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Systems Science PhD Program

Program Overview

In 1970, a Systems Science Ph.D. Program was established at Portland State University. The Program encompasses both applications and theory-oriented aspects of the field. It is designed to prepare students for professional practice in industrial, governmental, and public service organizations and for research and teaching in academic institutions.

A number of departments participate in the Program (see Participating Department list). In addition to the systems courses offered by these departments, the Systems Science core faculty offer a variety of systems courses (see Systems Science Course list).

Degree Requirements

There are two options for study in the Systems Science Program.

Departmental Option:

The student undertakes advanced academic preparation primarily in a single department or school. Discipline-oriented studies are supported by systems coursework and lead to research on a systems-related topic. This option is currently available in the above listed departments, and in the School of Business Administration.

Core Option:

The student pursues interdisciplinary studies with a stronger emphasis on systems course work. Examples of subject areas appropriate to such a program are: intelligent systems; information, structure and dynamics; organizations, decision-making and optimization; modeling and simulation; systems philosophy; systems approach; and related topics in the study of complex systems.

Both of the options facilitate the design of curricula which are individually tailored to the needs and interests of students.

There is now a multidisciplinary track within the Core Option.



Each participating department has its own prerequisites, but they all include minima for undergraduate GPA, graduate test scores (GRE, GMAT), letters of recommendation, and a statement of personal goals is required with admission paperwork. While not prerequisites for admission, the following comprise recommended technical background for the program.

  • Calculus up to and including simple ODE's.
  • Statistics, including introductory multivariate.
  • Programming at introductory level.
  • Linear algebra at introductory level.

Download the application to the PhD Program (PDF)