Graduates of the Ph.D. in Systems Modeling will display knowledge and skills in the following five areas:

  • Conceptualizing real world systems as mathematical models using techniques from applied mathematics, operations research, or statistics;
  • Performing mathematical or computational calculations on such models to draw conclusions, make decisions, or achieve better understanding of the system;
  • Interpreting findings of such analysis and its implications for the system modeled;
  • Communicating findings effectively in both written and oral form to both professional and academic audiences;
  • Performing independent research that combines techniques across the disciplines of applied mathematics, operations research, and statistics.

Graduates of the Ph.D. program will be expected to have knowledge of all the foundational areas of mathematical modeling.

Students will develop models of the systems they study using packages and computing environments commonly used in research in the field. Students are expected to maintain an active research program in collaboration with faculty, and to produce new knowledge in one or more specialized areas through the successful completion of systems research projects and a dissertation. Preparing students broadly for careers in research in academia and the corporate world are embodied in these areas.

This program is the result of significant research growth in the two participating departments in recent years.

  • Scientists from many disciplines are tackling the challenges of the complexity of the systems they study.
  • Several recent National Research Council reports discuss the complexity of the systems researchers must understand and the necessity of mathematical and computer models in achieving such understanding.
  • It is not just science that must handle complexity. The business world is also becoming more complex with global supply chains and complex market forces at work.
  • Companies looking for the next edge in the market are turning to operations research, statistics, and applied mathematics to model their complex systems and make better decisions.

The program focuses on the development and understanding of the skills used to conceptualize and analyze real world systems. The continued development of operations research, statistics, and applied mathematics is critical to scientific advancement in the twenty-first century.

Faculty and students engage and collaborate to contribute to the mathematical tools and knowledge base in the fields of science, medicine, business and engineering.

To make our program accessible to working students, as well as full-time students, we have aimed to minimize the classroom time before the student can become involved in valuable research. This means the student's path to independent and creative thought is shorter and, for the working student, their employer can see the value in a more reasonable timeframe. The student may then continue their research while taking additional courses to increase the depth and breadth of both their understanding of the theoretical and computational methods they are using and their knowledge about the systems they are applied to.

Working students should realize, though, that you cannot do a doctoral program just at night and over the weekends. Your employer will have to be interested in your research and see a possible competitive advantage in using its results. This means that they should be willing to allow you to devote some portion of your work time to the program. Most of the 500- and 600-level courses will be offered in evening timeslots, but due to scheduling restrictions not all can be. Thus some courses, particularly 700-level courses and the seminars, will have to be offered during the day. Working students should have an open discussion with their employer before embarking on the program.

This program fulfills important needs nationally and for the Commonwealth in terms of research, training, and service. Graduates of the program would be well placed for roles as mathematical scientists, operations research analysts, and statisticians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook forecast strong growth in employment in these roles nationally, especially at the Ph.D. level. The Virginia Employment Commission forecasts increases in employment in the Commonwealth of 19% for mathematical scientists, 20% for operations research analysts, and 21% for statisticians. Businesses and organizations are looking for people trained in applied mathematics, operations research, and statistics, but who also understand the systems that they model and can analyze them using multiple tools.