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General Information

The Doctor of Philosophy program prepares students to pursue careers in research and/or teaching in operations research. Students enrolled in the program augment the breadth of the course work required for the master’s degree with courses designed to provide a deeper theoretical understanding of the subject matter of operations research. Each student develops an expertise and does original work in a selected area of operations research.

Please see our recruiting poster for the Operations Research PhD program here. Feel free to distribute it to anyone who may be interested.


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill imposes general requirements on all candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree. These requirements are set forth in the Record of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – the Graduate School. In addition, the Department of Operations Research requires successful completion of the following:

  • STOR 612 Models in Operations Research
  • STOR 614 Linear Programming
  • STOR 641 Stochastic Models in Operations Research I
  • STOR 642 Stochastic Models in Operations Research II
  • STOR 654 Statistical Theory I
  • STOR 664 Applied Statistics
  • STOR 672 Simulation Modeling and Analysis
  • STOR 743 Stochastic Models in Operations Research III
  • STOR 994 Doctoral Dissertation
  • Electives: At least 3 additional OR courses
  • At least 1 course outside OR
  • 3 additional courses

Total hours required for degree: 50

Customarily students choose their electives to supplement their knowledge of the area selected for research. After completing most of the required courses the student is given a comprehensive written examination. The Department offers the examination in August of each year. The purpose of the examination is to measure the student’s mastery of fundamental topics in the mathematical sciences relevant to operations research. You can find more information on the examination here. After passing the examination, the student chooses the remaining coursework and a research topic suitable for a Ph.D. dissertation in consultation with a faculty advisor. There is no language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

The Oral Examination:

Near the end of all coursework the student takes an oral examination designed to reveal an in-depth understanding of the area selected for research. The examination committee is composed of the dissertation director and four other faculty members, at least three of whom are on the Operations Research Faculty. Successful completion of the examination signifies faculty approval for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree and initiation of dissertation research.

Recent Ph.D.s : Topics, Advisors, and Employment

Copies of dissertations of students graduated after 2007 can be found online at the PQDT database.


  • Yuzixuan Zhu, “Preprocessing and First-Order Primal-Dual Algorithms for Convex Optimization.”
    • Advisors: Gabor Pataki and Quoc Tran Dinh
    • Placement: Exxon
  • Hongsheng Liu, “Hybrid Bayesian Optimization with DIRECT.”
    • Advisor: Shu Lu
    • Placement: Huawei


  • Zheqi Zhang, “Prioritization and Distribution of Casualties in Disaster Management.”
    • Advisors: Nilay Argon and Serhan Ziya
    • Placement: American Airlines
  • Yichen Tu, “Queueing Systems with Strategic and Learning Customers.”
    • Advisor: Serhan Ziya and Nur Sunar
    • Placement:Cox Automotive
  • Huijun Qian, “Statistical Inference and Computation for Market Microstructure.”
    • Advisor: Chuanshu Ji
    • Placement: Exelon


  • Tianxiao Sun, “Nweton-type Methods under Generalized Self-Concordance and Inexact Oracles.”
    • Advisors: Shu Lu and Quoc Tran-Dinh
    • Placement: Lowe’s


  • Yang Yu, “Advanced Statistical Models for Imaging and Genetic Data.”
    • Advisor: J.S. Marron and Hongtu Zhu
    • Placement: Goldman Sachs
  • Mustafa Kabul, “Papers on Selling to Strategic Customer: A supply chain perspective.”
    • Advisor: Ali Kemal Parlakturk
    • Placement: SAS


  • Haojin Zhai, “Principal Component Analysis in Phylogenetic Tree Space.”
    Advisors: J.S. Marron and Scott Provan
    Placement: comScore
  • Huiyin Ouyang, “Confidence Intervals for Solutions to Variational Inequalities.”
    Nilay Argon and Serhan Ziya
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University
  • Yu Zhang, “Index Policies for Patient Scheduling and ATM Replenishment.”
    Vidyadhar Kulkarni
    Bank of America
  • Leicheng Yin, “Monte Carlo Strategies in Option Pricing for SABR Model.”
    Chuanshu Ji
    Wintrust Financial Corp.


