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 consumer-use period.

With 30 years of experience, Virginia Tech continues the tradition of bringing 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 (M.S.) 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. Thus, students in the program continue to pursue a chosen technical specialty while also selecting courses of personal interest in other engineering areas. Specialty tracks, or areas of concentration, may include any field of engineering including civil, electrical, mechanical, industrial engineering, etc. Further, there are required systems engineering courses that provide the tools for integrating these various specialties into an overall “systems approach.” 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.  

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.

Requirements for the degree include two systems engineering courses dealing with the systems engineering process; engineering design; system dynamics; analytical techniques and tools used in systems analysis (e.g., simulation, optimization, modeling, etc.); and engineering management. Also required is a systems engineering project course that serves as a capstone experience for the program. The objective of the capstone project course is to instruct and coach the systems engineering approach as applied to any system or process. It provides students an opportunity to demonstrate the application of systems engineering principles and methods in a "real world" situation relating to engineering practice.

Each student must complete four engineering courses in an area of primary concentration (specialty track). A specialty track is a series of four courses chosen from a discipline-focused list that Virginia Tech engineering faculty have assembled to ensure and certify the student’s understanding of that discipline at the master’s degree level of academic maturity. Students typically choose electrical, mechanical, industrial, civil, aeronautical or ocean engineering as a specialty track. However, with permission of the student’s advisory committee, the student may tailor a specialty track in other engineering areas.

Each student must complete four engineering courses in an area of primary concentration (specialty track). A specialty track is a series of four courses chosen from a discipline-focused list that Virginia Tech engineering faculty have assembled to ensure and certify the student’s understanding of that discipline at the master’s degree level of academic maturity. Students typically choose electrical, mechanical, industrial, civil, aeronautical or ocean engineering as a specialty track. However, with permission of the student’s advisory committee, the student may tailor a specialty track in other engineering areas.

The three remaining required courses are fulfilled with two courses in an additional engineering discipline outside that represented by the specialty track and one free elective course.

Course Category Credits
1 Six (6) credit hours in Systems Engineering principles and techniques
     ENGR 5004  The Systems Engineering Process 3
     ENGR 5104  Applied Systems Engineering 3
2 Twelve (12) credit hours in an engineering discipline/department chosen as the student’s primary area of concentration (specialty track)

Note: A list of suggested, pre-approved engineering courses being offered by various departments in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering is available from the student’s academic advisor. Courses in these and other engineering disciplines offered by other accredited programs in other universities can also be proposed by the student for inclusion in their plan of study, subject to current policies of the Virginia Tech Graduate School.
12
3 Six (6) credit hours in an additional engineering discipline/department 6
4 A three (3) credit hour course taken outside of engineering
Note: Students are encouraged to consider the selection of a course in technology management, business administration, public administration, organizational dynamics, economics, etc. that complements their interests and their Systems Engineering plan of study.
3
5 A three (3) credit hour 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.
     ENGR 5204  Systems Engineering Project Course, or
     ENGR 5904  Project and Report
3
Total Credits 30

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 submitted to the Extended-campus Academic Advisor prior to the completion of 24 hours of course work.

To complete the degree, all students must: 

  • Have an approved plan of study
  • Be registered in the semester they wish to confer the 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 Academic Advisor to verify that the student has completed all degree requirements including the capstone course presentation.

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

Note: Core coursework for the Systems Engineering (SYSE) masters degree cannot be used to fulfill minimum degree requirements for any other ISE graduate degrees unless specifically noted.

For admissions information or academic advising, contact Extended Campus Academic Advisor Paula Van Curen.