Complex Systems Science and Engineering Graduate Certificate

The Advanced Graduate Certificate program in Complex Systems Science and Engineering (CX) at Binghamton University offers students an opportunity to acquire knowledge and research skills in the emerging field of Complex Systems Science and Engineering, which connects several related research areas interdisciplinarily. Its educational goals are to push students to:

  • Become familiar with basic concepts and terms developed and used in Complex Systems Science and Engineering
  • Learn basic literacy of quantitative methods used in Complex Systems Science and Engineering (e.g., mathematical modeling, simulation, nonlinear statistics)
  • Acquire advanced knowledge and research skills in some areas of Complex Systems Science and Engineering that are relevant to their own research
  • Develop a broader research interest and intellectual openness/flexibility that go beyond their own areas of expertise

Students interested in this certificate program are welcome to join an upcoming Systems Science information session to receive more information. 

What are Complex Systems?

Complex systems are networks of many components with nonlinear interactions which arise and evolve through self-organization. These properties can be found in many real-world systems, such as political organizations, human cultures/languages, national and international economy, stock markets, the Internet, social networks, global climate, food webs, brains, physiological systems, and even down to gene regulatory networks in a single cell. In all of those systems, a massive amount of microscopic components are interacting with each other in non-trivial ways, where critically important information resides in the relationships between parts, not necessarily within parts themselves. It is therefore imperative to construct a model of how such interactions form and operate in order to understand what will emerge at a macroscopic scale in the system.

The recognition of this fact has been intellectually a huge leap from traditional "reductionist" approaches in natural and social sciences, where people used to understand a system by breaking it into parts and accumulating their properties. In the last several decades, however, a plethora of concepts and phenomena have been discovered for which such traditional approaches just do not work, including nonlinear dynamics and chaos, feedbacks and self-reference, pattern formation, evolution and adaptation, agent interaction in games, collective behavior and phase transition, and complex network topologies. While many of them were originally developed in statistical physics and mathematics, they are now recognized as fundamental concepts and applied in many other disciplines beyond physical sciences, ranging from philosophy and social sciences to biology and engineering.

Why should I get a certificate in Complex Systems Science and Engineering?

Complex Systems Science and Engineering is a rapidly advancing field of research that investigates structural/dynamical properties of systems to obtain general, cross-disciplinary implications and applications. The broad applicability of its concepts and methodologies to various forms of real-world problems has attracted increasing attention from a number of application areas, including systems engineering, organization management, data analysis, marketing, finance, medicine and healthcare, environmental management, homeland security and defense, education, art and aesthetics, and beyond. Consequently, there are increasing societal demands for personnel that have a solid understanding of complex systems and technical capabilities to model, analyze and manipulate such systems.

Obtaining a Certificate in Complex Systems Science and Engineering will thus help significantly enhance your competitiveness in various professional and academic job markets in the areas such as those listed above. The Certificate will be a strong endorsement for your technical knowledge and skills as well as your intellectual activity and interdisciplinary perspective. This certificate program will also serve as an accessible gateway to STEM-related interdisciplinary areas for those who currently major in humanities or other non-STEM disciplines.  

Program Requirements

The CX certificate program is open to graduate students in any major at Binghamton University (as an add-on certificate program), as well as other students who seek continuing education (as a stand-alone certificate program). Applicants must have a minimum of 3.0 GPA in the discipline at the time of application, regardless of the program (either at Binghamton or at the previous/current institution).

Plan of study:

  • SSIE 524A/B. Graduate Seminar in Complex Systems Science (1 credit x 2 semesters; students must take it twice)
  • SSIE 523. Collective Dynamics of Complex Systems (3 credits) or ECON 696H: Agent-Based Policy Modeling (4 credits)
  • Two elective courses — one from Group A and the other from Group B (list of approved elective courses available at

With permission, an independent study may substitute for one of the elective requirements.

Application deadline

Admission to the program occurs on a rolling basis.

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