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Systems Engineering Certificate and Degree Program Information

U.S. colleges and universities offer graduate certificate and bachelor's and master's degree programs in systems engineering. These programs teach engineering management skills and the methods for developing and analyzing complex systems.

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Essential Information

Degrees in systems engineering are often multi-disciplinary and provide the technical training for prospective employees in this field. Undergraduates enrolled in a systems engineering degree can expect to have an internship or a senior project as part of their curricula. The master's degree program typically requires students to complete a research thesis on an engineering topic that interests them. After completing their education, some engineers must obtain licenses by taking and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering examination.


Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering

Students who apply to a bachelor's degree program should have a high school diploma. The curriculum in this field prepares students to design and build complex systems. They also solve engineering problems using mathematics, statistics, and other techniques. As a science-intensive degree program, students learn about systems modeling, quality and logistics engineering, and decision and systems analysis.

Students can expect to take four years to finish a bachelor's program. Coursework in the program includes substantial studies in chemistry, physics, and calculus. Systems engineering courses cover topics in:

  • Regression analysis
  • Systems sustainability
  • Manufacturing systems
  • Concurrent engineering
  • Conceptual design

Graduate Certificate in Systems Engineering

The curriculum includes studies in systems engineering and management, with an emphasis on systems design, product development, and manufacturing. Students can apply credits earned in the certificate program to a master's degree in systems engineering. Certificate programs need a year and a half (approximately six to ten courses) in order to complete.

At the graduate level, for both the master's degree and certificate programs, applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a field related to systems engineering. Coursework covers topics like project management, managerial decision-making, and risk management. Other study areas are:

  • Engineering tools
  • Network modeling
  • Simplex method
  • Hybrid systems
  • Systems life cycles

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Master of Science in Systems Engineering

Two-year master's degree programs combine the study of systems engineering and project and engineering management. A highly competitive program, the curriculum focuses on the development, design, implementation, and analysis of complex systems. Other focus areas are systems testing and studies in leadership, logistics, and risk management.

In addition to the bachelor's degree requirement, students applying to a master's program must have satisfactory GRE scores. Graduate courses help students acquire management, design, and systems testing skills. Topics that are discussed in the program may include:

  • System synthesis
  • Project budgeting
  • Product designs
  • Test parameters
  • Data models

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in systems engineering may lead to a career as an engineer or manager in a variety of industries. Graduates go on to work in a variety of industries and settings, including jobs at federal, state, and local government agencies, construction companies, and more. Common job titles for graduates include:

  • Engineering manager
  • Project manager
  • Product development specialist
  • Industrial systems engineer
  • Software systems engineer
  • Environmental systems engineer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports information on a wide variety of engineers. One example is in electrical and electronics engineering. The BLS expected that electronics and electrical engineers may have no or very little job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. Electrical and electronics engineers earned median annual wages of $93,010 and $98,270, respectively, in 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates who are interested in teaching engineering can enroll in a doctoral (Ph.D.) program in systems engineering. Graduates who hold a Ph.D. are qualified to teach at 4-year colleges and universities and to obtain advanced research positions.

If an engineer will be offering his or her expertise to the public, they are required to be licensed in the state where they intend to work. In order to become a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), graduates must first take the Fundamentals of Engineering examination for the engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI) designation. Most states require EITs or EIs to complete four years of work experience before taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination for PE licensure. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) administers the examinations.

Through bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates, in systems engineering, students learn about building and designing systems. They undergo internship programs that help them prepare for licensure exams should they decide to pursue careers in public institutions.

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