MSEM Curriculum - Gordon Institute
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Because you

work differently.

Designed specifically for engineers and scientists.

Tufts’ trailblazing Gordon Institute reinvented the management curriculum for engineers into a holistic, meaningful and relevant learning experience, and the world took note. In fact, the Gordon Institute received the National Academy of Engineering Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

What is the MSEM Core Curriculum?

Students in both the Two-Year and Three-Year MSEM complete the same 16 short courses on topics across the 5 core themes. Both Two-Year and Three-Year programs complete these 20 credits over four academic semesters.

Each core theme is broken into a series of courses taught by renowned experts who enrich classroom discussions with insights from their extensive industry experience. Every semester, you’ll take courses from several different themes, gaining exposure to topics that you can apply to hands-on projects and put to work immediately in your professional life.

Theme #1: Developing Products & Systems (5 Credits)

EM-220A: New Product Development & Business Communications (Year #1 • Fall • 2 credits)

Students learn what questions to ask and actions to take at various phases of new product evolution. Emphasis is placed on customer input and cross-functional team roles and responsibilities. Elements of marketing are presented including: market research tools, product positioning, branding and marketing communications. The central focus of this course is the development of a new product concept by cross-functional student teams that integrates learning from other modules. The student teams formally present their concepts at the end of the semester and develop effective techniques to present to senior management and/or prospective investors.

EM-220B: Experience Design (Year #1 • Spring • 1 credit)

This course explores the core principles of experience design and shows how these principles can be applied to the creation of compelling products, services, brands and environments. Topics covered include: the role of brand in experience design; approaches to customer understanding; the development of customer personas and journey maps; envisioning systems; experiential modeling; and designing for products and services. At the final session student teams present class projects and consider the role of experience design in business strategy.

EM-210C: Quantitative Methods for Data Driven Decision Making (Year #1 • Spring • 1 credit)

This course presents statistical approaches to systems thinking and system design engineering. Methods for measuring, analyzing, predicting, and improving product reliability are explored. Statistical tolerancing of system components is introduced, together with techniques for aggregating and measuring system-level quality and probability-of-failure. Big data approaches to systems optimization are discussed, including Dependent Variable Analysis and Machine Learning.

EM-220D: Systematic Innovations (Year #2 • Fall • 1 credit)

This course introduces students to the general principles of TRIZ-based systematic innovation. A collection of tools is applied algorithmically to identify the right problem, solve the problem efficiently and ensure the solutions align with the business strategy. Students develop skills that can be applied to improve functionality within existing products, develop new generation products, or reduce cost.

Theme #2: Finance & Project Management (3 Credits)

EM-230A: Project Management & Software Methodologies (Year #1 • Fall • 1 credit)

Students learn the fundamentals and modern heuristics for project management, with a focus on product development/engineering projects. The Project Management Body of Knowledge from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is explored in depth. Additional special topics include: quantitative project management; iterative and agile project lifecycles; software development lifecycles; and project defect models.

EM-230B: Finance and Accounting (Year #1 • Fall • 2 credits)

Students learn how to create and analyze financial statements including the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. Managerial tools for optimizing financial decisions including the economic feasibility of projects and products are explored. In conjunction with the project in the New Product Development course (EM-220A), student teams are required to develop a complete financial plan including a full set of pro forma financial statements and an analysis of return on investment.

Theme #3: Global Strategic Management (6 Credits)

EM-240A: Business Strategy (Year #1 • Spring • 2 credits)

Business Strategy provides the background and insights required to develop a differentiating business strategy for an organization. The lectures and readings cover business fundamentals, the strategic planning process, competitive strategies, core competencies, strategic alliances, acquisitions and mergers, and franchising. Working in teams, students develop a complete business strategy for a high tech company.

EM-240B: Technology Strategy (Year #1 • Spring • 1 credit)

This course provides insight into many factors that drive innovation and the successful commercialization of new technologies in established and new businesses. This includes best practices in new product portfolio management, technology road mapping, and discussion of incremental, radical and disruptive innovation.

