Ph.D. with a Major in Operations Research

OPERATIONS RESEARCH

Program Director: Sila Cetinkaya, Ph.D. 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY WITH A MAJOR IN OPERATIONS RESEARCH

Introduction

Operations Research (OR) is the professional discipline that deals with the application of information technology for informed decision-making. OR professionals aim to provide rational bases for decision making by seeking to understand and structure complex situations and to use this understanding to predict system behavior and improve system performance. Much of this work is done using analytical and numerical techniques to develop and manipulate mathematical and computer models of organizational systems composed of people, machines, and procedures.

Operations Research draws upon ideas from engineering, management, mathematics, and psychology to contribute to a wide variety of application domains; the field is closely related to several other fields in the “decision sciences” — applied mathematics, computer science, economics, industrial engineering, and systems engineering.

Operations Research is distinguished by its broad applicability and by the wide variety of career opportunities and work styles it embraces. Because the concepts and methods of OR are so pervasive, operations research offers highly flexible career paths.

The SMU Operations Research Ph.D. program prepares its graduates for a career in higher education, research, or industry. With its strong faculty and curriculum, the SMU OR program is ranked in the top 25 operations research programs in the United States.

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering admission requirements for a Ph.D. degree, applicants are required to satisfy the following additional requirements:

1.    Master’s degree in engineering, mathematics, computer science, economics or a related technical field from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association or completion of an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. master’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing.

2.    Excellent academic performance in all completed coursework, with a minimum GPA of 3.400 on a 4.000 scale.

3.    Previous coursework that includes satisfactory completion of at least nine credit hours of calculus, three credit hours of linear algebra and three credit hours of computer programming in a high-level language. (Typically, a Bachelor of Business Administration does not provide sufficient background.)

4.    Submission of a complete application, including a statement of purpose, official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies and payment of appropriate application fee.

5.    Official GRE graduate school admission test results with a minimum 80th-percentile quantitative score.

6.    Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can judge the applicant’s potential success as a doctoral student.

7.    Graduates from foreign countries are required to submit a notarized financial certification form. All international students whose native language is not English and who have not graduated from an American university must submit a minimum TOEFL English language proficiency score before being considered for admission as follows:

  • TOEFL: Minimum overall score of 80 out of 120
  • IELTS: Minimum overall score of 6.5 

Degree Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering requirements for the Ph.D. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following:

1.    A minimum of 54 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, plus 24 credit hours of dissertation credit. Required courses are:

  • MATH 5316 Numerical Linear Algebra 
  • EMIS 7361 Computer Simulation Techniques
  • EMIS 7362 Production Systems Engineering
  • EMIS 7370 Probability and Statistics for Scientists and Engineers
  • EMIS 7377 (STAT 5377) Statistical Design and Analysis of Experiments
  • EMIS 8360 Operations Research Models
  • EMIS 8361 Engineering Economics and Decision Analysis
  • EMIS 8371 Linear Programming
  • EMIS 8372 Queueing Theory
  • EMIS 8373 Integer Programming
  • EMIS 8374 Network Flows
  • EMIS 8378 Optimization Models for Decision Support
  • EMIS 8380 Mathematics for Optimization

2.    The 54 credit hours also must include a 12 credit hour minor. Acceptable minors include systems engineering, engineering management, information engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, economics, telecommunications or another engineering area. The courses for the minor must be different from the required courses, except for MATH 5316, which can be part of a minor in mathematics.

3.    Satisfactory completion of the preliminary counseling examination, an oral exam covering operations research fundamentals. Skills tested include those developed in these courses: EMIS 7362, 7370, 8360 and 8361. This exam should be taken after the student has completed 18 credit hours.

4.    Satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination. This exam should be taken after the majority of the coursework has been completed.

