Online Master's Degrees in Systems Engineering (MSE, MSSE)

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Is an Online Systems Engineering Degree Right for Me?

An online master's degree in systems engineering is an excellent choice for some. Before you choose to pursue a distance-based degree, it is important to keep certain considerations in mind.

Most online systems engineering master's programs may be completed without the student ever visiting the campus. This may be beneficial for some who don’t have physical access to a campus, or who are too busy to show up in-person; however, it can also prove difficult for others who do not thrive outside of the traditional classroom. Students pursuing a systems engineering degree online may not receive in-person support from peers or professors. In light of this, prospective students should be confident of their ability to succeed in a program with minimal physical oversight and assistance.

As mentioned before, an online master's program in systems engineering may be the ideal choice for a professional who wishes to pursue a degree while still working, for a parent with children, or even for someone who wants to attend a quality school but is not located nearby a campus that offers degrees in systems engineering.

List of Online Systems Engineering Degree Programs

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School City State Website Undergrad Graduate Grads
Naval Postgraduate School


CA 373
Stevens Institute of Technology


NJ 290
George Washington University


DC 177
Johns Hopkins University


MD 176
University of Florida


FL 176
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor

MI 146
University of Virginia-Main Campus


VA 138
Cornell University


NY 86
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

University Park

PA 75
George Mason University


VA 71
Worcester Polytechnic Institute


MA 69
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

Daytona Beach

FL 68
University of Arizona


AZ 56
Air Force Institute of Technology-Graduate School of Engineering & Management

Wright-Patterson AFB

OH 53
Kennesaw State University


GA 46
University of Southern California

Los Angeles

CA 45
Southern Methodist University


TX 43
Missouri University of Science and Technology


MO 36
Florida Institute of Technology


FL 26
Texas Tech University


TX 23
Iowa State University


IA 19
The University of Texas at El Paso

El Paso

TX 19
University of Michigan-Dearborn


MI 18
Case Western Reserve University


OH 12
Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Fort Collins

CO 12
Old Dominion University


VA 9
Drexel University


PA 8
New Mexico State University-Main Campus

Las Cruces

NM 8
University of Maryland Global Campus


MD 7
Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs

CO 6
The University of Texas at Arlington


TX 4
University of Connecticut


CT 2
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


VA 2

Admissions Requirements for Online Systems Engineering Master's Degree Programs

Prospective systems engineering graduate students must meet a host of admissions standards prior to acceptance. And while the specifics may vary based on the institution, in general, there are certain admission requirements that stand across the board. In light of this, students interested in beginning an online master's in systems engineering should understand what to expect throughout the application process to ensure they are fully prepared.

Graduate applicants are often required to submit GRE scores, which are specific to graduate programs, although some online programs waive this requirement either entirely, or it is conditionally based on certain criteria such as academic background and grade point average (GPA).

In addition to this, graduate applicants may also be asked to submit letters of recommendation as well, which may be completed by college professors, employers, volunteer coordinators, or any other professional acquaintances who may be able to attest to the abilities of the applicant. Finally, many institutions will also ask for supplements to the application, including essays, proof of research, or other relevant documents.

In every case, applicants are required to submit their application on or before a certain deadline; while this varies by institution, in general, applications are due by January for those interested in starting in the fall, and by late fall for those applying to begin in the spring.

It is also important to understand that online students must still generally follow the same calendar as the rest of the campus; because of this, they must start the program at the same time as other traditional students. On occasion, an online master's program will offer additional start dates, including summer starts, but this varies by institution.

Systems Engineering Program Accreditation

In order to demonstrate their quality and command respect in the field of engineering, many engineering schools take efforts to obtain credit through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the official accrediting agency for engineering schools nationwide. ABET is further divided into separate societies based on branches of engineering, one of which is the International Council on Systems Engineering.

Accreditation is a voluntary process undertaken by the school, and is a system of peer review that allows quality institutions to receive this mark of approval.

Pursuing a degree from an accredited program is, by no means, a requirement to work as a systems engineer in the future. However, professional licensure (the PE credential) is only awarded to those engineers who have completed a degree at a four-year accredited program. And this is significant; professional engineers, who are awarded licensure by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), are able to “shoulder the responsibility for not only their work, but also for the lives affected by that work,” and is a “legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work.” In addition, most states require engineering professors or instructors to first obtain professional licensure before they may teach.

Curriculum & Specialization in Systems Engineering

Those who pursue a degree in systems engineering will generally follow a similar curriculum, regardless of their institution of study. Students are generally required to take courses in mathematics and computer science, as well as those on the subject of core systems. Graduate systems engineering students typically have a specialized systems engineering curriculum devoid of some of the general education requirements typical in an undergraduate program.

In some cases, students who are pursuing a degree in systems engineering may be able to obtain certain specializations or certificates related to the field. Specifically, students may be able to specialize in:

  • Business systems
  • Systems design and optimization
  • Vehicle systems engineering
  • Environmental systems engineering

Highly Regarded Online Master's in Systems Engineering Programs

While pursuing an online degree in systems engineering may be a relatively new concept, it is still possible to obtain such a degree from a number of esteemed institutions. Students wishing to achieve a high-quality education in the SE field may wish to consider applying to one of the following five highly regarded programs.

1Colorado State University

Colorado State University allows students to pursue either a master of science (MS) or a master of engineering (MEng) degree in systems engineering. This program affords students the ability to learn solely online, or attend classes on-campus if they choose. Both these degrees have content covering management and technical processes to systems design. The faculty for the program includes renowned professionals with a vast body of research and real-world experience.

Common admission requirements for both degrees include a bachelor of science degree from a regionally accredited institution, grade point average of 3.0, knowledge of basic statistics and calculus, three letters of recommendation, a current resume, statement of purpose, completed online application, and one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from every institution attended. GRE test scores are also required if all previous degrees were conferred by an institution outside of the U.S. International students are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS or PTE scores.

Made up of 30 credit-hours, some courses in the curriculum include the foundations of systems engineering, an overview of systems engineering processes, engineering risk analysis, software development methodology, electrical power engineering, systems requirements engineering, and advanced architecture.

The program equips students with skills that can be applied across industries, such as energy, healthcare, aerospace, and automotive. Students will develop expertise in the fields of management, mathematics, and engineering, and learn how to implement and design solutions to complex issues. They get prepared for a wide-variety of systems engineering careers such as government and military sectors, healthcare systems, power and energy, computer networks, information systems, and cyber security.

  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,085 per credit-hour

Dr. Erika Miller teaches mechanical and systems engineering at Colorado State University, where she is an assistant professor. Her research is primarily centered on integrating humans with complex systems to enhance safety and performance in the design and evaluation of new and existing infrastructure. Her research and educational background are in systems and industrial engineering, civil engineering, and transportation engineering. She earned her BS from Oregon State University, and an MS and PhD from the University of Washington.

Dr. Thomas H. Bradley is a Woodward endowed professor of systems engineering at Colorado State University. Primarily, his research is focused on energy, design and analysis of aerospace, automotive systems, environmental assessment, and design optimization. He has taught courses such as systems requirements engineering, system dynamics, the design of energy storage systems for vehicles, and transportation electrification. His work has appeared in influential journals such as Environmental Science & Technology, the Journal of Power Sources, and Bioresource Technology. He completed his PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and MS at the University of California at Davis

2Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online master of engineering (MEng) in systems engineering program. This fully online program provides students with the ability to engineer complex processes, services, and products while leveraging a systems engineering approach. This program is ideal for professionals who lead major complex systems development or programs at their companies.

The major admission requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree in software engineering, computer engineering, or a related subject; a minimum grade point average of 3.0; a completed graduate admission application; official transcripts; and proof of English proficiency. GRE scores are not required.

Comprising 30 credit-hours, the program is made up of ten courses, including applied engineering mathematics, engineering management, strategic enterprise innovation, information systems engineering, and web enabled decision support systems.

At the end of the program, graduates can be qualified to work in information technology, consulting, transportation, operations, aerospace, and manufacturing.

  • Location: Tempe, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,022 per credit-hour

Dr. Ronald Askin is a professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. His areas of expertise include design and analysis of manufacturing systems, logistics, engineering statistics, and operations research. He teaches classes on advanced manufacturing systems modeling, computer-integrated manufacturing systems, integrated manufacturing systems, and production systems analysis.

Professor Askin has published in journals such as the International Journal of Production Research and the European Journal of Operational Research. He also has won numerous awards such as the Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award and a Distinguished Alumni Award. He earned his PhD and MS from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS from Lehigh University.

Dr. Pitu B. Mirchandani is a professor of computing, informatics, and decision systems engineering at Arizona State University. His areas of expertise include decision-making under uncertainty, optimization, real-time control and logistics, transportation, and homeland security.

Dr. Mirchandani has published in prominent journals such as Transportation Science, the European Journal of Operational Research, and the Annals of Operations Research. He completed his MS and BS at UCLA, as well as his ScD and SM from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

3The University Of Arizona

The University Of Arizona offers an online master of science (MS) in systems engineering program. The program examines the modeling, analysis, and design of advanced systems with various different components. Students will get an opportunity to design practical solutions alongside their professors, and learn how to maximize efficiency in all their processes. The focus of the program is ensuring that projects are within a budget, meet all necessary requirements, and are reliable for several years.

In order to get accepted into the program, applicants must have graduated from an accredited engineering bachelor’s program or have earned a degree in a related discipline, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and submit the graduate admissions application, three letters of recommendation, a brief statement of intent, an updated resume or CV, and unofficial transcripts from all universities or colleges attended.

The curriculum for the program is flexible, and allows students to choose electives that align with their career goals. They also have the freedom to choose how they would like to complete program requirements, be it in the form of a research project, a faculty-guided thesis, or practical coursework.

The core coursework, comprising nine credit-hours, explores topics such as systems engineering processes, linear systems theory, and stochastic modeling. The project and the thesis options comprise 30 credit-hours each, while the coursework-only option is made up of 33 credit-hours.

The program helps students develop skills in reliability testing, quality control, statistics and stochastic modeling, linear systems, project management, and financial modeling.

  • Location: Tucson, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Tuition: Thesis & master’s report options ($34,470); coursework-only option ($37,917)


Dr. Neng Fan is a faculty member at the University of Arizona, in the systems and industrial engineering department. His teaching interests include operations research, optimization, statistics, probability, machine learning, and data analytics.

Presently, Dr. Fan’s research examines the methodology of mathematical optimization, data mining, machine learning, and how they can all be applied to energy/water systems modeling and optimization, renewable energy integration, and healthcare management. Professor Fan has published in respected journals such as the European Journal of Operational Research, the Journal of Global Optimization, and the Annals of Operations Research. He completed his PhD and MS from the University of Florida, and a BS from Wuhan University.

Dr. Roberto Furfaro is a professor in the department of systems and industrial engineering at University of Arizona. His research focuses primarily on guidance and control of space systems, remote sensing and model-based systems engineering, and intelligent algorithms for space exploration. He has taught courses such as theory linear systems and space systems engineering.

Dr. Furfaro’s work has been published in top journals such as the Annals of Nuclear Energy, the Astrophysical Journal, and the Journal of Computational and Theoretical Transport. He completed his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona.

4Missouri University of Science and Technology

The Missouri University of Science and Technology offers an online master’s degree as well as a doctorate degree in systems engineering. The master’s program helps engineering managers and engineers develop advanced skills and knowledge, so they can confidently develop and implement complex systems. As an added incentive, students have the option to earn two graduate certificates in any of the following emphasis areas: engineering management, cyber-physical systems, model-based systems engineering, project management, computational intelligence engineering, and financial engineering.

Applicants to the master’s program must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, applied mathematics, or a physical science, and an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0. Admission requirements for the PhD program include an MS in systems engineering (or related field) with a grade point average of 3.5, and a minimum of three years of full time work experience beyond the bachelor's degree. Common requirements for both the programs include GRE scores, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.

The master’s program offers a thesis (30 credit-hours) and non-thesis (36 credit-hours) option. For the PhD program, students are required to complete only 54 credit-hours if they have already completed a master’s degree in systems engineering. (If students are directly pursuing a PhD degree after a BS degree, then they need to complete 84 credit-hours.)

The MS program includes instruction in systems engineering and analysis, information-based design, systems life cycle costing, and systems architecting. The PhD offers courses such as advanced research methodologies, systems architecting, optimization under uncertainty, and mathematical programming.

  • Location: Rolla, Missouri
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,200 per credit-hour

Dr. Cihan H. Dagli is a professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. As the director of systems engineering programs, he teaches classes on neural networks and applications, systems architecting, deep learning and advanced neural networks, and smart engineering systems design. His research interests include cyber-physical systems, systems engineering and architecting, machine learning, computational intelligence, and deep learning.

Dr. Dagli's work has appeared in renowned journals such as the Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, the International Journal of Production Research, and the International Journal of Production Economics. He holds his PhD from University of Birmingham, and his MS and BS from Middle East Technical University.

Dr. Suzanna Long is an associate professor and interim chair within the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science And Technology. She teaches courses such as managing engineering and technology, marketing management, management for engineers and scientists, advanced marketing management, and business logistics systems analysis. Her research interests include critical infrastructure systems, sustainable infrastructures, strategic management, management, sustainable infrastructures, and systems management.

Dr. Long has published in impactful scholarly journals such as the International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental Research and the Journal of Science Education and Technology. She holds a PhD and an MS in engineering management, a BS in physics, an MA in history, and a BA in history—all from the University of Missouri-Rolla.

5Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers an online master of science (MS) in systems and engineering management degree program. The program prepares engineering managers and industrial engineers for successful careers in consulting, industry, research, and university teaching. There is a growing demand for highly technical managers who also have a sound understanding of management and finance, and the program aims to fulfill it. Offered both online and on-campus, this program offers students with a non-industrial engineering degree to get graduate training in engineering management and their chosen specialty.

The major admission requirements for the program include official transcripts, diplomas/degree certificates, and test scores, a statement of purpose, recommendations, writing samples, creative portfolio, and GRE scores, among other requirements.

The program is made up of 30 credit-hours, and includes courses such as the engineering management environment, decision theory and management science, systems theory, simulation models for operations analysis, and the principles of optimization.

Through the program, students learn how to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics. They also learn how to communicate effectively with a range of audiences, recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations, and make informed judgments. Overall, they are trained to develop and conduct experiments, analyze data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.

  • Location: Lubbock, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $16,202 for the program

Dr. Suman K. Chowdhury is an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering at Texas Tech University. His teaching interests include systems safety engineering, occupational and orthopedic biomechanics, digital human modeling, the design of experiments, and quality control. His research focuses on the neural control of the musculoskeletal system, visual perception, neuroengineering, healthcare and rehabilitation engineering, and vehicle safety technologies.

Dr. Chowdhury has published in journals such as the Journal of Biomechanics, the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Review. He holds his PhD and MS from West Virginia University, and a BS from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Dr. Timothy Matis is an associate professor in the Department of Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering at Texas Tech University. He has taught courses such as principles of optimization, applied stochastic processes, theoretical studies, experimental design, and reliability theory. His research interests include operations research, queuing theory, stochastic processes, and ad-hoc communication networks.

Dr. Matis’s work has appeared in the Journal of Applied Research and Technology and the International Journal of Production Economics. He earned his PhD, MS, and BS from Texas A&M University.

Campus Visitation Requirements for Online Systems Engineering Master's Programs

In general, campus visitation requirements for online systems engineering master's programs will vary depending on the school. Some may require the students to attend once per semester to complete exams, while others may allow the student to complete the degree without ever setting foot on campus.

For many institutions, the latter is true; for example, a degree at Missouri University of Science and Technology may be obtained through courses delivered online, and without any in-class instruction. Because of this variance across schools, prospective students should familiarize themselves with specifics in order to be prepared for what to expect.

Other Considerations for Selecting the Right Program

There are a number of other considerations that prospective students should keep in mind before deciding on pursuing an online master's degree in systems engineering.

Most importantly, students should research whether or not the institution assists students with job placement after graduation; many schools offer career counseling programs, which can be highly beneficial for those students searching for post-graduation employment.

Students may wish to discuss these and any other questions or concerns with an admissions officer before applying with the program. Doing this can help ensure that the prospective student knows what to expect from the degree program before he or she decides to apply..

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