Program of Study

First two years:

Students are required to take 12 courses in their 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: 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 necessary.

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

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, performance in the work requirement and participation in weekly seminars 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 afterward is research toward a thesis, under the direction of one or more faculty advisors. A thesis proposal must be presented to the department 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’s rules. Students who pass their proposal are expected to stay in close contact with their adviser(s) until graduation. Students who do not pass their PhD proposal graduate with a master’s degree instead.

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

Operations Seminar: Students are expected to continue attending the weekly operations seminars.

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: The second-year work requirement remains the same for years three and four. Research or teaching assistantships exist for qualifying students whose research takes them beyond their fourth year.

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.