M.Eng. Program Questions FAQ

Program questions about the ORIE M.Eng.

The following FAQs address program questions that prospective applicants have raised about Cornell's Master of Engineering program in Operations Research and Information Engineering

How long does the program take?

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A minimum of 30 credit hours, including certain designated courses, is required. Most students complete the program in two semesters. If they come from an undergraduate field other than ORIE, completing the program may take an additional summer at the beginning or end, or an additional semester, depending on which option is selected. The Financial Engineering Concentration is a three semester program.

When does the program start?

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The mandatory 4-day MEng Connect program for incoming ORIE MEng students begins the week before Cornell's Fall registration for graduate students.  MEng Connect generally falls between August 12-19. Students often arrive on campus a few days before the start of this program.

Can I begin the program in the spring semester?

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Most students begin the M.Eng. program in the fall semester. For a variety of reasons, including the sequencing of offered courses and the timeline for project activities, completing the M.Eng. program in the traditional fall-spring or fall-spring-fall semester sequence is strongly encouraged. Although students are occasionally admitted to the M.Eng. program in the spring semester, spring admission is typically limited to applicants who are already at Cornell and have been able to participate in project start-up activities that take place in the fall semester. Individuals not meeting these criteria are strongly advised to apply for fall admission. The spring semester starts with registration in mid-January. Applications are due by September 15 of the previous year.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in Operations Research or Information Engineering (ORIE) to take the M.Eng.?

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More than 25% of the M.Eng. students in ORIE have degrees in quantitative fields other than ORIE, including other engineering disciplines, math, physics, chemistry, and mathematical economics. These students must have sufficient quantitative ability and background, as reflected in transcripts and GRE scores, and must have the prerequisite courses.

Where does the program take place?

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The program takes place on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, a small cosmopolitan city in a scenic area of the Finger Lakes region about 200 miles northwest of New York City. In addition, students in the Financial Engineering Concentration are enrolled in OR Manhattan, the School’s facility at 55 Broad Street in the heart of New York’s financial district, during their 2nd fall semester of their 3 semester program.

What courses are prerequisite for the program?

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Applicants should have four semesters of college calculus, through functions of several variables, as well as introductory calculus-based courses in probability and statistics. They should have taken a second-level computer science course in C, C++, or Java (a background in C or C++ is particularly valuable in seeking employment in financial services). These courses should be comparable to the following courses at Cornell: MATH 1910, 1920, 2930, 2940; ENGRD 2110, 2700. Descriptions of these courses can be found in the online catalog accessible from ENGRD 2110 is more than a computer language course. ENGRD 2700 covers both probability and statistics from an engineering perspective. You will need to submit with your application form a list of each required prerequisite together with the name of the course that appears on your transcript that meets this prerequisite requirement. Additional prerequisites are required for the Financial Engineering concentration. Refer to the M.Eng Student Handbook.

What is the difference between a Master of Science (M.S.) degree and a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree?

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The M.S. is a research degree requiring a thesis. The a professional degree, aimed at the practice of ORIE, and substitutes a project activity for the thesis. Cornell does not offer an M.S. degree in ORIE except in conjunction with a Ph.D. degree.

What are the program concentrations and minors?

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The M.Eng. program in ORIE requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of technical coursework, including certain basic courses and distribution requirements. Depending on your background, you will have a choice of several elective courses. All students do a team-based project. Each program concentration or minor defines appropriate electives and determines the project that you will work on. Currently, the program has one Minor: Systems Engineering, and six Concentrations: Financial Engineering, Information Technology, Applied Operations Research, Strategic Operations, Manufacturing, and Data Analytics. The Applied Operations Research Concentration offers the most flexibility in choice of electives and the most intense project experience. The others specialize in different areas with different elective choices and project experiences. Refer to the M.Eng Student Handbook.

What is the difference between the Manufacturing minor and the Strategic Operations (SO) concentration?

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Students in the Manufacturing Minor come from the M.Eng. programs of other engineering disciplines as well as ORIE. Students in the Strategic Operations (SO) concentration are in the MBA program at the Johnson Graduate School of Management and in the M.Eng. program in ORIE. The Manufacturing Minor tends to have more technical engineering content, the Semester in Strategic Operations more business content. Manufacturing Minor projects are more extensive than projects in the Semester in Strategic Operations. It is usually not possible to begin the Manufacturing Minor in the spring semester. It is possible to begin the Semester in Strategic Operations in the spring semester, but students lacking the Stochastic Processes course must take it during the summer since Semester in Strategic Operations students must devote the entire spring semester to this single course. The Manufacturing Minor may impose a heavy course load on students who have not previously taken any of the required ORIE courses.

Must I select an area of specialization?

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All students must select either a concentration or a minor when they enroll. If you are not committed to a specific area such as Manufacturing, Information Technology or Financial Engineering, consider selecting the general Applied Operations Research Concentration. It is not necessary to commit to a concentration or minor before enrolling, but places in the capacity-constrained specializations such as Financial Engineering and the Semester in Strategic Operations are set aside early based on interest expressed in the application and supplementary information we may request.

Are there any special prerequisites for the Financial Engineering concentration?

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The curriculum in Financial Engineering is difficult for students without a background in ORIE to complete in two semesters. For that reason, we have designed a three semester program that began in fall 2007. Prerequisites are required for both the two and three semester programs and are detailed in the M.Eng. Student Handbook.

How can I get a description of the courses (classes) included in the program?

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Like most U.S. universities, Cornell uses the term "course" to apply to an individual class that meets two or three times per week to cover a defined topic, such as Inventory Theory, Calculus I, Macroeconomics, etc. A "program" consists of a collection of courses that are completed in pursuit of a degree. Courses are described in the Cornell Courses of Study catalog.