Exploration Systems Design (Systems Engineering), MS

At a Glance: program details

Prepare for a professional or academic career through a program that combines the creative strengths of science and engineering. You can study artificial intelligence, human factors engineering, smart materials and structures, and robot modeling with faculty specializing in the natural sciences, instrumentation design and systems engineering.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MS Exploration Systems Design (Systems Engineering)

The MS program in exploration systems design with a concentration in systems engineering promotes the development and growth of engineering-literate scientists and science-literate engineers interested in the design, construction and implementation of next-generation space missions and large projects.

Its distinct curriculum combines science applications with engineering knowledge and skills through engineering and science courses focused on Earth science, space science and astrophysics. The concentration trains students to design the next generation of large projects and space missions for exploration of the Earth, space and the universe.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours including the required capstone course (SES 511)

Required Core (5 credit hours)
SES 501 SESE Colloquium (1)
SES 502 Exploring SESE Research (1)
SES 510 Graduate Exploration Project I (3)

Concentration (9 credit hours)
EGR 530 Principles of Systems Engineering (3)
EGR 608 Advanced Simulation (3)
EGR 611 Complex Engineering Systems (3)
IEE 573 Reliability Engineering (3)
MAE 547 Modeling and Control of Robots (3)
MAE 557 Mechanics of Composite Materials (3)
MAE 565 Rocket Propulsion (3)
MAE 587 Radiation Heat Transfer (3)

Electives or Research (13 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (3 credit hours)
SES 511 Graduate Exploration Project II (3)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students select three courses from the available concentration coursework.

For elective coursework, students select from the AST, GLG, SES or engineering courses in consultation with their faculty advisor. Six credit hours must be science coursework approved by the faculty advisor. Other courses can be used with academic unit approval.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, physical science or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. written statement
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Astronautics)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Mechanical Engineering

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Astrophysics)

Do you want to be at the edge of exploration, making new discoveries about our planet, our solar system and our universe? Explore cosmology, design and build space-flight hardware and engineer new instruments for telescopes and satellites.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Exploration Systems Design)

Cross the boundaries of science and engineering while preparing for a new era of exploration. Learn to build space-flight hardware, engineer solutions to explore extreme environments and take a systems-based approach to scientific discovery.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Aeronautics)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Electrical Engineering (Electrical Power and Energy Systems)

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Autonomous Vehicle Systems)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration

Learn about our planet, solar system and universe by combining science, engineering and education. You could be involved in building space-flight hardware; making astronomical observations; discovering new microbes; exploring volcanoes, oceans and glaciers; investigating Earth climate interactions; and setting the stage for a new era of exploration.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Electrical Engineering

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Geological and Planetary Sciences)

Explore Earth's past, present and future. Study natural hazards, the distribution of critical minerals and the record of Earth system evolution. Apply this knowledge to help find sustainable solutions for the energy and resource needs of human civilization and to mitigate the effects of natural hazards and climate change.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Astrobiology and Biogeosciences)

How do "living worlds" work? Explore the complex connections between life and planetary systems. Learn how astronomy, biology, geology and chemistry combine to shape the habitability of planets and Earth's extreme environments. Discover how to detect life on other planetary bodies or in remote environments on Earth.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
December 1st



Session A/C
In Person
October 1st

Career Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts the economy will add an additional 63,000 jobs in engineering fields related to systems engineering and exploration systems design (involving electrical and electronics, aerospace and mechanical engineering). This is in addition to the 900,000 jobs already existing in the economy in these fields. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/home.htm

The state of Arizona has a considerable presence of aerospace and other technology companies with high demand for skilled labor. In particular, local aerospace companies have a need for students with direct experience and training in the space sector. The concentration in systems engineering is particularly positioned to provide this training.

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.