EM-240C: Fundamentals of Economics (Year #2 • Fall • 1 credit)

This course offers an overview of both macro and microeconomics. Students learn to (i) analyze current global economic issues that are related to trade balance, government budgets, unemployment, competitiveness of innovation and manufacturing processes, (ii) assess how fiscal and monetary discipline impact economic growth and social & political stability (iii) examine how different economic philosophies shape individual and collective behaviors (iv) analyze market behaviors and (v) develop an understanding of the basics of game theory.

EM-240D: Globalization & Multinational Strategy (Year #2 • Spring • 2 credits)

Students develop a full understanding of the forces behind globalization and the evolution of multinational companies from different regions of world. The course examines the strategic, organizational and operational implications of working and leading in the global environment both in a large multinational organization and in a start-up and discusses how different globalization models work across various industries.

Theme #4: Humanistic Perspectives on Leadership (3 Credits)

EM-250A: Personal Leadership (Year #1 • Spring • 1 credit)

The ability to lead starts with the process of self-discovery. In order to succeed externally, leaders need to develop an ability to understand their own internal environments—their energy, motivation, priorities, core values, etc. They need to develop their self-management skills and cultivate their self-confidence. Learning in this context does not mean simply acquiring new information, but elevating self-awareness, discovering one’s authentic self and taking responsibility for her/his development as a leader. This course helps students develop a better understanding of their internal environment and to learn (and implement) techniques for improving their personal effectiveness.

EM-250B: Ethics of Leadership (Year #2 • Fall • 1 credit)

Students learn what constitutes a situation with moral or ethical stakes, how such situations develop and how leaders think through these challenges. Topics discussed include: different types of moral challenges, moral leadership, moral identity and professionalism, as well as moral reasoning, and moral action. This course gives students the intellectual tools and depth of understanding to assess moral issues as they arise in their personal and professional life. Students apply these concepts and insights into their own growth as leaders.

EM-250C: Practice of Ethical Leadership (Year #2 • Spring • 1 credit)

Students are encouraged to look outward and expand their understanding of leadership, the world and their place in it as future engineering leaders. Students are challenged to formulate their own leadership message, to translate it into action and demonstrate it in the real world. Topics discussed include: giving voice to values, taking stand, exercising authority and emergent leadership.

Theme #5: Leading Teams & Organizations (3 Credits)

EM-260A: Building & Leading Teams (Year #1 • Fall • 1 credit)

Students learn the basic concepts of leadership, management and teamwork. The uniqueness of this course is within the teaching methodology, which has been developed to accelerate the advancement of self-awareness and interpersonal competencies. Specific topics covered in Building and Leading Effective Teams include: personality types (Myers-Briggs type indicator assessment), best practices in forming and maintaining team performance, giving and receiving feedback, individual and team creativity, communicating to inspire and influencing without authority.

EM-260B: Leading Organizations (Year #1 • Spring • 1 credit)

This course further develops tools gained in Building and Leading Teams and applies them to effect change on a broader scale. Topics include systems thinking, team decision making, communication across cultures, shared visions and organizational change.

EM-260C: Conflict Resolution (Year #2 • Fall • 1 credit)

Students are introduced to frameworks, tools, and skills to effectively manage conflict in the workplace. Building on prior modules and tailored to address the specific challenges students have faced (or anticipate facing in the future), this course draws upon relevant literature and uses student examples and action learning to develop insights and approaches. A central feature of this course is an exercise, in which students perform a real life negotiation in a session with two classmates and an instructor.

Five MSEM core themes outlined above

Visualization of Core Curriculum Timeline Outlined Above

What other projects & courses are involved?

Industry Consulting Project: 3 Credits

All students will complete an Industry Consulting Project - Team Practicum during the summer between the first and second year of the program.

Student teams are introduced to a client organization – often outside their area of expertise – with a real world problem or opportunity. Over a 12-week period, students work to research, develop strategies and make recommendations to address the project requirements. The teams present their final recommendations to the clients in oral and written reports. Tufts Gordon Institute faculty advisors are assigned to each team to provide guidance throughout the project.

