Skip to main content

Architecture and Systems Engineering

Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems

Enrollment Extended Through September 21.

As the pace of innovation accelerates, engineers around the world are tasked with designing, managing, and optimizing increasingly complex systems. Employing industry case studies and the latest in systems thinking from MIT, this four-course online certificate program explores models and methods in systems engineering. You will gain a knowledge base in complex systems, analysis of complex systems, and model management that will impact how you approach and solve problems and keep abreast of innovation. By the end of the program, you'll be able to frame systems architecture as a series of decisions, which can be actively sorted, managed, and optimized to suit you and your organization's needs.

The four courses in the certificate program are:

      1. Architecture of Complex Systems
      2. Models in Engineering
      3. Model-Based Systems Engineering: Documentation and Analysis
      4. Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering

To earn a Professional Certificate, you must complete all four courses in the program. For those who do not want to commit to the full program, courses can be taken on an individual basis. Click on the course titles below to enroll in individual courses.

“Advancing the state of the art in systems engineering tools, methods, application, and training is vital to the success of our increasingly complex systems.”

— Ralph Roe, NASA Chief Engineer

Job Outlook

  • Systems engineers work to create and manage complex systems that rely on the latest technological advancements
  • The average salary of a systems engineer in the US is $84,000 a year ( <a href=",16.htm">Glassdoor</a> )
  • Engineers for systems are needed in all areas of technology so systems engineers may work in diverse fields, from automotive and aerospace to purely digital products

Real Career Impact

"This partnership with MIT, edX and NASA blends the expertise of industry, government and a world-class academic institution to provide a unique educational experience in an area of critical importance, namely systems engineering (…) That’s a win, win, win for all of us involved and for the future of aerospace innovation as it’s now applied to learning."

Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer, The Boeing Company

What You'll Learn

  • Understand complex systems, analysis of complex systems, and model management
  • Frame systems architecture as a series of decisions, which can be actively sorted, managed, and optimized to suit your organization’s needs
  • Articulate the benefits and challenges of Model-Based Systems Engineering
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the key aspects of systems engineering
  • Learn from academic and industry leaders

  • Average Length
    5 weeks per course
  • Effort
    4-5 hours per week, per course
  • Number of Courses
    4 courses in program
  • Price (USD)
    $3396 $2499 for entire program You save $897 USD

Courses in the Professional Certificate

Course 1 of 4: Learn complex systems, analysis of complex systems, and complexity management.
Starts on February 11, 2019
Course 2 of 4: Make more effective decisions supported by modeling analysis.
Starts on April 1, 2019
Course 3 of 4: Discover how to wield MBSE’s power to benefit your organization.
Starts on January 7, 2019
Course 4 of 4: Increase the use of quantitative information methods in existing systems engineering practices.
Starts on February 18, 2019


Dov Dori
Professor, System Design & Management
Dr. Donna Rhodes
Director, Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative
Dr. Bruce Cameron
Faculty Director of the Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems online program, Director of the System Architecture Lab
Dr. Edward F. Crawley
Chairman of the Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems online program, Ford Professor of Engineering, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Dr. Olivier de Weck
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Editor-in-Chief of Systems Engineering, INCOSE Fellow
Steven Eppinger
General Motors LGO Professor of Management Science
Dr. Warren Hoburg
Boeing Assistant Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Astronaut Candidate
Dr. Adam Ross
Research Scientist
MIT Engineering Systems Division

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I have questions about this program?

If you have any questions about this program or the individual courses that comprise this program, please email:

What do I need to do to register for this program?

Click on the green Purchase the Program button above. You may be prompted to first register for a MIT xPRO account if you do not have one already. Complete this process, then hit continue with the checkout process to pay for the program. After you complete your registration, you will receive a receipt and confirmation/instructions via email.

How do I register a group of participants?

Group registrations of 10 or more may qualify for an additional discount. Please send an email to for more information. There are two ways to register multiple individuals at once. Once the program is added to your cart, you can select the number of seats you would like to purchase. You can then pay using a valid credit card. For a group of 10 or more individuals, you can pay via invoice. To be invoiced, please email MITxPRO@mit.eduu with the number of individuals in your group you want to register. Please note that our payment terms are net zero, and all invoices must be paid prior to the course start date. Failure to remit payment before the course begins may result in removal from the program. No extensions or exceptions will be granted.

What is the registration deadline?

Current Run: September 17, 2018 - March 18, 2019. Program registrations must be completed by September 17, 2018. For group sales, purchases can take place up until September 10, 2018. Please note that once registration has closed, no late registrations or cancellations will be granted. Program Bundle | September 17, 2018 - March 18, 2019: 9/21/2018 Enrollment Deadline Course 1 | Architecture of Complex Systems - September 17, 2018 - October 22, 2018: 9/21/2018 Enrollment Deadline Course 2 | Models in Engineering - November 5, 2018 - December 10, 2018: 11/9/2018 Enrollment Deadline Course 3 | Model-Based Systems Engineering: Documentation and Analysis - January 7, 2019 - February 4, 2019: 1/11/2019 Enrollment Deadline Course 4 | Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering - February 18, 2019 - March 18, 2019: 2/22/2019 Enrollment Deadline

Who cannot register for this course?

