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Systems Engineering Master’s Degree Program

Master the skills you need to design and manage complex information systems.

  • Online Courses

    11 out of 12 total courses

  • On-Campus Experience

    1 weekend or one 3-week summer course

  • Tuition

    $3,340 per course

  • Next Start Term

    Fall 2024

Program Overview

From building e-commerce platforms to managing large-scale databases, systems engineers play a critical role in a variety of industries. Many organizations are seeking this type of expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information systems managers are expected to see 16 percent job growth in the next several years — faster than average for all occupations.

In our systems engineering degree program, you’ll build the skills to succeed in this in-demand field. Our curriculum covers a broad range of topics, including cloud infrastructure, multitier servers and applications, enterprise architecture, database management, and communication networks.

Program Benefits

  • Map with a flag.

    Customizable online curriculum with stackable certificates

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    Expert instruction from Harvard faculty and industry professionals

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Personalized academic and career advising

  • Four people around a globe.

    Real-world capstone experience with industry partners

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Entrepreneurial opportunities through Harvard Innovation Labs

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Harvard Alumni Association membership upon graduation

Customizable Course Curriculum

Our curriculum is flexible in pace and customizable by design. You can study part-time, choosing courses that fit your schedule and align with your career goals. In the program, you’ll experience the convenience of online learning and the immersive benefits of learning in person.

As you work through the 12-course program, you’ll take core and elective systems engineering courses in a broad range of topics, including systems analysis and design, database management systems, enterprise architecture, cloud computing and infrastructure, and information technology management.

Learning is hands-on. Classes feature collaborative activities like online discussions and group projects. Through your capstone project, you will have the opportunity to work innovatively and creatively, applying the skills you’ve gained to a real-world challenge.

11 Online Courses

  • Primarily asynchronous
  • Fall, spring, January session, and summer options

On-Campus Experience

You complete 1 course in person, IT Management, choosing an accelerated or standard pace:

  • An online course with an intensive weekend on campus in fall or spring
  • A 3-week summer session


Capstone Project

Collaborate with peers and an industry partner on a project that addresses a real-world challenge.


The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program.

First, you’ll register for and complete 2 required courses, earning at least a B in each. These foundational courses are investments in your studies, counting toward your degree.

Next Start Term: Fall 2024

Course registration is open July 22–August 29.

To get started, explore degree requirements, confirm your initial eligibility, and learn more about our unique “earn your way in” admissions process.

Earning a Stackable Certificate

As you work your way toward your master’s degree after admission, you can take courses that also count — or “stack” — toward a graduate or microcertificate. It’s a cost-effective, time-saving opportunity to build specialized skills and earn more professional credentials.

Stackable graduate certificates include:

Stackable microcertificates include:

A Faculty of Systems Engineering Experts

Studying at Harvard Extension School means learning from the world’s best. Our instructors are experts in cloud computing, enterprise architecture, data mining, cybersecurity, and more. They bring a genuine passion for teaching, with students giving our faculty an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.

Featured Faculty

Our Community at a Glance

Our students in the Systems Engineering Master’s Degree Program are established technology professionals looking to deepen their expertise and advance their careers. Nearly all — 90% — have professional experience in the field and work across various industries, including finance, IT, healthcare, and education.

Download: Systems Engineering Master's Degree Fact Sheet

  • 37

    Average Age

  • 90%

    Work Full Time

  • 97%

    Would Recommend the Program

  • Most

    Pursue Degree for Career Advancement

degree earners at Harvard Extension School commencement

Careers Opportunities & Alumni Outcomes

Graduates of our Systems Engineering Master’s Program (formerly the Information Management Systems Program) are well-prepared for careers in systems engineering, digital transformation, IT management, cloud computing, database administration, and enterprise architecture.

They work in a variety of fields, including defense and aerospace, healthcare, IT services, and management consulting. Some alumni continue their educational journeys and pursue PhDs in other nationally ranked degree programs.

Sample alumni job titles:

  • IT Manager
  • Salesforce Architect
  • Director of Software Engineering
  • SQA Manager
  • Systems Administrator

Sample employers of our alumni:

  • Adobe
  • AIG
  • Cisco
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Merkle
  • Philips
  • Raytheon

Career Advising and Mentorship

Whatever your career goals, we’re here to support you. Harvard’s Mignone Center for Career Success offers career advising, employment opportunities, Harvard alumni mentor connections, and career fairs like the Harvard Startup Career Fair and the Data Analytics, Science, and Technology Fair held on campus.

Your Harvard University Degree

Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will earn the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Systems Engineering.

Expand Your Connections: the Harvard Alumni Network

As a graduate, you’ll become a member of the worldwide Harvard Alumni Association (400,000+ members) and Harvard Extension Alumni Association (29,000+ members).

Frank Vounasis.
My courses at Harvard instilled in me the confidence to differentiate myself — and they undeniably did; I found myself working in the cybersecurity field even before completing my certificate!
Frank Vounasis
Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in the field of Systems Engineering, ’25; Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity, ‘23

Tuition & Financial Aid

Affordability is core to our mission. When compared to our continuing education peers, it’s a fraction of the cost.

Our Course Tuition (2024–25 rate) $3,340 per course
Average Course Tuition of Peer Institutions $4,330 per course
Average Total Program Cost $40,080

After admission, you may qualify for financial aid. Typically, eligible students receive grant funds to cover a portion of tuition costs each term, in addition to federal financial aid options.

Learn more about the cost of attendance.

Coffee Chat: All About Technology Programs at HES

Are you interested in learning more about technology graduate degree programs at Harvard Extension School? Attendees joined us for an informational webinar where they had the opportunity to connect with the program director, academic advisor, and alumni.

Watch the Webinar


How do I know if the systems engineering master’s program is right for me?

This is an advanced degree program, so it is helpful to have an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, mathematics, information technology, information security, data analytics, data science, or management information systems.

You should also have some work experience in a technical field, such as database management or IT project management. In addition to possessing strong technical skills and a good understanding of computer systems, you should have strong problem-solving and communication skills and an ability to work well with people at all levels of an organization.

How will the systems engineering master’s program help me advance in my career?

A graduate degree in systems engineering will provide you with an advanced understanding of the field and help you develop the skills and knowledge required to design and manage complex systems, analyze data, and develop solutions to real-world problems.

Many employers prefer — or even require — candidates with advanced degrees for higher-level roles. If you aspire to become a leader in your organization, a master’s degree in systems engineering may be essential for advancing your career.

How long will it take me to complete the program?

Program length is ordinarily anywhere between 2 and 5 years. It depends on your preferred pace and the number of courses you want to take each semester.

For an accelerated journey, we offer year round study, where you can take courses in fall, January, spring, and summer.

While we don’t require you to register for a certain number of courses each semester, you cannot take longer than 5 years to complete the degree.