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Complex Systems Science, MS

Complex Systems Science, MS

Academic Programs / Graduate Degrees / Complex Systems Science, MS

Adaptation, Collectives, Evolution, Innovation, Modeling, Sustainability, complex systems

Do you want to understand how to address complex challenges? Often, health, economic, urban and social challenges are more complicated than people realize. Learn how to better understand complexity and to develop informed solutions that will lead to a better future.

Program Description
Degree Awarded: MS  Complex Systems Science

Most systems are complex. This means that through the interaction between their parts these systems exhibit emergent properties and unintended consequences.

The curriculum in the MS program in complex systems science focuses on developing skills in theoretical foundations, problem-solving and critical thinking. Students in the program cultivate the ability to approach complex problems and develop effective solutions to them by identifying issues and asking questions, engaging in analysis and modeling, and collaborating with others. Students also have the opportunity to further develop these skills through research and other hands-on activities.

Graduates in complex systems science can apply their skills to a large number of areas and in many professions in which they can make a difference through innovative and creative methods. Knowledge and skills gained in the program include:

  • domain knowledge in areas such as strategy, economics, marketing, communications and public relations, talent development and human resources, research and design, and product development
  • human skills such as critical thinking, creativity, analytical reasoning, communication and collaboration
  • business enabler skills such as project management, decision-making, visualization and data communication
  • digital building block skills such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, big data and data management, software development and information security

At a Glance

Degree Requirements

30 credit hours including the applied project course (CAS 593)

Required Core (15 credit hours)
CAS 501 Fundamentals of Complex Systems Science: Evolution (3)
CAS 502 Fundamentals of Complex Systems Science: Computation (3)
CAS 503 Fundamentals of Complex Systems Science: Collectives (3)

Choose two from the following:
CAS 520 Agent Based Modeling (3)
CAS 521 Methods for Complex Systems Science: Network Analysis (3)
CAS 522 Methods for Complex Systems Science: Dynamical Systems (3)
CAS 523 Methods for Complex Systems Science: Statistics and Dimensionality Reduction (3)

Electives (9 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
CAS 593 Applied Project (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
The applied project is a modeling and research project in any of the applied or foundational areas of complex systems science. Students define this project with a faculty mentor and apply a selection of methods covered in the methods courses to a dataset. The applied project also involves the creation of a portfolio of student accomplishments.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the College of Global Futures.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in a STEM field, economics, social sciences, humanities or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. two letters of recommendation
  4. written statement
  5. professional resume
  6. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Tuition Information
When it comes to paying for college, everyone’s situation is different. Students can learn about ASU tuition and financial aid options to find out which will work best for them.
Attend Online
ASU Online

ASU offers this program in an online format with multiple enrollment sessions throughout the year. Applicants may view the program’s ASU Online page for program descriptions and to request more information.

Application Deadlines
Session A/COnline 04/07Final
Session A/COnline 10/07Final
Career Opportunities

Complex adaptive system concepts and methods serve as bridges between disciplines, providing a common language that enable the interdisciplinary collaborations necessary for coming to grips with the intellectual and societal challenges of today's world.

A complex systems approach gives graduates the ability to understand the interconnections within and between technological, economic, societal, biomedical and environmental systems. It gives graduates cutting-edge digital skills like modeling and network science. Graduates are fluent in the language of complexity and have a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines. This will give them an edge in diverse careers in science, technology and data analytics, especially compared with peers in their field of study who lack such expertise.

Career examples include:

  • business intelligence analytics and data science
  • consulting
  • corporate social responsibility and sustainability
  • data and microsystem engineering
  • education
  • environmental systems
  • natural or health science management
  • nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations
  • policy making in government and regulatory agencies
  • research and development
Contact Information
What are Accelerated Programs?
Accelerated Programs allow students the opportunity to expedite the completion of their degree.

3 year programs

These programs allow students to fast-track their studies after admission and earn a bachelor's degree in three years or fewer while participating in the same high-quality educational experience of a 4-year option. Students should talk to their academic advisor to get started.

Accelerated Master's

These programs allow students to accelerate their studies to earn a bachelor's plus a master's degree in as few as five years (for some programs).

Each program has requirements students must meet to be eligible for consideration. Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students are advised by their academic departments to apply.
What are Concurrent Programs?
Concurrent degrees allow students to pursue their own personal or professional interests, earn two distinct degrees and receive two diplomas. To add a concurrent degree to your existing degree, work with your academic advisor.
What are Joint Programs?
Joint programs, or jointly conferred degrees, are offered by more than one college and provide opportunities for students to take advantage of the academic strengths of two academic units. Upon graduation, students are awarded one degree and one diploma conferred by two colleges.

What constitutes a New Program?
ASU adds new programs to Degree Search frequently. Come back often and look for the “New Programs” option.
What are Online Programs?
ASU Online offers programs in an entirely online format with multiple enrollment sessions throughout the year. See for more information.
What is WRGP (Western Regional Graduate Program)?
The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) provides a reduced tuition rate to non-resident graduate students who qualify. Visit the WRGP/WICHE webpage for more information:

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