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Systems Science Masters Program

Program Overview

The Systems Science M.S. program emphasizes the systems theories and methodologies taught in the current Systems Science Ph.D. Program. Students choose a combination of Systems Science courses plus approved courses in associated disciplines. Concentration areas include (but are not limited to) the faculty research areas. Upon completion of the program, students will understand a wide variety of systems ideas, be able to use them in modeling and analysis, be able to tap methods and ideas from a variety of disciplines, and will gain expertise in problem solving and in being integrative thinkers.


1. Admission is based on the applicant's academic transcript, 2 letters of recommendation, a statement of interests and objectives, and other background material considered individually by an admissions committee, in line with general University admission policies. The GPA requirement is 3.0 for undergraduate and 3.0 for graduate. GRE/GMAT scores are recommended but not required. Students admitted to the Ph.D. Program (either Option) need to submit a GO19D to be admitted to the Master's program.

2. Advising. At the time the decision to admit is made, the Director assigns the student an adviser who will assist the student in planning a program of study and research. The adviser is responsible for assisting the student in his/her program up to the point that the Comprehensive Examination Committee (CEC) or Thesis Committee is appointed. At that time, the Chair of the CEC, or the Chair of the Thesis Committee becomes the student's adviser.

Degree Requirements

To be granted an M.S. degree, students must meet the requirements below and submit the necessary Graduate Office forms. The minimum credit hours required is 45, including at least 1 credit (maximum of 3 credits) of SySc 507 Seminar (with a Pass grade). All students will be required to complete at least 24 credits of graded courses (Pass/No Pass courses are not applicable) listed with an SYSC prefix, including 510/610 courses. The Master's program has two options: Thesis Option and Non-Thesis Option. Note: There is a seven-year limit imposed by the University on courses for masters degree (this is not true for Ph.D.).


Students must take 12 additional credits of Systems Science courses and/or approved courses from other departments (see document entitled, "Approved Resource Courses for the Master of Science Program in Systems Science"); and 9 thesis credits.

A student selecting the thesis option must form a thesis committee of at least 3 faculty members (two committee members must be Systems Science core faculty; the third member may be either from Systems Science or from another PSU department, and exceptions may be possible), and pass an oral thesis defense. The thesis committee must be appointed by Graduate Studies, with the GO-16M form. The committee may ask the student to prepare a thesis proposal. The student finishes the thesis and, when approved by the committee, submits an Abstract of the thesis to SySc, and it is sent it out to the graduate student listserve and the faculty listserve (this is the Notice of Thesis Defense). After the thesis is publicly defended and the student has made any necessary changes, the student gives a copy of the final thesis, printed on thesis paper, to the SySc office. SySc will have it bound and added to the SySc Library.

Non-Thesis Option

Students must take 21 additional credits of Systems Science courses and/or approved courses from other departments (see document entitled, "Approved Resource Courses for the Master of Science Program in Systems Science"). We will allow a maximum of 4 by-arrangement credit hours towards the 45 credits for a Systems Science Master's degree, for the non-thesis option only.

A student selecting the non-thesis option will be required to pass two written comprehensive exams, covering 32 credit hours of coursework, each of which must cover a minimum of 15 credit hours. One of the examiners must be a Systems Science core faculty. (Students admitted to the Ph.D. Program who pass at least two of their comprehensive exams, one of which is a Core SySc exam, meet this requirement automatically.) The oral exam for the Master's degree is held only if the student gets a marginal on one of the two written comprehensive exams. If the student does not pass both written exams, the other possible scenarios are:

  • 2 fails = No retake option (removes exam option from consideration)
  • 1 fail, 1 marginal = retake both exams
  • 2 marginals = retake both exams
  • 1 marginal, 1 pass = retake marginal


Completing the Degree

When the student has completed all requirements for the degree (in the final term) he/she applies for graduation at the Graduate Studies website:

The SySc office prepares the GO-17M for the student.  The student is not allowed to transmit the GO-17M once any signatures are on it.

All application for graduation deadlines are on the Graduate Studies website: