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UT Austin
Grad Catalog 01-03


Graduate Study

Admission and


of Study

Members of
Graduate Studies




Operations Research and Industrial Engineering

Degrees Offered
Master of Science in Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy

Operations research is a mathematical science concerned with optimal decision making and the modeling of deterministic and probabilistic systems. Its focus and field of application are interdisciplinary, embracing a broad range of quantitative techniques. Industrial engineering is concerned with the design, improvement, and installation of integrated systems of personnel, material, and equipment. Together, operations research and industrial engineering provide a rational approach to engineering and managerial problem solving through the deliberate application of scientific methods.

In practice, operations research and industrial engineering address both the performance objectives and the resource constraints of an organization, working toward the establishment of policies that are most beneficial to the organization as a whole. The function of the operations research analyst or the industrial engineer is to guide decision making by identifying underlying cause-and-effect relationships, developing and proposing courses of action, establishing criteria by which to judge their effectiveness, and evaluating their probable effects. The program in operations research and industrial engineering is designed to allow students to develop the technical, analytic, and managerial skills necessary to perform these tasks successfully.


The principal goals of the program are to provide the student with the educational basis for continued learning and to impart the fundamental skills necessary to be a successful analyst. Students are expected to develop proficiency in one or more programming languages, expertise in mathematical modeling, and an understanding of the uses and limitations of commercial optimization and statistical software. The master's degree program balances theory and applications. At the doctoral level, the program's emphasis on research is intended to enable students to extend their field of knowledge and to develop the analytic techniques that will serve them in academic, industrial, or governmental careers.

Areas of Study

The program in operations research and industrial engineering is designed to educate engineers who will solve complex industrial-socioeconomic problems by applying fundamental principles from engineering, mathematics, economics, computer science, and systems theory. In support of this end, a wide variety of research and study areas are offered by a faculty whose expertise covers such fields as optimization, simulation, statistics, stochastic processes, and manufacturing systems. The program is rigorous but sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs and interests of most students.

Once a student chooses a study area, he or she works closely with one or more faculty members pursuing research in that area. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, many projects involve teamwork and collaboration with departments in the College of Engineering and the McCombs School of Business. Each student's program includes a balanced combination of coursework, seminars, computational analysis, and research. State-of-the-art computer facilities, specialized laboratories, and the latest versions of applications software are available to all graduate students.

Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee in the spring semester 2000-2001.

Jonathan F. Bard
J. Wesley Barnes
Melba M. Crawford
John J. Hasenbein
     Paul A. Jensen
David P. Morton
Elmira Popova
Valerie Tardif

Admission Requirements

The Admission Committee uses the following policies in considering applicants for admission. Each application is reviewed on its merits.

  1. The applicant should have a combined verbal and quantitative score of at least 1200 on the Graduate Record Examinations General Test. Scores more than three years old are not accepted. In addition, the applicant should have a grade point average in upper-division undergraduate coursework of at least 3.20 on a 4-point scale, or the equivalent. Students who feel that their GRE scores and grades do not reflect their ability to do high-quality graduate work should submit a statement explaining this belief.
  2. Both the master's and the doctoral degree program are designed for full-time study, but part-time students are accepted. From the time of entry until completion, students are expected to show evidence of commitment to the program and of progress toward the degree.
  3. As a general rule, students should enter the program in the fall semester because of the way basic graduate courses are scheduled.
  4. Students who do not have undergraduate degrees in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences may be required to remove deficiencies before beginning graduate coursework.

Degree Requirements

Master of Science in Engineering

To enter the MSE program, a student should have an undergraduate degree in engineering or an equivalent quantitative field such as mathematics, economics, or one of the physical sciences. The graduate adviser may require those with degrees in other fields to take additional courses. In general, an adequate background includes coursework in probability, statistics, computer programming, linear algebra, calculus, engineering economics, and optimization. These courses may be taken after enrollment, but they usually will not be counted toward fulfillment of degree requirements.

The operations research component of the program emphasizes the application of mathematics to a variety of economic and operational problems. Students take advanced coursework in optimization, probability and statistics, and stochastic processes. Those interested primarily in industrial engineering may concentrate on forecasting, project management, production planning and control, scheduling, or reliability. Each student must complete either thirty semester hours of coursework, including a thesis; thirty-three semester hours of coursework, including a report; or thirty-six hours of coursework. (Students must have the approval of the graduate adviser to follow the thirty-six-hour option.) More coursework may be required, depending on the student's background and goals. All options require at least two courses in a minor area, which usually comprises work in mathematics, business, computer science, or other branches of engineering.

Doctor of Philosophy

The chief components of this program are scholastic excellence and original research. Although there is no specific number of semester hours required for the doctoral program, the student must meet the requirements of the Graduate Studies Committee. He or she usually completes twenty-four to thirty-six semester hours of graduate coursework beyond the master's degree. Formal admission to candidacy is considered by the Graduate Studies Committee after a thorough review of the student's overall academic record and performance on the doctoral qualifying examination.

For More Information

Campus address: Engineering Teaching Center (ETC) 5.128, phone (512) 471-1336, fax (512) 471-8727; campus mail code: C2200

Mailing address: Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Program, ETC 5.128, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712-7013



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Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Courses: ORI



Graduate Catalog
Chapter 1 - Graduate Study
Chapter 2 - Admission and Registration
Chapter 3 - Degree Requirements
Chapter 4 - Fields of Study
Chapter 5 - Members of Graduate Studies Committees
Appendix - Course Abbreviations

Related Information
Course Schedules
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Office of Admissions

Office of the Registrar
University of Texas at Austin

26 July 2001. Registrar's Web Team

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