Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Systems Engineering, MS

Systems Engineering and Operations Research Department

Nguyen Engineering Building, 2100
4400 University Drive, MS 4A6
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703-993-1670

Email: seor@gmu.edu

Program Overview

This degree emphasizes both analytical and practical aspects of engineering complex systems. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in several quantitative modeling disciplines, and to master practical aspects of systems design, engineering and management. The program prepares students for a professional career in systems design, development, and management, associated with problem formulation, issue analysis, and the evaluation of alternative courses of action, as well as advanced graduate study. 

Highlights

2015-2016 Academic Year

Mason's educational and research program in systems engineering addresses a broad range of issues relevant to the design, implementation, analysis and management of systems. Concentration areas include; Advanced Transportation Systems; Architecture-Based Systems Integration; Command, Control, Communications, Computing, and Intelligence; Financial Systems Engineering; Systems Engineering Analysis; Systems Engineering of Software-Intensive Systems; and Systems Management. Research activities include both fundamental and applied research. Mason's graduate program in Systems Engineering recognizes the importance of balancing an education in quantitative models and engineering tools with a proper understanding of the systems "perspective."

The program prepares students for a professional career in systems design, development, and management, associated with problem formulation, issue analysis, and evaluation of alternative courses of action. The program emphasizes both analytical and practical aspects of engineering complex systems. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in several quantitative modeling disciplines. Students are also expected to master issues relevant to practical aspects of systems architecture design, and management.

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor with whom to work to complete an approved plan of study. This plan of study must include five core courses, one methods course, three electives in a concentration area, and a thesis or systems engineering project. The plan of study must include 30 graduate credits including a capstone project (3 credits). Matriculation requirements for candidates needing additional work in mathematics or engineering also may be included in the plan of study.

An accelerated master of science option is available for students in selected bachelors of science programs.  See BS (selected)/Systems Engineering, Accelerated MS for specific requirements.

Foundation and Admission Requirements

Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution in engineering, mathematics, computer science, physical sciences, economics, or a related field. They also should have completed courses in calculus (MATH 113MATH 114, and MATH 213), matrix algebra (MATH 203), differential equations (MATH 214), applied probability (STAT 346), and a scientific programming language (CS 112).

Other requirements are as follows:

  • Evidence of satisfactory educational achievement in at least one of the following forms: a GPA of at least 3.00 as an undergraduate or an acceptable GPA in graduate courses. International students must also achieve satisfactory scores on the GRE. Nonnative English speakers must have achieved a satisfactory score on the TOEFL exam.
  • Two letters of recommendation submitted by former professors or supervisors
  • Working background in engineering mathematics and computer systems. Students with minor deficiencies in preparation may apply for admission to the program, but they will be required to take one or more foundation courses. The department offers SYST 500 - Quantitative Foundations for Systems Engineering as an intensive review of undergraduate engineering mathematics, including matrix algebra, transforms, differential equations, probability, and statistics.
  • Students who have not completed a basic engineering undergraduate mathematics sequence will be required to complete courses in engineering calculus and matrix algebra prior to acceptance. On acceptance, students will be required to take a foundation qualification test a week or two before school starts, unless waived by the department chair or graduate coordinator. Students who fail the test will be required to take SYST 500 or other foundation courses. A sample test is available from the department.
  • Familiarity with analytical modeling software, such as spreadsheets or math packages, is also expected. Students should acquaint themselves with these software packages before beginning classes.

Degree Requirements

Core Courses (15 credits):

Students who have work experience in systems engineering should consult with their advisor on replacing SYST 505 with a higher-level SYST course.

Concentrations (12 credits):

Students may construct concentration areas by choosing electives from among special groupings. The seven concentrations available are:

  • Advanced Transportation Systems
  • Architecture-Based Systems Integration
  • Command, Control, Communications, Computing, and Intelligence (C4I)
  • Financial Systems Engineering
  • Systems Engineering Analysis
  • Systems Engineering of Software-Intensive Systems
  • Systems Management

Students may also devise their own grouping of electives subject to prior approval of their advisor.

Basic Methods Courses (3 credits)

Students must complete 3 credits of a basic methods course. The choice of basic methods course may depend on the student's concentration.

List of Basic Methods Courses:

Concentration in Advanced Transportation Systems (ATS)

The air transportation system is among the most complex networked systems. This concentration is designed to provide students with the skills to address the next generation of challenges of the air transportation system. Topics addressed include congestion and safety of the national air space, economic and human factors, impact of technology innovation, and public policy. The program emphasizes design, modeling, and analysis to support decision making for government and the aviation industry.

Basic methods course:

One course from the list of basic methods courses above.

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must complete the following:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with the approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as the elective.

Concentration in Architecture-Based Systems Integration (ABSI)

There is much interest today in the engineering of systems that comprise other component systems, where each of the component systems serves organizational and human purposes. These systems families are often categorized as systems of systems, federations of systems, or coalitions of systems. The design of architectures is a major ingredient in the design of systems families. Furthermore, it provides the conceptual basis for achieving system integration. This concentration covers the formulation of the system integration problem, definition of architecture frameworks, use of structured analysis and object-oriented methodologies for the design of architectures, modeling and simulation for the evaluation of architectures, and approaches to integration. Both defense and industrial applications are considered.

