research prerequisites. And for students looking to enroll in a masters program, OMC has dedicated resources for GRE and GMAT.

How to Pay for Master’s in Operations Research Online Programs

Keeping in mind the cost of education these days and the amount of debt that each student carries it is of prime importance how you choose to fund your master’s in operations research online program. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For further reference, students can refer to this link here for scholarships.

For students who do not qualify for a scholarship, for such candidates if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your master’s in operations research is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid. Here is a link to the FAFSA Application.

FAQs about Operations Research Masters Online Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Operation research with example?

Operations research (OR) is an analytical method of problem-solving and decision-making that is useful in the management of organizations. In operations research, problems are broken down into basic components and then solved in defined steps by mathematical analysis.

Is operations research a good career?

What does an operational researcher do?

Data Science vs Operation Research

What should I major in to become an operations research analyst?

How do I become an operation researcher?

Is Operation Research hard?

Careers and Salary Outlook For Operations Research Masters Graduates

Post a master’s in OR online, one can delve into many roles in the operations management field. This could vary from a research analyst role at an entry-level to a chief strategy officer role at the top of the hierarchy. There would be other intermediary roles in between. Below is a list of roles and salaries with their responsibilities highlighted.

OccupationMedian Annual Salary (US $)Job Growth (2019-2029)Job Description
Operations Research Analyst$86,20025%They use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems and make better decisions.
Management Analysts$87,66011%They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.
Market Research Analysts$66,81018%Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.
Logisticians$76,2704%Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, which includes how a product is acquired, allocated, and delivered.

Certifications and Licensing for Operations Research Graduates

Operations Research typically doesn’t need a certification nor a mandatory license to practice their craft. But organizations put a lot of value on professional certifications while hiring candidates. If one has completed a master’s in OR, it would not be a bad idea to pursue one of the certifications relating to their field of work or a graduate certificate in operations research. A few of such are discussed below:

Certification of Professional Achievement Program In Operations ResearchTheir certification requires the formation of a mathematical model of a system and the analysis and prediction of the consequences of alternate modes of operating the system. The analysis may involve mathematical optimization techniques, probabilistic and statistical methods, experiments, and computer simulations.
Certificate course in Operations Research: Models and ApplicationsThis course introduces frameworks and ideas about various types of optimization problems in the business world. This course focuses on how to formulate real business problems into mathematical models that can be solved by computers.
Operations Research Certificate Program (ORCP)The ORCP is a graduate-level program centered on the principles of operations research. The curriculum consists of five graduate-level courses for a total of 20 graduate credits. The course sequence provides both a theoretical foundation of analysis techniques and insight concerning the interpersonal skills necessary for the effective application of such techniques to real-world decisions. The ORCP is designed to support part-time students. All students are expected to participate in the ORCP via one distance learning AFIT course for at least five quarters until completing the full certificate requirements.
Operations Research and Engineering Graduate CertificateThis certificate program has three concentration options as below:
1. Computational Modelling
2. Military Operations Research
3. Predictive Data Analytics
Per the concentration chosen the subjects vary. A total of 12 credits are needed to get certified for #1 and #3. 15 credits are needed to get certified for #2.
Warton’s Certificate in Business and Financial ModellingWharton’s Business and Financial Modeling Specialization is designed to help you make informed business and financial decisions. These foundational courses will introduce you to spreadsheet models, modeling techniques, and common applications for investment analysis, company valuation, forecasting, and more. When you complete the Specialization, you’ll be ready to use your data to describe realities, build scenarios, and predict performance.
Certificate in Gaming Homeland Security  MORS’ newest Certificate in Gaming Homeland Security will cover basic game design principles but through the lens of homeland security. Specific topics include emergency response games, how to support the DHS Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), local, state, and national level games, the National Exercise Program games, and games to explore the dynamics of response operations. Topics to be covered include natural and man-made disasters, transportation events, terrorism, and public health response, mass casualties, active shooters, and active policing.

Additional Resources For Operations Research Masters Students

A master’s in operations research is a gateway to an industry with huge potential. But to further their careers and keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, professionals can become members and hence accredit themselves with a professional organization in the field of operations research. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional operations research association bodies keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations. We discuss few such organizational bodies below:

Professional OrganizationDescription
The Operational Research SocietyThis is a professional membership body for operations researchers, data scientists, and analysts. The OR Society is a place for development and knowledge sharing. The ever-growing community of operational researchers and analysts represents the best of the profession, providing a platform where discussion and opportunity thrive.
Military Operations Research SocietyFor over five decades, membership in MORS has meant a chance to contribute, a means of growth, and a sign of professionalism. Become a member of your professional society, and further the tradition. Members of the Society include a cross-section of the best defense analysts, operators, and managers from government, industry, and academia.
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management SciencesINFORMS is home to a diverse collection of academic and industry experts in fields including operations research engineering, analytics, industrial and systems engineering, management science, economics, behavioral science, statistics, artificial intelligence, data science, applied mathematics, and more. Although our members’ work is often highly complex, we are unified under a simple, shared mission: advance and promote the science and technology of decision making to save lives, save money, and solve problems. Whether you’re at the beginning of your academic and professional adventure or decades into a successful career, INFORMS membership will connect you with a group of peers with whom you can collaborate, learn, grow, and share your journey.
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