Program Overview

Offered through the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, the Ph.D. program in Systems Engineering provides a broad knowledge of the "systems approach" for designing and managing large-scale engineering systems throughout the lifecycle. Faculty research in systems engineering includes applied enterprise systems engineering and analysis; business and program development; critical infrastructure systems; risk assessment and management; and more.

Students choose from the following areas of focus:

  • Operations research and management science
  • Systems engineering and integration
  • Enterprise information assurance

Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering (Ph.D.)


  • Credit hours (for those with a master's degree): 30
  • Credit hours (for those without a master's degree): 54
  • Duration: 4-6 years
  • Prerequisite courses:
    • Math 1231 Single Variable Calculus I
    • Math 1232 Single Variable Calculus II
    • APSC 3115 Engineering Analysis III
  • Qualifying exams
  • Proposal defense
  • Final exam
  • Post-graduate survey


Program Requirements

The program is divided into two stages. The first comprises a study of related fields of learning that support the general area of research focus and culminates in the qualifying examination. The second, composed of original research and the presentation of findings in a written dissertation, culminates in the final examination. Upon admission to the first stage of the program, the student will meet with their assigned advisor to structure their programs of study.

Students who already have a master’s degree must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours at the graduate level, all of which must be completed by the end of the semester in which they take their doctoral qualifying exams (DQE). For students without master's degrees, a minimum of 54 credit hours in a formal program at the graduate level is required. In addition, all doctoral students take a minimum of 24 hours of dissertation research once they have been admitted to candidacy (post-DQE).

Program Prerequisites

The following courses or their equivalent are prerequisites for the D.Sc. program and are required in addition to the credit hours discussed above:

  • Math 31 Single-Variable Calculus I
  • Math 32 S Single-Variable Calculus II
  • APSC 3115 Engineering Analysis III

If not met at admission, these courses must be completed within the first year of study. The Doctoral Program Coordinator will evaluate doctoral students after one year of study and any student who has not completed his/her prerequisites by that time will be in violation of their admissions contract and barred from further study.

Core Courses

All doctoral students are required to take the following three courses:

  • EMSE 6765 Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists (Offered in Spring and Fall)
  • EMSE 8000 Research Formulation in EMSE (Offered in the Spring)
  • EMSE 8001 Survey of Research Methods in EMSE (Offered in the Fall)

It is recommended that students select an additional advanced methods course relevant to their doctoral work.

Ph.D. Admissions Requirements

Applicants must submit the following materials in order to be considered for admission into a master's program at SEAS. All materials except test scores must be uploaded to the online application form:

Online Application


  • Scanned copies of unofficial transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned; the program was not completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript.
  • Please ensure that all transcripts are properly scanned and attached to the online application form. Otherwise, applicants will receive notifications requesting legible transcripts, which may delay review of their application.
  • Please do not mail official transcripts unless you are instructed to do so by a SEAS admissions officer. Admissions decisions are based on unofficial transcripts.
  • For international applicants, please see additional requirements for attaching foreign transcripts to the online application.

GRE scores

  • The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants, except for those applying for a Combined Five-Year Program.
  • GRE scores must be sent to institution code 5246 through the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
  • There is no minimum score required on the GRE for admission. However, applicants are encouraged to score within the 90th percentile of the Quantitative section of the exam in order to be considered competitive. To see average GRE scores from the most recent incoming class, visit the Graduate Student Profile.

English proficiency exam scores (international applicants)

  • International applicants who did not receive a degree from an institution situated in the United States or English-speaking country must also submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic exams.
  • Please view the International Admissions section for information on English language exam score requirements and sending scores to GW.

Letters of Recommendation

  • A minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation is required to be submitted with the online application form.
  • At least one recommendation should be from an advisor and/or faculty member(s) at the institution from which you earned your highest degree.

Statement of Purpose

  • Applicants must include an essay of 400-600 words that clearly states their purpose in undertaking graduate study at the George Washington University; explains their academic objectives, research interests, and career plans; and discusses related qualifications including collegiate, professional, and community activities, as well as any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned.
  • It is strongly encouraged that essays stay within the 600-word limit. While applicants are not penalized for submitting longer essays, concise essays are more effective in demonstrating an applicant's motivation.
  • The Statement of Purpose must be written by the applicant. Any essay found to have been written by anyone other than the applicant, or plagiarized from other published materials, will be withdrawn from consideration.


  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) should be uploaded to the online application form.
  • If you have published articles in peer-reviewed publications, please include them as a hyperlink.

Ph.D. applicants must also demonstrate the following requirements in order to be considered for admission:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in an appropriate area from an accredited institution.
    • If an applicant has obtained a master’s degree, a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (on a scale of 4.0) is required.
    • If an applicant has only obtained a bachelor’s degree, the minimum grade point average must be a 3.3 (on a scale of 4.0).
Program taught in:
The George Washington University - School of Engineering & Applied Science

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Last updated November 13, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
Feb 2020
4 - 6 years
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Graduate Student Research: Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at GW