Systems Engineering, Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Engineering

Requirements and Curriculum

The volume of applicants far exceeds the number of students that can be accepted into this program. The highly selective nature of the program maintains the integrity and quality of the student experience. There are two options for students pursing the Ph.D. in systems engineering. The 72-credit program is for students who do not already have a Master of Science degree. The alternate 42-credit program option is for students who do already have an applicable master's degree of at least 30 credits.


A minimum of 72 credits must be completed.

Ph.D. – 42 credits needed
(Students with applicable master level degree earned with at least 30 credits)

  • 18 course credits required
  • Dissertation (24 cr.)

Ph.D. – 72 credits needed
(no applicable master level degree earned)

  • 39 course credits required
  • Dissertation (33 cr.)

Three credit hours of SYSE 795 (Independent Study) may be used towards the total of dissertation credits OR as one 3–credit course. If you have had your Ph.D. research, which was performed while enrolled at CSU, accepted for publication (completely or with minor revisions) in at least two peer–reviewed journal or conference proceedings, then you may be eligible for Independent Study credit. You must be first author on at least one of the papers accepted. Please work with your faculty advisor when planning publications to meet this requirement. To register for these credits, you will complete an SYSE 795 Independent Study form, with faculty advisor approval, and submit to the Systems Engineering Program.

Advising and Faculty Mentor

All Ph.D. candidates are expected to create a formal advising arrangement with a faculty advisor before joining the Ph.D. program to assist with advising, course selection, and research projects. All Ph.D. students are considered provisional until they complete a qualifying process and preliminary examination. For the qualifying process, each candidate must pass all core courses with a grade "B" or higher; B- and below will not be accepted. The preliminary exam is not a standard written or oral exam, rather it is an opportunity for the student's Ph.D. committee to examine the student's planned research activity and determine their knowledge of fundamental principles that specifically apply to the planned research. To explore options for a faculty advisor, visit the faculty list.


Course delivery options allow you to study when and where it works best for you, whether that be streaming the lecture from your computer while it's happening live on campus or watching a recorded version at a time more convenient for you.

Systems Engineering Core Courses

  • Students with applicable master-level degree should select 18 credits
  • Students without applicable master-level degree should select 21 credits


Students with applicable master level degree

No electives permitted.

Students without applicable master level degree

Select 18 credits from a list of suggested electives. The list is not exhaustive. If you find a graduate-level technical course that pertains to your professional goals and/or the systems engineering field, please contact the SE program to check if it may apply as an elective.

Please email for questions pertaining to coursework or advising.


Students with applicable master level degree

24 credits

Students without applicable master level degree

33 credits

  • SYSE 799A – Dissertation (1-18 cr.)

    Dissertation credits can be completed throughout multiple semesters. Select 18 credits with approval by student's advisory committee.

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