University Master's Courses in OR

If you are studying for an undergraduate degree with little or no OR content, then you may wish to consider further study by taking a specialist master's in Operational Research.

A master's degree in OR is valued by employers because it combines the logical thinking of a mathematician with practical business skills to help managers make better decisions.

Candidates for a master's need strong quantitative skills and hold a good degree in a numerate subject such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, economics, management or the sciences.

Students will learn a number of OR techniques such as computer simulation, optimisation, queuing theory, inventory control, and problem structuring methods.  You’ll also get a good balance between the theoretical work and an appreciation of the application of these techniques, and this will be through case studies and projects which might involve working with an organisation on a real world problem.

The OR approach often involves quantitative thinking and the use of techniques such as computer simulation and mathematical modelling. However, OR also offers non-quantitative ways of structuring and modelling issues. Whatever methods are brought to bear, it is essential that the operational researcher should be able to take a fresh, creative view of situations, to exercise initiative, and to communicate effectively.

Most large organisations, and many smaller ones, have well-established OR groups. The formal titles of people working in OR vary considerably (including, among others, management scientist, business analyst, corporate planner, and management consultant). Depending on their position within the organisational structure, some groups specialise in particular types of work, for example project planning, stock control, market research or information technology. Others are called on by a wide range of different functions.


Once you have studied for a master's degree you may wish to carry on studying and research a particular area of OR.

You may be studying for a PhD in a mathematical area, but be interested in learning more about OR techniques.  NATCOR (a National Taught Course Centre in Operational Research) is a collaboration between six universities to develop and deliver taught courses in OR to PhD students. It is part of a drive to deepen and broaden PhD studies in the UK across the mathematical sciences. The courses are designed to be of interest to all doctoral students who wish to have a greater knowledge of the underlying theory and application of OR technologies. Further, the courses give students in other areas of mathematics an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge of direct industrial relevance.

For further information please visit the NATCOR website.