The Clark School offers two systems engineering masters degrees: the Master of Science in Systems Engineering (MSSE) and the Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering (MEngSE), as well as a Graduate Certificate in Engineering (CGEN) in Systems Engineering.

Students in both master's degree programs take the same six core courses, but there are differences in admission requirements, electives, and tuition. For example, the MSSE program may be more attractive for Maryland residents, because in-state tuition rates for the MSSE program are lower than those for the MEngSE program. The MEngSE program may be more attractive for international and out-of-state students, because its tuition is lower than the out-of-state tuition for the MSSE degree.

Note that if a student enters one of the masters programs and later decides they wish to switch to the other program, they may apply to that other program. If accepted, any core systems engineering courses they have taken will transfer to the other program. Credit for electives will be evaluated with respect to the policies of each program. Admission and degree requirements for each program may be found on their respective websites.

Compare the three options:

The Master of Science in Systems Engineering (MSSE) is a research-oriented degree offered through ISR that requires completion of 30 credits (usually 10 courses). The curriculum consists of six core courses that focus on systems engineering processes and methods. Students also select specialty engineering areas and take four elective courses.

In addition, the student completes either a master’s thesis or a scholarly paper that reflects their systems engineering-related research. The student works under the guidance of a faculty advisor on a topic of mutual interest.

Full-time students enrolled in this program are eligible for Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs), MSSE-specific internships, and possibly Teaching Assistantships (TA).  This degree program is particularly well-suited to students who are interested in research and who may be considering the possibility of pursuing a Ph.D. in an engineering-related field. In-state tuition rates for the MSSE program are lower than those for the MEngSE program, which is attractive for Maryland residents.

Learn more about the MSSE degree, its requirements, its options, and how to apply

MSSE tuition and fees

Estimated total program cost

The Graduate Certificate in Engineering in Systems Engineering, offered through the Clark School of Engineering's Office of Advanced Engineering Education, requires completion of four approved courses (12 credits total).

Learn more about the CGEN certificate at the Office of Advanced Engineering website

The Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering (MEngSE) a 30-credit professional degree (usually 10 courses) administered by the Clark School's Office of Advanced Engineering Education. It does not require either a master’s thesis or scholarly paper. It is particularly well-suited for working professionals who are likely to be taking only one or two courses a semester. Students enrolled in this program are not eligible to be GRAs, TAs, or for MSSE-specific internships. Since the MEngSE tuition is lower than out-of-state MSSE tuition, international and out-of-state students may find this program more attractive.

The curriculum consists of six core courses that focus on systems engineering processes and methods. Students also select specialty engineering areas and take four elective courses.

The core processes and methods courses emphasize a model-based systems engineering approach that includes developing and using SysML models and mathematical models and simulations, and using multi-objective trade-off analysis and optimization techniques.

For their specialty area, students may elect to take courses leading to a certificate in aerospace engineering, bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, civil and environmental engineering, cybersecurity, electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering, fire protection, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, project management, reliability engineering, robotics, software engineering, sustainable energy, or transportation systems. Students interested in this approach should consult the “Courses-Certificate” tab associated with domain of interest.

Alternatively, students may define their own specialty focus with the approval of the graduate director. Some possibilities include information technology, network communications and enterprise systems.

Learn more about the MEngSE degree at the Office of Advanced Engineering Education website.

MEngSE tuition and fees

Estimated total program cost

Admission procedure for the Master of Engineering program

General information for students
For more information, contact:

John MacCarthy
Director, Systems Engineering Education Program
The Institute for Systems Research
2175 A.V. Williams Building
Email: jmaccart@umd.edu
Phone: 301.405.4419


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