A student works in a systems engineering lab surrounded by several complex mechanical systems

Systems engineering, PhD

The systems engineering doctoral degree program advances students’ understanding of complex engineering systems. Students will learn how to manage systems that encompass technological, social, cultural and environmental components that impact the input, output and interactions within a system.

Program description

Systems engineering is the art and science of creating systems that meet requirements, often while managing opposing constraints. Systems engineering is a holistic, integrative field. Combined knowledge of several engineering disciplines lead to design and production of balanced, optimized systems.

Modern industrial systems must encompass the technological, environmental, social and cultural components that impact the input, output and interactions within a system. 

The systems engineering PhD program will prepare you to identify, model, analyze, interpret, optimize and manage the multidimensional interactions of modern technological challenges. 

Students will be required to complete a core of five courses, providing the foundation for

  • systems thinking,
  • systems identification,
  • systems modeling,
  • systems design and analysis, and
  • perspective taking.

This program is designed for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a closely related field, and that have demonstrated excellent mathematical aptitude.

Career outlook

Graduates of the systems engineering doctoral program will possess the expertise to advance systems integration of key industry and government sectors. They will also be ready to contribute to the body of knowledge on interdisciplinary methods, techniques and strategies for designing and managing complex systems. 

Applicants who meet the following requirements are eligible to apply.

  • a minimum of a BS in engineering or a closely related discipline from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or from appropriately credentialed institutions in other countries
  • a minimum of 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = A) in the applicable bachelor’s degree

The admission process begins by applying for graduate admission. The application requires that following items must be submitted:

  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose: Submit online a 300- to 500-word statement of purpose describing your motivation and rationale for obtaining a PhD in the Systems Engineering program at Arizona State University and how it relates to your long-term career goals.
  • CV/Resume
  • Official transcripts from each college or university attended.
  • International applicants must also meet the English proficiency requirements, as defined by Graduate Admissions. Please be sure to review the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score requirements, as your application will not be processed without valid proof of English proficiency.

Graduate faculty and funding opportunities

Degree requirements

A minimum of 84 semester credit hours are required for the PhD degree, distributed as follows:

  • A maximum of 30 credit hours of coursework from a previous master’s degree in engineering or a related field may be applied to the PhD.
  • Three core courses, totaling 9 credit hours.
  • One foundation course, totaling 3 credit hours.
  • Additional coursework that is directly in support of the research area. This must total, at a minimum, 15 credit hours.
  • 12 credit hours of EGR 792, Research.
  • 12 credit hours of EGR 799, Dissertation

Application deadlines

August 15 Spring semester (January)
January 15 Fall semester (August)

These are priority deadlines. Applications submitted after this deadline may still be considered.

Core courses

All students enrolled in the PhD in Systems Engineering must complete the following core courses* as early as is reasonable in their program. Students must also complete one course from their foundation area. Additional curriculum details are available in the PhD Systems Engineering program handbook.

  • EGR 602: Principles of Independent Research
  • EGR 608: Advanced Simulation
  • EGR 611: Complex Engineering Systems

If a student needs additional preparation before taking one or more of the core courses the required deficiency courses may not be used as part of the Plan of Study, although the grades received in these courses will be used in computing the overall GPA. Additionally, PhD programs of study are dependent on both the background and the chosen specialization of individual students, and preparation beyond the minimum core requirements is occasionally necessary.