We put this FAQ page together to help answer the most common questions new students have about the traditional master’s program. Please read this page to become acquainted with the program. We also invite you to view our traditional master’s, program overview and degree plan pages. If you have further questions, we invite you to contact us.
What is systems engineering and what is the MS in Systems Engineering and Management (SEM) about?
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the design, modeling, interconnection and management of large complex systems. In addition to the methods of traditional engineering, systems engineering relies on skills and expertise in areas such as optimization, simulation, economics and finance, risk management and decision making under uncertainty. These skills come together to address the challenges of designing and managing complex interconnected systems, ranging from an automobile or an airplane to communication systems, financial markets, the power grid, and many more.
The Master’s in Systems Engineering and Management (MS-SEM) program is delivered through an equal partnership between the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Naveen Jindal School of Management. The program focuses on educating students in the broad disciplines of Systems Engineering and Systems Management. Focused concentrations appealing to various industrial applications include: aerospace, defense and space systems; transportation systems; information and communications technology systems; information assurance and cybersecurity systems; health care systems; energy, environment and infrastructure systems; complex biological systems; and macro-economic and financial systems. Faculty for the primary SEM courses are drawn from both the engineering and management schools; faculty from other UT Dallas schools, and industry leaders with expertise in specific fields teach other courses as appropriate.
What are the admissions requirements, and how do I apply for the MS-SEM program?
For admissions requirements and the application process for the MS-SEM program please click here.
What undergraduate degree do I need to have to apply to the MS-SEM program?
If you have an undergraduate degree in engineering, physics, chemistry, math, economics or finance, you may have an adequate background in math to enter the program. If your math background does not include at least one year of calculus, a course in linear algebra, and a course in probability and statistics, you may need to strengthen your math skills with leveling courses.
What quantitative skills are required?
Students are expected to have taken calculus, statistics and linear algebra. Many MS-SEM engineering courses are quantitatively oriented, and students with less aptitude and education in quantitative methods are at a disadvantage.
Where can I find more details on the tracks and courses?
How long does it usually take to complete the MS-SEM program?
The MS-SEM is a 36-credit-hour program, excluding prerequisites. It usually takes three semesters to complete the program at 12 hours per semester. It is possible to complete the program in one calendar year if desired courses are available in the summer, but the course load will be heavy and challenging. Some students enroll on a part-time basis and take longer to complete the program.
Do I need to have work experience to apply to the MS-SEM program?
Work experience is not required for students in the traditional MS-SEM program.
I am from a foreign country. Can I be accepted into the MS-SEM program?
Yes, we have many international students from many countries, and our faculty is also international. However, international students must have student visas, are required to carry a minimum course load of nine credit hours in the fall and spring semesters and must follow international student guidelines, as outlined by UT Dallas International Student Services.
Is financial aid available?
For students in the traditional MS-SEM program, a limited number of Dean’s Scholarships are available, offering $1,000 and qualification for in-state tuition. For a list of available scholarships, see the JSOM Graduate Scholarships page.
The “Fast Track to SEM Scholarship” is available only to UT Dallas undergraduates, and offers $1,000 per semester in Graduate School, up to $3000.
All students can find more information at Financial Aid for the SEM Program.
Are there any areas of concentration in the MS-SEM program?
Students can concentrate in several areas indicated on the SEM Concentrations page. Concentrations are designed to provide the optimal set of courses to prepare for specific careers in SEM, in specific industries or industry sectors.
Do I have to declare a concentration to receive my degree?
No. You must complete a minimum of 12 courses (36 credit hours) to earn an MS-SEM degree. All can be core courses, or you can take a minimum of four courses (12 credit hours) in a concentration while still satisfying your core-course requirements. Your concentration will not appear on your diploma.
What are the course requirements for each concentration?
Typical courses appropriate for each concentration are listed at SEM Concentrations. You can discuss alternatives with your adviser.
What kind of careers can I look forward to, and what employers hire MS-SEM graduates?
There are many career paths in SEM. See Career Path in SEM for examples.
Are there any online classes for the MS-SEM degree?
Some classes are available online, and we will be looking into expanding the number of offerings in the future.
I am a transfer student. Can I transfer some of my graduate courses from my previous university?
Transfer credits may be granted for equivalent graduate course work completed at other accredited universities with a grade of B or better within the past six years. Up to nine credit hours of course work from other universities may be transferred to the degree program, but they must fit into the MS-SEM program and must be approved first by the Advising Office, then by the relevant faculty member for the course for which equivalence is being sought, and then by the director of the MS-SEM program. Applications are available in the Advising Office.
Can I receive transfer credit for undergraduate courses that cover the same material as your graduate courses?
No. However, you may apply for a waiver of one or more of the core courses.
What is a waiver?
A waiver allows the student to skip a core course and enroll in a more advanced course in its place. Waivers of up to three courses may be granted in recognition of previous coursework completed with a grade of B or better within the past six years. Applications are available in the Advising Office and must be approved by the director of the MS-SEM program. Waivers are usually discouraged because graduate courses are typically deeper and broader in coverage than their undergraduate counterparts. Further, expectations are higher and competition is much stronger. Typically, the student is expected to have completed two undergraduate courses with similar content to receive a waiver of a graduate course.
Can courses be taken at other institutions after enrolling in the UT Dallas SEM graduate program?
Students officially admitted to the UT Dallas MS-SEM graduate program must obtain prior approval before taking any courses at another university. The resultant transfer hours may be denied if prior approval is not obtained. See the Advising Office for details on applying for pre-approvals.
Can I get credit for an internship?
There is no formal internship within the MS-SEM program. However, the Career Center can help traditional students craft an internship for credit.
Are joint degrees available?
Yes. Students can enroll in the MS-SEM and MBA programs concurrently and can complete the dual MS-SEM and MBA program with as few as 63 credit hours. Find more information at MS and MBA. Careful planning is required, and we recommend you first consult your MS-SEM adviser.
What are the faculty’s credentials?
Most faculty members have doctorates from top-tier graduate schools and have published research in leading academic and practitioner journals. Several faculty members also have had extensive work experience in industry and consulting.