US sanctions do not permit us to offer this course to learners in or ordinarily residing in the Crimean region of Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, North Korea Cuba, and Syria.

How should I pay?

Individual participants must complete registration and pay online with a valid credit card at the time of registration. MIT xPRO accepts globally recognized major credit or debit cards that have a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or Diner's Club logo. Invoices will not be generated for individuals or for groups of less than 10 people. However, all participants will receive a payment receipt. Payment must be received in full; payment plans are not available.

When will I get access to the Program site?

Instructions for accessing the course site will be sent to all paid registrants via email prior to the program start date. If you have not received these instructions, visit your account dashboard to login and begin the course on the advertised start date.

I need to cancel my registration. Are there any fees?

Cancellation requests must be submitted to Drop Deadline for Program Refund is September 21, 2018. Drop Deadline for Course Refund: Course 1 | Architecture of Complex Systems - September 21, 2018, Course 2 | Models in Engineering - November 9, 2018, Course 3 | Model-Based Systems Engineering: Documentation and Analysis - January 11, 2019, Course 4 | Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering - February 22, 2019 Cancellation requests received after drop deadlines will not be eligible for a refund. To submit your request, please include your full name and order number in your email request. Refunds will be credited to the credit card used when you registered and may take up to two billing cycles to process.

Can I transfer/defer my registration for another session or course?

Admission and fees paid cannot be deferred to a subsequent session; however, you may cancel your registration and reapply at a later date.

Can someone else attend in my place?

We cannot accommodate any substitution requests at this time. Please review the time commitment section and course schedule.

How do I know if this program is right for me?

Carefully review the program description page, which includes a description of program content, objectives, and target audience, and any required prerequisites.

Are there any prerequisites to apply for this program?

While there are no obligatory prerequisites, people with the following suggested career experience might find the program more relevant: Bachelor’s degree Minimum Career Experience: 1-2 years of work experience in a technical field Average Career Experience: 5-15 years of work experience Past experience modeling, regardless of domain might be helpful. Some modeling types include for computation, physics-based simulation, testing or other. This experience will help ground you on the challenges and opportunities of modeling, but there are neither required modeling languages nor experience. No management experience is required. However, some class materials will require participants to write about teamwork and general management topics as relevant to architecture and complex projects. This certificate relates to System Architecture and Model-Based Systems Engineering. Incoming learners are expected to be familiar with the following concepts: Systems Engineering “V” model Product Development Reference Models: Stage-Gate Reviews, Waterfall, Spiral, Agile Requirements, including principles for developing clear and concise requirements, and requirements flow down and management tools Identifying customer needs and voice of the customer analysis Spreadsheet software (such as Excel) and simple spreadsheet models Preferred (but not obligatory) familiarity or experience in: Early-stage product development Product lifecycle, including aftermarket and maintenance Functional analysis Basic concept development methods (Morphological Matrix, QFD) Model-Based System Engineering (MBSE) Integrating or connecting models together Verification and validation

How long is the program?

Each course in the program runs about 4-5 weeks with one-week breaks in between each course. Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems - September 17, 2018 - March 18, 2019 Course #1: Architecture of Complex Systems Runs January 17, 2018 - October 22, 2018 (5 weeks) Course #2: Models in Engineering Runs November 5, 2018 - December 10, 2018 (4 weeks) Course #3: Model-Based Systems Engineering: Documentation and Analysis Runs January 7, 2019 - February 4, 2019 (4 weeks) Course #4: Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering Runs February 18, 2019 - March 18, 2019 (4 weeks)

How many hours per week will I have class or homework?

The time commitment per week is around five hours of work, between viewing videos, reading content, completing practice activities, and working on application/project assignments. There are roughly 10 videos per week, but the course is not intended to be majority video-watching. Rather, it is active - learning focused. The course is self-paced in that learners can go through the content on their own schedule. There are, however, assignments that are time-bound and specific because they require coordination of student submissions. There is also a message board for our learners to use, and discussion is encouraged. The professor will not be directly responding to questions, but there is a team of TAs to moderate questions.

How long will the program material be available online?

Program materials for each course will be available to registered and paid participants for 90 days after the course's end date. The course materials are not downloadable, but you are welcome to take your own notes.

Will I receive a digital MIT Certificate?

Participants who successfully complete the 4 courses of the program within one year will receive a digital Professional Certificate from MIT. In addition, a digital Certificate of Completion will be awarded for each course successfully completed. Letter grades are not awarded for this program. All four courses that comprise the program are pass/fail.

