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Operations Research

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Operations Research Major

Operations research is a major that typically falls into the Engineering category.

There are 0 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in operations research, 15 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 25 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 15 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an Operations Research Degree?

Operations research is one of the least chosen majors in the country, ranked #202 in popularity. About 500 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the field in 2017. This major attracts more men than women. About 59.4% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of operations research majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 19.4%
  • Black or African American: 3.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 8%
  • White: 45.5%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 15.8%
  • Other Races: 7.6%
Operations Research Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in operations research. About 15.8% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending operations research majors to the U.S. are China, India and France.

What Will You Learn as an Operations Research Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to operations research to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Operations Research Majors

A major in operations research should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Operations Research Majors

Skills for Operations Research Majors

Operations research majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for Operations Research Majors

Abilities for Operations Research Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a operations research student include the following:

Important Abilities for operations research Majors

What Can You Do With an Operations Research Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with operations research:

Careers Related to Operations Research
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Operations Research Analysts



Natural Sciences Managers



Clinical Research Coordinators



Water Resource Specialists



Operations Research Major Salary

Average salaries range from $88,000 to $140,000 for careers related to operations research. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for an Operations Research Major  ( 88000 to 140000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Operations Research Major Jobs

Some careers associated with operations research require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for operations research careers below.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Operations Research
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Operations Research Programs

There are 15 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in operations research, with 0 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is an Operations Research Major Worth It?

The median salary for an operations research grad is $88,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 127% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $989,000 after 20 years!

operations research salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: James Morrow via License

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