Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research


Master of Science (Technology).
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120 ECTS

Field of Study:

Technology and Engineering


2 years, full-time


An appropriate Bachelor´s degree or an equivalent qualification.

Tuition fees & scholarships:

Yes, for non-EU citizens.
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Language of Instruction:

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Organising school/s:

School of Science

Application period:

2017-12-15 - 2018-01-24

Mathematics and Operations Research

Develop your skills in mathematics and systems thinking and meet the future demand for top specialists in the field!

The objective of the Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research is to train experts who have broad knowledge of mathematical methods and tools as well as strong problem solving skills so that they can successfully tackle challenging scientific, industrial, economic and environmental problems.

During the programme, students learn to think mathematically. They also learn to build mathematical models of reality and to analyze these models by developing and deploying state-of-the-art methods and algorithms. Through their choice of major, the students can emphasize mathematical theory, computational methods, or modelling and problem solving skills that are needed in practice.

Study programme

Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations offers three majors: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Systems and Operations Research. The choice of major is made when entering the programme (click the name of the major to learn more).


The major in Mathematics helps students develop their mathematical thinking so that they understand how mathematical theories are constructed and how mathematical problems are formulated and solved. The education is research-based with all courses taught by mathematicians who lead active research projects related to the course topics. Each student choosing Mathematics as a major subject will be assigned a mentor from the faculty of Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis.

This major is partly intended as a preparation for students who plan to become researchers or university teachers in mathematics or related sciences. A Master’s degree in mathematics also provides the student with a broad range of skills in problem solving, logical reasoning, and flexible thinking, which are attributes valued throughout the society. The covered mathematical areas include abstract and commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, complex analysis, differential geometry, graph theory, mathematical physics, partial differential equations, probability theory, and real analysis.

See detailed course data >>

Applied Mathematics

The major in Applied Mathematics is designed for students interested in mathematical sciences and their application to other disciplines. It is based on a solid mathematical core that gives the student a broad set of skills for working on diverse mathematical problems. The major also includes an elective part that provides flexibility to orientate toward a master's thesis project in a chosen application area. A high proportion of students majoring in applied mathematics will continue their studies to a doctoral degree. Each student choosing Applied Mathematics as major is assigned a mentor among the faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis.

The importance of mathematical techniques is increasing in science and engineering as new fields employing sophisticated mathematical models are constantly emerging. The driving forces for such development are the ever-increasing computational resources, which should be used wisely and to their full power. This requires education of mathematicians who are able to interact and collaborate with experts in application areas. The major in Applied Mathematics responds to this need.

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Systems and Operations Research

The goal of the Systems and Operations Research major is to teach the students modelling methods and practical skills for problem solving and decision making in complex industrial, managerial, economic, and environmental problems. The core is an engineering-economic systems approach, which is based on systems thinking and mathematical modelling.

The field of Operations Research (OR) is generally called “the Science of Better”. OR people can work to improve the efficiency of processes or logistics, to optimize the use of limited resources, or to make better decisions under multiple criteria and risks. An important sub-area of OR called Analytics uses OR methods on large data sets to make better data-based decisions. Systems analysis and OR are needed everywhere in the modern society. Modelling and decision support are essential in energy markets and environmental management as well as in understanding the complex dynamics of climate change.

The core topics in the major include optimization, simulation, dynamic systems, decision modelling, statistics, forecasting, risk analysis, as well as hands on laboratory modelling and project case studies on real industrial problems. The major also provides an excellent basis for doctoral studies and many students do continue their studies to a doctoral degree. The graduates in Systems and Operations Research are in high demand in many areas ranging from the financial sector to industry, energy, and environment.

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Recent Master's thesis topics by Mathematics and Applied Mathematics students include, e.g. Hypergraph containers applied to algebraic geometry; The virtual Haken theorem; Cohomology of the Grassmannian; Holonomic least angle regression; Ruin theoretical comparisons; Triangulations of the topological closed disk and circle packings.

Recent Master's thesis topics by Systems and Operations Research students include, e.g. Predicting service contract churn with decision tree models; Evaluating trajectories of air-to-ground weapons using a probability map for surface-to-air threats; Optimal work shift scheduling: a heuristic approach; Train driver rostering in Finland considering driver satisfaction.

