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Masters (MS) in Operations Research in USA

Masters in Operations Research USA
If you had to make decisions in a system which is too complex for simple facts or intuition, who would you call? Not ghostbusters, but a graduate in the field of Operations Research. These graduates are equipped with the knowledge of mathematical sciences, computer science, and statistical analysis to model complex systems and help decision makers in reaching resolutions that are optimized for maximum profit while keeping risks, time and money at a minimum.

For a field of study which had its modern origin in the World War II era, when scientists in the UK and the United States, found ways to model complex logistics and training problems that could help their war efforts, it has found its way well into peaceful times.

Operations Research (OR) analysts are essentially an integral part of almost every industry, spanning industrial engineering, banking, manufacturing, policy modeling, insurance, data processing and pretty much any industry that needs sound management decisions based on information provided by these analysts.

For instance, tech giants like IBM, Intel and HP use OR to manage improved manufacturing with lesser resources and in turn reduce the cost of our technological gadgets. Airline industry uses it to cut through the complexities of volume, and variables, to make decisions on flight prices, schedules, crew, all while minimizing the risks to passengers.

In this article, we will lay out the basic requirements and the possible potential for students in MS Operations Research – GRE and TOEFL scores, Top Schools in the US, their tuition costs and consequent industry based employment facts, population and salaries.

Read Guide to get an MS in USA.

Masters (MS) in Operations Research in USA

Industry Profile, Salaries, and Top Schools


Eligibility requirements

As far as the basic requirements for eligibility for an MS in OR, you need to have an undergraduate degree in one of industrial engineering, engineering, mathematics, statistics, business with quantitative training, and a general strong head for all things Mathematical.

Any other pre-requisite courses can be filled in once you join your desired university. Of course that bit will be tailored to each individual university and easily known once you do your own little research into the admission requirements.

What’s in it for you?

Given the large versatility, Masters students, in Operations Research, find themselves in quite popular demand after graduation. In fact it is among the top ten MS specializations in the US with average salaries on the happy side of $130,000 after ten years of successful performance (Read Top 10 Masters Specializations).

The job prospects are also expected to grow an impressive 25% in the next ten years (2020-2030). To begin with, let us summarize the various industries that are currently holding the flag for being the largest employers of these jewels, in the mathematical world. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, from 2020, the summary of over 96,000 employees, in 2020, are shown here.


Industry Percent of industry employment in the US Average Salary in the industry
Management of Companies and Enterprises 0.41 $95,780
Insurance Carriers 0.66 $85,350
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 0.52 $89,350
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 0.37 $94,480
Federal Executive Branch 0.26 $120,600
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing Not Released $222,350
Other Financial Investment Activities 0.45 $112,860


Job Description: What will you be doing?

By the end of your graduation, you will need to understand a few basic concepts to step into that dream office and start modeling, managing and help making well structured decisions. The designations are fancy.

You will be the Operations Research Analyst, Operations Manager, Materials Manager, Purchasing Manager, Production Manager, Facilities Coordinator, Logistics Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, Business Analyst and so on.

Nearly all of them will require you to be well versed with (from,

  • Handling Big Data.
  • Setting up a system to constantly update your data.
  • Decision Making.
  • How sets of data are connected to each other, like in Network analysis.
  • How to optimize a commodity or service? Like what kind of products to prioritize manufacturing, based on known data. Optimization involves mathematical programming models like stochastic modeling, nonlinear programming, etc.
  • Use probability theory to predict uncertainties in, say production, in the next few years.
  • Use the queueing theory to manage flow of production, people or services in an efficient manner. Perhaps even solve airline management.
  • Computer modeling to obviously program, test and apply a model with efficiency.

In some sense, it is a way to play a real world problem, with all its variables and uncertainties, in a computer program to decide what’s best.

Best universities for Operations Management with eligibility and tuition

The next big question is where? While most US Universities do offer a course in Operations Research, quite a few offering only PhD programs, there are a obviously a few which stand a cut a above the rest.

So here’s a list of some of the top schools, their requirements and tuition costs for getting an MS/Masters (SM or MSOR degree) in Operations Research. The departments, offering OR degrees, are usually one of Statistics, Mathematics, Industrial Engineering or Business. The list is based of QS World University for Operations Research from 2021. Most universities have relaxed the requirement for GRE during the Covid19 pandemic.

