Systems Thinking

Systems Engineers bring people and technologies together to dramatically improve an organization’s productivity and effectiveness.


The Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering (AMP) is designed to enable working professionals to become systems thinkers and problem solvers through a unique blend of formal education integrated with personal work experience. AMP students attain a solid foundation in systems methodology and apply proven analytical tools and new technologies to “messy” problems in the face of uncertainty, risk, and environmental turbulence. Through their coursework and collaboration with classmates from diverse industries, participants find that they look at problems “with new eyes,” and they finish the Program well-equipped to support effective decision-making involving any large-scale complex system.


  • Working professionals in the AMP’s rigorous one-year degree program (May – April) earn their Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering degrees without interrupting their careers.
  • Students come to Charlottesville, VA, for full-day classes every other Friday and Saturday, plus two weeks in residence: one at the beginning of the program in May and another the following April.
  • Studying with a cohort of talented classmates is a key asset of this unique program. The AMP cohort provides support during the Program and creates a professional network that lasts a lifetime.
  • All courses are taught by full-time faculty. The hands-on program of studies was developed by senior faculty members in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment and the Darden Graduate School of Business, with input from the Department’s Industry Advisory Board.
  • The integrated curriculum is at the intersection of several disciplines: Systems Thinking, Information Systems, and Decision Analytics. 
  • Comprehensive tuition includes instruction, books, software, fees, and meals and lodging while the cohort is on Grounds for classes.
  • The program is housed at the Darden Graduate School of Business, an exceptional learning environment.

Jennifer Murrill

"The Engineering School gave me a lot of ‘tools’ to put in my toolbox. My systems engineering professors taught me how to look at the big picture, which is critical in working with large-scale programs, and how to use the critical thinking process and problem-solving approaches to ‘think’ like an engineer. "

Jennifer Murrill, AMP ’07 - Women in Technology Rising Star 2007


Through the Program, participants aim to develop executive skills of mind: the ability to apply disciplined critical thinking to new and challenging problems. The AMP curriculum explores systems methodology through real-world case studies; is goal-oriented, firmly focused on problem-solving; and uses both analytical and theoretical approaches throughout. The environment is collaborative and supportive. The cohort learning model allows participants, working in small groups, to interact with and learn from other participants with different backgrounds and experience. The formal learning process in the classroom is leveraged by on-going work experience.


Two weeks in residence “bookend” a total of twenty alternate Friday/Saturday class weekends. Friday classes meet from 9 am – 5 pm. Following a group dinner, students gather in the classroom for Friday night seminars that provide an opportunity to learn from industry experts and academic specialists. Saturday classes meet from 8 am – 4 pm. Graduate teaching assistants provide support and lead online study sessions between class weekends. The curriculum includes 30 credit-hours consisting of ten three-credit courses. The practice-oriented degree program culminates with an intensive design project completed during the final week in residence. Project teams apply the skills they’ve gained throughout the year as they tackle a real problem for a real client and make a real contribution.

You can see the current year’s class schedule on the “Schedule” page under the “Current Students” drop down menu.

Bottom Line

The Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering enables students to earn their master’s degrees in one year while continuing to work full-time. The practice-oriented degree program provides a unique opportunity to enhance your skills and advance your career. The cohort learning approach provides support during the program and a strong professional network going forward. Through the Accelerated Master’s Program, professionals earn their degrees from a top university and position themselves for the future – transforming data and information into effective decision-making.