Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Systems Engineering?

We have adopted the International Council of Systems Engineering’s (INCOSE) paradigm, philosophy and definition of Systems Engineering: https://www.incose.org/about-systems-engineering/system-and-se-definition/systems-engineering-definition.

Systems Engineeringis a transdisciplinary and integrative approach to enable the successful realization, use, and retirement of engineered systems, using systems principles and concepts, and scientific, technological, and management methods.

Systems Engineering focuses on:

establishing, balancing and integrating stakeholders’ goals, purpose and success criteria, and defining actual or anticipated customer needs, operational concept and required functionality, starting early in the development cycle;

  • SEE 510 | Introduction to Systems Engineering

establishing an appropriate lifecycle model, process approach and governance structures, considering the levels of complexity, uncertainty, change, and variety;

  • SEE 570 | Complex Systems Architecture
  • SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems

generating and evaluating alternative solution concepts and architectures;

  • SEE 550 | Modeling and Simulation
  • SEE 560 | Model Based Systems Engineering;
  • SEE 570 | Complex Systems Architecture

baselining and modelling requirements and selected solution architecture for each phase of the endeavor;

  • SEE 550 | Modeling and Simulation
  • SEE 560 | Model-Based Systems Engineering

performing design synthesis and system verification and validation;

  • SEE 550 | Modeling and Simulation
  • SEE 560 | Model Based Systems Engineering
  • SEE 570 | Complex Systems Architecture
  • SEE 580 | System-of-Systems Engineering
  • SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems

while considering both the problem and solution domains, taking into account necessary enabling systems and services, identifying the role that the parts and the relationships between the parts play with respect to the overall behavior and performance of the system, and determining how to balance all of these factors to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

  • SEE 570 | Complex Systems Architecture
  • SEE 580 | System-of-Systems Engineering
  • SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems

Systems Engineering provides facilitation, guidance and leadership to integrate the relevant disciplines and specialty groups into a cohesive effort, forming an appropriately structured development process that proceeds from concept to production, operation, evolution and eventual disposal.

  • SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems

Systems Engineering considers both the business and the technical needs of customers with the goal of providing a quality solution that meets the needs of users and other stakeholders, is fit for the intended purpose in real-world operation, and avoids or minimizes adverse unintended consequences.

  • SEE 510 | Introduction to Systems Engineering
  • SEE 530 | Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering
  • SEE 540 | Economic Factors in Systems Engineering

The goal of all Systems Engineering activities is to manage risk, including the risk of not delivering what the customer wants and needs, the risk of late delivery, the risk of excess cost, and the risk of negative unintended consequences. One measure of utility of Systems Engineering activities is the degree to which such risk is reduced. Conversely, a measure of acceptability of absence of a System Engineering activity is the level of excess risk incurred as a result.

  • SEE 520 | Analytics in Systems Engineering
  • SEE 530 | Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering
  • SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems
Do I have the right background to be successful in the MSSE program?

The CSUDH Master of Science in Systems Engineering degree program has been designed to meet the needs of new graduates, early career professionals as well as to seasoned practitioners from diverse STEM disciplines and engineering specialties. Systems engineering draws upon the knowledge, skills and abilities of professionals with undergraduate training in a variety of fields including: all engineering disciplines, business, biology, chemistry, computer science, computer technology, earth science, environmental studies, geography, information technology, logistics, mathematics and physics.

Systems Engineering principles, processes, methodologies and tools have been implemented in nearly every field, including:

  • Automotive Design and Manufacturing
  • Biotechnology
  • Counter-Terrorism
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Defense
  • Environmental/Green Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Homeland Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Next Generation Farming
  • Oil & Gas
  • Power & Energy Systems
  • Safety/Security Engineering
  • Social Network Systems Architecture
  • Space Systems
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
What are the MSSE admission requirements?
  • A STEM-focused bachelor’s degree from a fully accredited institution.
  • Good standing at the last institution attended.
  • A grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5 on the last degree completed or at least 5 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted.

Depending on the type of the undergraduate degree held, the applicants may be admitted with either a classified or conditional admission status.

Classified Admission: In order to be admitted with a classified status, the applicant must meet all general admission requirements and hold a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field.

Conditional Admission: Applicants holding bachelor’s degrees in the fields not related to STEM may be considered for a conditional admission and may have to fulfill additional requirements before they attain a classified status. These additional requirements will be determined by evaluating applicant’s transcripts and work-related experience. The student must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.0 during the first semester of attendance.

Graduate applicants, regardless of citizenship, who do not possess a bachelor's degree from a post-secondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction or who have not attended schools at the secondary level or above for at least three years full-time where English is the principal language of instruction must present one of the following:

  • A minimum score of 80 on the internet-based TOEFL exam (iBT),
  • A minimum score of 213 on the computer-based TOEFL exam
  • A score of 6.5 or higher on the IELTS Academic Test, or
  • A score of 53 or higher on the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

Note: the GRE is not required as this is a professional graduate program. Our workforce partners have suggested that graduate exams provide little insight into an applicant’s ability to perform practical applications.

Graduate applicants who have met all admission requirements except English Proficiency may apply for conditional admission through the CSUDH American Language and Culture Program (ALCP). Once they have improved their English skills and pass TOEFL/IELTS OR qualify for an ALCP English Proficiency Waiver, they can start their degree program.

How long will it take to complete the MSSE program?

