Systems Engineering

Person looking at drawings and calculations on whiteboard

Welcome to Systems Engineering

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 $65k and $96k per year while salaries for Senior Systems Engineers range from $73k to $116k per year at companies like General Dynamics, IBM, and Qualcomm.

WPI’s Graduate Programs in Systems Engineering

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.

Two MS degree tracks:

Master's in System Engineering

Master's in Systems Engineering Leadership. 

Learn more about these online graduate programs.

Area of Study Certificate Master PhD
Systems Engineering certificate master phd
Systems Engineering Leadership master

Why WPI Systems Engineering is right for you

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Graduate & Professional Studies

Catalyst Blog

WPI's Graduate & Professional Studies motivation is to inspire an interest in lifelong learning and career development. Catalyst offers practical tips, professional development tools, and discussions of hot topics in STEM with insights direct from WPI’s labs, researchers, and industry experts.

Our Faculty

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.

Our success in the Systems Engineering program at WPI can be measured in how well our students learn and how well they contribute to their organization and the community.
  • Don Gelosh, PhD
  • Director of Systems Engineering
  • WPI Graduate & Professional Studies
A systems engineering education at WPI is very clearly differentiated by its faculty diversity which integrates research, theory, experience and practice. This is the foundation of WPI’s educational philosophy and has been since its beginning.
  • Scott Doremus
  • Senior Lecturer, WPI
Systems engineering helped me understand how the complexity of a major engineering effort can be controlled and guided so that what the customer wants, the customer gets.
  • Mike Bonin, Senior Engineer
  • General Dynamics Electric Boat

Systems Engineering and Leadership Institute

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.


  • Our complimentary web series “Engineering Education: The Systems Approach” takes you through a journey of how systems thinking and systems engineering can be combined to generate innovation—in any industry.
  • Learn about "The Emergence of Humanity's Self-Awareness" from Systems Engineering faculty member Jamie Monat, PhD, in his latest whitepaper and video in which he examines the idea of self-awareness—a quality that separates humanity from even the most complex animals. Access the whitepaper and video here.

INCOSE Partnership

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 Director for Systems Engineering Programs, Don Gelosh, PhD, currently serves as the INCOSE Services Director, a position that oversees the value streams of Certification, Events, and Professional Development. In addition, INCSOE approved WPI’s updated SYS 501. Concepts of Systems Engineering for Academic Equivalency. This will allows any student who receives a final score of 85% or better to waive the Knowledge Exam for INCOSE’s SE Professional certification program, both at the Associate (ASEP) and Certified (CSEP) levels. Learn more about this benefit

Read Our Student Guide

See the Systems Engineering PhD Student Guide to answer your questions about the program.

View Student Guide

Systems Engineering Awareness: Digital Badge Program

Level-up your skillset with WPI's NEW Systems Engineering Awareness Digital Badge Program! Learn at your own pace, on your own time, at an affordable price. This Digital Badge Program consists of 11 on-demand micro-courses in total. All content is strategically designed to align with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Competency Framework. The knowledge indicators from INCOSE’s awareness level proficiency are embedded within the learning objectives of each micro-course. 

New Course!

Freshmen and Sophomores!
Looking for an exciting, relevant elective?
ES 150X: Fundamentals of Systems Thinking is available for C -Term!

In this course, students will study all aspects of systems thinking and use these concepts to improve the performance of complex engineering, business, and social systems. Developing systems thinking skills and understanding these cutting edge concepts will provide you a competitive leadership advantage in both your professional and academic careers, especially in your IQPs and MQPs.

Required Background/Pre-requisites:  None
Offered: C-Term 2019-2020 (January-February 2020)
Distribution Requirements Fulfillment: This course can be used toward the Humanities and Arts and Liberal Arts and Engineering elective distribution requirements, and towards the Engineering Science and Design distribution requirement in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering.

Instructor: Dr. Jamie P. Monat, Systems Engineering Professor of Practice.
To Register: See your advisor and register online for CRN 21721 under “Engineering Science.”
Questions? E-Mail 


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