The ORFE Undergraduate program may be considered as the modern form of a liberal education: modern because it is based on science and technology, and liberal in the sense that it provides for broad intellectual development and can lead to many different types of careers. Students of many disciplines are drawn to ORFE courses because of the strong fundamental education and quantitative training they will receive.
ORFE students acquire the quantitative skills required to solve complex real-world problems. The ORFE education emphasizes the importance of mathematical modelling. Because almost all complex problems include uncertainty, ORFE students learn how to develop mathematical models with uncertainty, how to incorporate real-world data into these models, and how to make optimal decisions that improve performance or manage resources effectively. Such a principled and quantitative approach to solving complex problems is of central importance in many different areas of our society. By combining the core ORFE curriculum with courses in engineering, economics, computer science, public policy, the liberal arts, mathematics, and the sciences, each student may design a unique program adapted to his or her particular interests.
The ORFE education opens careers in a broad range of application areas. Many of our students move into careers in management consulting, finance, and information technology, drawing on a strong technical education. Students with an interest in obtaining a deeper education have progressed to Ph.D. programs, opening careers in academia as well as advanced positions in consulting firms and industry.
All students start from a common academic core consisting of statistics, probability and stochastic processes, and optimization. Advanced courses in the department focus on computational methods and on exposing students to applications in areas such as finance, econometrics, operations research, communication networks, e-commerce, transportation, and machine learning. In addition, students choose from a long list of electives to form a coherent program that matches their particular interests. Students may also design specialized programs which must be reviewed and approved by their academic adviser and the Director of Undergraduate Studies/Departmental Representative. Students often draw on courses from economics, computer science, applied mathematics, civil and environmental engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and the Woodrow Wilson School.
Further information on the curriculum can be found in the Undergraduate Announcement and in the ORFE Academic Guide. Requirements for study in the department follow the general requirements for the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the general requirements of Princeton University.
The ORFE Academic Guide is an annually updated PDF document for your reference available for download. The document outlines the planning process in great detail, highlights some former thesis topics and spotlights what some of our current students are doing now. Please refer to this document for more information.
The student's program is planned in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies/Departmental Representative and the student's adviser. With departmental approval, the exceptional student who wishes to go beyond the science and engineering requirements may also select other courses to replace some of the required courses in order to add emphasis in another field of engineering or the sciences.
In addition to the engineering school requirements, there are three components to the curriculum, the Core Requirements, the Departmental Electives and the choice between a Senior Thesis or Independent Project. During the course of study, students in the department also participate in various Certificate Programs. Please consult the ORFE Academic Guide for a full list of the current Core Requirements, Departmental Electives and Senior Thesis/Independent Project topics.
The following certificate programs complement well with ORFE and are thus popular with students:
- Certificate in Applied and Computational Mathematics
- Certificate in Finance
- Certificate Program in Optimization Quantitative Decision Science (OQDS)
- Certificate Program in Environmental Studies
- Certificate in Statistics and Machine Learning
- Program in Applications of Computing
- Program in Robotics and Intelligent Systems
Students in the department often participate in the research interests of the faculty, and may take advantage of the facilities used for this work. Further details on the particular research facilities may also be found in the ORFE Academic Guide.
Students interested in obtaining international experience may participate in the University's Study Abroad Program or through summer internships and language study abroad. Further information can be found at the Office of International Programs.