Resident - Operations Research
Curriculum 360 Operations Analysis (OA) is our flagship program and has the largest number of students. In addition, the Department offers a number of other programs tailored to the needs of a variety of sponsors.
Most of the courses in our curricula cover topics similar to courses in civilian O.R. programs, such as computational methods, statistics and data analysis, stochastic models, linear and non-linear optimization, network flows, simulation, and decision analysis. But in our program, all of these are enriched with examples that relate to student experiences and faculty research. We also study and teach military-relevant topics that are not commonly found in other programs, including combat modeling, campaign analysis, wargaming, cost analysis, and search theory. These topics are critical to our sponsors and are in keeping with the foundational roots of operations research. These courses help directly prepare our graduates to be military practitioners of OR.
Most resident students complete a curriculum that consists of one quarter of “refresher” courses, plus seven quarters of instruction. Navy students completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) will stay for eight quarters.
In addition to coursework, each resident student is required to complete a Master’s thesis under the supervision of at least one advisor on the OR faculty, and with the review of a second reader.
An important piece of our approach to education is an internship that we call the “experience tour.” This is a three-week period that provides each student with an opportunity to apply theory from the classroom to a problem in the real world. After completing core coursework for the first five quarters, each student has an opportunity to participate in an experience tour at a relevant DoD organization. The student then spends the remaining time at NPS in advanced coursework and thesis research under the direct supervision of a faculty member. This combination of an experience tour with a thesis helps the student understand how to conduct independent analytical studies of military problems, provides low-cost support to various interested analytical organizations, requires the student to produce a complete, coherent document describing the work accomplished, and connects us with the military analytical community. The unique set of circumstances we have created at NPS makes this all possible and does much to prepare our graduates to be practitioners.
This last point is essential because our graduates will frequently fill an analysis position immediately upon graduation, perhaps without any interaction with their predecessor. On day one, this graduate is expected to be a fully capable and mature analyst, and will also likely supervise the work of contractors and/or junior analysts, which means our graduates have to be prepared not only to function as individual analysts, but they must also be capable of supervising a team of operations research analysts.
A wide variety of experience tours is available to our students. These experience tours generally fall into three broad categories: First, some experience tours are based on long-standing relationships between our department and various analytical agencies; second, some tours are based on the student’s past experience. Many students arrive at NPS with a desire to improve some aspect of a past assignment, or an early classroom topic coupled with their fleet/work experience suggests atopic; and third, some tours are based on faculty research efforts. NPS faculty conduct DoD-sponsored research for a wide range of organizations and frequently send students they advise tothese organizations to develop a thesis topic that supports their broader research efforts.