The program is a 21-month accelerated program completed in 5 consecutive semesters: fall-spring-summer-fall-spring. It is cohort-based so you will progress through the curriculum with the same set of peers. This allows you to establish study groups, project-teams and domain-centric learning communities. Students must take courses according to this schedule. It cannot be altered. Lectures are recorded so that students can review them at a time that is convenient for them. Each week, students contribute to the course discussion board. 

The table below details the 5-semester study plan.

Semester 1SEE 501 | Systems Engineering Project Phase I (1)
SEE 510 | Introduction to Systems Engineering (3)
SEE 540 | Economic Factors in Systems Engineering (3)
Semester 2SEE 502 | Systems Engineering Project Phase II (1)
SEE 530 | Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering (3)
SEE 570 | Complex Systems Architecture (3)
Semester 3SEE 503 | Systems Engineering Project Phase III (1)
SEE 550 | Modeling and Simulation (3)
SEE 560 | Model Based Systems Engineering (3)
Semester 4SEE 504 | Systems Engineering Project Phase IV (1)
SEE 520 | Analytics in Systems Engineering (3)
SEE 580 | Systems-of-Systems Engineering (3)
Semester 5SEE 585 | Engineering Complex Systems (3)
SEE 590 | Master’s Thesis (3)
How much does the program cost?

The program currently costs $495 per unit. The 34-unit Master’s program costs $16,830.


We estimate that textbooks will cost approximately $200 per course.

Other Fees

Admissions Application Fee: $70

Graduate Writing Exam Application Fee: $35

Graduation Fee: $85

Total: Approximately $20,000

Will I have to write a Master’s thesis?

Because this program is a Professional/Practitioner’s curriculum, you will develop a culminating project that demonstrates your mastery of the program concepts. We have carefully designed this component so that you are able to complete it within 1 or 2 semesters.

Students in other degree programs may not begin to develop their projects/theses until the end of their curriculum. We have developed a model that allows you to incrementally develop your project. Each semester you enroll in a 1-unit course entitled Systems Engineering Project Phase (I, II, III, and IV). The product of each of these courses corresponds to a chapter in your project report. You will find that your project develops organically and that each component builds upon work completed during the previous term.

You will enroll in SEE 501 (Systems Engineering Project Phase I) during your first semester. This course introduces you to the Systems Engineering core body of knowledge and its application to several domains and industries through case studies. This course will help you to identify one or two areas that interest you. The next-semester you enroll in SEE 502 (Systems Engineering Project Phase II) which introduces you to the problems, processes, tools and methodologies used in Systems Engineering. This will help you to determine the specific problem and methodology that you wish to investigate. In SEE 503 (Systems Engineering Project Phase III), you will perform a literature review of the approaches that have been applied to the problem that interests you. Lastly, in SEE 504 (Systems Engineering Project Phase IV), you will develop a detailed project proposal that outlines your chosen project, methodology, tools, schedule, project milestones and project deliverable(s). The proposal will also include your literature review. Your proposal should identify the members of your committee. During your last semester, you will execute the plan outlined in your SEE 504 project proposal.

This approach, called the incrementally-developed capstone project, has been developed to streamline the process and reduce the stress associated with the development of a culminating project. We feel that it is well-suited for learners who are fully-employed.

How much interaction will I have with my instructors and classmates in an online program?

The program design requires more interaction than many traditional face-to-face programs. Students are required to interact with classmates and the instructor at least twice each week via Discussion Questions (DQ’s). DQ’s provide a forum for students to share perspectives relative to their professional domain or academic discipline. Students are required to contribute to at least 2 online discussions each week; each posting must consist of at least a five-sentence paragraph. Postings will be graded and factored into the semester grade.

I have to travel frequently/on short notice. Am I a good candidate for this program?

Our philosophy was to develop a practitioner’s degree program that mirrors the conditions in today’s innovation environment. The design of engineered systems is often supported by geographically-dispersed stakeholders from diverse engineering disciplines, employed by different organizations, who may use different terminology and systems of measurement. The online, asynchronous modality selected for this curriculum mirrors these interactions and prepares students for more effective collaborations in the workplace.

Lectures will be recorded, thus allowing students the flexibility of tailoring their learning environment/schedule to their personal and professional needs. In most courses, Engineering Design Challenges (EDC) will be administered in lieu of conventional exams because they allow the student the opportunity to respond to realistic technical,operational and financial challenges under conditions that are similar to those in a professional environment.

What happens if I need to take time off from the program?

You should schedule an appointment with the Program Coordinator who will help you to develop a plan for resuming your studies.

Is the CSUDH MSSE program accredited?

There are two types of accreditation: regional (WSCUS), and discipline-specific (ABET).

Most employers do not recognize undergraduate degrees that have not undergone regional accreditation, and prefer those from ABET-accredited programs. While ABET accreditation is essential for undergraduate STEM degrees, it is not required, expected or even typical for graduate programs. 

According to the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET), there are only 49 ABET-accredited graduate programs in the world - in any STEM discipline (see https://amspub.abet.org/aps/category-search?degreeLevels=M). Although there are over 100 graduate programs in Industrial/Systems Engineering in the United States, only 3 are ABET-accredited (https://amspub.abet.org/aps/category-search?disciplines=73&degreeLevels=M&historical=true).

Our program has undergone special accreditation review by WSCUS, which provides regional accreditation. Academic programs cannot be considered for ABET accreditation until after the first cohort has completed the curriculum. Our program will welcome its first cohort in Fall 2020, and so is not yet eligible for ABET review.