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Master's of Systems Engineering

Earn your master's of science in systems engineering at Virginia Tech!

Students work in Blake Johnson's (associate professor in industrial systems and engineering) lab researching the effects of wound healing in microgravity.


Advance your career with a non-thesis M.S. degree in Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Established in 1920, the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is consistently ranked in the top six graduate programs nationwide, and offers diverse expertise in systems engineering, engineering management, manufacturing, human-factors, and operations research. The Systems Engineering (SE) program at Virginia Tech has a rich, 50+ year history of empowering technical leaders to tackle the complex interdisciplinary challenges facing our society.

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Tailored for Your Needs

Supplement SE fundamentals with electives from any VT College of Engineering program, and concurrently pursue graduate certificates in specialized fields such as Mission Engineering or Human-System Integration.

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Location Independent

Courses are offered in a hybrid format, both in-person and online. Lectures are offered in the evening and available to students 24/7.

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Cutting-Edge Coursework

Learn from world-renowned faculty in the emerging systems engineering topics such as mission engineering, digital engineering, artificial intelligence for systems engineering, and more. 

Tradition of Excellence

Join the broad network of Hokies leading numerous public and private sector industries and build on Virginia Tech's legacy of Ut Prosim.

M.S. in Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, is a non-thesis degree program that is ideal for engineers who are pursuing a career in technical leadership. The program offers cutting-edge curriculum in an experiential learning format, providing “hands-on” opportunities to master the emergent properties of systems along with the skills to effectively manage interdisciplinary teams. The program matches the evolving needs of our society in a customizable way that caters to specific student interests. Course work includes core systems engineering courses and a set of electives that range from deep specialized systems engineering, engineering & program management, data science, aerospace or naval engineering, or any other technical focus area.

What is a system and what is systems engineering?

A system is an integrated set of elements, and their relationships, that are working towards a common objective, whose functionality is greater than the sum of their parts. Systems engineering is a strategic interdisciplinary field that studies analysis, design, and management of complex systems.

Each applicant for the MS program should meet the following entrance requirements

  • Have a B.S. degree from an accredited institution in engineering, mathematics, computer science, physical sciences, economics, or a related field.
  • Have completed courses in multivariate calculus, matrix algebra, differential equations, applied probability and statistics, and a computer language.
  • Provide evidence of satisfactory educational achievement in at least one of the following forms: 
    • A GPA of at least 3.00 as an undergraduate or an acceptable GPA in graduate courses.
  • Have achieved a satisfactory score on the TOEFL examination for non-native English speakers. The TOEFL requirement is defined as a minimum cumulative score of 90 with an area minimum of 20 (in reading, speaking, listening, and writing).
  • Have two letters of recommendation submitted by former professors or supervisors


 Visit the bursar's website for more information on cost per credit hour.


Core Courses (16 Credits):

  • ISE 5434 Economic Project Evaluation
  • ISE 5804 Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
  • ISE 5814 System Dynamics Modeling of Socio-Technical Systems
  • ISE 5834 Decision Analysis for Engineers
  • ENGR 5204* Systems Engineering Projects (*can only be taken in the final Spring semester of the plan of study.)
  • ENGE 5304 Graduate Student Success in Multicultural Environments (1 Credit)

Select any five courses from other disciplinary areas, with four that must be from engineering departments (e.g., ISE 5XXX, AOE 5XXX, CEE 5XXX, CS 5XXX, ECE 5XXX, and ME 5XXX). The electives should be approved by both the student’s advisor and the program director. Below is a list of pre-approved ISE courses, as an example of electives that may be taken for those interested in specializing further in ISE for their electives.

Suggested ISE Electives:

  • ISE 5015 Management of Change, Innovation & Performance in Organizational Systems I
  • ISE 5016 Management of Change, Innovation & Performance in Organizational Systems II
  • ISE 5124 Quality Management
  • ISE 5144 Management and Measurement of Efficiency & Productivity
  • ISE 5154 Applied Human Factors Engineering
  • ISE 5174 Engineering Program and Project Management
  • ISE 5854 Mission Engineering I
  • ISE 5874 Digital Engineering
  • ISE 5884 Systems Architecture
  • ISE 5984 Socio Technical Systems: Principles, Conceptualization, & Design
  • ISE 5994 Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Systems Engineering


For well qualified students in a College of Engineering bachelor’s degree program at Virginia Tech, the ISE department offers the opportunity to begin the SYSE coursework in the final year of their bachelor’s studies. SYSE 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 MS in Systems Engineering students should have a strong academic background in a disciplinary field of engineering (i.e., aerospace, biomedical, building construction, chemical engineering, civil, computer, electrical, industrial & systems, materials, mechanical, mining, and/or ocean engineering). 

Admissions Requirements for the Accelerated UG/G program in SYSE: 

  • Minimum 3.4 GPA in last 60 hours of bachelor’s coursework completed
  • Statement of purpose, including career objectives
  • CV/Resume
  • 3 letters of reference
  • Transcripts, including official transcripts of all non-VT coursework

Applicants must be in the last 12 months of their undergraduate degree and must be accepted into the program prior to the beginning of the semester in which they would enroll in courses to be used in the UG/G program.

Additional Program Requirements:

  • A maximum of 9 hours may be double‐counted, none of which can include required undergraduate classes.
  • No more than six credits double counted may be at the 4XXX level.
  • Conjoint classes, to double count, must be taken at the 5XXX level.
  • A grade of “B” or better must be earned in each course to be double counted.
  • Courses must not be taken pass‐fail if a graded option is available.

Mission Engineering Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Mission Engineering is designed to teach students engineering methods to design, develop, and assess complex system-of-systems using mission engineering tools and practices in combination with the tactical insights of operational planning. Students will learn how to identify mission-level operational needs to develop clear problem statements and apply mission engineering techniques to translate these needs into specific programmatic guidance for critical programs.

Required courses:

  • ISE 5804 Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
  • ISE 5854 Mission Engineering I

Choose two electives from the following:

  • ISE 5434 Economic Project Evaluation
  • ISE 5814 System Dynamics Modeling of Socio-Technical Systems
  • ISE 5834 Decision Analysis for Engineers
  • ISE 5874 Digital Engineering
  • ISE 5884 Systems Architecture


Human-System Integration Graduate Certificate

A four-course academic program that serves to expand and improve systems management and engineering practice, with emphasis on “human-technology interface” at various levels in the hierarchy and throughout the life cycle of complex technological and enterprise systems.

  • ISE 5804 Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
  • ISE 5154 Applied Human Factors Engineering
  • ISE 5144 Management and Measurement of Efficiency & Productivity
  • ISE 5434 Economic Project Evaluation