  • Michael Lamm, “Confidence Intervals for Solutions to Variational Inequalities.”
    Shu Lu
      SAS, Cary, NC
  • Minghui Liu, “Elementary Reformulation and Succinct Certificates in Conic Linear Programming.”
    Advisor: Gabor Pataki
      SAS, Cary, NC
  • Liang Yin, “Confidence Regions and Intervals for Sparse Penalized Regression using Variational Inequality Techniques.”
     Shu Lu and Yufeng Liu
      Fedex, Memphis, TN


  • Sean Skwerer, “Tree Oriented Data Analysis.”
    Advisor: Scott Provan
    Placement: Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University, Biostatistics
  • Zhankun Sun, “Priority Scheduling of Jobs with Unknown Types”
    Advisors: Nilay Argon and Serhan Ziya
    Postdoctoral Fellowship at University of Calgary


  • Qi Gong, “Stochastic Models for Order Book Dynamics.”
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni
    Placement: Co-Founder of Apply Square  &  Co-Founder of Uzhile Beijing China
  • Nelson Lee, “Service Center Design and Control Problem.”
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni.
    Placement: FedEx, Memphis, TN


  • Chao Deng, “Optimal Design and Control of Finite-Population Queueing Systems.”
    Advisor: Nilay T. Argon and Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni.
    Placement: Quintiles, Durham, North Carolina.
  • Gratton, Melanie L. Bain, “Algorithms for Trust-Region Subproblems with Linear Inequality Constraints”.
    Advisor: Jon Tolle
    Placement: SAS Institute Inc. in Cary, NC.
  • Jianzhe Luo, “Queueing Approaches to Appointment System Design.”
    Advisor:  Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni and Serhan Ziya.
    Placement: Amazon Inc., Seattle, Washington.
  • Alex F. Mills, “Patient Prioritization and Resource Allocation in Mass Casualty Incidents.”
    Advisor: Nilay T. Argon and Serhan Ziya.
    Placement: Assistant Professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Indiana.
  • Sudhanshu Singh, “Projection Based Algorithms for Variational Inequalities.”
    Advisor: Shu Lu.
    Placement: IBM Research Lab, Delhi, India.


  • Evin Uzun, “Scheduling in Service Systems with Impatient Customers and Insights into Mass-Casualty Triage.”
    Advisor: Nilay Argon.
    Placement: Post Doc at Imperial College London.


  • Burcu Aydin, “Principal Component Analyses for Tree Structured Objects.”
    Advisor: Gabor Pataki and J. S. Marron.
    Placement: HP Research, Palo Alto.
  • Nomesh Bolia, “Scheduling in wireless cellular data networks.”
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni.
    Placement: Assistant Professor, IIT Delhi
  • Nan Liu, “Appointment Scheduling in Health Care.”
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni and Serhan Ziya.
    : Assistant Professor, Columbia University.
  • Mustafa Tural, “Topics in Basis Reduction and Integer Programming.”
    Advisor: Gabor Pataki
    Placement: Post Doc at Telcordia Technologies.


  • Tao Huang, “Continuous Optimization Approaches to the Quadrative Assignment Problem.”
    Advisor: Jon Tolle.
    Placement: SAS Institute, Inc. Cary, N.C
  • Zhaohui Wang, “Capacity Investment Strategies under Operational Flexibility.”
    Advisor: Eylem Tekin
    Placement: PanAgora Asset Management, Boston




  • Wei Huang, “Managing Warranty Services: Pricing, Inventory and Outsourcing.
    Advisors: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni and Jay Swanithan.
    Placement: SAS Inst., Inc., Cary.
  • Tao Huang, “Dynamic Revenue Management and Pricing of Flexible Capacity.”
    Advisor: Eylem Tekin.
    Placement: Captial One.
  • Bala Krishnamoorthy, “Pre-conditioning integer programs using column basis reduction, and, Geometry and topology of protein structure.”
    Advisors: Gabor Pataki, Alex Tropshaw.
    : Washington State University, WA.



  • Anita Brogan, “Mutual fund and security selection through an operations research lens.”
    Advisor: Shaler Stidham, Jr.
    Placement: Senior Director of Health Economics, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in RTP.
  • Michelle Opp, “Outsourcing warranty repair services : static and dynamic allocation for a fixed population.
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni.
    Placement: SAS Inc., Cary.
  • Robert Pratt, “Maximum capacity paths with recourse.”
    Advisor: Scott Provan.
    Placement: SAS Inc., Cary.
  • Elena Tzenova, “An analytic approach to multi-class stochastic fluid models with static priorities.”
    Advisor: Vidyadhar G. Kulkarni.
    Placement: Assistant Professor, Tulane University.


  • Emily Larson Luebke, “k-connected Steiner network problems.”
    Advisor: Scott Provan.
    Placement: Assistant Professor, University of Virginia.


  • Eric Riehl, “Toward a unified sample-path theory for stability in queues, polling systems, and networks of queues.”
    Plcement: ATN, UNC-CH.
  • Yasutake Hirasawa, “Approximating traffic parameters in multiclass fluid networks.”
    Placement:IBM, Research Triangle Park, NC.