Program goal

The Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics and the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research jointly offer the M.S. in Mathematical Sciences.

The mission of the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research is to offer a strong undergraduate and graduate education, with an increasing focus on the development of cross-disciplinary efforts that will prepare students for real-world applications and stimulating employment and career opportunities.

The program offers maximum flexibility by allowing students, in consultation with their graduate committees, to design a course of study that will best develop competence in those areas most relevant to their scholarly and professional objectives. Students may obtain a designation on their transcripts indicating that their graduate study has emphasized the mathematics concentration by completing the requirements that are listed here. A student who has not satisfied the requirements for one of the program concentrations offered, but who has otherwise fulfilled all the requirements for a master’s degree, will be awarded a degree of Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences without any specialization.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Theory and application of mathematical programming
    Students will demonstrate a solid foundation in the theory and application of mathematical programming and a comprehensive understanding of basic mathematical programming methods.
  2. Theory and application of stochastic models
    Students will demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the theory and application of stochastic models and decision analysis.
  3. Obtain, analyze and interpret data
    Students will be able to obtain, analyze and interpret the data necessary to perform operations research projects.
  4. Use of software commonly used in industry
    Students will be able to solve a wide variety of operations research problems employing the software commonly used in industry. 
  5. Modeling of operations research problems
    Students will identify and model situations in which operations research can be applied.
  6. Mathematical knowledge
    Students will demonstrate proficiency in the mathematics required to perform operations research methods.
  7. Written communication of technical information
    Students will clearly and concisely present technical information in writing.
  8. Oral communication of technical information
    Students will clearly and concisely present technical information through oral presentations.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
M.S.FallMar 1GRE-General
Spring Oct 1TOEFL (International students only)

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Thirty credit hours in undergraduate mathematical sciences, computer science or related areas of which at least 18 credit hours must represent upper-level courses
  2. Three letters of recommendation pertaining to the student’s potential ability as a graduate student in mathematical sciences

Provisional admission may be granted when deficiencies exist. These deficiencies must be removed by the end of the first year of residence, or its part-time equivalent, when the student’s application will be re-examined. Courses that are remedial or designed to remove deficiencies will not be accepted for credit hours toward the fulfillment of the course requirements for the master’s degree.

Degree requirements

In addition to the VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses and to meet the following requirements.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students in the M.S. in Mathematical Sciences program are required to earn a minimum of 30 graduate-level credit hours. At least one-half of the credit hours presented for graduation must be at the 600 level or higher.
  2. Other requirements: All students must pass two comprehensive examinations: foundations of operations research, covering OPER 527 and OPER 528 and methods of operations research, covering OPER 639OPER 643 and STAT 613. All students will be given two attempts to pass each exam. Students who receive a minimum grade of B on both OPER 527 and OPER 528 and a grade of A on at least one of the two courses will not need to take the foundations of operations research exam. Students who receive a minimum grade of B on each of OPER 639, OPER 643 and STAT 613 and a grade of A on at least one of the three courses will not need to take the methods of operations research exam.

Curriculum requirements

Concentration core courses
OPER 527Optimization I 13
OPER 528Stochastic Simulation 13
OPER 639Practical Optimization3
OPER 643Decision and Risk Analysis3
SSOR 690Research and Communications Seminar3
STAT 613Stochastic Processes3
Additional courses
Operations research electives (Choose courses from list one below)6
Operations research and allied field electives (Choose courses from list two below)6
Total Hours30

If a student previously received credit hours for OPER 527 and/or OPER 528 or their equivalents, then one or two other operations research courses must be taken in their place. 

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 30.

List one: Recommended electives in operations research

OPER 627Optimization II3
OPER 635Network Models and Graph Theory3
OPER/STAT 636Machine Learning Algorithms3
OPER 641Stochastic Simulation and Monte Carlo Methods3
OPER 645Queuing Theory3
OPER 647Multiobjective Decision Analysis3
OPER 648Systems Reliability Analysis3
OPER 649Statistical Quality Control3
OPER 691Special Topics in Operations Research1-3
OPER 696Applied Project1-3
OPER 697Directed Research1-3
OPER 698Thesis1-3
OPER 731Discrete Optimization3
OPER 732Optimization Under Uncertainty3
OPER/STAT 736Mathematics of Knowledge and Search Engines3
OPER 741Advanced Stochastic Simulation3
OPER 743Decision Analysis II3
OPER 791Special Topics in Operations Research1-3

List two: Recommended electives in operations research and allied fields

Any 500-, 600- or 700-level MATH, OPER or STAT course except the following
Modern Geometry
Teaching and Communicating Mathematics
Internship in Mathematical Sciences
Number and Operations
Geometry and Measurement
Functions and Algebra
Statistics and Probability
Rational Numbers and Proportional Reasoning
Functions and Algebra II
Modeling With Mathematics
Introduction to Social Statistics
Statistical Methods I
Statistics for Social Research
Applied Project

David J. Edwards, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research, and graduate program director
(804) 828-2936

Additional contact
QiQi Lu, Ph.D.
Graduate admissions
(804) 828-1304

Program website: