Skip to content

What is Systems Engineering?

Engineered products, services, and processes have become incredibly complex with interactions between humans, software, electrical components, mechanical devices, nature, and a host of other elements. Improperly considering these interactions has caused catastrophic losses of life, property, and money. Systems Engineering is an interdisciplinary approach that enables the realization of successful systems through the identification of needs, requirements, testing, troubleshooting, integration, verification, and validation.

The University of Utah is pleased to offer a Masters of Science in Systems Engineering (MSSE) and a Graduate Systems Engineering Certificate, both offered entirely online. If you are eager to delve into the captivating world of systems engineering and broaden your horizons, don't miss out on this remarkable chance to become a true expert in the field - apply now!

For more information on the program, visit  

Note: Students may also count courses taken for the Graduate Systems Engineering Certificate towards this Master's degree, but keep in mind that only 15 credits of non-matriculated credit can be applied to this degree.

It should be noted that the U recently created a SIME prefix for Systems, Industrial and Management Engineering.  During a transition period, courses are listed with both the ME EN and SIME prefixes.  The courses are identical in content, learning, grading and ability to satisfy the MSSE and GCSE degree requirements. 

The concept of Systems Engineering, which emphasizes early effort to avoid massive failures, was developed by Bell Labs in the 1930s and 1940s. This concept became crucial for high-stake projects, leading to the creation of Systems Engineering classes and degrees in academia. By 1964, nine universities offered Systems Engineering programs. In response to project failures, the U.S. Government mandated the involvement of systems engineers to manage its interests in projects. The government established a branch focused on System Engineering requirements and issued manuals and policies for major projects. Contractors seeking government funding had to follow a Systems Engineering approach. This requirement increased the demand for high-performing systems engineers. Utah-based companies like Northrop Grumman, L3 Harris, Boeing, Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin recognized the shortage of qualified systems engineering professionals and lobbied the Utah Legislature. As a result, funding was provided to the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at The University of Utah (U) and Weber State to train more systems engineers locally. In 2021, two faculty members, Todd Easton, Professor (Lecturer) and Pedro Huebner, Assistant Professor (Lecturer), were hired, and the ME department began emphasizing on a MSSE and a Graduate Certificate in Systems Engineering.

At the University of Utah, our courses combine the flexibility of online teaching with the advantages and direct engagement of traditional teaching. Enjoy the benefit of studying online at your own pace while still engaging with classmates and instructors. This flexible way of teaching improves your overall experience and your ability to retain what you learn.

Interactive learning comes in a variety of ways:

  • Group assignments, where you collaborate via email or a discussion forum to answer a problem set.
  • Contributions to a discussion forum, where you directly respond to previous posts.
  • Peer reviews, where you review and comment on assignments from other students.

Our classes also offer multiple routes to stay connected and get help:

  • Communicate directly with the instructor via email.
  • Participate in and guide online discussions.
  • Attend online office hours in discussion threads or on the phone.
  • Instructors are available in “real” office hours for students on or near campus; for some courses we offer Q&A sessions in a classroom.

Masters of Science in Systems Engineering

Standard prerequisites

BS in a STEM discipline

One year of calculus

One semester of statistics

Alternate prerequisites

Have a bachelor’s degree

Earn the Graduate Certificate in Systems Engineering at the U. If done correctly, these 15 hours all count toward the MSSE.

Note: It is highly encouraged that students have at least one computer programming course. SIME 6000 (ME EN 6185) Analytics for Systems Management teaches sufficient programming knowledge and can also be used as an elective for the MSSE degree.

Visit the MSSE program curriculum page for more details on course requirements.

See more information and sample capstone experiences.


SIME 6400 (ME EN 6160)

SIME 6060 (ME EN 6183)


SIME 6410 (ME EN 6170)

SIME 6430 (ME EN 6165)

SIME 6460 (ME EN 6166)


SIME 6560 (ME EN 6186)

Courses that will be added for the 24-25 academic year


ME EN  6110

SIME 6000 (ME EN 6185)


SIME 6530 (ME EN 6180)

SIME 6050 (ME EN 6184)

ME EN 6035


ME EN 6182

Courses that will be added for the 25-26 academic year


SIME 6460 (ME EN 6166)

ME EN 6190

In this program, you will not only learn academic theory, but also the practical real-world aspects of systems engineers.  Furthermore, you will learn state-of-the-art software tools, such as simulation and model-based systems engineering. These skills will help you produce successful products or services and avoid the substantial losses that frequently accompany non-systems-engineered products.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not have data on systems engineers.  Industrial and systems engineering have a substantial amount of overlap.  According to BLS, industrial engineers median pay is $95,300 per year, and the job outlook is an increase of 10% per year, which is “Faster than average”.

The single largest driver of systems engineers in Utah is in the aerospace and defense industries.  Vacant jobs appear to be plentiful in these industries. However, a search of systems engineering on (April 19, 2023) results in numerous listings from a variety of nondefense related companies including Rio Tinto, NRG Energy, LiveView Technologies, MW Partners, ConsultNet, Ubiquiti Inc and Maverik. The above list of employers was only a subset of job postings and shows the potential for a systems engineering based career in healthcare, mining, energy, supply chain and consulting.  One of the best aspects of being a systems engineer is its portability between fields of employment.

A completed application requires the following:

  • Statement of purpose (1-2 pages)
  • Resume
  • Two recommendation letters
  • Some international students may need to complete the U’s requirements for English proficiency. 
  • Pay fee

apply now

$872 per credit*

*Subject to change without notice

This program qualifies for the U of U employee reduced tuition benefit.

Last Updated: 5/30/24