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Operations Research Major

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Operations Research

462 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
1,085 Master's Degrees Annually
#208 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 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 1,085
Bachelor’s Degree 462
Graduate Certificate 111
Doctor’s Degree 77
Basic Certificate 10

What Operations Research Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to operations research and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Operations Research Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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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

When studying operations research, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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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?

462 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
41% Percent Women
38% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 462 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in operations research in 2019, making it rank #208 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 112
Black or African American 10
Hispanic or Latino 37
White 206
International Students 70
Other Races/Ethnicities 27

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Operations Research, too. About 15.2% 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

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

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It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to operations research.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $88,350 to $139,680 (25th to 75th percentile) 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, 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 careers associated with operations research require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

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 2018-2019 academic year, 40 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 6 3
Post-Baccalaureate 1 0
Master’s Degree 27 7
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 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406
Biomedical Engineering 12,001
General Engineering 11,739
Industrial Engineering 9,410
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 7,069
Materials Engineering 3,538
Systems Engineering 3,491
Other Engineering 2,982
Environmental Engineering 2,850
Petroleum Engineering 2,269
Agricultural Engineering 1,554
Engineering Science 1,515
Architectural Engineering 1,019
Nuclear Engineering 1,014
Engineering Physics 979
Robotics Engineering 943
Manufacturing Engineering 932
Construction Engineering 865
Marine Engineering 481
Geoscience Engineering 424
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 387
Biological Engineering 374
Textile Engineering 366
Ocean Engineering 346
Mining Engineering 340
Engineering Mechanics 314
Metallurgical Engineering 235
Biochemical Engineering 118
Ceramic Engineering 101
Surveying Engineering 89
Electromechanical Engineering 65
Forest Engineering 52
Paper Science & Engineering 44
Engineering Chemistry 9

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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