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Online Systems Engineering Degree and Certificate Program Information

Find out about online systems engineering courses and in which graduate degree and certificate programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Online systems engineering programs are offered at the graduate level as either graduate certificate or master's degree programs. In order to enroll in either of these programs, an applicant would need to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Online graduate certificate programs may be completed entirely online and may allow students to transfer credits earned into master's degree programs. Online master's degree programs may be offered as 100% online options, though some require students to complete on-campus residencies. Master's-program students would also most likely have to complete a final project or thesis prior to graduation.

Systems Engineering Graduate Certificate

An online systems engineering graduate certificate program focuses on the individual needs of engineers engaged in the various aspects of operation, integration and analysis of modern systems. The programs prepare graduates to work across multiple engineering disciplines and pinpoint the technical specifications needed for other engineers to work on various individual aspects of a project.

A systems engineering program often focuses on systems integration, quality engineering analysis and manufacturing systems analysis. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to ensure that complex systems operate effectively throughout their entire life cycle, as well as being able to influence systems-level product development.

Program Information and Requirements

Online systems engineering graduate certificate programs, which can usually be completed entirely online, are typically 12-13 credits. Credits earned can often be transferred towards a master's degree in systems engineering. A prospective student will need to have a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related discipline. In fact, a professional certificate in systems engineering is commonly designed for engineering professionals already working in the field.

Distance education students can access course handouts, syllabi and lecture notes online. They are also able to take part in online assessments, live chat and discussion sessions. Hardware requirements include a DSL or cable Internet connection, an audio card and speakers.

Course Topics

Combining areas of engineering and management, an online graduate certificate in systems engineering often includes courses on the design and development of complex systems across a variety of engineering disciplines.

Reliability Engineering

This course covers the fundamental concepts of reliable systems and components. Topics covered include reliability analysis, measures of availability, probability of failure, maintainability and parameter estimation.

Project Management

An online project management course prepares students to plan and manage systems engineering projects. The course covers such topics as performance parameters, project management analytical tools, scheduling and cost control.

Software Engineering

This course looks at the various components and methodologies of producing software systems. Emphasis is placed on estimating technical resources, handling structuring principles and building maintainability.


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Master's Degree in Systems Engineering

Also training in an interdisciplinary fashion, master's degree programs in systems engineering offer more advanced courses as well as provide elective options. Graduates are prepared to coordinate and lead the engineering and planning of technical systems, such as those involving computer software and hardware components. A systems engineering master's degree program focuses on system design and integration, network systems, managing middleware systems and engineering risk analysis.

Concentration areas may include systems development, biomedical systems engineering, software engineering, information assurance engineering and network administration. Master's degree-level systems engineering students are often required to complete a master's project or thesis.

Program Information and Requirements

Online master's degree programs in systems engineering are typically around 36 credits. While completely online programs are available, some distance learning students may be required to complete on-campus residencies. Prospective students are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in a technical field and are sometimes required to have work experience as well. Graduate students are able to view lectures via archived or live Web video, and they can interact with other students and faculty via e-mail and discussion sessions. Students may also be tasked with solving sample problem situations, either in groups or individually.

Students entering an online systems engineering master's degree program should have an up-to-date operating system, along with ample computer memory and hard drive space. Additional requirements may include a printer, DVD drive, iTunes, a sound card, microphone and speakers.

Course Topics

Preparing students to address system-level issues in various fields of engineering, a master's degree program curriculum emphasizes the management, analysis and identification of complex processes and systems.

Systems Engineering Fundamentals

An introductory course in systems engineering covers numerous topics, including systems synthesis, life cycle analysis, engineering design and maintainability. The course also explores the various analysis techniques used throughout the life cycle of the entire systems engineering process.

Systems Architecture

This advanced course focuses on equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to architect complex systems. Analytical tools used within the systems engineering process, including probability and optimization, are covered.

Supply Chain Management

A supply chain management course looks at the components that constitute a business' supply chain, including money and products, and how they impact overall performance. When offered as part of a systems engineering program, the course may look specifically at the importance of logistical decisions on supply chain structures.


Career Information

Graduates of both master's degree and graduate certificate programs in systems engineering are prepared for employment as system engineers in fields such as bioscience, natural resources and aerospace. Graduate programs are also designed to equip practicing engineering professionals with the decision making and planning skills to advance towards technical management positions. PayScale.com reported that systems engineers made between $46,384-$103,638 as of October 2016.

Students with a bachelor's degree in engineering, or a related discipline, and an interest in operating systems, system integration and the analysis systems may pursue an online systems engineering graduate certificate or a hybrid master's degree in systems engineering.

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