United States Air Force Academy

Go to home page
Master complexity, reduce uncertainty, optimize engineering design


Cadet wearing virtual reality goggles

Systems Engineering crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic, integrative approach to enable the successful realization of complex engineered systems used by our U.S. Air Force in defense of our nation. The Systems Engineer implements systems principles and concepts, as well as scientific, technological, and management methods to:

  • master and tame the unwieldy complexity of modern warfighting systems development.
  • reduce the paralyzing uncertainty among engineering design alternatives and acquisitions decision making.
  • optimize system designs with consideration of the entire system lifecycle, from concept development, to test and evaluation, to production and operations, to phase out.
  • Create innovative solutions to defense problems
  • Help to design critical new technical systems
  • Establish new defense system requirements
  • Work closely with industry engineering partners
  • Work closely with Air Force test organizations and rated operators
  • Conduct technical tests and evaluations
  • Analyze experimental data and test results
  • And much, much more!

Cadets in the Systems Engineering major specialize in an engineering depth area of their choosing, or a blended depth approach, selected among courses from Aeronautical Engineering, Astronautical Engineering, Behavioral Sciences, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and other approved disciplines. Systems Engineering cadets apply their disciplined engineering approach by teaming up with engineering cadets in a senior Capstone Design project, often working on real-world Air Force challenges and innovating new system solutions. The Systems Engineering major is an excellent choice for those who seek to become rated operators with a comprehensive understanding of our integrated and complex modern warfighting systems.


A Systems Engineer meets the academic degree requirements of any of these job assignments in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force:

11X – Pilot 13X – Special Tactics
18X – RPA Pilot 13N – Nuclear and missile operations
13S – Space Operations 14N – Intelligence
62EXF – Flight Test Engineer 15A – Ops Research Analyst
62E – Developmental Engineer 17X – Cyber Operations
62I – Human Factors Engineer 21A/M – Aircraft/Munitions Maintenance
63A – Acquisitions, Program Manager 21R – Logistics Readiness
12X – Combat Systems Operator 64P – Contracting
13A – Astronaut

Outside the Air and Space Forces, a Systems Engineer may qualify as:

Program Systems Engineer Engineering Analyst
Project Engineer / Manager Cyber Security Analyst
Chief Engineer Commercial Pilot (with rated background)
Design Engineer (in depth specialty) Cockpit Design Engineer
Human-Systems Integration Engineer Research Engineer
Space Systems Engineer or Operator Many other positions
  • Introduction to Systems Engineering
  • Intermediate Systems Engineering Methods
  • Deterministic Optimization with Applications
  • Introduction to Human Factors Engineering
Beh Sci 110 Comp Sci 211 Biology 215 Aero Engr 315
Comp Sci 110 Econ 201 ECE 315 Astro Engr 310
Chem 100 Engl 211 History 300 Beh Sci 373
Engl 111 Law 220 Math 356 Philos 310
For Lang 131 Math 243 Ops Rsch 312 Soc-Cult Opt
For Lang 132 Math Option Soc Sci 311 SE Depth Opt
Math 141 MSS 251 Sys Engr 311 Sys Engr 320
Math 142 Ops Rsch 310 Sys Engr 336 Sys Engr 491
Physics 110 Physics 215 SE Depth Opt Sys Engr 492
Pol Sci 211 SE Depth Opt Sys Engr 405
Sys Engr 310 Sys Engr 406

For full program requirements and course descriptions, download the current Course of Instruction Handbook.


We will accept transfer credits from other universities’ course work in the same course description. For specific questions, please email the Deputy for Systems Engineering Program.


The Systems Engineering degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.
To ensure the success of our graduates, we prepare them to achieve the following Program Educational Objectives within a few years of entering commissioned service with the United States Air Force:

Program Educational Objectives
  1. Recognition as successful Air Force officers through demonstration of their ability to:
    1. Rapidly acquire required knowledge,
    2. Lead others effectively,
    3. Effectively apply ethical and moral standards,
    4. Improve unit performance by application of organizational skills,
    5. Make sound decisions based on critical thinking, and
    6. Communicate effectively.
  2. Selection for career training on, or ahead of, schedule and for a progression of assignments of increasing responsibility.
  3. A demonstrated ability to solve Air Force technical problems.
  4. Success in continuing education.
Student Outcomes

These objectives are assessed through Student Outcomes—the skills, knowledge and behaviors students should acquire before graduation. The outcomes for this program are:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
Class Year Enrollment Year Total
Degrees Awarded
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2022 n/a 46 68 70 0 184 37
2021 n/a 20 62 37 0 119 40
2020 n/a 31 42 82 0 155 82
2019 n/a 41 85 69 0 195 69
2018 n/a 85 69 88 0 242 88
2017 n/a 66 88 84 0 238 84
2016 n/a 79 86 78 0 243 78

Lieutenant Colonel James Walliser
Director, Systems Engineering Program

Captain Matt Walls
Deputy Director, Systems Engineering Program