With careful planning, students who complete this concentration might be able to complete the Architecture-Based Systems Integration Graduate Certificate simultaneously with their MS.

Basic methods course:

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must complete the following courses:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as the elective.

Concentration in Command, Control, Communications, Computing, and Intelligence (C4I) 

C4I systems are concerned with gathering, retrieving, analyzing, and disseminating time-sensitive information to achieve mission-critical objectives. These systems support military operations across the spectrum of conflict, intelligence operations, transportation monitoring, emergency response, drug interdiction, and law enforcement, among others. C4I systems include the equipment, people, and procedures necessary to accomplish the mission. The equipment may include a variety of sensors, communications systems, and information processing and decision-support systems.

The program focuses on the analysis, design, development, and management of C4I systems. Topics addressed include C4I architectures and software, communications, decision support, modeling and simulation, and sensor data fusion.

With careful planning, students who complete this concentration might be able to complete the Command, Control, Communications, Computing, and Intelligence Graduate Certificate simultaneously with their MS.

Basic methods course:

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must take the following:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with the approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as the elective.

Concentration in Financial Systems Engineering (FNSE)

Financial engineering is a cross-disciplinary field which relies on mathematical finance, numerical methods, and computer simulations to make trading, hedging, and investment decisions, as well as facilitating the risk management of those decisions. While mathematics is indispensable in financial engineering, the concentration will try best to focus on the concepts and ideas of finance, while limiting the math within a scope acceptable to most students in engineering.

Basic methods course: 

One course from the list of basic methods courses above.

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must complete the following:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as the elective.

Concentration in Systems Engineering Analysis (SEA)

Systems engineers must address a broad range of issues relevant to the design, implementation, analysis, and management of systems. This concentration provides methodological tools that can be applied to the systems engineering process. Areas of focus include decision support systems, distributed intelligent systems, knowledge-based planning systems, network systems, probabilistic reasoning systems, sensor fusion systems, and optimization methods.

With careful planning, students who complete this concentration might be able to complete the Systems Engineering Analysis and Architecture Graduate Certificate simultaneously with their MS.

Basic methods course:

One course from the list of basic methods courses above.

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must complete the following course:

The remaining two elective courses must be taken from the list below with the approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as an elective.

Concentration in Systems Engineering of Software-Intensive Systems (SESI)

This concentration addresses the software component of the systems engineering life cycle. It specifically covers the allocation of system requirements to software. Practitioners are concerned with the theoretical and practical aspects of technology, cost, and the social effect of computer systems that are reliable, maintainable, secure, efficient, and cost effective. The program emphasizes the integration of hardware, software, and firmware, and the management of these complex computer systems over their life cycle through systems engineering methods, tools, and processes.

With careful planning, students who complete this concentration might be able to complete the Systems Engineering of Software-Intensive Systems Graduate Certificate simultaneously with their MS.

Basic methods course:

One course from the list of basic methods courses above.

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must take the following:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with the approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as an elective.

Concentration in Systems Management (SMG)

The management aspect of systems engineering involves tracking and control of system development through the major phases of the system lifecycle, identifying and resolving problems to minimize their effect on cost, schedule, or performance, and iteratively improving product and process. This concentration emphasizes the theory and practice of systems management and prepares students for careers in managing the development of complex systems.

Basic methods course:

One course from the list of basic methods courses above.

Concentration-specific courses:

Students must take the following:

The remaining elective course must be taken from the list below with the approval of the advisor. Courses designated as basic methods courses may also be used as an elective.

Project (3 credits) or Thesis (6 credits)

Students must complete a capstone project (3 credit hours) or thesis (6 credit hours) under the direction of a Systems Engineering faculty member. 

Under the project option, the student completes three credit hours of SYST 699. Students in these courses work in teams on an approved applied project. A project report is submitted at the end of the semester, and a final project presentation is made to the entire faculty of the SEOR Department.

Under the thesis option, the student completes six credit hours of SYST 799. The  master's thesis should reflect a significant independent research effort. The work is conducted under the guidance of a faculty thesis advisor, and the final written thesis and oral defense are approved by a three-member faculty committee and submitted to the library. The thesis work is expected to be completed while taking six semester hours of SYST 799. Although a student is required to maintain continuous enrollment by registering for SYST 799 each semester until the thesis is completed, only six hours will be applied to the degree. The thesis option requires approval by the department chair and approval is only given in rare circumstances.

Total: 30-33 credits

This information is being provided here for your planning purposes only. For official catalog information, please refer instead to the official George Mason University Catalog Website at http://catalog.gmu.edu.

Opportunities

Graduates with a master’s degree in systems engineering from the Volgenau School of Engineering have been well trained to design, analyze, and troubleshoot complex systems such as aerospace development, military operations, logistics, power systems, and infrastructure. In their careers, they may lead teams of systems engineers on large projects, analyze data for performance, or direct the development of software or other engineered systems. Advanced training in technical management or information systems, engineering is often coupled with a master’s in this highly desirable field. Volgenau graduates are uniquely prepared for their careers by a program that incorporates Mason’s deep relationship with the United States government. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities for this level of systems engineer is expected to increase 15 percent in the next decade.

This information is being provided here for your planning purposes only. For official catalog information, please refer instead to the official George Mason University Catalog Website at http://catalog.gmu.edu.