Degree Requirements

Minimum of 90 subject units + 24 units of thesis:

  • 36 units of core
  • 12 units of depth courses in engineering and 12 units of foundation courses in management
  • 30 units minimum of elective subjects, balanced between engineering and management. Additional elective units may be taken in one category or the other, with a difference of no more than 12 units between engineering and management by the time the student completes the program
  • 24 units of thesis

Credits toward the degree are earned in graded classes. Pass/D/Fail courses will not be counted toward degree requirements, but Pass/D/Fail units may be subject to the engineering and management balancing requirement mentioned above.

Credit will be allowed for courses in which a C or D grade is earned, but students must have a 4.0 cumulative grade point average or above to graduate. Students are expected to maintain a 4.0 cumulative grade point average or above throughout the program. Consecutive semesters with a cumulative grade point average below 4.0 may result in a student’s being denied the opportunity to register for the subsequent term.


The three-semester core course provides an integrated view of architecting, engineering, and managing the development of complex systems. Students in both the System Design & Management (SDM) master’s and certificate programs attend these classes together, so there are ample opportunities for enrichment from classmates, all experienced professionals from diverse industries. These synergistic cohort interactions are a hallmark of SDM.


The SDM program is designed to teach principles, concepts, processes, and tools for system design and management. The SDM thesis provides an opportunity for students to interpret the knowledge acquired through the SDM core and other courses and apply that knowledge to problems of substantial size and significance. By taking on challenges in which both technical and management issues are important and interdependent, SDM students gain experience demonstrating true intellectual leadership.

SDM theses are:

  • conducted under the guidance of faculty in the MIT School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management; and
  • researched in consultation with supervisors at students’ workplaces.

Many employer-sponsored students have been able to show immediate value to their organizations based on thesis work.

All information is accurate as of August 1, 2018, and is subject to change.