Career opportunities

Graduates from the Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research are in growing demand in many industries and in the public sector. This growth is partly driven by the ability to collect more data about a great variety of phenomena, which together with advances in mathematical methods and greater computational power makes it possible to leverage mathematical skills ever more extensively.

Typical job titles of recent graduates include, e.g. Analyst,  Business Intelligence Consultant, Consultant, Data Analyst, Data Scientist, Market Research Assistant, Operational Risk Manager, Planning Engineer, Portfolio Analyst, Quantitative Analyst, Reliability Engineering, Resource Planner, Risk Manager, ...

Our recently graduated alumni work e.g. in the following companies: Attido, Capgemini, Digia Plc, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd., Fortum, HSL Helsinki Region Transport, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Nordea Bank, OP Financial Group, Pöyry Management Consulting Oy, Reddal, RELEX Solutions,, Suomen Vahinkovakuutus Oy, T-Media Oy, Veikkaus, Verohallinto (Tax Administation), VR Group,…

All three majors provide an excellent basis for building a career in scientific research. Thus, a large share of students continue their studies and obtain a doctoral degree.

Tuition fees and scholarships

Non-EU/EEA students selected to the Mathematics and Operations Research programme will be charged tuition fees. They are eligible to apply for scholarships awarded from the Aalto University Scholarship programme. See further information >>

The Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis offers the best students summer trainee/research assistant positions.

Admission requirements

General admission requirements

The general eligibility requirements are the same for all Master's programmes in the field of science and technology. Please see also the requirements concerning language skills.

Applications that fulfill the general eligiblity requirements are sent to the academic evaluation described in more detail below.

Programme-specific admission requirements

Applicants are expected to have a relevant Bachelor’s degree that contains enough studies in mathematics, operations research or statistics and thus provides a sufficiently strong foundation for studies in the programme.

Students chosen to the programme may be required to complement their previous degree with complementary studies. Complementary studies cannot be included in the Master's degree and they can only compensate for small deficiencies in the prerequisites.

Evaluation criteria

The Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis is responsible for the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research. Students of the programme are selected by the Departmental Selection Committee.

Applicants are evaluated based on the following evaluation criteria:

  • earlier academic performance,
  • content of the applicant’s Bachelor’s level studies,
  • English language proficiency,
  • motivation.

The two most important criteria are the earlier academic performance and the content of the Bachelor’s degree.

Learn more about the evaluation of applications

  • The applicant’s study success is evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and results in key courses. Very good previous study success is expected. The recognition of the applicant’s home university affects the final interpretation of the academic performance
  • The contents of the applicant’s previous degree(s) are evaluated based on the courses listed in the official transcript of records and the course descriptions submitted.
  • The programme requires the applicants to provide a letter of motivation (an obligatory part of the online application) describing why the applicant is interested in studying in the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research. If the applicant already has a Master’s degree (in any subject), the motivation letter must clearly address the additional benefits that he or she seeks to gain by studying in the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research. To be considered for acceptance in the programme, the additional benefits must be indisputably substantial. In most cases, non-degree studies are recommended to complement a previous Master’s degree.

The programme does not have a minimum quota to be fulfilled, and not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted.

Application documents

In addition to the compulsory application documents, those applicants who do not have a Bachelor’s degree focused on mathematics, operations research or statistics are encouraged to submit certificates and transcripts for completed university level studies, including detailed descriptions of course content, as well as at most two recommendation letters.

Applicant’s motivation letter (compulsory part of the online application form) should be written in English. Also additional application documents described above (course descriptions, recommendations letter(s)), should preferably be submitted in English. If some other language than English, Finnish or Swedish is used in them, the applicant must provide precise, word-for-word translations of them.

Contact information

Location: Aalto University School of Science, Otaniemi Campus, Espoo


  • For enquiries regarding the application process, application documents and language requirements, please read instructions first. If you cannot find an answer to your question, contact Aalto University Admission Services at admissions [at] aalto [dot] fi.
  • For enquiries regarding the contents of studies in Mathematics and Operations Research, please contact Master Admissions at the School of Science at masters-sci [at] aalto [dot] fi.

Page content by: | Last updated: 20.12.2017.