Systems engineers combine various elements - software, hardware, policies and even people - to solve problems and perform tasks not achievable by using each element alone. In addition to an online Master of Science in Systems Engineering, some schools offer a Master of Engineering with a systems engineering specialization. The coursework is the same; the difference is based on the type of bachelor's degree held by the student. A bachelor's degree from an accredited engineering program or experience in systems engineering is generally a requirement for admission to an online master's degree program. It is possible to earn either one of these master's degrees entirely online.
Master of Science - Systems Engineering
This program was designed for professional engineers seeking to advance their careers or keep abreast of new trends and ideals in engineering. After exploring new analysis, production and design techniques, students can enter or advance in fields such as aeronautics, bioscience and energy. Schools generally require a bachelor's degree and a set GPA standard, but some schools will make exceptions for work experience considerations.
Information and Requirements
Programs allow students to earn this degree entirely online, or in some cases, attend on-campus lectures and classes that fit into their schedules. Program length varies due to self-paced study options. Classes may include streaming video and static assignments, and students can interact with each other classmates and the instructors through email and discussion boards. Some schools even offer orientation courses that help students transition from real-time response learning to the delayed-responses received through online formats.
Courses may be offered through school-specific course management systems, such as Sakai or RamCT. Recent computers with strong, high-speed internet connections should be able to handle the workload. Students typically require an up-to-date internet browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Many schools offer 24/7 tech support for students needing assistance.
Because many engineering students begin by earning basic engineering bachelor's degrees, systems engineering programs begin with discipline-specific foundation studies. Once students complete these courses, they can begin to branch into industry specific application studies.
In this course, the student is taught modeling using SIGMA, ARENA and ProModel simulation languages. These can be used to develop prototypes, predict performance and analyze models. This course typically requires prerequisite coursework in statistics and calculus.
Risk Analysis for Systems Engineering
This course gives students the tools to predetermine possible risk factors during project design phases. Students use these tools to reduce the risk factors in the preliminary stages in order to streamline project management.
Complex System Dynamics
The goal of this class is to teach students how to understand the cause and effect relationships between higher-level system components. This will allow students to work more effectively with integrated systems.
Each state regulates licensure of engineers, and holding a license gives an engineer more career options. For instance, someone with a P.E. (professional engineer) license can be a principal of a firm, perform consulting work and stamp and seal designs. In general, the requirements to become a P.E. include completing an accredited engineering education program, passing a fundamentals exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, gaining work experience and passing the P.E. exam. Systems engineers can also boost their careers through membership in professional organizations and by completing certification programs and continuing education courses.
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that expands across several career fields, such as aeronautical, industrial, control and mechanical engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the overall job prospects for engineers are expected to be good with a projected increase of 4% from 2014-2024. Salary.com listed the median base salary for an entry-level systems engineer as about $67,469 in October 2016. These workers typically have 0-2 years of experience and a bachelor's degree in systems engineering.
Continuing Education Information
Students looking to continuing their educational pursuits to the doctorate level can find programs available in systems engineering. Ph.D. programs in systems engineering can be found in on-campus and online formats. These programs combine academic research and coursework. Prior to completion of the program, students must complete and defend a dissertation.
Trained engineers who want to seek advanced instruction in systems engineering in order to enhance their careers may enroll in an online MS in the field. These programs may include both self-paced coursework and real-time discussions with classmates and instructors, so they offer high-quality education, but they are still designed to meet the scheduling needs of working professionals.