The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IE)

What is Industrial Engineering?

Industrial engineers (IEs) are systems thinkers who combine math, data science, engineering, economics, social science, and business methods to help organizations improve their products and services, mitigate risks, and more generally, make better decisions.

IEs strive to make systems:

  • Efficient - whether in terms of cost or use of resources;
  • High performing - be it higher revenues for a firm, lower wait times at medical facilities, or a greater number of people rescued in a disaster operation; and
  • Desirable - ensuring safety and a positive end user experience.

These skills are needed in virtually every organization! They provide a great foundation to quickly move up into high-impact positions. Many industrial engineers end up in the executive suite, including the CEO of the world’s largest company (Tim Cook, Apple). In the UMass IE program, you can complement your IE degree with management skills by completing our popular Engineering Management Minor or our Engineering Management MS degree. Motivated students can complete this degree in just one extra year within our 4+1 BS/MS programs.

Growth in IE

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of industrial engineers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Firms in a variety of industries will continue to seek new ways to contain costs and improve efficiency. As firms adopt new technologies and capture ever-increasing amounts of data on all aspects of their operations, the need for IEs is growing rapidly. Organizations need IEs to turn this data into information and insights, so that they can make better decisions. One position IEs frequently go into upon graduation is that of an Operations Research Analyst. The projected growth in this profession is astounding.

  • Projected employment growth in IE of 10% from 2019-2029 (BLS)
  • Projected employment growth in Operations Research Analysts of 25% from 2018-2028 (BLS)
  • 2017 US News Best Jobs Rankings Report lists Operations Research Analyst in the top 5 of Best Business Jobs!

What kind of jobs do UMass IEs get?

Recent UMass Industrial Engineering graduates joined a variety of industries ranging from consulting to aerospace, manufacturing, logistics, energy, food and beverage, and healthcare. Their median starting salary was $67,000, with top salaries over $80,000.

Testimonials from recent graduates - Click here to read their stories!


What do IEs do?

  • As a logistics consultant, you may help a company decide what the best location for a new warehouse is, or the routes delivery trucks should follow to minimize costs.
  • As a management engineer in a hospital, you may help doctors and nurses make the best use of their time in treating patients. You may also design procedures for optimal use of medical facilities to help bring the cost of healthcare down.
  • As an ergonomist in a television manufacturing plant, you may change the tools workers use to assemble televisions to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
  • As a quality engineer for a public gas and electric company, you may improve customer satisfaction by designing a process to schedule service calls around the availability of the customer.
  • As a financial engineer, you may aim to precisely determine the risk that certain financial instruments create.
  • As a revenue manager, you may optimize organizational revenue based on operational capacity and timing (yield management), for different market segments or from different sources of funding.
  • As an operations research analyst, you may conduct real-time system monitoring to optimize operations.
  • As a supply chain analyst, you may compile and analyze supplier performance data to assess risk and propose risk mitigation strategies.

Click here to watch our own Prof. Balasubramanian describe in more detail what IEs do.

You can also watch Prof. Shannon Roberts reflect on her own experiences as an industrial engineer in this highlight video from the Women in Science Series:
Women in Science: Shannon Roberts by UMass Amherst

Other informative videos about Industrial Engineering and Operations Research are:

Sample Course Schedule

The BSIEOR degree requires 121 credits and provides plenty of flexibility with 4 technical electives as well as other general electives. Electives can be used to take courses in a variety of other departments, to do independent studies working on cutting-edge research projects with the faculty, or to get experience as teaching assistants. Here is a sample semester-by-semester schedule that our students may choose. The elective courses appear in maroon for illustration.

Semester 1
Physics 151 General Physics I
Math 131 Calculus I
MIE 113 Introduction to Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
EnglWP 112 College Writing
Music 101 Introduction to Music Literature (AL/AT G/U GenEd)

Semester 2

Physics 152 General Physics II
Math 132 Calculus II
MIE 124 or CS 121 Problem Solving with Computers (Matlab/Java)
Chem 111 Chemistry
Psych 100 Elementary Psychology (Free elective)

Semester 3
MIE 353 Engineering Economic Decision Making
MIE 210 Statics
MIE 273 Probability and Statistics
MIE 201 Introduction to Materials Science
AFROAM 236 History of the Civil Rights Movement (HS G/U elective)

Semester 4
Math 235 Introduction to Linear Algebra
MIE 211 Strength of Materials
Math 233 Multivariate Calculus
MIE 460 Human Factors Engineering
Econ 103/104 Microeconomics/Macroeconomics

Semester 5
MIE 379 Operations Research I (Deterministic Models)
Math 331 Differential Equations
MIE 375 Manufacturing Processes
Engin 351 Writing in Engineering
MIE 395 Engineering Professionalism Seminar (1cr)

Semester 6
MIE 373 Simulation
MIE 380 Operations Research II (Stochastic Processes)
MIE 422 Statistical Quality Control
CS 397F Intro to Data Science (Tech Elective)
POLISCI 171 Intro to Political Theory (SW G/U elective -not HS)

Semester 7
ECE 361 Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
MIE 477 Production Planning and Control
MIE 492 Capstone Integrative Experience Seminar
MIE 532 Network Optimization (Tech Elective)
MicroBio 160 Biology of Cancer and Aids (Bio Elective)

Semester 8
MIE 478 Capstone Integrative Experience
MIE 544 Facility Location (Tech Elective)
MIE 597C Healthcare Operations Research (Tech Elective)
MIE 498T Teaching Assistant Practicum (MIE Elective)


The BSIEOR curriculum consists of five types of courses:

Core Industrial Engineering (IE):

  • Probability and Statistics – Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) 273
  • Engineering Economic Decision Making – MIE 353
  • Simulation – MIE 373
  • Manufacturing Processes – MIE 375
  • Operations Research I and II – MIE 379 and 380
  • Quality Control – MIE 422
  • Human Factors Engineering – MIE 460
  • Production Planning and Control – MIE 477
  • IE Senior Design – MIE 478

Students can select from approved courses in business, computer science, kinesiology, math, psychology, resource economics, or civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering.  They can also do independent studies working closely with our faculty on state-of-the-art research projects, or get experience as teaching assistants.

General Engineering

  • Introduction to Engineering – Engineering 110, 111, 112, or 113
  • Computer Programming – Computer Science 121 (Java) or MIE 124 (Matlab)
  • Engineering Mechanics – MIE 210 (Statics) and MIE 211 (Strength of Materials) Material Science – MIE 201 (Introduction to Material Science)
  • Engineering Professionalism Seminar – MIE 395A
  • Technical Writing – Engineering 351

Technical foundations

  • Mathematics – Math 131 (Calculus I), 132 (Calculus II), 233 (Vector Calculus), 235 (Linear Algebra), and 331 (Differential Equations)
  • Science – Physics 151 (Physics I), Physics 152 (Physics II), Chemistry 111 (Chemistry I)
  • Writing – English Writing Program 112

General Education
Elective courses required of all university students.

One Major – Many Names and Fascinating Areas

IE is closely related to operations managementmanagement sciencesystems engineeringmanufacturing engineering, and analytics. The distinction depends on the viewpoint or motives of the user. Recruiters or educational establishments use the names to differentiate themselves from others. In healthcare, for example, industrial engineers are more commonly known as management engineers or health systems engineers. IE is a diverse field. Some areas that you may be interested in are:

  • Logistics and supply chain management
  • Network optimization and facility location
  • Systems engineering and engineering management
  • Management sciences and operations management
  • Decision analysis
  • Business analytics and information engineering
  • Lean management and quality engineering
  • Human factors and ergonomics engineering