Aviation Systems Engineering – Curriculum 312

Academic Associate

CDR Kathleen Giles

Code SE/Halligan Hall, Room 153

(831) 656-7959


Program Officer

Joseph Sweeney, Lecturer

Spanagel 448

(831) 656-2476


Brief Overview

The objective of this program is to provide graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS), or equivalent, the opportunity to obtain a Master of Science in Systems Engineering or Master of Science in Engineering Systems with an Aviation Systems specialization leading to a 5804P subspecialty code. The program is delivered by distance learning and builds upon the TPS academic and flight test instruction, with the student's TPS final flight test project and report (DTII) serving in lieu of a thesis, and will provide the advanced systems engineering knowledge, tools and skills necessary for the graduate to be successful as a class desk systems engineer in a Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR) mission billet.


Fall, Spring

Program Length

24 Months

Requirements for Entry

Entrance into the program is restricted to graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS), or equivalent as approved by the USNTPS Director of Academics. Further requirements include a minimum 2.6 GPA undergraduate degree in engineering or a related science or technology field and completion of a college calculus course. The minimum APC requirements for entry to this program is 234. All entrants will be board selected by NAVAIR and the Director of USNTPS in coordination with the NPS program academic team. All nominees will be instructed to apply for the program through the NPS online admissions site and to send official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended plus TPS transcripts for determination of academic acceptance.

Credit for Completion of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School

The program is designed to build upon the USNTPS academic instruction and final flight test project and report.  USNTPS graduates are given 12 quarter-hours of transfer credit (4 at the 3000-level and 8 at the 4000-level) for the Test Pilot School academic curriculum. Their USNTPS final flight test project and report (DTII) serves in lieu of a thesis and is recorded as 12 quarter credit hours of SE0811. 

Credit for Completion of an Approved Test Pilot School other than USNTPS

Graduates from approved TPS programs other than the USNTPS will be given credit towards meeting the 5804P subspecialty code but will not be given academic transfer credits. To meet credit hour degree requirements, these students may either take two additional relevant NPS courses, one of which must be at the 4000 level, or request transfer of relevant graduate level credit hours from another academic institution.   Additionally, their final test project and report (equivalent to the USNTPS DTII), or similar seminal academic product from their TPS program must also be assessed and accepted by NPS to serve in lieu of a thesis and is recorded as 12 quarter credit hours of SE0811.


Completion of all the requirements of curriculum 312 leads to the award of the MSSE or MSES degree depending on student qualifications. Refer to the MSSE and MSES program requirements for eligibility.


Typical Course of Study

Upon entry into the curriculum students will typically enroll in one course per quarter to be taken via distance learning. All requirements must be completed within three calendar years from entry.

The 312 curriculum course of study is:

  Eight NPS DL courses, which include four systems engineering fundamentals and methods core courses (31 credit hours – see course list below)

  Award of 12 total transfer quarter credit hours for TPS courses equivalent to NPS courses (SE3303, SE4354, and SE4115) toward degree requirements.

  Award of 12 transfer quarter credit hours for the USNTPS Developmental Test – (DTII) or TPS final test project and report in lieu of a thesis or capstone project report and submission of the DTII to the Systems Engineering Department for assessment and acceptance.

A typical course sequence would include:

NPS Courses:

Course NumberTitleCreditsLecture HoursLab Hours
SE3100Fundamentals of Systems Engineering



SE3011Engineering Economics and Cost Estimation



SE3302System Suitability



SI3400Fundamentals of Engineering Project Management



SE3250Capability Engineering



SE4150Systems Architecting and Design



SE4151Systems Integration and Development



SE4353Risk Analysis and Management for Engineering Systems



Educational Skill Requirements (ESRs)

Systems Engineering- Aviation Systems Specialization Curriculum 312

Subspecialty Code 5804P 

Officers entering into the 312 curriculum must be graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) curriculum. In the context of systems engineering, the term “systems" shall be used to include both systems and systems-of-systems (SoS). At the graduate level, the officer will acquire the competence to effectively contribute as a systems engineer to naval systems research, design, development, maintenance and acquisition. The officer will gain the ability to effectively integrate future technological, engineering, and acquisition approaches with existing practice through a combination of core systems engineering courses, specialization studies, and project/thesis research. An officer will meet the below-listed ESRs through the completion of a program of study determined by the officer, the program officer and the academic associate. Individual programs and how they support the officer's attainment of the ESRs will be specifically designed to meet the needs of the Navy and the officer’s interests.

