The Master of Science in Operations Research degree program explores an interdisciplinary field of applied mathematics used to optimize decision making. Students explore real-world problems and develop a mathematical model that typically includes an objective or goal that is maximized or minimized and a set of constraints. Existing methods or new methods help reach optimal or near-optimal solutions that usually result in dramatic benefits over the previous state of the system.
All courses needed for the degree are available online to students residing both in and out of the United States. Students never need to come to campus for any coursework and will travel to the Kansas State University campus only once at the end of their program for an oral examination, which is conducted by their supervisory committee.
Careers in Operations Research
Operations research models are utilized in nearly every sector of society because people recognize that inferior solutions waste money, time and effort. Graduates in operations research typically have a high salary and are employed in a wide range of industries, including:
- financial companies
- governmental agencies
- consulting companies
- transportation agencies
Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Master of Science in Operations Research degree is offered through the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering. The department's undergraduate programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the same engineering faculty is fully engaged in the high-quality graduate programs.
The Master of Science in Operations Research online degree consists of 30 credit hours and is a coursework only program. The degree requirements are as follows:
- Operations Research Core Courses – 9 Credits
- Other Operations Research Courses – 9 Credits
- Elective Courses – 12 Credits
- Total Graduate Credit Hours – 30 Credits
A final master's culminating experience presentation is required for each student upon completion of their coursework or in the final semester of coursework. The culminating experience is administered by the student's supervisory committee and tests their grasp of topics in the curriculum as well as their ability to apply them in the workplace.
Students residing within 250 miles of Manhattan, Kansas, must travel to campus to meet with their supervisory committee for the culminating experience. Others may request a telephone or teleconference culminating experience. Students must be enrolled in a K-State course during the semester in which they are graduating.
All coursework is offered at a distance via K-State Online, the course management system at Kansas State University.
Classes are made up of lectures, readings, videos, discussion boards or other online learning activities. Classes vary in format. There may be quizzes, tests or papers, and students may be required to have an exam proctor. Students work independently, yet share comments and questions via K-State Online.
Classes are delivered within a semester time frame. Fall and spring semesters are 16 weeks. Summer classes are eight to 12 weeks.
Core Courses (9 credits)
One course must be taken from each category. Each course is offered once every two years.
- IMSE 881 - Linear Programming (3 credits)
- IMSE 982 - Nonlinear Programming(3 credits)
- IMSE 882 - Network Flows and Graph Theory (3 credits)
- IMSE 884 - Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization (3 credits)
- IMSE 865 - Simulation of Industrial Management Systems (3 credits)
- IMSE 866 - Applied Stochastic Processes and Theoretical Simulation (3 credits)
One core course is offered each semester (fall, spring, and summer). These six courses are taught on a two-year rotating basis and taking all six courses meets the core and “Additional” operations research course requirements. It is possible to take three of these core courses and still graduate, but students earning an operations research master's degree are encouraged to take all six. These six core courses provide a fundamental understanding of the breadth of operations research, which aids in solving complex problems by applying a variety of methods to the problem.
Additional Operations Research Courses (9 credits)
Students must complete 9 hours of additional operations research courses that are not used to fulfill the core requirements. Accepted courses include any operations research core classes not used toward fulfillment of the core requirement credits, or:
- IMSE 751 - Normative Theory of Decisions and Games (3 credits)
- IMSE 760 - Stochastic Calculus Financial Engineering (3 credits)
- IMSE 780 - Methods of Operations Research (3 credits)
- IMSE 810 - Industrial Logistics Engineering (3 credits)
- IMSE 830 - Applied Fuzzy Set Theory (3 credits)
- IMSE 842 - Reliability Theory (3 credits)
- IMSE 976 - Scheduling Theory (3 credits)
- IMSE 991 - Multiple Criteria Decision Making (3 credits)
Some of these courses are not currently offered online but may be offered in the future. Students may take additional core courses from the list above to complete the “Additional Operations Research Courses” requirement.
