The Graduate Catalog contains degree requirements for all graduate programs, rules that affect graduate students, descriptions of graduate courses, and a list of Graduate Studies Committee Members. This document is the authority for all graduate students. These rules are supplemented by the rules of the university and rules imposed by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Program. The Graduate Advisor has the responsibility to interpret the rules in specific cases. Each technical area may also have rules and procedures enforced by the Graduate Advisor.

Please note: This page is not meant to be all-inclusive. It includes areas where we have observed difficulties in the past. If you need clarification, read the Graduate School Catalog, talk with the degree evaluators in the Graduate School Office (MAI 101) and talk with the ORIE Graduate Advisor or Graduate Program Coordinator.

Enrollment in the University


For registration at the university in the first semester, you should attend the New Student Orientation at which you will be provided with your registration and advising form. Following orientation you will attend an ORIE-specific orientation led by the ORIE Graduate Advisor. You will then proceed to the ORIE Academic Advising Office (ETC 5.224) to turn in your registration and advising form. Your advising bar will be removed upon receipt of the completed form, so that you may register online.

After the first or second semester, your research advisor will generally advise you on courses in which to enroll. You should obtain a registration and advising form. Following consultation with your advisor, you should list your proposed schedule for the semester and have your advisor sign the form. If you do not have a research advisor then you should consult with the ORIE Graduate Advisor. This completed form must be returned to the Academic Advising Office in order to have the advising bar removed and proceed with the registration process. Emails from the faculty that contain the same information are also accepted. Please be aware that some courses (ORI 397P) are restricted courses and require an additional form to be filled out and signed in order to register, or faculty approval via email. These forms can be found on the forms rack outside the Academic Advising Office.

Registration and Courses

If you are a full-time student, you must enroll in at least nine credit hours for each long semester (fall and spring). Full time status in the summer is three hours. Students who work as a TA or GRA in any semester must maintain full time registration status. If you are working as TA or GRA in the summer, you must remain registered for three hours.

The Research courses (180M and 380M) may be used to fulfill your minimum registration requirement (to reach three or nine hours), but they may not count toward the completion of your graduate degree.

In the fall and spring semesters, you may add or drop courses online during the first four class days. From the 5th until the 12th class day, in each long semester, you may add or drop ORIE courses in the ORIE Graduate Office. If you need to add or drop any non-ORIE course from the 5th to 12th class day, you must go to that department to do so. Add/drop after the 12th class day is strongly discouraged. You will be charged a penalty to drop a course after the 12th class day. Please see the Graduate Coordinator for add/drop after the 12th class day.

You may change the grade status (CR/NC or letter grade) of a registered course during the semester. Check the university’s Academic Calendar for the last possible date to change the grade status.

Although courses are generally not taken on a CR/NC basis, the Graduate School permits students to take 2 courses (20%) of their overall coursework on a CR/NC basis. Please check with your supervisor (research advisor) to verify which courses, if any, can be taken on a CR/NC basis.

You may take up to six (6) hours of upper-division undergraduate courses in your degree program. Courses taken for your BS degree may not be included in this allowance of six upper-division hours.

Only coursework taken within the last six years can count toward your Master’s degree. If you have coursework taken prior to six years, it is possible to petition to extend the six-year limit on coursework but not guaranteed.

Financial Aid

Several types of financial aid are available to continuing students on a competitive basis. Criteria for these awards are your GPA, GRE, your performance at the University of Texas and recommendations from the faculty.

  • Fellowships: For exceptionally qualified individuals, a few college-level and university-level fellowships are available through the recommendations of the ORIE Graduate Advisors. The Graduate Advisor solicits recommendations from faculty and continuing students, and a fellowship committee determines the awards.
  • Teaching Assistantship (TA): Teaching assistants are selected from applications submitted to the Academic Advising Office. Teaching Assistants in their first semester of a TA appointment must complete the Teaching Assistant Certification provided by the Cockrell School of Engineering. Foreign students must pass the ITA English Assessment Test (through the International Office) and attend their orientation in order to become eligible to work as a TA. The department covers the cost of the ITA English Assessment for offer students (students guaranteed a financial offer by the department.) The TA salary is paid out as a monthly stipend at the beginning of each month for the previous month.
  • Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)*: GRAs are awarded by individual faculty members. Interested students should talk to the faculty about the availability of support. GRA stipends are paid at the beginning of each month for the previous month.

