The Best Schools Systems Science and Engineering Programs

Systems engineers tend to work in technical and human-based engineering industries as the interface between customers, companies, and management in general and specialty engineers. Smart buildings, global networks, and autonomous robotics are all examples of systems that system engineers develop and manage. Systems engineers work in manufacturing, finance, consulting, healthcare, and so many more industries. It’s a critical role within the engineering world and thus necessitates a particular kind of person with specific skills, such as reliability, ability to organize large sets of data and information, management of various teams, and knowledge in testing, design, and risk management. While systems engineers have a solid foundation of knowledge in the engineering sciences, a significant amount of the focus is more big-picture.  

Georgia Institute of Technology

The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering offers a BS in Industrial Engineering. A lot of the coursework ties back to how engineers and businesses work together, so business is certainly a significant aspect to the degree and is incorporated throughout the program. Concentrations include: economics and financial systems; general industrial engineering; operations research; quality and statistics; and supply chain engineering. Each concentration has various sub-focuses for students to choose from to enable students to become an expert in their particular area of interest.


The Management Science and Engineering undergraduate BS degree at Stanford is an incredibly competitive and highly-regarded program. The core courses span the fundamentals of accounting, computer science, economics, organization theory, and deterministic optimization. Every student completes a capstone research project their senior year. Every student focuses in one of the following three areas: finance and decision; operations and analytics; and organizations, technology, and policy. Career paths are varied and diverse, ranging from investment banking and public policy to operations research or graduate school in industrial engineering.

 University of Pennsylvania

The Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at Penn Engineering offers a BSE (Bachelor of Science in Engineering) in Systems Science and Engineering (SSE). To complete the program, students must complete a minimum of 40 course units. Students are also required to complete a Societal Application Elective so that SSE majors can visualize the results of their degree at a societal scale and use their skills accordingly. You choose an elective from one or more of the following categories: biological systems; climate; energy; quantitative modeling; city planning; transportation; chemical processing; communications; robotics; and machine intelligence. This program seeks to train its students in being effective developers and managers of whole systems, ranging from electrical and information systems to economic, finance, telecommunications, environmental systems, and more.  

Washington University-St. Louis

The undergraduate degree division of The Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & System Engineering offers two BS degrees: a BS in Systems Science & Engineering and a less conventional BS in Applied Science (Systems Science & Engineering). To pursue either, students must complete many of the same courses, but the latter degree program is aimed at students who are looking for a significant amount of flexibility in their education. It is often useful for those who want to double major in math, physics, or economics. Students can also take up to 18 elective courses in the humanities.

University of Virginia

UVA’s undergraduate systems engineer program is more competitive and more flexible with its curriculum than many other engineering degrees offered through the university. The areas of focus include: chemical & biomedical systems; civil, environmental & infrastructure systems; control & mechanical systems; design integration; economic systems; electrical and computer engineering systems; human factors; mathematical systems; software and information systems; and student designed application sequence (customized proposal). Students take 9 “unrestricted elective” credits, 9 elective credits focused on one application area, and 6 technical elective credits. The capstone senior research project is completed with a small team and are paired with an advisor to create a solution to an open-ended design problem.

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