2021 Best Online Masters in Systems Engineering

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Earning a systems engineering masters online can open doors to new career or advancement opportunities in this rewarding field.

Online Masters in Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is an IT profession that has applications in many different industries. Professionals in this field tend to analyze computer systems and how they work, looking for ways to improve systems and make them more efficient.

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An online masters in systems engineering can also help qualify you for leadership positions and higher earnings.

Online Masters in Systems Engineering Programs

Online Masters in Systems Engineering Programs

Systems engineering is the study of how to design and manage complex computer systems as well as how to solve problems in these systems. Systems engineers try to make computer systems as efficient as possible.

Earning your masters in systems engineering online can help you develop your general knowledge and problem-solving skills.

A systems engineer plans data communication networks, ensures the security of the system, and plans and implements technological upgrades to support their organization. A systems engineer can work with management to help determine what actions will be best.

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Most IT professionals need a good understanding of computer systems, so a systems engineering degree can be useful for pursuing many different types of careers in the field of information technology.

Common careers in this field include computer network architect, computer systems analyst, database administrator, and network and computer systems administrator.

While earning a degree in systems engineering, you’ll likely study subjects like systems design and analysis, advanced mathematics, leading engineering teams, and life cycle and integration. You may also study hardware, software, project management, risk management, business ethics, and business management.

Systems engineering overlaps with many other fields related to business and technology. It consists of making processes as organized, systematic, and efficient as possible for the benefit of a business or organization.

Systems Engineering Careers & Salaries

Systems Engineering Careers & Salaries

There are many different career paths you can pursue with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. This type of degree can be applied to many business and technology occupations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following occupations are related to the study of systems engineering.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $146,360
Architectural and Engineering Managers $144,830
Computer Hardware Engineers $117,220
Computer Network Architects $112,690
Information Security Analysts $99,730
Database Administrators $93,750
Computer Systems Analysts $90,920
Computer Systems Engineers and Architects $88,550
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $83,510
Logistician $74,750

An MS in System Engineering can help you develop analytical skills as well as a broad knowledge of technology and scientific reasoning. These skills can be especially beneficial in careers that require interdisciplinary knowledge and critical thinking.

A degree in systems engineering is particularly useful for careers that require knowledge of computer hardware and software and how to best apply technology in a business setting. A masters can also help you qualify for higher starting salaries or even leadership positions.

Systems Engineering Masters Curriculum & Courses

Systems Engineering Masters

Here are some examples of courses you might take while earning a master’s degree in systems engineering:

  • Systems Design and Analysis: This course covers the basics of how to create systems.
  • Leading Engineering Teams: This course helps you develop the leadership skills necessary to oversee engineering teams that perform specialized tasks.
  • Lifecycle and Integration: This course helps you understand all phases of using a system, from its initial implementation to the time when it is phased out.
  • Project Management: This course covers how to plan and direct projects.
  • Accounting and Finance: This course teaches you to think about systems from a business perspective, including how they affect a company financially.
  • Risk Management: This course covers how to minimize the financial risks for businesses when implementing new systems.
  • Systems Analysis and Evaluation: This course deals with how to make systems more efficient.
  • Architecture Analysis and Advanced Modeling: This course covers how to use software to analyze the architecture of complex systems.
  • Axiomatic Design: Axiomatic design is a specific technique for engineering complex systems.
  • Requirements Management: This course teaches you how to define, analyze, and prioritize the requirements of the system you are engineering and its product.

Exact course requirements vary across universities.

Admissions Requirements

Systems Engineering Masters student

Here are some common admissions requirements for online masters degree programs in systems engineering:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation

You may also be required to submit GRE scores, depending on the institution. Admissions requirements can vary considerably at different universities, so you may want to check the requirements for the specific university you intend to apply to.

Accreditation

Masters in Systems Engineering Accreditation

If you have heard the word “accreditation,” you may be wondering what it means and why it is important. If a college or university is accredited, that means someone outside the school is examining their courses to ensure that they meet certain academic standards of excellence.

Regional accreditation helps ensure that you receive a quality education. A school’s accreditation status can impact financial aid opportunities and your ability to transfer credits. Many employers and institutions only recognize accredited degrees.

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Before enrolling in a degree program, you may want to ensure that the university you wish to attend is in fact accredited. You can check a school’s accreditation status by visiting the US Department of Education‘s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Systems Engineering Financial Aid

There are many different types of financial aid available for qualifying students, including financial aid for graduate level students enrolled in MS in Engineering online degree programs.

Whether you’re a student or a prospective student, you may be able to qualify for federal aid, state aid, employer programs, or scholarships. Student loans can also be an option for many people.

To apply for federal financial aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other financial aid options, such as state aid and certain scholarship programs, also use your FAFSA to help determine your eligibility for need-based aid.

What Does a Systems Engineer Do?

Systems engineers

Systems engineers work with computer systems. They can develop computer systems and networks, troubleshoot, and help companies determine when they need to upgrade their systems.

Their duties can include creating and presenting plans to management for how to improve the company’s current technology as well as installing new hardware and software as needed.

Common job titles in the system engineering field include computer systems engineer and architect, computer network architect, computer and information systems manager, and computer systems analyst.

Is Systems Engineering Really Engineering?

Systems engineer

All engineers work on systems of some kind, usually with the goal of maximizing efficiency. In that respect, systems engineering is no different from any other kind of engineering.

Systems engineering is a bit different from other types of engineering, though. Systems engineering deals with computer systems and their applications in business. Most other types of engineers build with concrete materials, making appliances or transportation systems, for example.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Systems Engineering?