*Arrangements for a GRA must be made prior to the semester in which it is to be effective. If you accept a teaching assistantship, you cannot change to a GRA after the first day of classes.

Program and Schedule of Work

Degree Plans

ORIE offers four different Master's degree options:

The Thesis option consists of:

  • 9 hours of required courses
  • 9 hours of additional ORIE courses
  • 6 hours of courses in minor area (not ORIE)
  • 6 hours of research and thesis writing (ORI 698A and ORI 698B)

The Report option consists of:

  • 9 hours of required courses
  • 12 hours of additional ORIE courses
  • 6 hours of courses in minor area
  • 3 hours of research and report writing (ORI 398R)

The Project option consists of:

  • 9 hours of required courses
  • 12 hours of ORIE courses
  • 6 hours of courses in minor area
  • 3 hours of research project (ORI 397P)

The Coursework option consists of:

  • 9 hours of required courses
  • 15 hours of ORIE courses
  • 6 hours of courses in a minor area

Minor courses must be approved by the Graduate Advisor prior to registration.

Required Courses:

  • ORI 390R.1 Applied Probability
  • ORI 391Q.5 Linear Programming
  • Approved Statistics Course

The selection of your thesis, report, or project topic should be carefully discussed with your advisor.

Courses and Satisfactory Progress

Grading standards are different in graduate courses from undergraduate courses. Satisfactory progress in our graduate program requires a GPA over 3.0. Students whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation by the Graduate School. If on academic probation, a student cannot hold an academic appointment (TA/GRA) and they may lose a recruiting fellowship. If academic probation continues for two semesters, the student is dismissed from the Graduate School.

Grades for undergraduate courses are not computed in your overall GPA. To graduate, all graduate students must have a graduate grade point average of at least 3.0. Additionally, candidates for the master’s degree must also have a GPA of at least 3.0 in courses included on the Program of Work. Any undergraduate courses taken for a letter grade to satisfy the master's degree requirements must have a letter grade equivalent above 3.0.

Planning your Program

It is beneficial to plan your program early in your academic career with the help of a faculty member in your technical area. Remember that most graduate courses are offered once a year, and some are offered even less often.

Time to complete the degree

Most Masters students enter in the fall semester. The schedule below shows a possible plan for completing the MSE with the thesis option that requires approximately one calendar year plus a long semester (admission in September and graduation in December of the following year).

Possible Schedule:

Fall: 9 hours of coursework

(Selection of research topic)

Spring: 9 hours of coursework

Summer: 3 hrs. Thesis A

Fall: 6 hours of coursework, 3 hrs. Thesis B

A typical schedule would be:

Fall: 9 hours of coursework

(Select a research topic)

Spring: 9 hours of coursework

Summer: If enrolled, 3 hrs. Research (to work as TA/GRA)

Fall: 3 hours of coursework, 3 hrs. Research, 3 hrs. Thesis A

Spring: 3 hours of coursework, 3 hrs. Research, 3 hrs. Thesis B

A typical master's program is completed within 18 – 27 months. Beyond 24 months, your progress will be reviewed to determine ways to ensure your graduation. Finishing the Master's in 18 months is quite doable, with a slight acceleration in the coursework. We have a small percentage of students who elect to finish in 3 semesters (about 18 months) instead of 4.

The Master's coursework-only option requires 10 courses. The usual full-time course load per semester is 3 courses. Hence, you could finish in 3 long semesters by doing a 3-4-3 course load, i.e., you need to work a bit harder one semester. Alternatively, you could do a 3-3-1-3, where the "1" is taking a course over the summer. 

Selecting Your Research Topic

Selection of a research topic will normally be made near the end of the first semester. If you have a GRA, you can write your thesis or report on the project that funds your GRA and thus will effectively select your topic area based on your research project. Otherwise, time should be spent during the first semester searching for a topic. This is normally accomplished by discussing with faculty members in your technical area to get suggestions. A topic is chosen by common consent of the student and a particular faculty member who agrees to supervise the work.

Please inform the ORIE Academic Advising Office when you have selected a topic and supervisor (research advisor). In addition to the supervisor (first reader), a second reader is required to examine your thesis when you submit it for graduation. Be sure to ask for permission before listing someone as a second reader.

