More Information

721: Systems Engineering Management - Product Development

View the Systems Engineering Distance Learning Programs Flyer (PDF 661KB)

Program Announcements

Joint Executive Systems Engineering Management (SEM-PD21)

Commencing 11 September 2023

The Naval Postgraduate School Department of Systems Engineering is pleased to announce this year’s offering of the Joint Executive Systems Engineering Management (SEM) distance learning (DL) program offered in partnership with MIT’s “Educational Consortium for Leadership in Product Development in the 21st Century” (PD21) commencing 11 September 2023. Deadline for application is 05 July 2023.

Click to view the 721-241O announcement (pdf)
Click to view the PD21 flyer (pdf)
Click to view the 721-241O curriculum lineup (pdf)
Click to view the 721-241O tuition letter (pdf)

NPS SEM-PD21 Alumnus Part of NASA's Newest Class

Lt. Cmdr. Victor Glover, an F/A-18 combat pilot currently serving as a Legislative Fellow in the office of Senator John McCain, was selected from more than 6,100 applicants to begin training at Johnson Space Center in August for potential space flight. Glover graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2009 through the Master’s of Systems Engineering Management – Product Development 21st Century (SEM-PD21) program, in addition to receiving a space systems academic certificate in 2005, both via distance learning.

Read the full story here.

Certificate Requirements

NPS and the PD21 consortium believe that this joint engineering & management program offers the best unified curriculum available in systems engineering and end-to-end product development, leadership education. It ideally aligns with defense leadership vision for transformation and acquisition excellence. Students who successfully complete this program will receive:

  • Degree: Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management or Master of Science in Product Development.
  • MIT Certificate: Certificate of Recognition from MIT.
  • Additional NPS Certificate: Varies by elective track.
  • DAU Equivalencies: Defense Acquisition University (DAU) ACQ101, ACQ160, ACQ202, ACQ203, PMT252, PMT257, PMT355, PMT360, ENG101, ENG201, ENG202, ENG302 and 10 CLPs per credit hour.

Click to view the 721-241O curriculum lineup (pdf).


September 12 through 23, 2022: Program kick-off and orientation at Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. Orientation includes program indoctrination, Silicon Valley Industry trip, start of first two core courses and participation in graduation events.

After the kickoff, students return to their organization locations and take courses over the Internet synchronously using Zoom for Government (ZfG) and/or MS Teams both web-conferencing academic tools and/or asynchronously using SAKAI, the NPS ONLINE course management system. Students take two core courses per quarter offered in two 3.0 hour synchronous sessions per week on Fridays (0730–1030 and 1100–1400) Pacific Time for the first year then take two remaining core courses (0730-1030) Pacific Time in each of Fall and Winter quarters of year two. Students pick a four-course elective track and conduct independent thesis research in year two. The days/times for elective track courses vary and some of the tracks are delivered asynchronously affording students an alternative delivery method if chosen. Program administrative sessions are periodically offered on Fridays from (1400-1500) Pacific Time with advance notice provided to students.

Students are expected to attend the two-week program kickoff on campus, participate in two(2) one-week industry trips during the two-year course of study (typically in June during the break between Spring and Summer quarters) and one-week on campus graduation week in September at the completion of the program. Students are also required to participate in a quarterly Systems Engineering (SE) seminar (SE3810) that hosts a thesis writing workshop and provides guest speaker lectures either live by web-conferencing or recorded by video streaming. The lectures are also open to all participating student commands and companies. The SE seminar is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Curriculum Sponsors

Any federal organization or defense contractor can sponsor students into the SEM-PD21 program. In addition to earning a master's degree, the curriculum satisfies the mandatory Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Systems Planning, Research, Development, and Engineering (SPRDE) course requirements of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) through Level III. Students who select the Systems Acquisition elective track also earn mandatory DAU course requirements for Program Management through Level III. The other elective tracks offer additional NPS certificates in Space Systems, Information Systems, Software Engineering, and Advanced Systems Engineering. Students who complete the program also earn a MIT certificate of recognition.

Elective Tracks

Sponsors and students have great flexibility in designing their elective structure. Currently, there are numerous specified elective tracks that, when taken with SEM-PD21 core courses, earn participating students additional academic certifications. See program announcement for specific elective options. A tailored elective track can be designed by contacting the Program Officer or Academic Associate.

  • Advanced Systems Architecting
  • Aviation Systems
  • Digital Engineering
  • Human Systems Integration
  • Model-Based Systems Engineering
  • Space Systems
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Capability & Design
  • Systems Integrated Development
  • System of Systems Engineering
  • Systems Program Management
  • Systems Safety Engineering
  • Systems Technology & Advancement
  • Systems Test & Evaluation
  • Others- as available

Eligibility and Admissions Standards

The program is open to uniformed officers (03 and above), federal civilians (GS11 and above) and equivalent defense contractor civilians. Senior enlisted (E-7 and above) are eligible on a space available basis. To participate in the Joint Executive SEM-PD21 program, candidates must have the following credentials:

  • An undergraduate degree in engineering or a related scientific or technical field with high academic achievement (2.6 GPA or higher); non-technical degrees considered with attainment of college level calculus and/or on a case-by-case basis. Probability & statistics desired but not required.
  • At least five years of experience directly related to product/systems development, systems engineering or systems acquisition. This experience must reflect continued growth and professional development. For candidates that hold a Master’s degree, the experience requirement can be reduced to three years;
  • Sponsored by your service, command or company with senior leadership endorsement.


For the 2022-2024 class there are 30 total seats available. Each service (Army, Air Force, Navy) and Defense contractors are allocated a minimum of 5 seats. Additional seats are available to service sponsors or the best qualified candidates from any DoD or federal government agency. Tuition must be collected before commencement of each quarter (see tuition letter for due dates and additional details). (Note: Qualified active-duty Navy and Marine Corps officers are eligible for NPS mission funding (tuition free) but the student or their command are responsible to purchase books and pay for all travel related expenses).

Note: The total ownership price per seat is $60,000 for military, federal government civilian employees and Defense contractor civilian employees, payable according to the payment schedule provided in the SEM-PD21 tuition letter (or as negotiated with the SEM-PD21 program office). Tiered pricing is offered to an organization or company sponsoring 5 or more students (call Dr. Wally Owen, SEM-PD21 Program Director for more details). This total ownership price includes all tuition, textbooks, course support materials and equipment (software, handouts, case studies, etc.), travel, transportation and per diem for all campus/training with industry visits including graduation and a PC camera and microphone headset. Students must have high-speed Internet to participate in sessions and to access SAKAI course management system.

Tuition for this program is based on the 721-241O Tuition Letter Joint SEM-PD21 Sept 2023-2024 PDF document.