Department of Systems Engineering & Management

Department of Systems Engineering & Management
Program Details

Systems Engineering (GSE)
Current as of: 03/07/2016

Degree Type: MS

Availability: In-residence or Distance Learning

Program Description: The GSE program is an ABET-accredited program (fully accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET) leading to a Master of Science (MS) degree in Systems Engineering. When pursued in residence, it is nominally a six-quarter (i.e., 18-month) program, with students typically entering in September and graduating the second March following. The GSE degree is also available to part-time students via distance-learning (DL) modality. For these students, this program usually takes 24 to 36 months to complete, depending on class availability and the student's course load. For more information about the DL SE program, or about general DL opportunities and application procedures, please visit
Program Educational Objectives: The GSE program takes students with traditional engineering backgrounds (mechanical, electrical, aerospace, etc.) and produces graduates who can effectively use the tools and techniques of both systems science and traditional engineering disciplines to approach and analyze complex problems, design feasible solutions, and select an appropriate solution. It is expected that graduates possessing these skills will go on to make substantive contributions to capability development within the DoD. The GSE program consists of the following two educational objectives:

  • Graduates will rise to positions of technical and/or programmatic leadership within capability planning, system acquisition and/or sustainment organizations. Examples of leadership positions include Technical Director, Division Chief, Chief Engineer, and System Program Manager/Director.
  • Graduates will continue to employ SE methods across the DoD acquisition life cycle. Examples of such SE methods include requirements analysis and management, architecture definition/evaluation, iterative (software) design, technical decision analysis, trade studies, risk management, modeling and simulation,  and optimization and capability assessment.

Student Outcomes: Upon graduation& mdash

  1. GSE graduates will demonstrate thorough understanding of the SE process from mission area analysis through requirements definition to system development, sustainment, and retirement.
  2. GSE graduates will demonstrate application of the SE process and methods on contemporary problems of interest to the DoD.
  3. GSE graduates will be proficient with various tools for implementing the SE principles and processes.
  4. GSE graduates will be able to identify deficiencies and/or gaps in the current SE body of knowledge, and will be capable of proposing new approaches to bridge these gaps.
  5. GSE graduates will demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate technically complex ideas and concepts in both spoken and written formats.
  6. GSE graduates will develop a detailed understanding in at least one DoD-relevant specialization, either a domain of application or SE analytical toolset.

Admission Criteria: The general requirements for admission to the GSE program are as follows:

  • Degree: A degree in engineering (e.g., Aeronautical, Astronautical, Aerospace, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Industrial, Mechanical, Electrical, or Systems Engineering) or a degree in Engineering Science is required. A degree in science (e.g., physics), math, or computer science will be considered for admission as well, but the degree conferred will be a non-ABET Master of Science. 
  • Courses: Calculus-based physics and dynamical systems (e.g., circuits or engineering dynamics) are required. In terms of mathematics, at least multivariate calculus and ordinary differential equations are required.
  • GRE: Verbal  > = 153 (500 if taken prior to August 2012) Quantitative  > = 148 (600 if taken prior to 1 August 2012)
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA  > = 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) overall   > = 3.0 in mathematics (on a 4.0 scale)   > = 3.0 in major (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Student selections are determined by the Department of Systems Engineering and Management for enrollment for the fall quarter. Selections are made the first week in August, if selected notifications are send out shortly after.

Waivers to the above criteria may be granted (on an individual basis) by the Department of Systems and Engineering Management. Therefore, individuals whose academic credentials fall below any of the above criteria may apply. For more information on specific admission procedures to AFIT programs, please refer to the AFIT Office of Admissions web page

Enrollment and graduation data for the ABET-accredited Systems Engineering master's degree program is located on AFIT's Institutional Data webpage.

For full details regarding the GSE program, refer to Chapter 7 of the Department  Blue Book.

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