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Master's Programs

Master's programs

The Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering has a strong and diverse master's program that provides opportunities for study in specific areas in industrial and systems engineering, as well as general master's study. Both thesis and non-thesis tracks are available for all students. Master's graduates can select a plan that leads to advanced study at the PhD level, or one that prepares them to challenging positions in the public or private sectors.

Prospective Master's students should have a strong academic background that is commensurate with their desired field of study within the department. Students can select one of the general focus areas for their graduate study - human factors and ergonomics, management systems, manufacturing systems, or operations research or they can select the general industrial engineering track, which provides more flexibility in tailoring their study. The links to each option area provide more detail about the required background for each.


Common requirements for master's programs:

GRE scores are encouraged but not mandatory for admission to the M.Eng., M.S., and Ph.D. in ISE. GREs are not required for the MEAand M.S. in SYSE.

The following apply to all M.S. (except Systems Engineering) and M.Eng. programs:

  • All master's students must complete a minimum of 30 graded course hours, not including ISE 5024 and ENGE 5304. 
  • Total required credits, including research credits (ISE 5994 for M.S.), must equal 30. 
  • M.S. students must complete a minimum of six credits of ISE 5994.
  • All required courses must be taken for a grade (i.e., A‑F), unless only offered as P/F. 
  • Courses not listed as pre-approved electives may be taken, or substitutions made, pending approval of the student’s M.S. advisory committee, or the M.Eng. advisor.

The following apply to MEA and M.S. in Systems Engineering:

  • All students must complete a minimum of 30 graded course hours, not including ENGE 5304. 
  • Total required credits must equal 30. 
  • All required courses  must be taken for a grade (i.e., A‑F), unless only offered as P/F. 
  • Courses not listed as pre-approved electives may be taken, or substitutions made, pending approval of the M.S. in Systems Engineering director or the M.E.A. director.

For detailed information about the curriculum in each of these concentrations, please see the ISE Graduate Manual.

The General Industrial Engineering (GIE) concentration is designed to provide flexibility for students in order to tailor their graduate program to fit their individual educational objectives. A short list of required courses is supplemented by wide latitude in the selection of elective courses to complete the GIE degree requirements. This allows the student to pursue a broad path, or to pursue a very narrow path in a particular area of study or with a particular faculty member. Students will also gain experience in performing independent research in a chosen area of interest approved by the student’s advisory committee. The culmination of this research is the M.S. thesis. 

Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics (HFEE) is concerned with ways of designing jobs, machines, operations, and work environments so they are compatible with human capacities and limitations. The HFEE practitioner, operating within an industrial or governmental organization, is called upon both to apply existing human performance knowledge to the design or modification of equipment and also to generate new experimental data required for equipment design.

Foundation coursework includes a detailed study of existing research, design, and evaluation methods that are appropriate to human factors engineering and ergonomics. Additionally, content courses include sensory ergonomics dealing with sensory capabilities and limitations of humans, physical ergonomics dealing with biomechanics and work physiology, cognitive ergonomics dealing with human information processing, and macroergonomics dealing with group processes. This course work is supplemented by research opportunities in a variety of human factors engineering and ergonomic application areas including auditory communication, computer displays, industrial safety, training, and transportation systems. Emphasis is placed upon specific content area courses, elective courses in the student’s area of interest, and laboratory research under the direct guidance of an HFEE faculty member.

Every student should be able to demonstrate basic computer proficiency. Students who have previously taken courses equivalent to those indicated may be exempt from such requirements as determined on a course-by-course basis. Students must petition substitution of these equivalent courses in their plan of study. This petition must be approved by the Virginia Tech instructor for the course(s) in question and the ISE Graduate Program Director.

Our program is accredited by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

Management Systems Engineering is the definition and application of engineering design and analysis processes and methodologies to systems involving people and technologies within organizations. One of the primary objectives is to define and develop the science of designing complex management systems. Management Systems Engineering is focused on the research, design, development, deployment, measurement, and improvement of systems comprised of decision-makers, information, organizational structures, technologies, decision tools, and work processes, with an emphasis on the interactions among these components. The Management Systems Engineering  graduate track is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to meet the challenges posed by increasingly complex organizational systems within dynamic, global environments.

The Management Systems Engineering  academic curriculum is designed to expose students to a breadth of industrial engineering topics at the graduate level, depth in management systems engineering topics, and the opportunity to take technical electives in specialized areas within industrial engineering and other areas.

The Manufacturing Systems Engineering track offered by the ISE department is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully meet the most difficult challenges of modern manufacturing industries on a global scale. The track provides engineers with detailed state-of-the-art knowledge of both traditional and advanced manufacturing technologies, systems integration techniques, economic analysis methods, and operations management practices and principles. Based upon this knowledge, students develop the ability to perform analysis, evaluation, and synthesis for a broad range of problems related to the design, implementation, and efficient operation of manufacturing systems.

Prerequisites for any manufacturing systems engineering degree are an ABET-accredited B.S. degree in engineering (or equivalent).

Students within the graduate program in the manufacturing systems engineering track are assumed to have had undergraduate courses in simulation and optimization. If this is not the case, such students must make up this deficiency by either taking the appropriate undergraduate courses or by taking graduate courses in these areas. If graduate courses are taken, they can be used in the plan of study as elective credits towards the degree requirements

Operations Research (OR) is a scientific, mathematical modeling-based approach to problem solving and management. OR is used for the efficient design and management of systems, usually seeking to determine an optimal or effective utilization and allocation of scarce resources. OR is widely used in many diverse application areas, e.g., the design and management of service and manufacturing systems, supply chain management, humanitarian logistics, healthcare and public policy.  The curriculum provides a methodological foundation, and is flexible, allowing students to focus on methodological research or applications.  More information about OR can be obtained from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the main professional society for OR, and also from the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE), another professional society that includes OR.

Earn your degree online or on campus! The M.S. in Systems Engineering program is available to students anywhere. The program is ideal for individuals who are employed full-time and wish to pursue an advanced degree on a part-time basis; however, full-time employment is not obligatory for admission to the program. Classes are typically offered during the late afternoon and early evening hours.

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.

Earn your degree online or on campus! The MEA program is available to students anywhere. The program is ideal for individuals who are employed full-time and wish to pursue an advanced degree on a part-time basis; however, full-time employment is not obligatory for admission to the program. Classes are typically offered during the late afternoon and early evening hours.

 Our program is designed for highly motivated individuals seeking a competitive edge. Taught by renowned College of Engineering faculty members who provide students with individualized attention, our program benefits from its unparalleled access to top industry and business leaders in both private and public sectors. This degree program is designed for individuals who are interested in leadership positions or career opportunities in the management of research, engineering, or technology development enterprises.

The MEA program is a good fit for those:

  • Working-full time
  • Looking for career advancement
  • Looking for job promotion
  • Looking to get hired
  • Interested in life-long learning
  • Interested in cost savings: We are top 10% cost competitive considering the other 24 universities in the Great Business Schools (GBS): 25 Best Master’s in Engineering Management for 2021. (most for your money)

All certificates are available for those at Blacksburg campus, and the Human-System Integration and Technology Management are available for those at Blacksburg campus or attending virtually.  If you have any questions, please contact the graduate program advisor.