May 28, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Systems Architecting and Engineering (MS)

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This program is recommended to graduate engineers and engineering managers responsible for the conception and implementation of complex systems. Emphasis is on the creative processes and methods by which complex systems are conceived, planned, designed, built, tested and certified. The architecture experience can be applied to defense, space, aircraft, communications, navigation, sensors, computer software, computer hardware, and other aerospace and commercial systems and activities.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be earned on all course work applied toward the master’s degree in systems architecting and engineering. This average must also be achieved on all 400-level and above course work attempted at USC beyond the bachelor’s degree. Transfer units count as credit (CR) toward the master’s degree and are not computed in the grade point average.

In addition to the general requirements of the Viterbi School of Engineering, the Master of Science in Systems Architecting and Engineering is also subject to the following requirements:

  • a total of at least 30 units is required, consisting of at least 3 units in the technical management area, 3 units in the general technical area, and 9 units in the technical specialization area;
  • every plan of study requires prior written approval by the director of the systems architecting and engineering program recorded on the study plan in the student’s file;
  • no more than 9 units at the 400 level may be counted toward the degree — the remaining units must be taken at the 500 or 600 level;
  • at least 24 of the 30 units must be taken in the Viterbi School of Engineering;
  • units to be transferred (maximum of seven with adviser approval) must have been taken prior to taking classes at USC; interruption of residency is not allowed;
  • no more than 6 units of Special Topics courses (499 or 599) may be counted for this degree;
  • thesis and directed research registrations may be allowed to individual students only by special permission of the supervising faculty member and the program director;
  • a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field and a minimum of three years systems experience are recommended prior to taking Systems Architecting and Design Experience courses. This program is not recommended for recent bachelor’s degree graduates.


  • Adviser-approved electives in technical management area Units: 3
  • Adviser-approved electives in general technical area Units: 3
  • Adviser-approved electives in technical specialization area Units: 9


*USC Marshall School of Business course.

Technical Specialization Area:

Nine units are required, usually in the student’s present or intended technical specialty. Courses are intended to complement the student’s prior education and experience toward becoming a well-rounded systems architect-engineer or architect-manager. With a few exceptions, the courses should come from the recommended list, and usually all from a single specialization.

The student may choose from a large variety of technical specializations spanning all departments in the Viterbi School of Engineering. Flexibility is emphasized in this choice; the program director is expected to work closely with the student in choosing the best set of courses to meet the student’s need.

Several sample specializations are listed below but are not intended to be complete.

Recommended Courses

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