The predictive capability and problem-solving power of mathematics and statistics enable profound solutions to even the most complex problems. The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research educates top mathematical problem-solvers with strong analytical skills and explicit knowledge of logical reasoning.
It is hard to think of another field that has such a predictive capability and problem-solving power in as many areas of society as mathematics does. Be it climate research, sustainable management of natural resources or healthcare technology, there are a number of areas where mathematical and statistical thinking enables profound solutions. The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research educates top mathematical thinkers with strong analytical skills and explicit knowledge of logical reasoning. As the demand for mathematics experts has grown drastically in a broad variety of fields, graduates of the programme have a great variety of different career opportunities in front of them.
Upon graduating from the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research, graduates will have:
Strong problem-solving skills to answer some of the most complex and interesting questions in the world. Graduates possess a broad set of skills to work on diverse problems and answer some of humankind's greatest questions.
Extensive analytical toolbox to choose the most appropriate techniques from. Graduates possess the knowledge of how different mathematical tools and statistical methods work and how they can best be implemented to achieve desired goals.
Ability to think mathematically. Graduates can generate mathematical ideas, test and refine conjectures, and make connections to fully understand how mathematical ideas interconnect.
Expertise to build mathematical models and create new tools for unexpected demands. Graduates can adapt and stay ahead of the rapidly changing nature of the modern world by creating new tools for unexpected demands.
Means to master the art of scientific thinking. Graduates understand the principles of theory generation, hypothesis testing and data interpretation, and have the competencies needed to come up with scientific discoveries. This provides an excellent basis to continue studies further towards a doctoral degree in mathematics, statistics, and other mathematical sciences.
Language of instruction
In the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research the language of instruction is English.
The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students per academic year. More information on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (aalto.fi).
Content of the studies
The studies are flexible and can be completed at the student's own convenience. Basic core courses provide a strong foundation before further study in specific sub-areas. By selecting modules that fit with the student’s particular interests, the student will develop a wide palette of skills and creativity to tackle problems of significant importance. The programme has three majors: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Systems and Operations Research. The choice of major is made upon entering the programme.
Mathematics embraces mathematical thinking and educates students on how mathematical theories are constructed and how mathematical problems are formulated and solved. Education is research-oriented with all courses taught by mathematicians who lead active research projects related to the course topics.
This major is well suited 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. A high proportion of students majoring in mathematics will continue their studies to a doctoral degree.
Applied Mathematics is designed for students who are interested in applying mathematical sciences to other disciplines and learning to connect mathematical models and theories to real-world data via advanced statistical methods. It is based on a solid mathematical core that gives the student a broad set of skills in computational methods, statistics, and optimisation needed for working on challenging mathematical problems. The major also includes an elective part that provides flexibility to focus on a master's thesis project in a chosen area of interest. A high proportion of students majoring in applied mathematics will continue their studies to a doctoral degree.
The importance of mathematical and statistical 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 educating mathematicians who are able to interact and collaborate with experts in application areas. The major in Applied Mathematics responds to this need.
The Systems and Operations Research major educate experts who master quantitative methods and can tackle decision-making problems arising during the planning and management of complex systems. Core topics in the major are optimisation, 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 organisations.
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 optimise the use of limited resources, to improve the efficiency of production and services, and to support decisions in recognition of risks and multiple objectives.
The topics vary depending on the major the student chooses. In addition to their major, students may select a minor from any discipline that suits their preferences – from environmental studies to entrepreneurship. Examples of possible topics covered in the programme include:
Computational Algebraic Geometry (5 ECTS)
Decision Making and Problem Solving (5 ECTS)
Lie Groups and Lie Algebras (5 ECTS)
Numerical Matrix Computations (5 ECTS)
Random Graphs and Network Statistics (5 ECTS)
The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research has an excellent reputation for producing top scholars and experts in their fields. Students will hone their analytical toolbox and industry-ready skills through active and engaging learning methods, such as seminars carried out in close collaboration with leading international research groups and study projects organised in collaboration with companies and other organisations. All majors combine lectures, seminars, visits, projects, peer work, and individual projects, and vary from contact teaching and face-to-face meetings to e-learning.
