WPI’s Online Graduate Certificate in Systems Thinking is designed to meet the needs of those students interested in systems engineering education but have undergraduate degrees in non-engineering disciplines. The first program of its kind in the nation, this program will give you the skills and tools you need to develop a deep understanding of underlying structures of dynamic systems and analyze and apply cyclical patterns to solve complex challenges. The interdisciplinary six-course certificate is designed for both engineers and non-engineers who work on creating, monitoring, and deploying innovative products and services.

When a student completes the graduate certificate in systems thinking, they will be able to:

  • Understand how the parts of a dynamic, complex system operate, fit together and interact with its operational environment.
  • Improve performance in complex systems through a better understanding of the complexities and their interactions through modeling and analysis.
  • Develop robust solutions to complex problems through critical thinking and a holistic approach to problem solving.
  • Understand the fundamental dynamics that drive project performance, including the rework cycle and feedback effects, schedule pressure and staffing, and risk management.
  • Ask “What if…?” questions for the causes and effects for the parts, the whole target system, and for the target system functioning in the intended operational environment.


The graduate certificate in systems thinking requires the successful completion of 18 graduate credits for a total of 6 courses. Students must take 4 required courses and 2 breadth courses selected from the School of Business, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, System Dynamics, or Systems Engineering.

Required Courses (4 courses; 12 credits)

  • SYS 501. Concepts of Systems Engineering
  • SYS 540. Introduction to Systems Thinking
  • SD 550. System Dynamics Foundations: Managing Complexity
  • SD 556. Strategic Modeling and Business Dynamics or SD 560. Strategy Dynamics

Breadth Courses (2 courses; 6 credits)

If depth in systems engineering is desired:

  • SYS 502. Business Practices for Systems Engineers
  • SYS 512. Requirements Engineering

If depth in system dynamics is desired:

  • SD 551. Modeling and Experimental Analysis of Complex Problems
  • SD 562. Project Dynamics

If a broader focus is desired:

  • MIS 500. Innovating with Information Systems
  • MIS 576. Project Management
  • OBC 505. Teaming and Organizing for Innovation
  • OBC 537. Leading Change

See current course schedules for Systems Engineering availability online. 

Software used in this program: Vensim DSS, Sysdea, Mystrategy Simulation Tool

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Systems Thinking

An Enabler for Innovation [eBook] by Dr. Thomas Gannon and Dr. Jamie Monat.

Engineering Education: The Systems Approach

Discover how the systems approach can be used in any industry through three on-demand webinars.



Download our webinar to learn more about this program.