Master of Science in Systems Engineering Overview

The online Master of Science in Systems Engineering develops the skills to design, model, and analyze advanced systems of diverse components — from software and hardware to the operators who employ them. Throughout your course of study, you’ll work with expert faculty to build on your practical abilities and develop comprehensive solutions that maximize efficiency. The program not only cultivates advanced technical knowledge, but also the strategic problem-solving and decision-making skills to lead projects that meet requirements, stay on budget, and function reliably for years to come.

Founded in 1961, the Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering (SIE) at the University of Arizona was the first of its kind in the nation. Since then, the university has consistently been recognized around the world as a hub for innovation in large-scale system design involving human, technological, and informational assets. Our faculty features accomplished educators and researchers who contributed to large-scale systems across a wide variety of industries, including space and aeronautics, defense, transportation, manufacturing, energy, water, infrastructure, and homeland security.

In the online master’s in systems engineering program, you’ll have the opportunity to connect directly with these groundbreaking leaders in the field, benefiting from their practical, real-world expertise. You’ll learn rigorous methods to plan and implement complex systems that meet the needs of organizations without unwanted side effects. Our courses introduce design principles that lead to successful system integration, as well as industry-standard tools for modeling and analysis.

The online MS in Systems Engineering curriculum is highly customizable, allowing you to create an individual academic plan that suits your specific professional goals. Choose from a variety of elective options in high-demand fields and pursue your own interests by completing an optional project or thesis.

You’ll develop skills in areas such as:

  • Modeling and design of complex systems
  • Reliability testing and analysis
  • Statistics and stochastic modeling
  • Production control
  • Quality assurance
  • Linear systems
  • Financial modeling
  • Project management

Implement Systems That Transform Organizations and Industries

Daily advances in the fields of software and systems development make this an especially exciting time for leaders who work on complex systems. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates a high demand for systems engineering specialists: a Burning Glass analysis of BLS findings projected more than 9% growth in positions between 2020 and 2030, well above the 4% average for all occupations. The top industries employing systems engineers include:

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Information
  • Public administration
  • Retail
  • Healthcare

Graduates from the University of Arizona systems engineering program have gone on to pursue their goals at leading corporations, research institutes, and universities. You can prepare to achieve your goals by taking advantage of the same resources available to on-campus students, including comprehensive career services.

The online Master of Science in Systems Engineering program curriculum is extremely flexible and individualized, allowing you to choose electives and academic experiences that suit your goals. Each course provides an in-depth, advanced education in systems engineering and development focused on preparation for the workforce. You’ll also have the unique opportunity to decide the format in which you’d like to complete your requirements, whether through a research project, faculty-guided thesis, or entirely through intensive, practical coursework. You can complete the program in just 1.5 to 2 years — even if you’re also working full-time. You can also stack one of our graduate certificates and share the required 12 credits to graduate with both a master’s and a certificate.

To fulfill the requirements of the online Master of Science in Systems Engineering, you must complete the required courses (12 units):

Course No. Course Name Units
SIE 550 OR SIE 531 Theory of Linear Systems or Simulation Modeling and Analysis 3
SIE 554A Systems Engineering Processes 3
SIE 520 OR SIE 530 Stochastic Modeling I or Engineering Statistics 3
SIE 558 Model-based Systems Engineering 3

Students then select from one of the following 3 options:

Project Option (30 units)

A three-unit project (SIE909) may be selected with approval of the faculty advisor. The project option requires a written report and an oral presentation. The report is prepared under the guidance of the major professor and is reviewed by members of the examining committee prior to the oral presentation. The three-member examining committee consists of the major professor and at least two other members of the faculty selected on the basis of the student’s coursework and field of interest. Students will either defend their master’s report on campus, or will have to arrange for a teleconference defense.

The remaining elective units (15) will be selected with the approval of an advisor for a total of 30 units.

Thesis Option (30 units)

This option requires 24 units of regular coursework, followed by six units of thesis research (SIE 910). This option is perfect if you’re looking to work directly with a faculty member to create an original thesis. Thesis work is an excellent complement to coursework and constitutes a valuable opportunity to develop an appreciation for and understanding of advanced engineering research. You will only be permitted to select the thesis option with an outstanding academic record.

Your thesis will be prepared under the guidance of the major professor and reviewed by members of the examining committee prior to the oral presentation, which will take place on campus or via teleconference. The examining committee will consist of the major professor and at least two other members of the faculty selected based on your chosen area of interest. Other members of the department may also choose to examine the thesis.

The remaining elective credits (12) for a total of 30 units will be selected with the approval of an advisor.

Coursework Option (33 units)

You can also choose to pursue an academic plan that solely involves coursework, creating a unique course of study to match your interests. The remaining elective credits will be selected with the approval of an advisor.

By the end of your second semester, you will be required to submit your full academic plan for consideration, mapping out your desired courses and completion structure. This process will be done with the help of a graduate advisor, who will review your plan and help prepare it for approval. Not all of our 600-level courses are offered online. Please check with the department and your faculty advisor before registering.

Required Courses

Elective Courses