5.    Satisfactory completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation.

Sample Minors

Systems Engineering

  • EMIS 7301 Systems Engineering Process
  • EMIS 7303 Integrated Risk Management
  • EMIS 7305 Systems Reliability and Availability Analysis
  • EMIS 7307 System Integration and Test

Engineering Management

  • EMIS 7360 Management of Information Technologies
  • EMIS 8362 Engineering Accounting
  • EMIS 8363 Engineering Finance
  • EMIS 8364 Engineering Management

Information Engineering

  • EMIS 7351 Enterprise Fundamentals
  • EMIS 7352 Information System Architecture
  • EMIS 7353 Information System Design Strategies
  • EMIS 7360 Management of Information Technologies

In addition to the five steps below, process details and other requirements for the Ph.D. degree may be found elsewhere in the SMU Lyle School of Engineering Graduate Catalog. The steps for completion of the doctoral program are:

1.    Basic Coursework: Upon entry into the Ph.D. program, a student is assigned an academic adviser. The adviser will examine the student’s prior background and current state of knowledge and then recommend courses to be taken in preparation for Step 2.

2.    Preliminary Counseling Exam and Program of Study: To be eligible for advanced study, a student must demonstrate competence in operations research fundamentals by passing the preliminary counseling examination. This exam is oral and is administered by three faculty members. Particular emphasis will be given to the material covered in the following courses: EMIS 7362, 7370, 8360 and 8361.

3.    Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Advanced Coursework: Upon completion of the preliminary counseling exam, the student develops a proposed program of study that meets the degree requirements in Section II and includes the planned advanced coursework. Based upon the proposed program of study, a supervisory committee is formed. The supervisory committee makes any needed adjustments to the program of study. Changes in the program of study are subject to approval by the supervisory committee. Step 3 requires completion of the forms Recommendation and Certification of Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Doctoral Degree Plan. (All forms are available for downloading at www.smu.edu/Lyle/Departments/EMIS.)

4.    Qualifying Examination: At or near the completion of the coursework, the supervisory committee conducts the qualifying examination. This exam ordi­narily involves a series of take-home exams, but the format is left to the discretion of the supervisory committee. The qualifying examination is con­cluded by an oral exam at which time the student is expected to present a proposal for the dissertation. A written proposal must be given to the supervisory committee prior to the oral exam. Upon passing this exam, the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy. Step 4 requires completion of the form Admission to Candidacy.

5.    Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Advanced Coursework: Upon completion of the preliminary counseling exam, the student develops a proposed program of study that meets the degree requirements in Section II and includes the planned advanced coursework. Based upon the proposed program of study, a supervisory committee is formed. The supervisory committee makes any needed adjustments to the program of study. Changes in the program of study are subject to approval by the supervisory committee. Step 3 requires completion of the forms Recommendation and Certification of Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Doctoral Degree Plan. (All forms are available for downloading at www.smu.edu/Lyle/Departments/EMIS.)

4.    Qualifying Examination: At or near the completion of the coursework, the supervisory committee conducts the qualifying examination. This exam ordinarily involves a series of take-home exams, but the format is left to the discretion of the supervisory committee. The qualifying examination is concluded by an oral exam at which time the student is expected to present a proposal for the dissertation. A written proposal must be given to the supervisory committee prior to the oral exam. Upon passing this exam, the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy. Step 4 requires completion of the form Admission to Candidacy.

5.    Dissertation Defense: The most distinguishing characteristic of a program leading to the Ph.D. degree is the requirement that the candidate write a dissertation embodying the results of a significant and original investigation. The dissertation must make a significant contribution to the operations research discipline, and it is expected to be a mature and competent piece of writing. The defense, which is conducted orally, must enable the supervisory committee to satisfy itself that the dissertation is an original piece of research work, that it has been carried out in keeping with the highest standards of investigation and reporting and that it makes a contribution to knowledge that is of value to the scientific community. Satisfactory performance on this defense constitutes the last academic requirement to be met for the Ph.D. degree. Step 5 requires completion of the form Report on Thesis or Dissertation and/or Final Examination.

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