What Is Management Science? + How to Enter This Field

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what management science encompasses and career options in this interdisciplinary field.

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What is management science?

Management science is the study of problem-solving and decision-making in organizations. It is applying the scientific method to management, enabling managers to make decisions for an organization and improve its performance. For example, health care facilities can use management science to determine the information systems they need, while airlines can use management science to schedule planes and crew. 

Management science is important because it helps organizations identify issues they need to solve, streamline management efforts, use resources more effectively, and develop roadmaps for achieving goals. Several assumptions or principles of management science guide professionals in this field, including:  

  • Problem-solving is central to management. 

  • Managerial problems can be quantified and described in mathematical terms. 

  • Mathematical tools, techniques, simulations, and models can enhance problem-solving.

Originating from operations research, management science is interdisciplinary, meaning it involves two or more academic or professional disciplines. The disciplines management science intersects with include engineering, game theory, psychology, project management, data science, and supply chain management. 

Did you know? Operations research, management science’s predecessor, was developed during WWII when the Allied Forces (Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union) used mathematical models to improve military operations.


In your research into management science, you may encounter similar terms like scientific management or business analytics. Note their distinctions in the table below: 

Management scienceUsing scientific and research-based approaches to help a business make decisions, improve performance, and meet goals
Scientific managementAnalyzing and synthesizing workflows, improving economic efficiency and labour productivity
Business analyticsUsing data and statistical methods to understand business performance and drive business planning

Careers in management science 

With a degree in management science, you can work in various fields, from marketing and branding to finance, human resources, and data science. 

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a management scientist in Canada is $80,922 per year [1]. The most popular job titles include:

  • Business analyst: Studies the market, determines a business’s profitability, and identifies solutions to a business’s challenges. 

  • Data analyst: Gathers and interprets data, highlights important trends, and reports findings to an organization’s management. 

  • Actuarial analyst: Works in the insurance industry and uses data analysis and statistical modelling to calculate the probability and risk of events like death, accidents, and property damage 

  • Finance analyst: Assesses the performance of stocks, bonds, and investments to advise businesses and individuals on their investment decisions

  • Programmer analyst: Tests, analyzes, and maintains software applications to help businesses achieve their goals 

  • Risk analyst: Analyzes financial documents and economic conditions to determine the risk involved in business decisions and planned activities. 

  • Research analyst: Collects data from varied sources to help organizations determine target markets and ideal pricing for products and services. 

Your management science career path 

If you’re interested in drawing from multiple disciplines to solve business problems, taking on a leadership role, and using analytical and critical thinking skills, management science could be a good career path for you. 

Follow the steps below to get started. 

1. Get a management science degree.

Getting a degree in management science or a related field, such as business statistics or international marketing, can expose you to the important concepts, methods, skills, and techniques for pursuing a rewarding career. Depending on the degree program, you can expect to take courses in statistics, financial accounting, systems analysis, data analysis, research design, statistics, marketing, operations research, decision risk analysis, and more. 

2. Hone your management science skills. 

In addition to earning your degree, you can benefit from continuing to build skills, knowledge, and industry insight in the broad field of management science. In continuing your education, you can better narrow down an area of focus or identify a specific career track for applying your management science training, such as data science or project management. 

Here are four approaches you can take: 

  • Attend INFORMS conferences and events, take the organization’s professional development courses, and consider becoming a Certified Analytics Professional.  

3. Build a management science resume 

Once you decide on a focus area or specific career track, the next step is to build a resume representing your capabilities. List your education, certifications, specific skills, conferences you’ve attended, memberships in professional organizations, and other qualifications. 

4. Apply for management science jobs 

Start by researching current job openings on various career sites, including Glassdoor, Indeed, or LinkedIn. Try search queries like “management science careers,” “management science jobs,” “management scientist,” or roles in your chosen area of focus.

For each job listing, pay close attention to salary information, qualifications required, and the tasks and responsibilities the role entails. Tailor your resume to each position. Practice interviewing skills like how to answer different types of questions and how to research a company. 

Learn management science with Coursera.

Taking online courses can be a great way to gain some knowledge and skills in management science before or at the same time you pursue a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree in this field.

Learn Principles of Management with Johns Hopkins University or explore The Manager's Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work with the University of London on Coursera.

If you’re ready to pursue an advanced degree, check out the University of Illinois’ Master of Science in Management Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Management Scientist Salaries in Canada, https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/management-scientist-salary-SRCH_KO0,20.htm.” Accessed May 2, 2024.

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