University of Southern California

Data Science and Operations research examines how systems and activities need to be designed to manage the flow of goods, services and knowledge assets in firms. This field is ever more critical as constant and rapid changes in disruptive technologies, along with globalization, offer innovative ways to source new products and services. Our doctoral program aims to train students and help them in their quest for original and impactful research in these areas.

We encourage students with strong backgrounds in engineering (industrial, electrical, mechanical, etc.), computer science, mathematics, economics, or statistics to apply at the USC Graduate School website. In particular, a background in business or operations management is not required.

Students in our doctoral program generally fall into one of two groups: Operations Management and Data Science/Statistics.

Operations Management

Research areas: Our faculty are interested in a wide variety of research questions;. check their personal webpages for specific examples. Some indicative topics include:

  • Revenue management and dynamic pricing
  • Data-driven analytics
  • Healthcare operations
  • Market and auction design
  • Sustainability
  • Supply-chain and service management

Operations Management and operations research prize interdisciplinary thinking and approaches. Hence, high-quality research often leverages a range of methodologies and tools, including:

  • Optimization (linear, nonlinear, combinatorial, data-driven)
  • Game Theory
  • Queuing Theory
  • Stochastic Processes / Applied Probability
  • Econometrics
  • Machine Learning

High quality research can involve developing new theoretical tools in these areas, application driven case studies, or both.

Business Statistics

Our statistics faculty are interested in both pushing the boundaries of theoretical knowledge in the field as well as applied areas. There are many interesting research projects at the intersection of statistics, computer science, econometrics, finance, and marketing. Selected topics include:

  • ­Statistical machine learning
  • ­High­-dimensional data analysis
  • ­Computational and statistical limits of "Big data" problems
  • Structural learning (such as clustering, sparse recovery and network analysis)
  • ­Multiple hypotheses testing, uncertainty assessment and inference problems
  • ­Finance and econometrics
  • ­­Applications in genetics, neuroscience and health care

Cutting­ edge research in these areas leverages and builds upon many mathematical tools including:

  • Functional data analysis
  • Graphical models and iterative algorithms
  • Optimization

Collegial, Supportive and Expansive

The DSO Ph.D. program is research-focused, collegial, supportive and highly interactive. Ph.D. students are viewed as “junior colleagues” and are encouraged to become involved in academic research with faculty early in their doctoral studies through the following programs and initiatives:

  • Low student-to-faculty ratio coupled with the faculty's "open-door" policy leading to frequent and meaningful collaborations. Unlike many other PhD programs, successful students often collaborate with several different faculty members, both in operations and statistics, throughout their PhD. Successful students typically co-author several papers with faculty members, which are often published in top peer-reviewed journals in the field.
  • Presentations by invited faculty from around the world as part of a regular seminar provide an opportunity for students to experience the breadth of the field and meet renowned scholars:
  • Internal brown-bag seminars and colloquia with other research-oriented universities in Southern California

Faculty webpages can be found at

Faculty Coordinator

Greys Sosic, Associate Professor of DSO.

Learn More

Learn more about Data Science and Operations program requirements, research, placements, and students.

Marshall Spotlight

Vasiliki Kostami

"So many faculty are actively involved in research, you can investigate any area within DSO. Whatever you want to study, you will find someone to work with you, and the range of coursework and students strengthens your weaknesses. With my research experience and the help of my advisors, I had enough samples of work to convince potential employers of my research abilities."

—Vasiliki Kostami, Assistant Professor of Management Science and Operations, London Business School