The Application

How do I obtain an application to the PhD or SM programs in OR?

To obtain an application, go to the MIT Graduate Admissions website

What are the ORC application requirements for the PhD and SM programs?

Applications should include the following:

  • standard MIT application form and fee (unless the fee is waived)
  • Statement of Objectives (NOTE: There are no guidelines or limits for the Statement of Objectives, however we generally recommend that applicants keep it to around one page.)
  • transcripts
  • three letters of recommendation
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and/or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test scores (if international). TOEFL scores must be from within the past two years.

Can I apply for both the PhD and SM programs at the same time?

No, you cannot apply for both programs. You must chose one or the other.

You also cannot request to be considered for the SM program should you not be accepted to the PhD program.

When does the online application open up each year for the OR programs?

The ORC online application usually opens in early November.

What is the application deadline for admission?

The deadline for all applications is December 15 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Does the ORC admit for the spring?

No, we only offer admission for the fall term.

What is the application fee?

The application fee is currently $75. It must be paid by check drawn on a U.S. bank or by credit card if applying electronically.

Can the application fee be waived or deferred?

The application fee is required by MIT and can only be waived by US citizens and US permanent residents who qualify. For detailed information on the qualifications for the fee waiver, please visit the ODGE Application Fee Waiver page.

Applications will not be reviewed until the fee has been paid or waived.

Do I need to complete the "Record of Courses Taken" section? If yes, what courses should I list?

Yes, you should complete this section (to the best of your ability) with all courses taken throughout your studies that are relevant to the OR application.

What do I indicate as the "Department" on the application form?

You should indicate "Operations Research Center" as the designated department.

How will I be notified of receipt of my application?

Students can check the status of their application on the “Application checklist” page within Slate.  Any missing materials should be submitted ASAP.

Can I submit supplemental materials by mail to include in my application?

We will not accept any additional materials to include with your application. If you have published papers and/or received awards, this information can be entered online.


What types of testing does the ORC require for admission?

  • We require the IELTS and/or TOEFL for all international students. We strongly encourage international applicants from non-English speaking countries to take the IELTSThe ORC will also accept scores from the TOEFL iBT Home Edition.
  • TOEFL score within the past two years.
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional. Applications submitted with a GRE score should not have any advantage over applications submitted without a GRE score.

Will the ORC consider a waiver of the TOEFL and/or IELTS test?

All departments at MIT require a comprehensive knowledge of the English language. International applicants are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application unless they meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Applicant’s main language of instruction was English in their primary and secondary schools (i.e., from age 6 through age 18)
  2. Applicant has been residing in the U.S. (or country where English is an official language) for a minimum of four years and has earned a degree from an accredited institution where English is the main language of instruction

What is the IELTS requirement for the ORC?

The minimum score required is 7 on the IELTS test.

What is the TOEFL requirement for the ORC?

The minimum score requirements are as follows:

  • 250 – computer-based test (CBT)
  • 100 – Internet-based test (iBT)

What is the institution code for reporting score reports to MIT?

The institution code for MIT is 3514.

What is the department code for reporting GRE score reports to the ORC?

You should send your scores using institution code 3514. There is no specific department code for the ORC. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional.

What is the department code for reporting TOEFL score reports to the ORC?

You should send your scores using institution code 3514. There is no specific department code for the ORC.

Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation

Interfolio and similar services

Letters of recommendation cannot be submitted through Interfolio.  They need to be submitted through the direct link that it provided to the recommender by the student.

Do I have to include all three letters of recommendation with the application, or can these be sent separately?

We ask that you submit your letters of recommendation electronically via your application. You will be able to request a letter directly through the online application system.

Can I submit more than three letters of recommendation?

Yes, however, we will accept no more than four letters of recommendation.

Are original transcripts required when applying to the ORC?

Original transcripts are not required when you apply to the ORC. Once admitted, you will be asked to send us an official copy of your transcripts, including all grades for the year. We will accept translations of transcripts issued by an institution or professional translating service, such as World Education Services (WES), however we would still need a copy of the transcript in the original language as well.

Where do I send my transcripts if I am admitted?

Send to the following address:

Laura A. Rose
Admissions Administrator

Operations Research Center
MIT/Room E40-107
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307


How are students funded at the ORC?

The majority of doctoral degree students receive funding in the form of a research assistantship (RA) during their years at the ORC. Master’s degree students are not guaranteed financial aid; however, we assist them in securing possible funding. Historically, our master’s in operations research students have received funding; our master’s in business analytics students do not receive funding.

How do students in the master’s degree (SM) in operations research program secure financial support for their studies?

Although SM students are not admitted to the program with a guarantee of financial support, the majority of the SM students are able to secure a research assistantship (RA) with a faculty member for their studies at MIT.  Students can meet with faculty during the two day Open House to discuss possible RA opportunities.  Or, if they are unable to visit, they can reach out to faculty of interest via email to discuss possible funding.

How are students paired up with faculty members for RA positions?

Admitted students are given the opportunity to meet with faculty during our Open House, which helps them find an advisor they would like to work with while at MIT. For those students who do not visit during the Open House, we will work with you to find an appropriate RA based on your research interests.


What is the review process?

The ORC forms an Admissions Committee to review the applications for our doctoral degree (PhD) in operations research and our master’s degree (SM) in operations research.  The committee consists of four to six current OR-affiliated faculty members.

When are admission decisions made? How will I be notified?

Admission decisions are usually made in late February and/or early March. You will be notified via email with your admission decision.

Can I come in for an interview while my application is being reviewed?

The ORC does not hold interviews during the admissions process.

Can I find out my admission decision over the phone?

No, admission decisions will not be disclosed over the phone.

If I am accepted, can I defer the offer of admission? If yes, for how long?

In most cases, you are allowed to defer admission to the OR program for one year. However, this request is handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are admitted and would like to request a deferral, you must outline your reason for requesting the deferral in a letter to the co-directors. In some cases, admission may be deferred without a guarantee of financial support.

Can I visit the ORC?

Each year, we hold a two-day Open House for those students who have been offered admission. At that time, admitted students are invited to visit and meet with faculty and students. We do not arrange for visits for prospective students prior to admission decisions due to the number of applications we receive each year.

General Questions

Can you give me an idea of my chances for admission based on my GPA?

We do not provide probabilities or chances of acceptance. In any case, it would not be fair to answer this question based on just scores. The Admissions Committee takes the entire application into consideration when making admission decisions.

Is there a minimum GPA required to apply?

No, we do not require a minimum GPA to apply. However, our applicants are usually very strong academically and in the top of their classes.

Are there any prerequisite courses for admission?

No, we do not require any specific courses for admission. However, many students who apply to the Center have a strong background in such advanced mathematics classes as calculus and linear algebra.

How many students apply to the ORC?

We receive more than 300 applications each year for the doctoral degree (PhD) and master’s degree (SM) in operations research. For the master’s degree (MBAn) in business analytics, we receive over 250 applications per year.

How many students are offered admission to the OR programs?

We usually make an offer of admission to 20-25 doctoral degree students and to 8-12 master’s degree students in operations research.

Do I need work experience to be admitted?

No, work experience is not a prerequisite for admission to the ORC programs.

How long does it take to complete the OR SM program?

It usually takes students two years to complete the master’s degree program in OR.

How long does it take to complete the OR PhD program?

It usually takes students four to five years to complete the doctoral degree program in OR.

Can I transfer from my current university to MIT’s ORC?

We do not consider transfer students separately. All applicants need to go through the standard admission process by submitting an application to the ORC.

Future Careers

Where do graduates of the ORC work after completing their degree programs?

Many of our graduates assume positions in academia, consulting, large corporations, research laboratories, manufacturing, or industry.

Incoming Students

When should I arrive on campus?

We recommend that you arrive at least one week prior to Registration Day to get acquainted with the MIT campus and the Boston/Cambridge area. Our international students should arrive earlier to check in with the International Students Office and to sign up for our mandatory Immigration Information Session.

Please visit MIT's Academic Calendar for exact dates

Am I required to take the Writing Proficiency Exam?

All of our incoming ORC students are required to complete a writing assessment. If your native language is English, you’ll take our Writing Skills Examination; if your native language is not English, you’ll take our English Evaluation Test.

When do I register for classes?

You will choose your classes on Registration Day, which can be found on MIT’s Academic Calendar. You will also receive more detailed information about registration via email.

How can I find housing at MIT?

We recommend that you visit http://housing.mit.edu for more information about housing options available to you. Additionally, you will be assigned a senior ORC student guide, who will be an invaluable resource, helping to answer any questions you may have.

Do I have to use my MIT email address?

Yes, this MIT email address will be used throughout your career here at MIT. We often send important information and reminders to your email address, so please be sure to check it often.

Where can I get help with technical questions?

For technical questions concerning the ORC computing facilities, you should contact the current ORC student computer administrators. You’ll find their names and email addresses on the door of the ORC computer lab. If they are unavailable, you should bring your concerns to an ORC staff member.

For IT questions outside of the ORC, you should refer to MIT’s IS&T site, found here: http://ist.mit.edu/. If you are unable to find an answer to your question, you can contact using this link.

What courses should I be taking?

You will have the opportunity to meet with your academic advisor prior to Registration Day to decide on the appropriate courses for your first term at the ORC. If you would like to review our course offerings, please visit our Course Offerings page.