  1. Capability Engineering. Model and analyze military operations in the context of achieving needed capability. Apply model-based systems engineering approaches, based on UML or SysML, and modeling and simulation techniques, and be able to assess legacy systems, emerging technological concepts, and as-yet-to-be-developed concepts into the joint war fighting environment considering technology readiness levels, effectiveness, cost, and risk. Understand the process of war fighting gaps to synthesis of as-yet-realized system concepts to meet emerging capability needs. Understand and apply modeling and simulation to include deterministic and stochastic modeling of systems, economic models, cost models, and lifecycle suitability analyses. This includes the ability to develop original discrete-event and continuous run-time simulations, as well some familiarity with large-scale government and commercial war fighting simulations.
  2. System Architecting. Perform system architecting, applying and integrating methods for both software and hardware aspects. Construct feasible system functional and physical architectures that represent a balanced approach to meeting stakeholder needs and expectations, stated, implied, and derived system requirements, and suitability objectives such as being open, modular, extensible, maintainable, and reusable. Understand system architecture frameworks, including the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DODAF), and their role in architecture development. Use model-based systems engineering techniques, based on UML or SySML to create, define, and develop system architectures. Develop, analyze, and compare alternative architectures against appropriate, system-level evaluation criteria and select the best based on quantitative and qualitative analysis, as appropriate.
  3. System Design. Understand and apply the system design process in a holistic context, applying and integrating methods for both software and hardware aspects for manned or unmanned and autonomous systems including identifying needed capabilities, defining requirements, conducting functional analysis and allocation to hardware, software, and human elements, creating a system functional design, designing a system, deriving and defining requirement specifications, allocating requirement specifications to sub-systems (for hardware, software, and human elements), designing for characteristic such as suitability, including reliability, availability, maintainability, interoperability, system security, and logistical supportability. Perform system assessment by conducting trade-off studies, evaluating system design alternatives against system capability need expressed as military effectiveness, estimating and analyzing the system cost and risk, including risk mitigation strategies, integrating human elements into the system design, and analyzing and planning for system testing and evaluation.
  4. Engineering Design Analysis. Understand and apply core qualitative and quantitative methods of engineering design analysis, to include problem formulation, alternatives development, alternatives modeling and evaluation, alternatives comparison, optimization, decision analysis, failure analysis, risk analysis, and futures analysis. Mathematical techniques may include multiple criteria optimization, design of experiments, response surface methods, set-based design, real options, systems dynamics, and probabilistic analyses.
  5. System Integration and Development. Apply the core skills of system integration and development to include integrating relevant technological disciplines that bear on the system effectiveness and cost, including system security, weapons, sensor and information systems, while being responsive to realistic military capability need and war fighting effectiveness, requirements, functions, specifications, cost, and risk. Integrate systems and analyze aspects during the entire lifecycle through aging, life extension and disposal. Understand system realization methods and processes, including prototyping and production.
  6. System Test & Evaluation. Apply the core skills of system test and evaluation to include system effectiveness while being responsive to realistic military capability need and war fighting effectiveness, requirements, functions, and specifications. Evaluate systems and analyze test and evaluation aspects during the entire life-cycle using inferential statistics methods, including design of experiments (DOE) and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Apply fundamental verification and validation principles to systems development methods. This ESR will be obtained through the US Navy Test Pilot School Curriculum.
  7. Human Systems Integration. Address human factors during requirements definition, as well as workload, safety, training, operability and ergonomics during design. Conduct functional analysis and allocation to human elements, performing cost risk-effectiveness trade-offs among hardware, software, and human elements. Evaluate proposed designs for man-machine integration, human performance testing and usability during development test and evaluation. This ESR will be obtained through the US Navy Test Pilot School.
  8. Project Management. Work as a team member or leader on a military systems engineering project. Demonstrate an understanding of project management principles. Demonstrate competence in the planning and management of complex projects. Understand the principles of and apply current industry approaches and technology to manage systems design, integration, test, and evaluation for large engineering projects.
  9. Aviation Systems Specialization. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles, technologies, and systems used in the aviation systems specialization area. Demonstrate broad understanding of systems context of the specialization. Apply that understanding to the design of system components, sub-systems, and interfaces in the holistic context of the engineering of systems. Relevant course work and/or experience needed to meet the aviation systems specialization ESR can be acquired at accredited graduate level academic institutions, service specific schools such as the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, on the job experience or a combination of all.
  10. Thesis. Conduct independent analysis and research in the area of Systems Engineering, and show proficiency in presenting the results in writing and orally by means of a thesis or a Capstone project and command-oriented briefing appropriate to this curriculum. This ESR will be obtained through the DTII Report in the US Navy Test Pilot School Curriculum.