Ph.D. with a Major in Operations Research

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

For admission to the Ph.D. with a major in Operations Research, a candidate must have:

  • an undergraduate degree in engineering, mathematics, computer science, economics, or a related technical field;
  • previous coursework that includes satisfactory completion of at least nine credit hours of calculus, three hours of linear algebra, and three hours of computer programming in a high-level language  (normally, a Bachelor of Business Administration does not provide sufficient background); 
  • a graduate degree;
  • a grade-point average of at least 3.40 on a 4.00 scale on all previous undergraduate and graduate studies; and
  • official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results with a minimum 80th-percentile quantitative score.  

Degree Requirements

  1. A minimum of fifty-four (54) term credit hours (TCH) beyond the baccalaureate degree, plus 24 TCH of dissertation credit.  Required courses are as follows:
  2. The 54 TCH must also include a 12 TCH minor.  Acceptable minors include systems engineering, engineering management, information engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics, business, economics, telecommunications, or other 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 courses EMIS 7362, 7370, 8360, and 8361.  This exam should be taken after the student has completed 18 TCH.
  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:

Engineering Management:

Information Engineering: