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M.S. in Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that integrates many different engineering specialties into a total engineering effort to ensure an efficient and effective product (system) output. Systems engineering analyzes the operational needs of industrial, business and government enterprises and by applying scientific and engineering technology develops the integrated hardware and software required to meet those needs.

A major feature of systems engineering is its concern for the complete life cycle of the system, from planning, design, development, testing and production to operations, sustaining maintenance and support, and system retirement. Within this broad spectrum, many different categories of systems are in use today, and the complexities of design, production, operations and support vary significantly. A systems engineer is one who can apply the team approach to the process of bringing systems into being and can define their various components, identify and integrate the engineering disciplines needed to develop them and understand the system's operational and maintenance requirements for the entire customer-use period.

Based on over 40 years of experience, Virginia Tech continues the tradition of bringing systems engineering and systems thinking to practicing professionals in distributed learning environments. Virginia Tech offers a flexible graduate engineering program to enhance the student’s personal/professional development and contributions to the workplace. Some students pursue this degree as a full-time student while many in our program have a full-time job and are taking one, two, or three courses in a semester. For full time students it is possible to finish the degree in three semesters. Typically, part-time students take one or two courses per semester and no courses in the summer and finish in three or four years.

The Systems Engineering graduate program leads to a Master of Science degree. It is designed to enable engineering practitioners in specialized fields (e.g., aeronautical, ocean, civil, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering) to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of professional engineering. It is presumed that a student entering the program already has a solid foundation in some specialized field of engineering (or the equivalent) and wishes to broaden his or her technical knowledge base.  In addition to core systems engineering and discipline-centric engineering courses the program includes a capstone course requiring the completion of an approved systems engineering project that demonstrates the student’s understanding of technology integration, life-cycle design, and collaborative engineering considerations. The objectives of the required capstone experience are to instruct and coach the systems engineering approach as applied in the design and ongoing improvement of any system, enterprise, process or enabling technology.

The program objective is to present a broad interdisciplinary perspective of systems and the numerous considerations necessary in the engineering development of systems. Program requirements include the successful completion of a minimum of 10 courses (30 semester hours) with a B average or better.  Upon completion of ten courses with a B average or better, including a capstone project course, the student receives a master’s degree in systems engineering.

I.  The following three courses (9 hours) are required for all Systems Engineering students

  • ISE 5804  Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
  • ISE 5814  System Dynamics Modeling of Socio-Technical Systems
  • ENGR 5204  Systems Engineering Project

II.  Three courses (9 hours) in one traditional discipline in science or engineering*

III.  Three courses (9 hours) in a second traditional discipline in science or engineering*

*Note 1.  Courses in sections II and III must be separate disciplines in engineering or science, other than Systems Engineering.  Courses in science/engineering disciplines offered by accredited programs in other universities can be proposed by the student for inclusion in their plan of study as transfer courses, subject to current policies of the Virginia Tech Graduate School and approval of the student’s advisory committee.

*Note 2.  Subject to availability, a maximum of two (2) ENGR 5984 special study systems engineering courses (6 hours) may be substituted for traditional discipline science and engineering courses in II and III above.  However, each plan of study must include a minimum of two (2) courses each in two different science and engineering disciplines.

IV.  One course (3 hours) taken outside of science or engineering (a course in Organizational Dynamics, or Design and Leadership of Teams is highly recommended)

An advisory committee is required and the committee will grant final approval of the course work by signing the plan of study form. The plan of study must be completed and approved prior to the completion of 12 hours of course work.

To receive the degree all students must:

  • have an approved plan of study
  • be registered in the semester they wish the university to confer their degree
  • submit an on-line “final exam” request to the Graduate School. This “final exam” request is used by the advisory committee and extended-campus advisor to verify that the student has completed all degree requirements including the capstone course presentation.

Once the final grades for the final semester have been posted the degree will be awarded.

Extended Campus Academic Advisor

For admissions information or academic advising, contact Graduate Program Academic Advisor, Hannah Parks.