Top Schools for Systems Engineering

Find out which top schools offer programs in systems engineering, an interdisciplinary field concerned with the technical and management aspects of multifaceted engineering projects. Read summaries of three top universities, as well as an overview of other schools in the U.S. with systems engineering programs.

School Information

Students who are interested in systems engineering can find programs at three high-ranking national universities: Cornell University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Once enrolled, students may take courses in production systems planning and operations, quality control and engineering, project management and economics. Many schools combine systems engineering with industrial engineering, because the two fields are quite similar.

1. Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

School Highlight: The systems engineering department has a Six Sigma black belt certificate program.

Cornell University is a 4-year private school that U.S. News & World Report ranked 15th among national universities in 2015. The university also placed tenth among undergraduate engineering schools offering doctoral programs in 2015, according to USN&WR. At the school, students can earn a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering, either on-campus or online. Areas of specialization include environmental, chemical or software engineering. Several certificate programs are also available, such as the Cornell-Carnegie Mellon joint certificate in systems and software engineering.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign

School Highlight: The engineering campus houses the largest engineering library in the U.S.

As ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2015, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the 6th-best undergraduate engineering program among schools offering a doctorate, as well as ranking 6th among graduate engineering programs. In the same survey, the school placed in the top ten for nearly every engineering specialty area. Through the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, students can pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in industrial engineering. The school also offers a study abroad program, which provides students with opportunities in over 50 countries.

3. University of Southern California in Los Angeles

School Highlight: The school of Engineering offers graduate programs in systems engineering to employees at Boeing, Delphi, SAIC and United Technologies.

The University of Southern California (USC) ranked 25th among national universities in 2015, as well 10th for its graduate engineering program in 2015, as designated by U.S. News & World Report. Individual courses of study at the systems architecting and engineering (SAE) program can lead to a graduate certificate, master's degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The SAE program teaches students how to design and implement complex systems that can be used in healthcare, defense, space, transportation and homeland security. A graduate certificate in network centric systems is also available.

Top Systems Engineering Schools

School NameDistinctionLocation
California Institute of TechnologySystems Engineering Certificates Program offers several systems engineering certificates Pasadena, CA
Georgia Institute of Technology School of Industrial and Systems Engineering ranked first among industrial engineering schools by U.S. News & World Report in 2015Atlanta, GA
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyResearch conducted by the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals defines the fundamentals taught in doctoral programsCambridge, MA
Stanford UniversityResearch at the Department of Management Science and Engineering focuses on decision analysis, economics, strategy and policy, systems modeling and operations management, among other areasStanford, CA
University of PennsylvaniaResearch conducted by the electrical and systems engineering faculty emphasizes nanosystems and nanodevices among others Philadelphia, PA
University of Wisconsin - MadisonFaculty research at the Industrial and Systems Engineering department includes topics in manufacturing and production systems, human factors and ergonomics, decision science, health systems and quality engineering Madison, WI
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityStudents in the College of Engineering can pursue a dual master's degree program with Ecole des Mines de Nantes in FranceBlacksburg, VA

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