Elective Courses (12 credits)
Students will work with their supervisory committee to choose appropriate elective courses. The electives can be taken from various departments or transferred from another university (up to 10 credit hours). However, the supervisory committee typically wants to see quantitative courses selected as electives and normally will not count more than 6 hours of courses that do not have substantial mathematics. Thus, most electives tend to be taken from industrial engineering, statistics, mathematics, computer science and electrical engineering departments. Some common quantitative electives include:
- IMSE 680 - Quantitative Problem Solving Methods (3 credits)
- IMSE 811 - Advanced Production and Inventory Control (3 credits)
- IMSE 822 - Advanced Engineering Economy (3 credits)
- STAT 705 - Regression and Analysis of Variance (3 credits)
- STAT 716 - Nonparametric Statistics (3 credits)
- STAT 722 - Experimental Design for Product Development and Quality Improvement (3 credits)
Program of Study
Actual degree requirements will be summarized on a Program of Study. Students are to choose the following for their supervisory committee when completing their Program of Study: Dr. Todd Easton, Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm and Dr. John Wu. Dr. Easton is typically the major professor. The student's supervisory committee must approve the student's program of study. Some general guidelines include:
- At least 60 percent of classes must be above the 700 level.
- No more than 6 hours can be taken from outside the department without prior permission. Note: Classes listed as common quantitative electives are typically not counted toward these hours.
- Courses in the IMSE department must be above the 600 level.
- Courses outside the department must be above the 500 level.
- No more than 6 hours can be taken at the 500 level.
- No course can count as both a core course and an additional operations research course.
How to Apply
1. Review Admission Requirements
To qualify for admission into the operations research master’s degree, students must meet the following requirements:
- A bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, engineering, mathematics, statistics or business (if the student has emphasized quantitative techniques) with a strong background in applied mathematics including calculus and linear algebra. Students are expected to have an advanced mathematical background, as many of the courses have simple proofs required as part of the course.
- Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the final two years or approximately the last 60 credit hours
- A calculus-based probability/statistics course (equivalent to K-State's STAT 510
- An introductory operations research course (equivalent to K-State's IMSE 560 or IMSE 680)*
- Some knowledge of computer programming (equivalent to K-State's CIS 200 or CIS 209)
- A score of 750 (old scoring system)/159 (new scoring system) or above on the quantitative portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). GRE scores are not required for students who have completed an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited program.
*If an entering student has not taken an introductory operations research course, the student should enroll in IMSE 680 - Quantitative Problem-Solving Techniques, to gain this knowledge. This course can count as one of the program's electives and provides a broad overview and many applications of operations research. It covers background information and serves to fulfill all prerequisites for the operations research core courses.
2. Review Application Requirements
- Applications are accepted year-round. Applicants should plan to apply no later than two to three months before the start of the semester. The fall semester begins in late August, the spring semester begins in late January and the summer semester begins in late May.
- Fall semester (begins in late August): January 8
- Spring semester (begins in late January): August 1
- Summer semester (begins in late May): December 1
Students who would like to get started right away but have missed the deadline may take classes as a nondegree-seeking student. Contact us for assistance.
U.S. Applicants: $65
International Applicants: $75
3. Prepare to Apply
Please be prepared to upload the following information when completing the online application.
1) Statement of objectives: One to two pages outlining why the applicant wants to pursue a graduate degree, accomplishments/traits that would make the applicant a good addition to our program, and future plans/goals. Most statements are three to four paragraphs in length.
2) Names and emails of three professional and/or academic references who will provide letters of recommendation. Your references will be contacted automatically using the email addresses that you supply, but it is your responsibility to ensure that your letters are submitted before your program’s application deadline.
3) An official GRE exam report submitted directly from ETS (submission codes: K-State-6334; IMSE Dept.-1301). Upload scores or, if unable to upload scores, self-report the most recent test scores and arrange for an official score report to be sent to the K-State Graduate School. GRE scores are not required for students who have completed an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited program.
4) Resume/curriculum vitae
5) Unofficial transcripts from each institution attended
- Failure to list any colleges or universities from which the applicant received a degree or enrolled in graduate coursework may result in dismissal from the university.
- If transcripts are not in English, the applicant must furnish a translation by an appropriate authority.
- Applicants will be asked for official transcripts after notification of admission.
Tuition and Fees
Online and Off-Campus Courses
Students taking online or off-campus courses through Kansas State University Global Campus will pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live.
Some graduate programs have different tuition and fee structures than what is outlined in the tuition and fee schedule below. A list of these programs can be found on the chart.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated March 2, 2018