5 Key Courses in a Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering Program

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Updated August 4, 2020

Master's in Industrial and Systems Engineering Courses

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Deterministic Methods in Operations Research
  • Manufacturing Systems
  • Engineering Project Management
  • Production Planning and Scheduling

A master's degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) is a difficult but rewarding route for students who are able to think holistically about complex problems. Essentially, ISE professionals look at the world's infrastructure, spot inefficiencies, and come up with elegant solutions. Students with a Master's in ISE go into a wide variety of industries including automotive, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, transit, and healthcare. Engineers make manufacturing processes safer, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly.

Resource: 30 Best Online Master's in Industrial or Systems Engineering Degrees

These five courses are central to any graduate ISE program.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is fundamental to the field, and most ISE programs will have a course dedicated to the topic. A supply chain is a system by which products are moved from the supplier to the customer. They are usually highly complex since those who design them need to take into account the sources of raw materials, location for assembly, means of transportation, and communication among various points along the chain. A course on supply chain management covers the current models used in industry and teaches students how to modify structures to suit specific needs.

Deterministic Methods in Operations Research

ISE programs generally have one or more classes covering the use of deterministic methods in solving a wide range of problems future engineers might face. There are several common deterministic approaches to complex problem-solving. Classes will address linear programming and network flow, often presenting students with case studies to give them practice applying models properly. Problem-solving with deterministic methods is essentially about optimization, and so students will need a thorough understanding of univariate and multivariate calculus. The nuts and bolts of the work will also require competence with linear algebra and matrix theory.

Manufacturing Systems

Many majors have courses in which students design a product as a team over the course of the semester. Professionally, graduates coming from an ISE master's program will typically be involved with specific aspects of product design and manufacturing. But this course provides a comprehensive understanding of the process (known as the product realization process) from beginning to end. Students learn to turn customers' requests into product specifications and to develop multiple ideas for a possible solution. They select the optimal idea and calculate the projected financial needs to execute the manufacturing process.

Engineering Project Management

These classes are typically similar to those on manufacturing but with a broader scope. Students work in groups throughout the semester on simulated but realistic projects. They make financial projections, solve logistical problems of transportation and materials, and also make plans for manufacturing or building. Students are given projects that pose greater inherent technical challenges than those they would encounter in manufacturing classes. Students will focus more on the actual design of the product or structure to be built, as opposed to a manufacturing project in which the most difficult aspect might be projecting the finances.

Production Planning and Scheduling

Courses on production planning and scheduling provide an overview of the problems project managers face in simply executing their plans. Students learn to allocate resources and workers optimally. They learn to manage the workspaces and equipment that will be needed for production. The ultimate goal is to minimize the net transaction cost and to complete the project in the shortest possible time period. Students will generally learn mathematical methods such as cycle-time analysis in addition to programming and simulation methods.

Students will have to get used to complexity to thrive in a graduate ISE program. But for students who are skilled with mathematics and want to make a practical difference in the world, a Master's in Industrial and Systems Engineering program is an excellent choice.

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