The George Washington University’s online Master of Science in Systems Engineering focuses on the expertise that professionals need to optimize design, development and implementation. The curriculum features instruction in project management, readying students to embark on STEM-focused careers and take on leadership responsibilities. Faculty with first-hand experience in the field teach courses in designing and deploying new systems that meet high standards of quality, efficiency and reliability.

MS in Systems Engineering: Program Quick Facts

Completion Time: 2-3 years
Delivery: 100% online
Next Start Date: Week of January 8, 2024
Total Credits: 36 credits
Cost Per Credit: $1,150
Total Tuition Cost: $41,400
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Program Summary

GW’s online M.S. in Systems Engineering program builds multidisciplinary technical and leadership skills to successfully design, integrate, and manage large complex systems over their life cycle. This STEM-driven curriculum primarily focuses on systems thinking, but our courses also incorporate the practical business skills that professionals will need to progress into senior roles in technical organizations. Students learn best practices for managing multidisciplinary teams as they design, deploy, and optimize a broad range of systems.

The online systems engineering master’s program ensures that professionals can leverage the latest methods and tools to achieve organizational objectives. They gain hands-on experience in applying a systems approach to major projects, using software and allocating resources to meet specific requirements. Our students see how architecting concepts and practices can be employed on the large scale demanded by commercial businesses and federal departments.

The primary topics covered in online systems engineering coursework include:

  • System and architecture analysis
  • Quality assessment
  • Risk management
  • Engineering large-scale systems
  • Solving problems with systems engineering tools
  • Managing and making decisions for technical teams

“Through the GW master’s in systems engineering program I have a deeper understanding of the entire systems engineering process. The Project Management series was particularly useful as I transitioned to a new position as a Project Engineering and Site Manager. The critical thinking skills acquired from the program have helped me to ask better and more penetrating questions prior to making decisions that affect our site. Also, the ease of online courses from our work location just couldn’t be beat.”

— Reinhard Sandrock, M.S. Systems Engineering, Project Engineering and Site Manager

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The online Master of Science in Systems Engineering is designed to equip students with the skills they need to design, analyze and optimize complex systems for efficiency and quality. Each course is three credits, comprising 36 total required credit hours. The online format offers the advantage of synchronous or asynchronous delivery, allowing students the flexibility to study when and where it works best for their situations.


The practice of management as applied within technical organizations. Includes history of the tradition and current effective practices, research findings, and case studies, with objectives of enhanced understanding of external and internal factors influencing organizational performance and leadership requirements.
Problem formulation. Concepts and techniques used in analyzing complex decision problems. Modeling decision problems using decision trees, probability models, multi-objective models and utility theory.
Capstone project providing the opportunity to apply concepts and tools previously studied to the solution of a real-world problem. Students work in small groups, on a problem proposed by students and approved by the instructor. Open only to master’s candidates in the department, preferably during the last semester of their program.
Survey of material relevant to financial decision making for engineering activity. Includes traditional engineering economy topics; fundamentals of accounting; and financial planning, budgeting, and estimating applicable to the management of technical organizations.
Systems approach to the architecting and engineering of large-scale systems; elements of systems engineering; methods and standards; computer tools that support systems and software engineering; trends and directions; the integrative nature of systems engineering.
Application of systems engineering tools to provide hands-on experience with essential elements of practice. Processes of requirements engineering, functional analysis and allocation, risk management, architecting; architectural heuristics, axiomatic design, analytical assessment of alternative architectures. Prerequisite: EMSE 6801.
The systems or holistic approach as a methodology for making decisions and allocating resources. Analysis by means of objectives, alternatives, models, criteria, and feedback. Prerequisite: EMSE 6801.
Requirements in systems engineering, including requirement types, quality factors, elicitation methods, analysis, derivation of implicit requirements, management, traceability, verification, cross-requirement assessments, and validation. Focus on writing and managing quality requirements in complex systems. Prerequisite: EMSE 6801.
Model-based systems engineering and its derivative, evidence-based systems engineering, as techniques with potential for improving the technical integrity of complex systems. The foundation to these model- and research-based techniques for system definition and analysis as applied to life-cycle systems engineering. Prerequisites: EMSE 6805 or permission of the instructor. (Fall, spring, and summer, Every Year).
Problems in managing projects; project management as planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring; project and corporate organizations; duties and responsibilities; the project plan; schedule, cost, earned-value and situation analysis; leadership; team building; conflict management; meetings, presentations, and proposals.
Developing project cost and resource estimates during the planning stages. Monitoring, forecasting, and controlling cost throughout the project life cycle. Project quality planning, assurance, and control. Relationships among project scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, procurement, and risk. Preparation for the Project Management Professional examination. Prerequisite: EMSE 6820.
Applications of systems engineering in the DoD, other parts of the federal government, and commercial sectors. Architectural frameworks and enterprise architecting concepts and practices, including JCIDS/DODAF, Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework, and Zachman™ Framework. Enterprise architecting and advanced modeling tools. Prerequisite: EMSE 6801.

Program Learning Objectives

The objectives of the master’s program in systems engineering are to ensure that graduates can:

  • Apply systems engineering technical skills like axiomatic design and systems analysis to observe how systems interact, to design and integrate subsystems, and to assess systems for quality.
  • Coordinate critical organizational functions—organizational management and behavior, operations, project management, marketing, cost and quality control, finance, staff, technical requirements, engineering contract management—and supervise technical development while maintaining high performance.
  • Prepare to take the Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) exam offered by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) to further establish professional credentials.

Prepare for Certification

The program helps to prepare graduates for the Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) exam, offered by the International Council on Systems Engineering.