Study options

Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research

The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research educates experts who have a broad knowledge of mathematical methods and strong problem solving skills to tackle challenging problems in science, industry, and society.
Aalto University / students working on computers / photo by Unto Rautio


Master of Science (Technology)

Application period:

2.12.2019 – 3.1.2020

Language of instruction:



2 years, full-time


Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Technology and Engineering


120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Science

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period has closed

Scholarships and Tuition Fees

About the studies

Study objectives

The objective of the Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research is to educate experts who have a broad knowledge of mathematical methods and strong problem solving skills to be able to successfully tackle challenging problems in science, industry, and society.

During the programme, along with learning to think mathematically, the students learn to build mathematical models and to analyze them by developing and deploying state-of-the-art methods and algorithms. Through their choice of major, the students can focus on mathematical theory, computational methods, statistics, or modelling and problem solving skills that are needed in practice.

Career opportunities

Graduates from the Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research have an excellent background for pursuing an academic career in mathematics, operations research, and statistics; and also in several other fields requiring a solid mathematical background such as computational science, machine learning, and quantitative finance. The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research also has a strong reputation in educating top-level experts with strong analytical skills to work in various specialist and management positions in  the industry and the public sector.

Typical job titles of our former graduates include actuary, analyst, assistant professor, associate professor, business intelligence consultant, consultant, data analyst, data scientist, doctoral student, financial analyst, lecturer, management consultant, mathematician, mechanical engineer, operational risk manager, planning engineer, portfolio analyst, portfolio manager, professor, quantitative analyst, research scientist, resource planner, risk manager, risk specialist, senior advisor, senior lecturer, software developer, statistician, university teacher.

Our recently graduated alumni are doctoral students at Aalto University and several other universities such as: Duke U, EPFL, ETH, FU Berlin, Georgia Tech, KTH, U Copenhagen, U California Davis, U Washington, ...

Our recently graduated alumni work for example in the following companies: ABB, Finnair, Fortum, Futurice, Kone, Nokia, Nordea, OP Financial Group, McKinsey & Company, UPM, Telia, Veikkaus, VR Group, Wärtsilä, ...


Graduates of the programme will graduate with a Master of Science (Technology) degree (diplomi-insinööri in Finnish). 

Post-graduate studies

The programme qualifies for doctoral studies (Doctor of Science in an applicable field).

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is primarily English, and the programme can be completed entirely in English. Some courses can be taken in Finnish or Swedish. More information is available in the General information about studies page (

Tuition fees

The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students. Further information is available on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (

Content of the studies

There are three majors in the Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Systems and Operations Research. The choice of the major is made when entering the programme.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

    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 the education of mathematicians who are able to interact and collaborate with experts in application areas. The major in Applied Mathematics responds to this need.

  • The objective of the Systems and Operations Research major is to educate experts who master quantitative methods and have professional skills for solving decision problems arising in the planning and management of complex systems. Core topics in the major are optimization, statistics, forecasting, dynamic systems, simulation, and decision and risk analysis. The major includes hands-on laboratory exercises and project assignments on real problems posed by external organizations.

    Overall, the major is founded on a balanced engineering-economic approach which builds on structured problem solving, systems thinking and mathematical modelling. This approach allows operations research (OR) professionals to optimize the use of limited resources, to improve the efficiency of production and services, and to support decisions in recognition of risks and multiple objectives, for instance.

    Methods of systems and operations research are used extensively in application areas such as finance, logistics, manufacturing, services, defence, energy, environment and healthcare. OR is widely known as “the Science of Better”. The rapidly expanding field of analytics employs OR methods to provide data-driven decision support.

    Graduates in Systems and Operations Research are in growing demand by firms, consultancies, research institutes and the public sector. Many start their careers as analysts and then advance to more senior positions and even to top management. The major provides an excellent basis for continued studies and graduates often choose to pursue a doctoral degree.

Structure of the studies

The Master of Science (Technology) degree (120 ECTS ) structure consists of a major, an optional minor, master's thesis, and elective studies. The majors in Applied Mathematics and Mathematics offer long (55-65 ECTS) and compact (40-45 ECTS) options. The major in Systems and Operations Research is compact (40-43 ECTS). Students taking a compact major take also a minor. Students taking a long major may include an optional minor in their elective studies. The extent of a major may not exceed 65 ECTS. Thus, the students will always have a choice of completely elective studies at minimum 25 ECTS.

See detailed course data:


Students are required to complete a Master's thesis, which is a research assignment with a workload corresponding to 30 ECTS credits. The student and the supervising professor agree upon the topic of the thesis. The topic of the thesis is usually related to the student’s major, or in some special cases to a minor. Master's theses are typically written for a company or for one of the research projects of the department in question.


The study environment in the Mathematics and Operations Research programme is strongly international and studies are conducted in multicultural groups. The School of Science offers diverse possibilities for student exchange all over the world. Exchange studies can be included in the degree e.g. as an international minor. Other possibilities for developing one’s global competence include conducting practical training abroad, taking a summer course abroad or acting as a tutor for first-year students. 

Co-operation with other parties

The Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis offering this programme co-operates closely with the national and international companies and research institutes of the field. In addition, the department has academic co-operation with high-quality international universities and organisations.

Research focus

Additional information about research related to this programme is available on the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis website.

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.

  • 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 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

The compulsory application documents are listed here.

In addition to the compulsory application documents, all applicants are required to submit the following study-option-specific documents:

  • Motivation letter
    • The motivation letter should be written in English. The maximum length of the motivation letter is about 4000 characters. The programme expects the applicants to describe why they are interested in studying in the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research. Please see additional instructions above for applicants with a Master's degree.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV).

In addition, 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
    • With degree certificates/transcripts of degree studies, follow these instructions. For other additional higher education studies (e.g. open university or other non-degree), upload the documents to your application as part of the study-option-specific documents. You can either copy the course content from the university website or study guide or summarize them yourself.
  • At most two recommendation letters
    • You can upload the recommendation letter(s) to your online application. There are no specific instructions for their content.

General instructions on study-option-specific documents

All additional application documents described above 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.

Upload the documents to your online application form in pdf-format. Name the file(s) according to format: Name of the document-Lastname-Firstname (e.g. CV-Lastname-Firstname.pdf). Maximum file size is 1.0 GB.

The study-option-specific documents must be uploaded for each study option separately, even if you use the same document (e.g. CV). Please check carefully the study-option-specific document requirements for each study option you apply to.

The deadline for the study-option-specific application documents to be uploaded to your application form is 10 January 2020 at 15:00 (GMT +2).

Contact information

For enquiries regarding the application process, required compulsory application documents or English language proficiency, please contact Admission Services at [email protected].

For enquiries regarding the study-option-specific application documents or studies in the programme, please contact Learning Services of Aalto University School of Science at [email protected].

Applying to master’s programmes

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Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis

Our main research areas are algebra and discrete mathematics, analysis, applied mathematics and mechanics, stochastics and statistics, and systems analysis and operations research.

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Guild of Physics

The Guild of Physics is the association for the Engineering Physics and Mathematics students at the Aalto University, although everyone else is welcome too. The Guild was founded in 1947 and currently has about 550 members.

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