The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree Operations Research is a brand-new departmental undergraduate program offered by the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University.
Why study Operations Research?
Operations Research (OR) is the scientific approach to decision making in complex environments. OR is pervasive in nearly every aspect of society, including medicine, finance, logistics, transportation, public policy, manufacturing, and information technology.
The Bachelor of Arts in Operations Research will provide undergraduates with a deeper level of understanding of mathematical modeling of decisions and a broader perspective on its applications than they can obtain in any of the current degree programs. The curriculum has a strong foundation in modeling, mathematics, algorithms, and software.
What to Expect
OR majors at Rice take introductory sequences in computer science, mathematics, and statistics. The intermediate and advanced OR courses focus on 1) building and calibrating models of decisions arising in various complex environments, 2) analyzing these models mathematically, 3) solving these models using sophisticated algorithms, and 4) interpreting the solutions of these models. OR majors take advanced courses in supply chain management, financial optimization, large-scale optimization, and simulation. They also take three electives drawn from across engineering and economics.
A Rice OR graduate will:
- understand the salient aspects of decisions arising in a variety of contexts;
- build a mathematical model that captures these aspects;
- analyze the model mathematically;
- calibrate the model with appropriately estimated parameters;
- design and implement algorithms to gain further insight; and
- communicate the results to a broader audience.
These goals also relate to the current CAAM, STAT, and CS majors, but the Operations Research degree creates a distinct set of skills and insights—an outcome that is different in an intellectually interesting and practically important way—than in any of those existing majors. For more detailed information about the program, including learning outcomes, requirements and more, visit the Rice University General Announcements.
Be in Demand after Graduation
Operations Research graduates are in high demand in all sectors of industry, and the number of OR jobs is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 25 percent growth in demand for OR graduates from 2019-29. To put the burgeoning market for OR majors into context, the projected growth in chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering jobs ranges from 2-4 percent over the same time period. Also, Rice OR faculty prize collaborations with undergraduates in their research, some of whom subsequently join top Ph.D. programs.
Operations Research graduates find jobs in many sectors, including shipping, distribution, transportation, retail, supply-chain management, resource allocation, and financial engineering. The breadth of application is staggering. Operations Research techniques lie at the heart of processes that range from scheduling instructions on microprocessors to optimizing the distribution of transplantable organs.