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Systems Engineering M.E., M.S.

$2.9M
Grant Work Completed per Year in Systems Engineering
14
Core Faculty Members
22:1
Student to Faculty Ratio
$447M
Investment in research in FY21
Degree Overview Open Accordion

Professors Erika Miller and Jeremy Daily discuss the online master's in Systems Engineering. Learn more about the interactive and flexible nature of the program and what it can do for your career.

Earn your master's in systems engineering online

What is systems engineering?

Systems engineering is a discipline that accounts for both the technical and business needs of stakeholders when solving complex problems. It provides a perspective that considers the requirements of all components and constituencies within the system, allowing companies to design the most efficient and effective approaches to solving the problems they face.

Explore cross-disciplinary applications of systems engineering

Many problems faced by companies today are unsolvable by any one area of engineering. Systems engineering emphasizes a systems thinking approach, which allows you to cross disciplines and analyze and understand relationships between various sub-components of a given system. This provides for the design and implementation of solutions that span disciplines (electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, finance, production, etc.) and considers all aspects of the project or product lifecycle.

For example, how do you design, manufacture, bring to market, maintain, and eventually retire a new commercial or military aircraft? A systems engineering solution may bring together mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering along with finance and sales to approach this complex issue. Understanding the relationship between various components and how to organize and manage them in an efficient way is where systems engineering comes into play.

Solve complex problems using systems thinking

Systems thinking is a technique students learn in the master's program, involving various modeling and analysis strategies for understanding the relationship between all components in a system. A system is a construct or collection of different elements that together produce results not obtainable by the individual elements alone. The elements, or parts, can include people, hardware, software, facilities, policies, and documents — all things required to produce systems-level results. The results include system-level qualities, properties, characteristics, functions, and dynamic behaviors and performance.

Examples of systems may include:

  • A city - with all its structural, economic, environmental, management, energy, healthcare, and other components.
  • Airline manufacturing - with its associated engineering, project management, financial, design, production and other components.
  • A smart grid (electric grid) – with networks of suppliers, component manufacturers, market places, and more.

Use systems management to integrate business solutions

Systems management involves the implementation and coordination of technical processes to achieve a specific outcome. This includes things like product lifecycle management (design, manufacturing, in-use, maintenance, and end-of-life), risk management, and engineering team management, among others.

As a whole, students in the online master's in systems engineering program learn to integrate human, physical, energy, communications, management and information requirements through the application of mathematical and scientific principles when designing solutions to complex problems.

What you will learn in the online master's program

CSU's online system's engineering graduate program offers two master's degrees, a Master of Engineering and a Master of Science. Content for both degrees covers technical and management processes to systems design. Technical processes involve modeling and describing systems using a suite of tools to model behavior. This includes:

  • Systems optimization
  • Model-based systems engineering
  • Utility Theory (ways of making decisions and understanding decision support tools)
  • Lifecycle assessment
  • Multidisciplinary optimization (MDO)
  • Probabilistic design
  • Verification/validation strategies

Additionally, the systems engineering master's program offers the advantage of a hybrid course delivery strategy. This option allows you to study when and where it works best for you, whether that be online while the lecture is happening live on campus or watching a recorded version after work or on the weekend.

Master of Engineering Open Accordion

Requirements

  • Minimum of 30 credits of graduate work in approved program of study for the concentration.
  • Minimum of 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State University, 21 of which must be at the 500-level and earned after formal admission to the University.
  • Minimum of 21 credits earned at Colorado State must be in 500-level or higher.
  • 12 credits must be of core courses, 9 credits of depth courses, 6 credits of technical electives, and 3 credits of independent study.
  • No independent study, research, internship, supervised college teaching, or practicum credits may be credited toward the degree.
  • No more than two courses at the 400-level taken at Colorado State University are permitted.
  • No more than two 500-level or higher graduate courses may be transferred from another accredited university.
  • Electives or course substitutions must be approved by an academic advisor.
  • Either SYSE 695 must be completed or an appropriate 3 credit (at a minimum) course that is consistent with the student's plan of study must be completed as approved by the Program Advisor.

Curriculum

The program begins by establishing a strong foundation in systems engineering and concludes with independent study. After completion of four core courses, you will complete depth courses, electives, and then the independent study. You are encouraged to start with SYSE 501 but can take the remaining courses in any order. At least four courses applicable to the degree will be offered each fall and spring semester, and students typically enroll in no more than two classes per semester.

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.

Core Courses (12 credits)

Courses in Depth (Select 9 credits)

Electives

View a list of suggested electives. This 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 sys_engr_info@engr.colostate.edu for questions pertaining to coursework or advising.