Masters in Systems Engineering

A masters degree in systems engineering can prepare you to pursue or further a career in the field of information technology. A masters degree can also help qualify you for leadership positions or higher earnings.

Common careers in this field include computer systems engineers, computer network architects, computer and information systems managers, computer systems analysts, and network and computer systems analysts. System engineering careers usually involve helping businesses optimize their computer systems and networks.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Systems Engineering Online?

Completing a masters degree in systems engineering online takes around 1 year to 2 years if you attend school full-time, about the same amount of time it takes to complete an online masters in petroleum engineering, civil engineering, or computer engineering. Many factors can affect exactly how long it takes you to complete your degree.

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If you attend school part-time, you may need at least 3 years to complete your degree. Online degree programs tend to offer a variety of flexible scheduling options so that you can complete your degree at your own pace. There are also online programs that offer accelerated programs, allowing you to finish in less time.

What Is the Difference Between Systems Engineer vs. Software Engineer?

As the job title suggests, a software engineer mostly focuses on software. Systems engineers, on the other hand, look at entire systems. For instance, systems engineers also need to make decisions pertaining to hardware, helping a company decide when it is time to upgrade all of their computers.

Systems engineers can manage entire projects, and they often need to understand how technology affects the running of a business. This is why many systems engineering degree programs include courses on finance and related topics in addition to technology.

What Is the Difference Between Industrial Engineering vs. Systems Engineering?

Industrial Engineering vs. Systems Engineering

Industrial engineers work to optimize the efficiency of manufacturing processes. A systems engineer is less concerned with the manufacturing of the products and is more concerned with ensuring that the company’s technology is effective and up to date.

Systems engineers look at the company’s computer systems and networks and determine how to make the best use of it to benefit the business. Industrial engineers may need to understand other types of machinery used in manufacturing processes.

Is a Masters in Systems Engineering Worth It?

Masters Degree in Systems Engineering

Yes, a masters in systems engineering is worth it for many students. A master’s degree in systems engineering can help prepare you to lead projects that require knowledge of computers and business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of computer network architects will grow by 5% over the next decade, so there will likely be an increase in demand for people with this type of skill set. Computer and information technology occupations in general are expected to grow 11% through 2029.

Universities Offering Online Masters in System Engineering Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer online engineering degree programs or ones in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers an online Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering program. To graduate, students must complete 10 classes to achieve 30 credit hours. The course lengths vary, ranging from 7.5 to 15 weeks. Half of the credits students receive must be in the engineering field.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State University offers both an online Master of Engineering with a specialization in Systems Engineering and a Master of Science in System Engineering. Both degrees require 30 credits to graduate. Both programs also require students to receive at least 24 of their credits from CSU, with 21 of them being from the 500 level.

Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Cornell University

Cornell University campus

Cornell University offers an online Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering. The program is offered year-round and lasts for 2 semesters.

To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. Up to 12 credit hours may come from electives, though chosen electives must adhere to the Elective Course Groups and Restrictions.

Cornell University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University offers an online Master’s in Systems Engineering program. To graduate, students must complete 45 credits. The year is divided into four 10-week quarters to allow students to take more courses. To be eligible for the program, students must have a GPA of at least 3.0 at the undergraduate level.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Florida State University

Florida State University campus

Florida State University offers a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. Students studying full-time can typically complete the program and receive the required 30 credit hours in a year and a half. To graduate, students must complete 7 core courses and 3 technical electives. Electives must be in system engineering or a related discipline.

Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

George Washington University

George Washington University campus

George Washington University offers an online Master of Science in Systems Engineering program. The program can typically be completed within 3 years.

To graduate, students must complete 12 required courses to achieve 36 credits. The program is designed to help prepare students for the Certified Systems Engineering Professional exam.

George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

John Hopkins University offers a Master of Science in Systems Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering in Systems Engineering.

The degree programs are identical, but only students with a Bachelor of Science degree can receive the MSE. To graduate, students must complete the 5 required courses as well as 3 electives.

The Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University offers an online Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering program. To graduate, students must complete 36 credits.

The program usually takes 2 years to complete with 3 semesters per year. Each course lasts 7 weeks. The program is designed to be interactive to allow students to form connections with people in the industry.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University offers an online Master of Science in Systems Engineering program. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. Students may also choose to add a concentration to their degree when they complete their plan of study.

To be eligible to apply for the program, students must have an undergraduate degree in engineering and 3 letters of recommendation.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

The University of Arizona offers an online Master of Science in Systems Engineering program. The program has three separate paths. In the Project Path, students are required to complete a project alongside 24 electives.

The Thesis Path requires the completion of a thesis and 24 electives. The Coursework Path requires 33 units to be completed with minimum B grades.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Systems Engineering Masters Online

Systems Engineering Masters Online

Earning your masters in systems engineering can help you expand your knowledge, improve your problem-solving skills, and further your career in this rewarding field.

There are many options available for earning this graduate degree. Online degree programs, such as an online environmental engineering degree, or one in computer or electrical engineering, in addition to ones in systems engineering, are a convenient and affordable option for many students because they offer flexible scheduling.

If you’re interested in taking this next step in your education and career, you can start by exploring accredited universities.

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Amy Wilson
WRITTEN BY
Amy Wilson
While attending the University of Georgia, Amy enrolled in both on-campus and online courses giving her the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each course delivery system. Amy's research is focused on making education more accessible to everyone and how different education methodologies can affect student outcomes.