Systems Engineering Graduate Programs & Schools

At the graduate level, degree programs in systems engineering are usually available in flexible formats and provide students with the necessary experience. Explore a few of the degree options, schools, and how to apply.

Students can choose from at least two different master's degree programs and one doctoral degree program in systems engineering. All of these programs require some kind of culminating experience, but the master's programs are usually shorter in length. Learn about what sets each degree program in systems engineering apart and a few of the schools that offer these programs.

Types of Graduate Programs in Systems Engineering

Master of Science in Systems Engineering

Students interested in studying systems engineering and earning a more research-based degree may pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Systems Engineering in part- or full-time formats. These programs are also available in on-campus, online and hybrid formats, and may require around 30 to 32 credits. Many of these degree programs offer a traditional thesis option or a non-thesis option that may require students to complete a master's project or a project-based practicum experience. Some of these degree programs may offer additional areas of concentration, such as software systems, human systems, network systems or energy and environmental systems, but common course topics for these degree programs may include system design, system evaluation, optimization theory and stochastic modeling.

Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering

At the master's level, students may also choose to pursue a more hands-on Master of Engineering (ME) in Systems Engineering that is also typically available in on-campus and online formats. Students can usually complete these programs in about two years and may be required to complete around 30 to 36 credit hours. Most of these degree programs culminate in a final, hands-on learning experience, whether it be a practicum project, engineering or IT project or other master's research papers based on project work. Some of these degree programs may be paired with subjects like design, and students may take courses in topics such as systems engineering processes, engineering analysis, systems optimization, problem-solving and cybersecurity.

Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering

Students may pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Systems Engineering in flexible, on-campus or online formats, as many of these programs are designed for working professionals. Some of these programs may require between 72 and 84 credit hours and may be completed in as little as three years. Students in these programs typically complete comprehensive exams and a dissertation, but may be required to meet additional requirements, such as attending seminar series and/or completing coursework for one or more minors. Coursework is largely determined by research interests, but students may take courses that discuss topics in independent research, complex systems, model-based systems engineering and simulation.

Schools with Graduate Programs in Systems Engineering

Students can pursue one or more of the graduate degree programs discussed in this article from several different institutions across the country. Here are a few school options and the degrees offered:

  • Boston University, located in Massachusetts, offers an MS in Systems Engineering
  • Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, has an online MS, ME, and PhD in Systems Engineering
  • The Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, offers an online ME in Systems Engineering
  • University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, has an ME in Systems Engineering and Design
  • Arizona State University, located in Tempe, offers a PhD in Systems Engineering
  • Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, offers a PhD in Systems Engineering

Common Entrance Requirements

Prospective applicants to graduate degree programs in systems engineering need to hold at least a bachelor's degree, typically in fields such as engineering, life science, computer science, natural science or business. Many of these degree programs require students to have prior coursework in calculus and statistics. Students can also expect to be required to submit their GRE scores and/or meet a minimum GPA that may range from about a 3.0 to 3.75, depending on the program. A few of these degree programs may also require students to have a specific amount of professional work experience. Common application materials for these programs include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose/intent and/or a resume.

Students can pursue an MS, ME or PhD in Systems Engineering from several different institutions, usually in on-campus or online formats. These programs typically require a final paper, project or practicum experience and include coursework from various areas and concentrations in systems engineering.


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