USAFA Majors

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by drjunge, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. drjunge

    drjunge Member

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    Our daughter is having difficulty deciding on a major. She is trying to decide between Operation Research and Management. She keeps hearing people say that unless you have a specific occupation in mind (i.e. civil engineering, etc) take the easiest major you can in order to get as high of a class ranking as possible since that decides who gets what jobs, graduate school slots, etc upon graduation. I am not saying that Management is a "sluff" major, just that she feels she can do better academically in Management than in OR, and she is concerned about the class rank feedback whe keeps getting. She is also trying to consider what would be better in the civilian world some day. We are non-Academy and non-military parents so we have little advise for her, and she is probably tired of hearing from us that "you can't go wrong with either one".
    Anyway, any thoughts anyone has would be appreciated.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Mikeandcris

    Mikeandcris Parents of 2014 Grad and F-15 Pilot

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    Our DS (Ops Research major) explains that the major is most closely associated with what used to be called "Industrial Engineering". Unlike a Management major, this one is much broader in that it is interdisciplinary and is jointly administered by the Dept. of Computer Science, Economics and Geosciences, Management and Mathematical Sciences. As to which major would be better for job prospects in the real world, I'm sure that an Academy grad with either major under their belt will do just fine.
     
  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Deciding on a major is a difficult thing. My first advice is to look at the job you want to do in the air force. There are some jobs that REQUIRE a particular major. Doesn't sound like that is your daughter's problem. But certain engineering jobs require engineering degrees. Next; while a pilot can have ANY degree; even history; without it affecting whether they get a pilot slot or not, some aspire to be test pilots, astronaut program, etc... some day. Those DO require specific degrees.

    Outside of that; I recommend cadets look at what they "Want to be when they grow up". Many forget that they won't be in the military forever. Will the degree they get, help them with their eventual "Career"?

    Next: Are they determined on going to grad school. Meaning; if you are going to get a Master's or Doctorate; then what you got your undergraduate in, may or may not be as important. You just have to determine if you grad school degree has pre-req degrees. I.e. Chances are slim of getting accepted into MIT for grad school if your undergraduate degree is in history. Also; some grad school program are difficult without some sort of background.

    As for class rank, grad school slots, and jobs, there is some truth to that, but not totally. For instance, MANY academy grads go to AFIT for grad school. It's the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson. But they are an engineering grad school. The history major isn't going there. Also; some majors like the Behavioral Science majors have a difficult time finding a grad school. My first degree was in Psychology. (Behavioral Science). Most with that degree get jobs with their B.S. degree such as social workers, counselors, psychologists, etc... or you go and get a PhD and work in the Clinical areas. There are very few "Master's" programs. My son majored in Behavioral Science; ranked in the top-10 academically at the academy; and had a tough time applying to grad schools. Many said if he changed to Poly-Sci or government studies he's be a shoe in. But, they don't have any master's slots for what he studied. Fortunately for him, he got one of the coveted PhD grad school slots which does have Behavioral Science. Point is: Class rank isn't everything either. Plus; there are many sponsored grad school opportunities in the different departments.

    Your daughter needs to take the major that SHE wants to study. The degree that she would like to work in. Maybe not at the academy. Maybe 20 years from now. Or at least a degree in the direction of what she wants to do in grad school. With the exception of being a teacher some day; I don't see the advantage of taking the easiest degree to set you up for an easier attempt at getting a grad school slot. Most grad school slots are a somewhat related to your undergrad. Some exceptions are like Law School. You could have a business undergrad.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012
  4. drjunge

    drjunge Member

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    Thank you for your thoughts and feedback.
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Management would be viewed like a "business" degree by most places.
    OR would be "industrial engineering" at most schools.

    Either can set you up decently, outside the AF. OR would be a bit more specialized.
     
  6. drjunge

    drjunge Member

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    Thank you. That's helpful.
     
  7. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

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    I also wasn't sure what to major in (declared Sept. 3* year), but I ended up in OR, and couldn't be happier with the decision. I am happy to answer any questions about the program.

    One interesting thing about the major is that is has grown in size over the last couple years. In recently history, there have typically been less than 20 OR majors in each class (around 12 OR majors in 2012). Now there are about 35 OR majors in 2013 and over 40 in 2014. This size is still small enough, however, that I have gotten to know most of the other OR majors in my class.
     
  8. drjunge

    drjunge Member

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    Thanks buffalo for your reponse. I have to plead ingnorance, but what jobs are there for OR majors in the Air Force and what type of jobs in the civilian force would an OR major with work experience from the AF obtain or pursue.
    (My daughter probably already knows this but I am trying to educate myself)
    Thanks.
     
  9. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    My focus for my PhD is in OR. Think tanks love an OR degree and it is a good multidisciplinary degree that is useful in a broad range of civilian fields.

    In the AF, the only jobs that OR would be specifically applicable for would be developmental engineer or scientist.

    OR is a good degree to have since it draws from several fields and is focused on practical application. I love it.
    *I was a biochemistry undergrad major at USAFA and OR was something I picked up quickly in my grad program.
     
  10. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    One of my boys started out as a Physics major and finished in OR and really LOVED it. I don't think anyone in the "real world" would confuse Management (business operations) and Operations Research (which is more like "Applied Math").

    My other son stayed in Physics.
     

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