Human-designed systems today run the gamut from elemental subsystems, such as simple switching relays, to complex systems of systems like nuclear-powered submarines and space stations. But how can we ensure that systems fulfill their intended purpose, work reliably, and are both safe and economical?
Systems engineering is a holistic approach to the conceptualization, design, construction, and maintenance of successful systems. It is highly procedural, focusing on customer needs and required functionality along with system validation. Systems Engineering topics typically address both engineering and management aspects and include Project Management; Risk Management; Requirements Engineering, System Architecture and Design; Systems Integration, Validation, and Verification; System Optimization; Business Practices; and Systems Thinking.
The demand for Systems Engineers is high. The field is competitive and pays well, with typical Systems Engineer salaries at companies like Lockheed, IBM, and Rockwell between $65 and $96k per year while salaries for Senior Systems Engineers range from $73-$116k per year at companies like General Dynamics, IBM, and Qualcomm.
Through a combination of courses in Engineering, Science, and Management, WPI’s rigorous graduate programs prepare professionals for challenging careers in Systems Engineering. Our approach stresses a hands-on, practical, applied, project-based curriculum taught by instructors who have actually practiced real-world Systems Engineering for decades.
WPI’s Systems Engineering programs are offered 100% online, affording working professionals access to this education wherever they live, and the flexibility to expand their knowledge base and skills while working full-time.
Research Areas & Publications
Systems Thinking is related to but not the same as Systems Engineering. It is a perspective, language, and a set of tools used for understanding and influencing systems. Visit our Systems Thinking page for more details.
Our students work closely with WPI’s renowned Systems Engineering faculty: real-world experts who enrich the curriculum with decades of professional experience in all aspects of the field. Many continue to be active members of industry as employees and consultants in a variety of leading companies, including Verizon, MITRE Corporation, and the United States Air Force.
At WPI, we believe all engineers should have some knowledge of systems engineering and leadership methods to be properly prepared for 21st century realities. The strategic goal of the institute is to advance systems engineering education, research, and leadership through partnerships with professionals from government, industry, and academic communities.
Learn more about the institute.
WPI's partnership with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) helps our students achieve professional recognition as a systems engineer. INCOSE is a not-for-profit membership organization with chapters supporting and promoting systems engineering worldwide. WPI’s executive director of Corporate and Professional Education, Rachel (Bowers) LeBlanc ’02, ’08 (MS), ’13 (MBA), also serves as the director of marketing with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). Read about her role with this organization.
See the Systems Engineering PhD Student Guide to answer your questions about the program.
View Student Guide