Operations Management Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.


While the goal of our doctoral program is the awarding of a PhD degree, in certain circumstances a master of science (MS) degree may be awarded to qualified doctoral students. Students who are continuing for a PhD degree may be considered for a MS degree if they are in good standing, they have completed a minimum of three quarters of coursework, they have no incomplete grades, they have maintained an overall "B" average, and they will not receive residency (transfer) credit toward their PhD coursework requirements from a previously earned graduate degree.

Students who are leaving the Doctoral program without completing the PhD will be considered for the MS degree if they have completed a minimum of three quarters of coursework, they have no incomplete grades, and they have maintained an overall "B" average. Finally, note that the minimum grade requirement is subject to change in the future.


First Two Years

Students are required to take twelve courses in the first two years. This corresponds to a load of four courses each term (fall, winter, spring). Students may audit other courses with the permission of the instructor, but typically are not permitted to enroll in more than four courses in one term. Students who pass their exams at the end of the first year are expected to spend the summer working with, or under the supervision of, one or more faculty members to pursue research and/or directed reading. If students cannot find a faculty member to work with on their own, they should see the PhD coordinator early in the spring quarter. Students receiving summer funding are expected to be on campus during the summer. Written permission of a PhD coordinator is required for any absence longer than two weeks.

Qualifying exams: The students will take a comprehensive qualifying exam at the end of their first year on the subjects of microeconomics, optimization and stochastic models. They will have a second chance to take it in September if need be.

Paper requirement: The students are required to write a research paper in by the end of the summer of their second year. A preliminary version is due beginning of the winter quarter of their second year.

Operations Seminar: Students are expected to continue attending the weekly operations seminars throughout their study. If they have a scheduling conflict (eg. a conflict with class etc.) they should contact the seminar organizer and the Ph.D. coordinator to resolve that.

Annual Evaluation: The Operations faculty will meet at the end of each academic year and perform a comprehensive evaluation of every PhD student, taking into account exam performance, research progress, coursework grades, and seminar participation and other research related activities. Following this evaluation, all students receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.

Third Year and Beyond

Thesis Research and Proposal: The main activity in the third year and beyond is research toward a thesis, under the direction of one or more faculty advisors. A thesis proposal must be presented to the Operations-affiliated faculty by the end of the third year, prior to the beginning of fall classes, and must be approved by a thesis committee selected in accordance to the graduate-school rules. Students that pass their proposal are expected to stay in close contact with their adviser(s) until graduation.

Department Presentations: Following their thesis proposals, students must continue present their research to the Operations-affiliated faculty in seminar form at least once a year.

Coursework: Depending on their number of transfer credits, students may need to complete additional course credits in their third year, as required by the graduate school. All coursework must be approved by a faculty adviser.

Work requirement: RA or TA opportunities exist for qualifying students whose research takes them beyond their fourth year. Performance in these duties will be part of regular reviews of student performance.

Job Market and Thesis Defense: Typically, students enter the job market in their fourth year, on some occasions that may be postponed to the fifth year.


A sample coursework in the first two years is given below.

First Year:
Fall Microeconomics I Econ 410-1 Static Dec. Models  MECS 460-1 Real Analysis 1 OPNS Seminar I
Winter Microeconomics II Econ 410-2 Dyn. Dec. Models MECS 460-3 Real Analysis 2 IE/MS 460 Stochastic Models
Spring Microeconomics III Econ 410-3 Game Theory MECS 460-3 OPNS: Advanced Stochastic Models OPNS Seminar II
Second Year:
Fall Econometrics MRKT 476 Contract Theory/ Mechanism Design MECS 465 Competitive Strategy MECS 449-1 OPNS Seminar I
Winter Econometrics II MRKT 477 Econ of Information Econ 414-2 Advanced Probability I MATH Stochastic Calculus And Control OPNS 463
Spring MECS 485 or a Different elective Econ of Information Econ 414-3 Advanced Probability II MATH OPNS Seminar II

Some of the second year courses can be substituted for by other sequences offered in Kellogg (e.g., MECS, Marketing, and Finance), the Economics Department, or the IE-MS Department. Examples of such sequences include Asset Pricing I/II in Finance, Simulation courses in Industrial Engineering, Industrial Organization courses in Economics just to name a few.