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Operations Research Major

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Operations Research

475 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
884 Master's Degrees Annually
#203 in Popularity
$88,350 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Operations Research Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many operations research graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 884
Bachelor’s Degree 475
Graduate Certificate 101
Doctor’s Degree 87
Basic Certificate 8

What Operations Research Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, operations research majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Operations Research Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in operations research should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Operations Research Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to operations research:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Abilities for Operations Research Majors

A major in operations research will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Operations Research Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with operations research:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Clinical Research Coordinators 9.9% $123,860
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Operations Research Analysts 27.5% $83,390
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Operations Research?

475 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
41% Percent Women
35% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 475 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in operations research in 2018, making it rank #203 in popularity. This major tends to be male dominated. About 59% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Operations Research Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 92
Black or African American 18
Hispanic or Latino 38
White 216
International Students 75
Other Races/Ethnicities 36

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Operations Research. About 15.8% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • France
  • Canada
  • South Korea

How Much Do Operations Research Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in operations research have a median salary of $74,550 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $63,775 (25th percentile) and $79,225 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to operations research.

Salaries According to BLS

Operations Research majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $88,350 to $139,680 (25th to 75th percentile). 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, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Operations Research Major  ( 88350 to 139680 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with operations research may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. 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.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 2.3%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 2.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 47.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.8%
Master’s Degree 31.7%
Doctoral Degree 6.3%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.9%

Online Operations Research Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 37 schools offered some type of operations research program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 1 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 0 0
Bachelor’s Degree 5 3
Post-Baccalaureate 1 0
Master’s Degree 25 6
Post-Master’s 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 15 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Operations Research Worth It?

The median salary for a operations research grad is $88,350 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 121% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $969,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to operations research.

Major Number of Grads
Mechanical Engineering 46,014
Electrical Engineering 31,993
Civil Engineering 21,299
Computer Engineering 15,329
Chemical Engineering 14,729
Biomedical Engineering 11,483
General Engineering 11,245
Industrial Engineering 9,714
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 6,315
Materials Engineering 3,555
Systems Engineering 3,439
Other Engineering 2,900
Petroleum Engineering 2,818
Environmental Engineering 2,746
Agricultural Engineering 1,546
Engineering Science 1,509
Nuclear Engineering 1,050
Engineering Physics 1,028
Manufacturing Engineering 920
Architectural Engineering 874
Construction Engineering 870
Robotics Engineering 755
Geoscience Engineering 510
Marine Engineering 506
Mining Engineering 434
Biological Engineering 400
Textile Engineering 359
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 348
Engineering Mechanics 329
Ocean Engineering 305
Metallurgical Engineering 218
Biochemical Engineering 124
Ceramic Engineering 111
Electromechanical Engineering 84
Surveying Engineering 73
Paper Science & Engineering 51
Forest Engineering 39
Engineering Chemistry 5

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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