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. Students will demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of basic mathematical programming methods, stochastic models and decision analysis.
  2. Student will be able to obtain, analyze and interpret the data necessary to perform operations research projects.
  3. Students will be able to solve a wide variety of operations research problems using the software commonly used in industry. 
  4. Students will know how to clearly and concisely present technical information in writing and 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 Graduate study 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 Graduate study 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 Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at

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.

Curriculum requirements

Concentration core courses
OPER   527Optimization I 13
OPER   528Stochastic Simulation 13
OPER   639Practical Optimization3
OPER   643Decision and Risk Analysis3
OPER   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. 

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 30

List one: recommended electives in operations research

OPER   627Optimization II3
OPER/STAT 636Machine Learning Algorithms3
OPER   641Stochastic Simulation and Monte Carlo Methods3
OPER   643Decision and Risk Analysis3
OPER   645Queuing Theory3
OPER   647Multiobjective Decision Analysis3
OPER   648Systems Reliability Analysis3
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

MATH   601Abstract Algebra I3
MATH   602Abstract Algebra II3
MATH   603Advanced Probability Theory3
MATH   604Advanced Probability Theory3
MATH   607Measure and Integration Theory3
MATH   608Real Analysis II3
MATH   610Advanced Linear Algebra3
MATH   615Numerical Analysis3
MATH   620Theory of Partial Differential Equations3
MATH   632Ordinary Differential Equations II3
MATH   633Asymptotic and Perturbation Methods3
MATH   634Partial Differential Equations3
MATH   640Mathematical Biology I3
MATH   655Dynamics and Multivariable Control II3
MATH   691Special Topics in Mathematics1-3
MATH   707Functional Analysis I3
MATH   711Complex Analysis I3
MATH   712Complex Analysis II3
MATH   715Numerical Solutions for Differential Equations3
MATH   719Operational Methods3
MATH   721Boundary Value Problems3
MATH   732Ordinary Differential Equations III3
MATH   740Mathematical Biology II3
MATH   750Combinatorics I-II3
MATH   751Combinatorics I-II3
MATH   756Graph Theory I3
MATH   757Graph Theory II3
MATH   759Graph Enumeration3
MATH   769Special Topics in Mathematical Life Sciences3
MATH   770Fourier Analysis3
MATH   787Special Topics in Discrete Mathematics3
STAT   691Special Topics in Statistics1-3
STAT   697Directed Research1-3
STAT   698Thesis1-3
STAT/OPER 736Mathematics of Knowledge and Search Engines3
STAT   742Design and Analysis of Experiments II3
STAT   744Regression II3
STAT   745Advanced Bayesian Statistics3
STAT   791Special Topics in Statistics1-3

Graduate program directors
Jason R.W. Merrick, Ph.D.
Associate professor
(804) 828-5865

J. Paul Brooks, Ph.D.
Associate professor
(804) 828-5853

Program website: