Center for Operational Analysis (COA)

Center for Operational Analysis (COA)
Doctor of Philosophy - Operations Research

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree entails completion of rigorous coursework requirements that prepare the student for advanced research and analysis in a chosen field of study. The doctoral degree is generally characterized as a research degree with substantial emphasis placed on the completion of the dissertation research.
Close interaction between the student and his/her research advisory committee plays a pivotal role in the successful completion of the Ph.D. program.  Equally important is the discipline and dedication of the student, as independent study is a critical element for timely program completion. 
Doctoral study in Operations Research (OR) provides a path for Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) personnel (service members as well as civilians) to pursue research topics in advanced Operations Research. Typically, Air Force officers selected for Ph.D. programs carry a specialty code of 61A, and civilian employees an occupation series of 1500. With the advent of the Dayton Area Graduate Studies Institute (DAGSI) program, non-DoD students may also pursue doctoral study in Operations Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology. Admission requirements for civilian or DoD students (full- or part-time) are the same. Non-Air Force quota DoD students and DAGSI students do not affect the Air Force educational quotas outlined in Section 1.2. Limited Ph.D. Assistantships are available for qualified civilians. See Appendix A for details on Assistantships.
Air Force Ph.D. educational quotas such as Operations Research (Education Code 0YEY) and Operational Analysis (Education Code 0YSY) have been established to satisfy three general categories of Air Force needs: (1) At-large quotas referred to as “Air Force sponsored,” (2) Pipeline instructor quotas with a commitment to join the AFIT faculty upon completion of the degree, and (3) U.S. Air Force Academy instructor quotas. This Ph.D. program supports at minimum Air Force education codes 0YEY, 0YSY, 6EDY (Mathematics of Research/Biometrics/Biostatistics), 6EMY (Mathematics of Resource/Operation Research) and 6EOY (Mathematics of Research/Weapons Systems Evaluation).
Category (1) quotas provide analysts for any Ph.D. assignments in the Air Force while the others are specifically geared toward faculty assignments. Applicants interested in either category (1) or category (2) should indicate their preference when they apply. Category (3) quotas are controlled by the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), which sends selected faculty for a doctoral degree upon completion of an initial teaching assignment.
To be considered for Ph.D. admission, an applicant must first establish eligibility by submitting an application for review of eligibility, including transcripts and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, to the AFIT Admissions Office (AFIT/ENER). Exceptions are made only for students currently enrolled in the master's programs in residence at AFIT who seek extension directly into the Ph.D. program. In such cases, the student submits a Change of Enrollment Status Form, available from the Registrar’s Office, which the Admissions Office forwards to the Operations Research faculty who performs the eligibility screening. In addition to the requirements listed above, all applicants are required to submit a letter to the departmental point of contact for Applications and Personnel Matters (see end of this guide) summarizing their background and potential research interests. Additionally, each student must submit a short essay (no more than one page) describing his/her reasons for pursuing doctoral studies.
In accordance with the AFIT Doctoral Council Policy Letters, a student possessing a master's degree who seeks to enter a doctoral program must meet the following minimum requirements:
(1)    A quality bachelor’s degree with grades averaging at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
(2)    A quality master’s degree with grades averaging at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
(3)    Successful completion of a master’s thesis is very desirable
(4) GRE scores of at least 156 (verbal) and 151 (quantitative) on the Education Testing Service (ETS) 2012 GRE Concordance Table (which is based upon performance of all examinees who tested between 1 Aug 2011 and 30 April 2012; or 550 (verbal) and 650 (quantitative) for GRE tests taken/scored under the old scale used by ETS prior to August 2011.
Eligibility also requires background, education, and experience compatible with advanced graduate study in Operations Research. (Typically, students entering the Ph.D. program will possess a M.S. degree in operations research, mathematics, engineering, statistics, or quantitative analysis.) All application packages are referred to the Operations Research faculty of the Department of Operational Sciences for review and recommendation. Waivers to the above criteria may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
The student’s prior coursework should enable him/her to complete the Operations Research core courses listed below, as well as the mathematics requirement described in Section 3.4. (Prospective students should contact the Department for an assessment if needed.) If a prospective student does not meet these requirements, remedial coursework (beyond the Ph.D. requirements) will be necessary. See Appendix B for information regarding the transfer of courses from a MS to the Ph.D. program. The prerequisites for the Operations Research core coursesare given below: 

Core Course
Prerequisite Course(s)
OPER 612 Nonlinear Programming
OPER 610
OPER 641 Stochastic Modeling and Analysis II
OPER 540
OPER 660 Statistical Aspects of Simulation: Input Analysis
OPER 561 & STAT 587
OPER 683 Response Surface Methodology
OPER 679 or STAT 696

A complete listing of course descriptions for Operations Research may be found at in the course description section of the current Graduate Catalog.
Each year, the AFIT Admissions Office forwards records of all applicants for the Ph.D. program to the Department of Operational Sciences for review. The Department considers this pool along with potential, in-resident masters degree candidates at AFIT. Assessing the research potential of each candidate is an integral part of the evaluation process. The Department returns a prioritized list of active duty Air Force officer candidates to the Admissions Officer, who then forwards the list to the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC).  Final assignment decisions are made by AFPC. All other applications from U.S. citizens may be considered at anytime. Once eligibility has been established, the applicant is notified by letter. Likewise, AFPC is informed of the eligibility and, if applicable, the volunteer status of the candidate. 
This program allows exceptionally well-qualified students to pursue a Ph.D. directly from Bachelor degree programs. Participants in the program need to fulfill all the requirements of the Graduate Operations Research M.S. program and those prescribed in this guide. These students are governed by the doctoral policy letter entitled Bachelor Entry to Ph.D. Program, approved 29
This program requires significant advance planning for success. A Pro-Tem advisor will be appointed by the Head of the Department of Operational Sciences in consultation with the Ph.D. program director as far in advance of the beginning of the student’s program as is reasonable. The Pro-Tem advisor fills a wider role for this type of student as compared to an entering student with an appropriate M.S. degree. As prescribed in the policy letter, the Pro-Tem advisor is expected to be the M.S. thesis advisor and, subsequently, the Ph.D. research advisor as well. Hence, these students will be required to provide detailed information on their potential areas of research interest prior to the assignment of a Pro-Tem advisor.
The Department of Operational Sciences administers AFIT’s Ph.D. program in Operations Research.  Candidates selected to fill 0YSY billets are expected to take the Operational Analysis sequence (see paragraph 4.5). Quarterly workload requirements are discussed in Appendix C. Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include 41 (for a well prepared student not needing to take the Core courses) to 53 quarter-hours of coursework beyond the master's degree and a period of full-time research leading to successful completion of the doctoral dissertation. In addition to the Core courses, the three required coursework areas are: (i) specialty area requirements (24 hrs), (ii) minor area requirements (9 hrs), and (iii) mathematics requirements (8 hrs). Each of these requirements is described in the subsections that follow. 
 “The minimum 24 hours of specialty area courses may consist of courses from more than one department as long as these courses form an integrated program designed to make the student an expert in the chosen area of research. In some cases this may require more than 24 hours. These specialty courses normally build on the individual student's MS program and will include a minimum of first year graduate courses. The bulk of the specialty should consist of the most advanced courses available in the chosen area of research. These may include up to 12 hours of XXXX-899, Special Studies. Dissertation research hours, XXXX-999, including prospectus preparation, may not be included in the required 24 hours of specialty area.” Doctoral Council Policy Letter #1, Ph.D. Degree Requirements:
The Department of Operational Sciences requires that PhD students complete a minor sequence. This sequence is intended to broaden the student’s exposure to graduate coursework. Successful completion of the minor area of study may also include completion of a minor examination requirement. A minor exam is required for OR PhD students if their overall GPA is less than 3.5 or their average GPA for the courses in their minor sequence is less than 3.7. Operations Research Ph.D. students have considerable flexibility when establishing a minor area of study. A student may choose an area within Operations Research other than his or her specialty area (see Section 4); however, the minor may also originate in another department (provided that the minor is acceptable to the other Department and that it is supported by that Department). Some examples of minor areas may include applied statistics, mathematics, and computer science.
 “The quantitative and analytical maturity expected of a Ph.D. student must be demonstrated. To achieve this quality goal, Ph.D. studies at AFIT are to include the study of mathematics (and/or statistics). In order to complete this area of study successfully, the student must complete with grades of B or better two courses (a minimum of 8 quarter-hours credit) offered by the AFIT Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the 6xx level or above.”

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