Top Schools for Systems Engineering

Oct 20, 2021

Find out which top schools offer programs in systems engineering, an interdisciplinary field concerned with the technical and management aspects of multifaceted engineering projects. Review summaries of four top universities, as well as an overview of other schools in the U.S. with systems engineering programs.

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School Information

Systems engineering is a wide-ranging field that combines studies in production systems planning and operations, quality control and engineering, project management and economics. Many schools combine systems engineering with industrial engineering because the two fields are quite similar.

Students who are interested in systems engineering can find exceptional programs at four national universities: Cornell University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and California Institute of Technology. Each of these schools was highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2020.

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

Cornell University's systems engineering department has a Six Sigma black belt certificate program.

Cornell University is a 4-year private school that U.S. News & World Report ranked tied at 17th among national universities in 2020. The university also tied at 9th among undergraduate engineering schools offering doctoral programs in 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report. At the school, students can earn a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering, either on-campus or online. Areas of specialization include environmental, chemical or software engineering. Several certificate programs are also available, such as the Cornell-Carnegie Mellon joint certificate in systems and software engineering.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign

The University of Illinois' engineering campus houses the largest engineering library in the U.S.

As ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2020, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tied at 6th-best undergraduate engineering program among schools offering a doctorate, as well as tied at 10th among graduate engineering programs. In the same survey, the school placed in the top ten for nearly every engineering specialty area.

Through the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, students can pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in industrial engineering. The school also offers a study abroad engineering program, which provides students with opportunities in over 50 countries.

University of Southern California in Los Angeles

The University of Southern California's School of Engineering offers graduate programs in systems engineering to employees at Boeing, Delphi, SAIC and United Technologies.

The University of Southern California (USC) ranked 22th among national universities in 2020, as well as 9th for its graduate engineering program in 2020, as designated by U.S. News & World Report.

Individual courses of study at the systems architecting and engineering (SAE) program can lead to a graduate certificate, master's degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The SAE program teaches students how to design and implement complex systems that can be used in healthcare, defense, space, transportation and homeland security. A graduate certificate in network-centric systems is also available.

California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA

California Institute of Technology's Center for Technology and Management Education offers several systems engineering certificate programs. There are both certificate programs and short courses in systems engineering, available through California Institute of Technology.

For beginners, a Systems Engineering Fundamentals Certificate is offered, while the Advanced Systems Engineering Certificate program can meet the needs of students with experience in the field. Short course options include Systems Engineering Executive Overview, Systems Engineering for Product Development and Systems Thinking.

For 2020, the school was tied at 12th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

Top Systems Engineering Schools

Let's take a look at a few other schools that offer great systems engineering programs:

School Name Distinction Location
Georgia Institute of Technology School of Industrial and Systems Engineering ranked first for it's industrial/manufacturing/systems engineering program by U.S. News & World Report for 2020 Atlanta, GA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research conducted by the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals defines the fundamentals taught in doctoral programs Cambridge, MA
Stanford University Research at the Department of Management Science and Engineering focuses on decision analysis, economics, strategy and policy, systems modeling and operations management, among other areas Stanford, CA
University of Pennsylvania Research conducted by the electrical and systems engineering faculty emphasizes nanosystems and nanodevices, among others Philadelphia, PA
University of Wisconsin - Madison Faculty research at the Industrial and Systems Engineering department includes topics in manufacturing and production systems, human factors and ergonomics, decision science, health systems and quality engineering Madison, WI
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Students in the College of Engineering can pursue a dual master's degree program with Ecole des Mines de Nantes in France Blacksburg, VA

For students interested in the interdisciplinary field of systems engineering, full degree, certificate and standalone courses are available from top schools.

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