Online Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering


We are now accepting applications for the cohort beginning in August 2024.

The application deadline is June 30, 2024.

Program Description

The online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Engineering is designed to provide students with an advanced academic course of study focused on developing deep expertise in the design, analysis, and management of complex systems. This program is tailored for individuals seeking to conduct groundbreaking research in the field, contributing to the development of innovative methodologies and solutions for systems engineering challenges. The program emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating concepts from engineering, management, and computer science.

Doctoral candidates are expected to undertake significant research projects, culminating in a dissertation that contributes original knowledge or understanding to the field of systems engineering. This research is typically characterized by a strong analytical and problem-solving focus, addressing issues in areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, or environmental systems. Graduates of the program are well-prepared for careers in academia, research institutions, or high-level consultancy roles, where they can apply their expertise to solve complex systems problems, influence policy, or teach the next generation of systems engineers.


The program consists of a minimum of 54 credit hours divided into two stages: the classroom phase (24 credit hours) and the research phase (30 credit hours). During the research phase, the student writes and defends a research on a topic related to Systems Engineering. The topic is selected by the student and approved by the research advising committee.

Learn More About the Courses

EMSE 6420 Uncertainty Analysis in Cost Engineering: Basic skills for building probability models to perform meaningful engineering economic studies, financial feasibility assessments, and cost uncertainty analysis in the planning phase of engineering projects. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 6760 Discrete Systems Simulation: Simulation of discrete stochastic models. Simulation languages. Random-number/ random-variate generation. Statistical design and analysis of experiments, terminating/nonterminating simulations; and comparison of system designs. Input distributions, variance reduction, validation of models. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 6765 Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists: Design of experiments and data collection. Regression, correlation, and prediction. Multivariate analysis, data pooling, data compression. Model validation. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 6807 Advanced Systems Engineering: Analysis of advanced systems engineering topics; system lifecycle models, INCOSE Vision 2025, requirements types and processes, architectural design processes and frameworks, DoDAF artifacts, enterprise architecture and enterprise systems engineering, complex adaptive systems (CAS), modeling languages and SysML, and Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). Applications of systems engineering tools and techniques. EMSE 6817 Model-Based Systems Engineering. Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and its derivative, evidence-based systems engineering (EBSE), are techniques with strong potential for improving the technical integrity of complex systems. The foundation to these model- and research-based techniques for system definition and analysis as applied to life- cycle SE. Practical applications. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 6848 Systems of Systems: Complex systems engineering in terms of systems of systems (SoS); theoretical and practical instances of SoS; application of life cycle systems engineering processes; various types of SoS and the challenges to be faced to ensure their acquisition and technical integrity. (3 credit hours)

EMSE 6850 Quantitative Models in Systems Engineering: Quantitative modeling techniques and their application to decision making in systems engineering. Linear, integer, and nonlinear optimization models. Stochastic models: inventory control, queuing systems, and regression analysis. Elements of Monte Carlo and discrete event system simulation. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 8000 Research Formulation in Systems Engineering: Doctoral seminar designed to give students their first exposure to the process of formulating and executing empirical research. Class format includes discussion, field experiments, data analysis, and theorizing. Study of core concepts in building theory from empirical data and classic works in technically oriented management theory. Participants design and execute a research project. (3 credit hours) 

EMSE 8999 Dissertation Research: Independent research in systems engineering culminating in the writing of the dissertation and successful defense of the Dissertation. (30 credit hours)

Classroom Phase Schedule

Classroom courses last 10 weeks each and meet on Saturday mornings from 9:00 AM—12:00 PM and afternoons from 1:00—4:00 PM (all times Eastern). All classes meet live online through synchronous distance learning technologies (Zoom). All classes are recorded and available for viewing within two hours of the lecture. This program is taught in a cohort format in which students take all courses in lock step. Courses cannot be taken out of sequence, attendance at all class meetings is expected, and students must remain continuously enrolled. Leaves of absence are permitted only in the case of a medical or family emergency, or deployment to active military duty.

Please see below for the dates of our upcoming cohort.

Semester Session #Credit Hours Session Dates
Fall 2024 1 August 24 – October 26, 2024
Fall 2024 2 6 November 9, 2024 – January 25, 2025
Spring  2025 1 6 February 8 – April 12, 2025
Spring 2025 2 6 April 26 – July 12, 2025

No classes on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Fourth of July, and Memorial Day Weekends

Research Phase Schedule

Upon successful completion of the classroom phase, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. and will be registered for a minimum total of 30 credit hours (ch) of EMSE 8999 Dissertation Research: 3 ch in Summer 2025, 6 ch Fall 2025, 6 ch Spring 2026, 3 ch Summer 2026, 6 ch Fall 2026, and 6 ch Spring 2027.  More than 30 credit hours of EMSE 8999 may be approved, depending on the candidate’s progress. Approved candidates will be registered for the standard number of ch per semester of extension.   


Tuition is billed at $1650 per credit hour for the 2024-2025 year. A non-refundable tuition deposit of $995, which is applied to tuition in the first semester, is required when the student accepts admission.


Admissions Process

Review the Admissions Requirements
  • Minimum of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics or a closely related field from recognized institutions.
  • A minimum graduate level GPA of 3.5 A minimum of two college-level calculus courses passed with grades of B- or better
  • Capacity for original scholarship.
  • TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, or PTE scores are required of all applicants who are not citizens of countries where English is the official language. Learn more on the International Student page. Test scores may not be more than two years old.

Note: GRE and GMAT scores are not required.

Please note that our doctoral programs are highly selective; meeting minimum admissions requirements does not guarantee admission. 

Apply for Admission and Submit Supporting Documents

Apply for Admission

  • Attach up-to-date Resume
  • Attach Statement of Purpose – In an essay of 250 words or less, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study at The George Washington University. Describe your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans; and discuss your qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not mentioned.
  • Send Official Transcripts – Official transcripts are required from all institutions where a degree was earned. Transcripts should be sent electronically to [email protected] or via mail to:
    • Online Engineering Programs 
      The George Washington University
      170 Newport Center Drive
      Suite 260
      Newport Beach, CA 92660

Normally all transcripts must be received before an admission decision is rendered for the Doctor of Engineering program. 

Remain Engaged in the Admissions Process

You will receive emails from us updating you as your application goes through the admissions process.

Register for the next Information Session

Live via Zoom
Thu. April 25th, 7:00 pm Eastern

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