Will I receive MIT credits?

This course does not carry MIT credits. MIT offers non-credit/non-degree professional programs for a global audience. Participants may not imply or state in any manner, written or oral, that MIT or MIT xPRO Education is granting academic credit for enrollment in this professional course. None of our online courses or programs award academic credit or degrees. Letter grades are not awarded for this course.

Will I earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs)?

Course participants who successfully complete the four courses, and thus the program, are eligible to receive 8.5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from MIT xPRO. CEUs are a nationally recognized means of recording non-credit/non-degree study. They are accepted by many employers, licensing agencies, and professional associations as evidence of a participant’s serious commitment to the development of a professional competence. CEUs are based on hours of instruction. For example: One CEU = 10 hours of instruction. CEUs may not be applied toward any MIT undergraduate or graduate level course. The CEU breakdown by course is as follows: Course #1: Architecture of Complex Systems (2.5 CEUs) Course #2: Models in Engineering (2.0 CEUs) Course #3: Model-Based Systems Engineering: Documentation and Analysis (2.0 CEUs) Course #4: Quantitative Methods in Systems Engineering (2.0 CEUs)

After I complete this course, will I be an MIT alum?

Participants who successfully complete a Digital Programs course are considered MIT xPRO Alumni. Only those who complete an undergraduate or graduate degree are considered MIT Alumni.

Are video captions available?

Each video for this course has been transcribed and the text can be found on the right side of the video when the captions function is turned on. Synchronized transcripts allow students to follow along with the video and navigate to a specific section of the video by clicking the transcript text. All transcripts are also available for download. Students can use transcripts of media-based learning materials for study and review.

What are the technical requirements to participate in this course?

This course has been specifically designed to engage you in models and methods to manage complex systems, without the use of substantial coding experience or proprietary coding packages. The focus in the course is on substantive challenges that arise when building complex systems, not in having you build large or complex models. As such, three applications are required: The ability to download and run Microsoft Excel files with macros. Although you may be able to use other software to view the files, generally the macros will not work outside of Microsoft Excel The ability to download and edit Microsoft PowerPoint files. There are several programs that can do so The ability to download and read PDFs In several places in the course optional links to models are provided, should you wish to explore models in more detail. These are often given for Matlab files. As these are optional, Matlab is not required for this course. Access our courses requires an Internet connection, as videos are only available via online streaming, and cannot be downloaded for offline viewing. Please take note of your company's restrictions for viewing content and/or firewall settings. Our courseware works best with current versions of Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 10 and above. For the best possible experience, we recommend switching to an up-to-date version of Chrome. If you do not have Chrome installed, you can get it for free here: We are unable to fully support access with mobile devices at this time. While many components of your courses will function on a mobile device, some may not.

What is the learning pedagogy in this program?

Course materials blend the following pedagogical strategies to best achieve the learning objectives of the course and individual modules. Instructivism: Teacher-centered learning where the instructor defines the learning goals and presents relevant content. Examples: Tutorial videos enhanced with animations and graphics Text-based pages with supplementary pictures, charts, exhibits and illustrations Constructivism: Learning-by-doing approach that encourages learners to “construct” their own understandings through the act of creating. Ideally learners create an artifact that a real-world practitioner would create. Examples: Project-based work Graded and ungraded practice activities Anchored Instruction: A learning experience is “anchored” in a central narrative such as a case study or piece of media. Learners see new knowledge or skills applied in context. At regular intervals, learners utilize the knowledge or skills outlined in the anchor in various parallel contexts enabling them to cognitively situate instructivist content within the central narrative. Examples: Case studies Project-based work Connectivism: Learning through others. Social interaction emphasizes the cycle of sharing and consuming information as a member of a social learning network as a means of refining mental models and forming interdisciplinary connections. Learners are encouraged to make connections and identify patterns between knowledge nodes through their interactions with their peers. They are also encouraged to seek answers to questions from the community, with course staff supporting these interactions. Examples: Discussion forum collaborations Project-based work collaboration Polls and word clouds with real-time results

What should I expect from the team-based projects?

All courses require some amount of team-based projects. Group work achieves an important pedagogical goal: To have systems architects work together to solve a problem (aside from other upsides like networking value, etc.) Group work on projects can be as flexible as the learner desires in terms of both group size and meeting time. While no synchronous meeting time is required, many groups use their own virtual collaboration tools such as Skype, Google Hangout, and WebEx to meet. Other teams leverage the collaboration tool in the course to connect.

Do I need to buy any additional materials of books to complete this course?

Links to additional readings are provided within the course for those who want to dig deeper into the content. There is no required book for the certificate program, however, students are welcome to review and purchase Dr. Bruce Cameron’s book System Architecture: Strategy and Product Development for Complex Systems (Pearson 2015).