Independent Study (3 credits)

Master of Science Open Accordion

Requirements

There are two options for students pursuing the M.S. in systems engineering – Plan A (thesis option) or Plan B (project option).

  • Minimum of 30 credits of graduate work in approved program of study.
  • Minimum of 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State University, 21 of which credits at the 500-level must be earned after formal admission to the University.
  • No more than two courses at the 400 level taken at Colorado State University are permitted.
  • No more than two 500-level or higher graduate courses may be transferred from another accredited university.
  • Electives or course substitutions must be approved by an academic advisor.

Additional Requirements for Plan B only

  • 15 credits must be Systems Engineering courses, 12 credits of technical electives, and 3 credits of independent study (SYSE 695).

Curriculum

The M.S. program starts with a core systems engineering foundation and concludes with a thesis or independent study. You are encouraged to start with SYSE 501, but can take the remaining courses in any order. At least four courses applicable to the degree will be offered each fall and spring semester. Students typically enroll in no more than two classes per semester.

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 Courses (Select 15 credits)

Electives

View a list of suggested electives. This 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 sys_engr_info@engr.colostate.edu for questions pertaining to coursework or advising.

Thesis (Plan A students only)

Independent Study (Plan B students only)

Course Descriptions Open Accordion
SYSE 501 – Foundations of Systems Engineering

The Foundations of Systems Engineering course is an introductory overview of the systems engineering perspective and is presented to set the conceptual and practical framework of the entire systems engineering graduate program. The course covers the foundational components of systems engineering, the concept development stage every viable system must go through, and the process steps of the engineering development stage. Several issues related to post-development and special topics areas are presented.

Note: Students who finish SYSE501 with a B+ grade (87%) or higher can bypass the INCOSE certification exam for either ASEP certification or CSEP certification. This applies to both online and on-campus students who take SYSE501 after Fall 2020. Learn more »

ENGR 502 – Engineering Project and Program Management

Engineering program management fundamentals, program planning and control strategies, risk assessment, work breakdown structures and costing options.

ENGR 525 – Intellectual Property and Invention Systems

This course focuses on the appropriate application of “patterns for patenting” together with intuition, inspiration, and cross-disciplinary connecting. De-mystify “inventing” as applied to science, engineering and technology.

SYSE 530 – Overview of Systems Engineering Processes

This course helps students develop a conceptual understanding of the systems engineering life-cycle process and familiarity with analysis techniques used in that process. It also introduces concepts of reliability and robustness, and rigorous tools for analysis and design with them in mind. The course utilizes real-world experience and case studies of working with a system through all phases of the system design process.

ENGR 531 – Engineering Risk Analysis

Successful engineering project management includes estimation and proactive risk identification and development of mitigation techniques. System uncertainty is reduced when project risks are identified, quantified, and mitigation strategies implemented. Tools, techniques, and methodologies used by successful project managers will be examined. You can participate via live web conferencing or view the recorded session at your convenience. In addition, you have the option to attend on-campus sections in Fort Collins during the fall semester.

SYSE 532 – Dynamics of Complex Systems

This course deals with understanding the higher-level behavior and issues that emerge from interaction between components in complex socio-technical systems. The course emphasizes system thinking, dynamic cause and effect relationships, and the higher-level emergent behavior that results from the interaction of many smaller effects that are individually well understood, but more difficult to grasp at a higher level.

ENGR 565 – Electrical Power Engineering

Analysis of power systems in terms of current, voltage, and active/reactive power; introduction of computer-aided tools for power systems.

SYSE 567 – Systems Engineering Architecture

Observation/classification of systems architecture. Systems architecture principles and critical evaluation through design studies.

ENGR 570 – Coupled Electromechanical Systems

Coupled electrical and mechanical systems and the analysis of energy transfer between these systems. Analysis of field energy and the relationship between electrical, mechanical and electromagnetic forces. Analysis and design of linear motors, servo-motors, DC and motors are presented. Other topics include inductively coupled charging circuits and vibrational modes that can arise between coupled electrical and mechanical systems. Graduate standing.

SYSE 602 – Systems Requirements Engineering

Introduction to the rigorous requirements process within systems engineering, including system requirements analysis, requirements decomposition, allocation, tracking, verification, and validation.

MECH 513 – Simulation Modeling and Experimentation

This course will introduce fundamental concepts of integrated modeling, simulation, and experimentation as a component of the systems engineering process. You will learn practical processes for improving the defensibility, cost and capabilities of your simulations. This course places emphases on verification and validation of computational models, on quantification and propagation of uncertainty, on multi-disciplinary analysis and optimization, and on synthesis and decision making. We will use tools including MATLAB, Excel, ModelCenter, Simulink and SimEvents to model in a variety of engineering applications and domains. With semi-weekly homework and mid-term and final projects, this course will build engineering students' capabilities to perform scientific and engineering computing for the purposes of design, research and decision support.

