Program Structure

The PhD students are required to complete a minimum of 40 MCs graduate-level modules comprising three core modules (4 MCs each) and 28 MCs of elective modules by the end of their fourth year.

The students may also select other modules offered at NUS with approval by their advisors and the IORA PhD program director.

OR Core Modules





Foundations of Optimization



Stochastic Processes I



The above mandatory core modules in the area of Operations Research will be tested in the written Qualifying Examination scheduled at the end of the Student’s first year.

Analytics Core Modules




BDC6307 (new)

Introduction to Data Analytics



Theory and Algorithms for Machine Learning



The students must also complete one Analytics core module; with an option to choose between BDC6307 or CS5339.


Electives Modules

Apart from the mandatory core modules, students will have the flexibility to customize the elective modules to match their research interests. Among the electives chosen, at least two must be in OR Methods, one in Data Analytics and one in OR Modeling.

Qualifying Examinations (QE)

The PhD students are also required to pass the written QE at the end of the first year and the oral QE at the end of the second year.

Written QE

The written QE comprises two closed book written exams based on the core modules.
Students who have failed the written QE may be rescheduled for another written test within the next six months.

Oral QE
The oral QE comprises two components as follows,

  1. presentation of research oriented (RO) paper and
  2. oral examination of two elective modules chosen by the candidate.


Students who have cleared the written QE can commence their RO papers, which will be submitted for their oral QE at the end of the second year. The purpose of the RO paper is to examine students’ ability to conduct independent research under the guidance of their advisor.

The advisors from IORA are only meant to be helpers - to provide consultation if required. They are not by any means responsible for the quality of students’ research outputs.

The IORA PhD committee will be responsible for the appointment of the QE committee, which will include the candidate’s advisor. The committee will examine the candidate’s RO paper and proficiency in the two elective modules before recommending a pass/fail.

Faculty Advising and Thesis Supervision

During the first year of study, the PhD students will not have any formal advisors. Students should take the initiative to find out the interests of the IORA faculty and explore research opportunities. By the end of the first year, students are expected to have identified their faculty advisors who would guide them in their RO papers and well as their choice of elective modules.

At any point in time, the students and faculty members can request for a change in their roles within supervisory relationship through the PhD program office – where the student can request a change in advisor, and the faculty member may choose not to serve as the student’s advisor.

Dissertation Proposal

Students can submit their dissertation proposals at any time after the completion of the oral examination.