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.


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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 Foundation: 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 a broader focus is desired:

See current course schedules for Systems Engineering availability online. 

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


All undergraduate disciplines will be considered for the online certificate in systems thinking.


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.

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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.