ENGR 423 – Intellectual Property and Invention Systems

Focused on the appropriate application of "patterns for patenting" together with intuition, inspiration, and cross-disciplinary connecting. De-mystify "inventing" as applied to science, engineering and technology.

CIS 600 – Information Technology and Project Management

Course topics include balancing project stakeholder requirements for scope, time, cost, quality, risk, and human factors. The course emphasizes the Project Management Institute's (PMI®) body of knowledge and considers PMP®/CAPM® professional certifications. You can participate via live web conferencing or view the recorded session at your convenience. In addition, online students may occasionally attend on-campus classes in Fort Collins, but we ask that you let us know ahead of time to ensure your attendance isn't during an exam or other prohibitive activity.

CIS 610 – Software Development Methodology

This course covers methods for all phases of software development focusing on the establishment of economical software that is reliable and cross platform compatible. You can participate via live web conferencing or view the recorded session at your convenience. I semester.

CIS 670 – Advanced IT Project Management

In this class, an applied examination of project management is conducted with an emphasis on preparing for and completing PMI certification. The focus is on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). This course aims to prepare you to test for either Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) or Project Management Professional (PMP®).

ECE 508 – Introduction to Power System Markets

This course provides an introduction to the structure and techniques (tools) of market operations in deregulated electric power systems. The emphasis of the course is on topics related to: participants in electric power markets; system security; investments in generation and transmission; auctions; ancillary services; and congestion management.

ECE 566 – Energy Conversion for Electrical Power Systems

Energy conversion; fuel cell, battery storage, solar-photovoltaic, wind energy and traditional rotating-magnetic-field based machines.

Faculty Open Accordion

The systems engineering faculty at CSU bring decades of experience in applying academic research to real-world situations. Developed by Dr. Ron Sega, this program’s coursework is based on extensive research and professional experience with organizations such as NASA, Woodward, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Visit the Systems Engineering website to learn more about the faculty associated with the systems engineering M.E./M.S. programs, and their research specializations.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

Participate in real time or on your schedule

As an online systems engineering graduate student, you can access CSU's curriculum in a variety of ways. You may choose to "attend class" online while the lecture is happening live on campus (synchronous learning). Or, if it works better for your schedule, you can choose to watch a webinar-style version of the lecture later (asynchronous learning).

Study online, but not alone

The online learning environment and course structure of this program encourages interaction with your classmates and professors through group projects, email, and designated online office hours. You even have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions during live lectures.

Learn more about online learning to help determine if it's the right fit for you.

Join a thriving systems engineering community

The Systems Engineering Department within CSU’s College of Engineering is just that: a dedicated university department focused on leading-edge systems engineering research and education. Department faculty are both talented instructors and world-class researchers in the field. In addition, many of CSU’s engineering professors have extensive industry experience, which they bring into the classroom and curriculum. Many of our students are also leaders in their workplaces. You will be learning alongside engineers from organizations like NASA, Lockheed-Martin, Woodward, Inc. and ULA, just to name a few.

Career Opportunities Open Accordion

The online master’s programs prepare students for a wide-variety of systems engineering careers, including, but not limited to:

  • Space and aerospace
  • Government and military sectors
  • Power and energy (sectors include creation, distribution, and consumption)
  • Healthcare systems
  • Computer networks, information systems, and cyber security
  • Natural resources and the environment
  • Agriculture and watershed
  • Biosciences, biomedical engineering, and health sciences
  • Urban planning and architecture

Systems engineers are focused on how complex projects are designed and managed over the entire life cycle of the project. They coordinate logistics, teams, and also assume control over machinery. Systems engineers are also often project managers, able to communicate to large teams of people, regardless of location, about complex tasks under demanding situations. The national median salary for Systems Engineers is $110,136. (Source: EMSI)

The program teaches students to leverage knowledge and expertise from the fields of engineering, management, and mathematics when designing and implementing solutions to complex issues.

Systems engineering career opportunities across industries

Government and Military
Systems engineering is highly relevant to projects within government and military sectors. Defense acquisition programs rely on systems engineering as an integral part of decision-making and problem-solving because it looks at everything that can be used and assesses those components to find what’s needed to make systems work. For example, in looking at the entire lifecycle of the F-14 fighter jet, systems engineers consider maintenance, design, running the numbers (hours labor, money, etc.), managing risk, and more. This helps to prevent issues with systems that can’t be fixed or are too costly to fix if a problem arises. As well as improving acquisition quality, systems engineers often work with system security issues, as well as any government and military projects that need to use systems engineering when considering all performance, security, reliability, affordability factors.

Space and Aerospace
Aerospace has well established systems engineering practices and the industry continues to be at the forefront of systems engineering. Having an academic background in systems engineering provides skills appreciated and sought after by organizations and is seen as central to a space or aerospace company’s function and competitiveness. Colorado has a heavy concentration of large space and aerospace companies to include Ball, ULA, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Woodward, and Northrop Grumman. CSU’s systems engineering programs have many CEOs from these companies on our executive advisory board. These individuals help drive curriculum and also serve as presenters in many of the courses.

Healthcare
This industry, with its service-oriented systems, needs systems engineers to manage them efficiently while considering cyber security, policy making, financial engineering, patient data management systems, and more, for the organization or hospital. Everyone along the value chain needs to make sure that what they are developing works with all the other systems (or the larger system as a whole).

Power and Energy
The relevant systems in this industry are those that produce and manage power and energy. They include the electric grid, natural gas development, the oil industry, and others. All of these systems are becoming more and more connected and are in need of patches and updates due to the fact that needs and technology have advanced past what the systems were originally built to handle. Networks of suppliers, component manufactures, and market places are all subcomponents of these systems. The companies with the most integrated (and usable) products that work across all these systems will be seen as the premier companies. These products are developed using systems engineering processes.

Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

Hear what our students have to say about CSU's programs, and find out how earning a systems engineering degree online allows you to obtain the same world-class education as on-campus students.

Derek Gray

Find out how Derek applied what he learned in the program to his work as a systems engineer in the aeronautics industry.




Kody Matthews

“I use the processes and tools I learned in class daily to support the projects I am working on in my engineering job. I learned the importance of the holistic approach to making a project successful. I would absolutely recommend CSU Online’s systems engineering program to anyone who is looking to better understand the field. The professors are very knowledgeable and eager to help students learn and understand the material.”


David Myers

“Most programs have very similar core content, but CSU offered electives in areas I was interested in. The ability to choose non-technical electives was attractive to me. Being able to study organizational psychology complimented my degree and my interests. I'm better able to see the connections between technical systems and processes, as well as the people. Balancing school, work, and family can be challenging, but the online courses make it achievable.”

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Full consideration is given to applicants who meet the given deadline. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed as space within the program allows.

Fall semester July 1
Spring semester November 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

Download the complete Systems Engineering Application Information Packet prior to starting the application process. This packet provides detailed information regarding CSU's Systems Engineering graduate programs, minimum application qualifications, criteria for admission, and more.

Master of Engineering (M.E.) - 30 credits minimum

  • B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution in engineering, business, life sciences, or natural sciences with a GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Basic Statistics
  • Calculus I

Master of Science (M.S.) - 30 credits minimum

  • B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution in engineering, mathematics, or a science discipline with a GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Basic Statistics
  • Calculus I
  • M.S. Plan A (thesis required) – 21 hours coursework with 9 credit hours of thesis work
  • M.S. Plan B (project required) – 27 hours of coursework with 3 credit hours of project work
  • For Plan A, a faculty advisor must be secured before admission to the program (the Systems staff will review application materials to determine faculty alignment). It is also the responsibility of the applicant to establish rapport with faculty in a professional manner once all application materials have been submitted.
  • Plan B does not require an advisor prior to admittance

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience and the personal statement.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Three letters of recommendation
    Three professional recommendations are required. We recommend letters come from faculty, supervisors, etc. who can accurately speak to your skills. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
    (2 pages MAXIMUM) The statement of purpose is typically one or two pages and is meant to address the Systems Engineering Admissions Committee and why you would be a good fit for the program. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
    • Your relevant professional/academic background and skills
    • Why you are interested in Systems Engineering – provide specific areas of interest and application
    • Why you are interested in CSU’s program and what you can contribute to CSU

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • M.E. – Select "Systems Engineering (M.E.) – Distance" when choosing the program of study.
  • M.S. – Select "Systems Engineering (M.S.) – Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or gradadmissions@colostate.edu if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.

Questions?

We love learning about your goals and answering any questions to help you on your journey.

Tandi Hawkey
Systems Engineering M.E., M.S.
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

Courses
Credits
M.E. – 30 credits
M.S. – 30 credits
Tuition
$1,118 per credit
Degree Awarded
Master of Engineering; transcript reflects the systems engineering specialization, or Master of Science in Systems Engineering
Time Frame
Varies based on intensity of study and previous coursework

Application Deadlines

Fall semester
July 1
Spring semester
November 1

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