University Average GRE Score Minimum TOEFL/IELTS Application Fee Approx. Tuition
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) V: 162
Q: 167
MIT doesn’t specify a minimum
CBT*: 250
iBT*: 100
IELTS(Preferred): 7
$75 $70,000
(MIT Tuition)
Stanford University V: 159
Q: 163
TOEFL: 100 $125 ~$60,000
(Stanford FAQs)
University of California Berkeley (UCB) V: 157
Q: 165
UCB doesn’t specify a minimum
PBT: 570
iBT: 90IELTS: 7
$120 Over $30,000
Georgia Institute of Technology V: 158
Q: 167
GATECH doesn’t specify a minimum
iBT: 90
Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking: 19
PBT:577IELTS: 7Georgia Tech Language Institute English Proficiency Assessment: 3
$75 $30,000
Princeton University Application in the department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering is subject to approval from a faculty. Students are mostly trained towards a PhD degree. Applicants are encouraged to contact in advance.
University of Michigan Not required currently due to pandemic PBT: 570


CBT: 230

$90 Over $75,000 based on credit hour
University of Columbia V > 64 percentile
Q> 91 percentile
PBT: 599
iBT: 99
IELTS: 6.5
$85 $65,000

CBT: Computer Based TOEFL Test, iBT: Internet Based TOEFL Test, PBT:Paper Based TOEFL Test, IELTS: International English Language Testing System

The tricky bit about an OR degree comes in the university specific details. As is the nature of the specialization, students from various backgrounds, albeit with a strong Mathematics core, can apply.

Being interdisciplinary, the choice of department, degree title and even the nature of academic level is best left for you to research to suit your needs. However, one thing is for certain.

Students with a love of applying their intuition, logical abilities and analytical intelligence towards real world problems will find themselves quite at home with a specialization such as operations research – putting complex real world systems on a map, finding ways for decisions to move forward.

So here’s hoping that you have found your way to this article, getting set on your path to a bright future ahead. Good Luck!

Also read about other Specialized Masters Programs

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9 thoughts on “Masters (MS) in Operations Research in USA”

  1. I am final year student from a private college of India pursuing B.Tech in ECE and I am thinking of doing MS in data analytics from the US or Europe.
    1. Is changing my stream a problem as far as the acceptance from colleges is concerned?
    2. With no publication, GPA of around 7 with decent GRE score, Do I have any chances? If yes, then what should be the least score. (with good SOP)
    Please Help its a very critical time for me.

  2. Hi,
    My self vivek kumar
    10th- 63%
    12th-75% nd bsc (elect.) going on with
    2 year gap nd result of my 2 paper is left nd upto now i got 50.11 % there is due to some problem i cannt do my study well at that time and beacuse of not having gud base in bsc i dont want to do Msc nd instead of this i want to do MBA in hr from abroad so that i can start again my base with full energy so please guide me is this my right decison call me if u can better tell me about my future if u dont mind thanks

  3. Hello sir
    I am about to complete my bsc hons in physics from delhi university and am looking forward to do msc in physics(astronomy) from Princeton university but I’m from a middle class family and cannot afford going is there any way I can get a full or a major scholarship from university.

  4. HI Friends,

    I have completed BE in Electronic and Telecommunications from Mumbai University. My Engineering aggregate is 59.22%.
    I have 2 years of experience in Business Intelligence. I am thinking about pursuing MS in MIS from USA. Can someone enlighten me how much good this option is for me?

  5. @Saksham: Many change their specialisation during a masters, however you need to justify it in your SoP. You’ll find the average GRE scores for the top universities here:

    @Vivek: If you haven’t done well in studies earlier, Adcoms will be concerned whether to admit you in their class. The other issue is that it may not be in your interest to get into a class where you feel inferior to others who are far more competitive. Think whether you really want to get into that situation. Read this:

    @Avijit: There are several students from India who get scholarships from the ivy league universities like Princeton. Read this story:

    @Ronit: Most options related to the field of computer science have a good demand. Whether it is good for you or not is something only you can decide based on your career aspirations.

  6. Hello,
    I have done my UG last year in IT and I’m currently working as a programmer at National Informatics Centre. I’m planning to apply for MS in OR but I”m little skeptic whether to apply for fall’18 or for fall’19.. I’m also doing MOOC for finance knowledge as I’m more inclined to make a career in Data Science in Finance vertical. I’m learning SQL, R and statistics these days and planning to switch into analytics by august this year. I want to know how much work exp is important for this specialization?

  7. Hi,

    I just concluded my undergraduate degree program in Computer Science at Babcock University. I would appreciate to know if OR is good for me. I have a natural flair for the course.

  8. hello ,
    i am a final year undergraduate pursuing B.E. in production engineering from NSIT Delhi .my CGPA is around 7.5 and i want to pursue MS in data science or operations research . is it good go in the direction for it and how to start preparing for this . what are the eligibility for these courses and what are the exams that i could start preparation for??

  9. Hi. I have done my BSc ( Physics,Chemistry,Maths) and completed my MBA last year. Currently I am working in international marketing. I want to do MS in Operation Research. I had 2 papers on Operation Research in Mba. So am I eligible to do MS in Operation Research ? Kindly guide me so that accordingly I can prepare for GRE and rest.


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