Students choosing an online school for simulation programs should take several factors into consideration. Online options for this area of study may be limited, and it may be beneficial to already have a bachelor's degree before pursuing online study.
How to Select an Online Simulation School
Students considering online simulation schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Simulation degrees are part of a broad field that attempts to create mathematical models to aid decision-making. This field covers a broad range of industries, but requires a heavy emphasis on computer sciences, engineering and science. Though bachelor's programs do exist, online programs in modeling and simulation are generally only available at the master's level. Students must then weigh steps toward admission as well as opportunities for research and certification.
Area of Focus
Modeling and simulation is used in many different career fields; however, careers usually relate to mathematics-based decision modeling. Degree programs in modeling and simulation can be concentrated in areas such as engineering and science, health and medicine, homeland security and defense.
Simulation and modeling programs often combine elements of business, mathematics and science. Computer modeling will require a strong background in mathematics, with many graduate programs requiring students have a bachelor's in engineering or a related simulation field. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are generally not required, but students are expected to have demonstrated abilities in calculus, advanced statistics and computer science.
Research and Certification Opportunities
Many modeling and simulation programs are active in contributing to the body of knowledge for this large, multidisciplinary field. Organizations such as the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) are associated with educational institutions offering applied research opportunities in disaster management and healthcare training. Other schools can be active in the Modeling and Simulation Professional Certification Commission (M&SPCC), a group that works continually on national certifications. When choosing an online school, students may want to look into the non-academic areas in which a school is involved.
List of Online Simulation Programs
Online Master's Degree in Simulation
The most common degree available online is the master's in modeling and simulation. Elective courses, such as combat or system safety modeling, allow students to specialize in a particular area of expertise. Online programs generally follow a similar schedule to on-campus programs, but communication between students and professors can happen at any time through online course management systems. This program includes 30 credit hours spanning topics in:
- Analysis and design
- Discrete event simulation
- Engineering system models
- Stochastic system simulation
- Quality management
Schools with Online Programs in Simulation
Arizona State University offers a Master of Engineering in Modeling and Simulation, designed for those who already have an existing career. There is a capstone project required for graduation from the program, or students can opt to pass an oral exam based on their coursework.
Old Dominion University has their own Master of Engineering degree in Modeling and Simulation. There are 12 credits in core courses, and the remaining 18 are chosen from electives. Certain courses have live meetings, while others remain asynchronous in their atmosphere. Students will be prepared for careers in military science, homeland security, or medicine.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville offers a Master of Science in Modeling and Simulation, as well as a doctoral program in the same area. While the Ph.D. cannot be earned without attending campus, the M.S. can be earned by a student who elects to take the non-thesis option, and chooses only the courses that are available via distance learning.
An online degree program in simulation is most commonly available via distance learning at the graduate level. Prospective students should look at admission requirements and scheduling when evaluating schools and their programs.