Graduate Program Systems Science

PSU systems science undergraduate students working on a laptop computer

Systems Science Master's Degree and Doctorate Overview

In today's increasingly complex world, PSU's masters and doctorate degrees in systems science prepare you to understand and address high-impact problems that have proven resistant to traditional problem-solving methods.

Systems ideas and methods support innovative approaches to areas as diverse as climate and environmental science, urban studies, energy, transportation, education, public health, management, finance, national security, and engineering. These ideas and methods also promote creativity and productivity in the full range of intellectual pursuits taken up in academia.

In our program, you will develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, learn a rich set of concepts, theories, and methods for understanding complex systems, and enhance your research, decision-making, and leadership abilities.

We offer the only Systems Science program in the State of Oregon, and our alumni have gone on to successful careers in industry, government, nonprofits, and academia, with positions ranging from analysts and senior leadership to professors.

Degree Details

Systems Science Master's Degree or Doctorate: Why PSU?

You will join an interdisciplinary program that collaborates with faculty across campus, including environmental science, geography, geology, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, public administration and policy, urban studies, business, engineering, mathematics, economics, psychology, sociology, and social work. You'll graduate with expertise in integrative thinking and problem-solving, and an understanding of a wide variety of systems ideas and how to use them in modeling and analysis.

You will also have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and community partners on applied research projects that address important societal concerns, including climate change, human resilience to stress, organizational values, renewable energy, utility services, advanced statistical methods, ecological economics, and sustainability. We also offer the latest, cutting-edge research from different fields and disciplines through our weekly seminar series.

Past community partners, local businesses, and government agencies have included Oregon Health & Science University, Nike, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, the Providence Health System, Northwest Natural, Bonneville Power Administration, TriMet, and Multnomah County.

We also offer a sustainability-focused study abroad course in Peru, providing you with an opportunity to learn about holistic systems for sustainability and earn a Permaculture Design Certification.

What can I do with a Master's degree or Doctorate in Systems Science?

In industry, government, and public service, and academia, demand exists for professionals who are broadly educated, skilled at modern methods of decision-making and design, and capable of understanding and managing complex social and technical systems.

PSU's Systems Science graduate program prepares you for a career in any of these types of organizations by encompassing both theory- and applied-based aspects of the systems field. You'll graduate with the critical thinking and modeling skills that are sought after by employers and essential to being able to address local, regional and global needs.

Graduates of our program are prepared to work in a number of jobs, including:

  • Researcher
  • Analyst
  • Economist
  • Engineer
  • Public utilities specialist
  • Operations manager
  • Systems planner or manager
  • And many other types of positions

Featured Courses

  • SYSC 413 Holistic Strategies for Problem Solving
  • SYSC 416 Systems Thinking for Business
  • SYSC 410/518 Sustainable Systems and Organizational Resilience
  • SYSC 431 Data Mining with Information Theory
  • SYSC 521 Systems Philosophy
  • SYSC 452 Game Theory
  • SYSC 557 Artificial Life

Featured Electives

  • SYSC 514 System Dynamics
  • SYSC 525 Agent-Based Simulation
  • SYSC 527 Discrete System Simulation


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).