Applying to Graduate

At the beginning of your last semester you should apply for Master’s Candidacy. This consists of an online application plus a hard copy of Program of Work signed by your supervisor. The online application consists of identifying your supervisor (first reader) and second reader and specifying the courses you have completed or will take to meet the degree requirements. It is to the student's advantage to develop a well-defined description of the scope of the proposed work (preferably written) that is agreed upon by the student and his/her thesis advisor.

Writing the Thesis or Report

While requirements for writing a thesis or report will vary considerably with different faculty members, there are several suggestions that can be made:

  • Writing a thesis or report that is acceptable to you and to two faculty members will undoubtedly take longer than you expect. Start early, plan ahead, and work hard. One should expect a minimum of two months of full-time effort for writing, faculty approval, and final editing. This assumes that all the analytical, computational, and/or experimental work is completed at the time the writing begins.
  • Before starting the writing phase, it is imperative that a very detailed thesis outline be developed – a minimum of 4 or 5 pages with the outline detailed to the second level of subheading below the chapters, followed by brief description, phrases or subjects to emphasize important considerations.
  • While it may be advisable to provide your advisor with one section (or chapter) for review to determine their level of expectation, the quality of the first draft provided to your advisor should be complete to the point that if it were acceptable to him or her you could word process it in final form. This means among other things: title, table of contents, list of figures and tables, logically developed, fully referenced, correct grammar and punctuation, figures and tables sequentially numbered and titled, data or analysis and results fully assessed, etc. While the format will vary depending on the topic, the candidate and the thesis advisor, the draft should be complete.
  • You must be enrolled in classes (though not necessarily full-time status) during the semester you plan to graduate.
  • If you are taking the thesis option, you must take both Thesis A (698A) and Thesis B (698B) courses and be enrolled in Thesis B in the semester you plan to graduate. Thesis A must be taken before Thesis B and the two cannot be taken concurrently. (Though these course numbers begin with the number 6, these are three-hour courses.) Thesis B can be repeated if the thesis itself is not submitted to the Graduate School by the last class day of the semester you’re planning to graduate. If writing a report, you must be enrolled in the Report course (398R) in the semester in which you plan to graduate. Again, this may be repeated as necessary.
  • Please complete this survey after you have submitted your thesis or report, or have completed classes.
Important Deadlines and Paperwork

The actual deadline dates for these items are printed in the course schedule. The deadline dates are inflexible.

  • File the online Application for Master’s Candidacy. You will also need to file a paper Program of Work form in the ORIE Academic Advising Office in ETC 5.224. In the event that you do not graduate when you plan, the online application must be submitted again the following semester.
  • Copyright Information & Disclaimer, Signature Page submitted by students to Graduate School who are writing a thesis or report (according to the rules listed on guidelines from the Graduate School website).
  • Theses or Reports submitted to the Graduate School according to the rules listed on guidelines from the Graduate School.
  • Please complete this survey after you have submitted your thesis or report, or have completed classes.
Rules for TAs and GRAs

The following rules apply to both TAs and GRAs.

  • To be appointed as a TA/GRA, you cannot be on academic probation (GPA > 3.0)
  • In order to be appointed for a TA or GRA, you may not have: more than two X's (incomplete) or more than one X and one I (permanent incomplete).  Two I's are not allowed.
  • If you are appointed as a TA or GRA, you must be registered full-time.
  • When you are appointed as a TA, you cannot withdraw to accept a GRA after classes begin.
  • An international student who is a TA must be certified as competent in the English language. The certification is done by the International Office (see Graduate Coordinator).
  • GRAs are assigned by faculty members holding research grants or contracts. If you are interested in a particular research program, you must contact the faculty member directly.
  • You cannot be appointed as a TA and/or GRA for more than 14 long semesters.
  • If you accept a GRA, the Coursework (no-thesis/no-report) option is not available without written agreement of the faculty member providing the GRA.
  • In general, there is lower priority for appointing a student to a TA after the student has had a TA appointment for 2 long semesters.
  • Students (including international) are permitted to work up to 40 hours per week (100%) in the summer semester if the opportunity is available.
Going on to Doctoral Program

You must complete the internal application form if you would like to be considered for the Ph.D. program. The form will ask you to list three faculty members who will be asked to provide recommendations in support of your request to enter the Ph.D. program. Turn the form into the ORIE Academic Advising Office in ETC 5.224.