Structure of studies
Overall, the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:
Major studies (40-65 ECTS)
Possible minor studies (20-25 ECTS)
Elective studies (25-35 ECTS)
Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)
Personal Study Plan (PSP)
The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, compiling an optimal selection of courses that are aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. PSP is also a useful tool for students to keep track of their studies. At best, it shows where students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.
The Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research is international by definition. Education is acknowledged globally and – as mathematics is a universal language – graduates can take their skills to any country in the world. The Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis offers the programme co-operates closely with high-quality international universities, research institutes and companies in the field.
Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through their studies but also through multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate to the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.
Aalto University embraces collaboration, creativity, and the sharing of knowledge, and thus the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research strongly fosters cross-departmental interaction. The primary focus of the programme is on teaching the universal language of science. Students learn to apply mathematical models and theories, advanced statistical methods, and computational optimisation skills to any discipline where this type of knowledge is needed. Some of the cutting-edge topics revolve around sustainable management of natural resources, renewable energy generation and use, climate change mitigation policymaking, privacy-enabled cloud computing, large-scale inverse problems in medical imaging, unsupervised statistical learning and network analytics for next-generation artificial intelligence solutions.
Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom of choosing elective courses across the University bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.
Mathematics and operations research is some of the fastest-growing fields where demand for highly skilled experts is set to increase over the next years. Throughout the programme, students get a good grasp of their strengths and career aspirations by participating in various projects together with companies and organisations.
The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research has a strong reputation in educating top-level experts with strong analytical skills and the ability to think two steps ahead. Such skills are in high demand in various specialist and management positions in the industry and the public sector, and thus students can use their expertise in a number of ways after graduation. Examples of career paths our graduates have taken include:
Academic career in mathematics, operations research, statistics, computational science, machine learning, and quantitative finance.
Specialist and management roles in leading international companies
Research scientist in academia or industry, e.g. government laboratories, environmental organisations, specialist research organisations or universities
Many of our recent graduates also decide to pursue doctoral studies at Aalto University or at another top-ranking school for science.
Aalto University has well-established career services to support students’ employment in Finland and abroad. Thanks to the flexible curriculum, many Aalto students work already during their studies and guarantee themselves entry positions before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company.
Postgraduate study options
The Master’s programme in Mathematics and Operations Research at Aalto is considered as a great foundation for doctoral studies and post-doc positions.
Programme-specific Evaluation Criteria
Applicants meeting Aalto University's general eligibility criteria for master's studies are evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria decided in advance for each study option.
The selection process for those who meet the general eligibility criteria is described next. First, the applications are evaluated based on the following (critical) criteria.
Relevance of previous studies
Only the applications who fulfil the requirements for these criteria will be evaluated against the full set of evaluation criteria.
After the evaluation of the remaining criteria below, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation of all criteria.
Recognition and quality of an institution
Other areas of competence
Grades of the previous degree(s), the pace of studies, other university-level studies that are not included in the Bachelor's degree
The applicant’s study success will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and results in key courses. Very good previous study success is expected.
Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
Relevance of previous studies
Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific 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.
The contents of the applicant’s previous degree(s) are evaluated based on the courses available on the official transcript of records and the course descriptions submitted. Relevant professional certificates and/or online courses are judged case-by-case, but they do not, in general, compensate for the university level studies that include also the theoretical foundations of the required subjects.
Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
Applicant’s further applicability to the study option, motivation, commitment for studies, and professional written communication skills
Applicant’s motivation and commitment to studies is evaluated based on the motivation letter.
Studies in the Master’s programme should provide genuinely new knowledge for the applicant. 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.
Recognition and quality of an institution
Recognition and quality of the applicant's previous institution
The recognition of the applicant’s home university affects the final interpretation of academic performance.
International and national rankings of higher education institutions
Other areas of competence
Other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications, non-formal education, competitions
Applicants will benefit from the following:
participation in scientific research leading to publications
special achievements in one's previous career prizes in competitions, or published writings
Curriculum vitae, letter of references, publications