Elective Courses: 6-7 Credits

All students will complete at least 6 elective credits during their second academic year. You may choose between two options:

Engineering Management Focused Studies (Year #2 • Fall & Spring • 7 credits)

If you elect to continue your EM studies, you will complete the following courses:

  • EM-210A: Process Capability and Big Data Overview (Year #2 • Fall • 2 credits)
    • This course introduces the “quality initiatives” (Six Sigma, TQM, Lean) and the probability and statistics fundamentals for these strategies. Students explore data types (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio) and their relationship to distribution types (normal [Gaussian], binomial, Poisson). Techniques for estimating population statistics from sampled data and for performing tests of hypotheses to compare samples and populations are practiced. Statistical tools and strategies are mapped to big data topics.
  • EM-230C: Supply Chain Management (Year #2 • Fall • 2 credits)
    • The module focuses on the strategic impact of supply chain excellence, using case studies and simulations from high tech and large scale manufacturing to convey best practices and decision factors in supply chain management. Success in building a world-class supply chain requires functional integration both within the firm and across the network of companies, and practical application of this concept is a recurring theme in the course. Topics explored include: strategic supplier management, global supply chains, outsourcing decisions, inventory management and replenishment methodologies.
  • EM-210B: Design of Experiments and Predictive Models (Year #2 • Spring • 1 credit)
    • Students gain expertise with Design of Experiments, a method for characterizing a process or system as a transfer function of its input variables, using the transfer function to obtain optimal, real-world settings for the input variables. Other approaches to transfer functions are explored, including big data approaches, regression analysis, and logistic regression. Statistical process control methods for analyzing and maintaining the behavior of systems and processes over time are explored.
  • EM-230D: Operations Management (Year #2 • Spring • 1 credit)
    • Students are introduced to problems and analysis related to the design, planning, control, and improvement of manufacturing and service operations. Topics include: how to map and analyze process flows, determine process capacities and bottlenecks, and design and coordinate operations within an organization. Through cases and an online simulation, students practice diagnosing and implementing process improvements.
  • EM-220C: Sustainability (Year #2 • Spring • 1 credit)
    • The course introduces lifecycle thinking to product design, as well as the business case for sustainability. Students learn about sustainable product development, cradle-to-cradle lifecycle concepts, life-cycle assessments, nature-inspired design and systems thinking. In addition, students have the opportunity to develop sustainability initiatives for their own workplace and learn how to drive sustainable thinking into product development and the corporation.
General Tufts University Electives (Year #2 • Fall & Spring • 6 credits)

If you prefer to choose electives outside of Engineering Management, you may choose to complete the following:

  • Graduate Elective #1 (Year #2 • Fall • 3 credits)
  • Graduate Elective #2 (Year #2 • Spring • 3 credits)

These electives can be from the School of Engineering if you'd like to increase your technical skills or even from within the School of Arts & Sciences - it's up to you!

Capstone Leadership Project or STEM electives: 6 Credits

All students in the Two-Year MSEM will complete a Capstone Leadership Project.

Students in the Three-Year MSEM have the option to complete either a Capstone Leadership Project or take two STEM electives.

Capstone Leadership Project (6-9 Month Individual Project • 6 credits)

In lieu of a Master’s degree thesis, students complete a large-scale project for their current employer or a client organization. The Capstone Leadership Project is an opportunity for students to apply classroom learning in the real world and to demonstrate their newly acquired leadership, strategic management and communication skills.

A faculty advisor assists the student in selecting an appropriate project, or will offer projects from other organizations if necessary. The key objectives of the project include:

  • Leading and managing a project from start to finish in a real world environment.
  • Demonstrating communications skills to coordinate complex technical activities.
  • Packaging and presenting compelling materials – both orally and through a written final report -that explain the concepts, track progress and discuss the outcome of their work.

Project Length

The project duration is between 6-9 months. To allow time to find the right project, most students in the Two-Year MSEM begin to investigate project options during their 2nd semester and officially kick-off their project at the start of the 3rd semester. Students in the Three-Year MSEM can choose to kick off their project in the fall or spring of their 3rd year. 

STEM Electives (6 credits total)

If you're in the Three-Year MSEM, you can choose to either complete the Capstone Leadership Project or two graduate level electives in a STEM field within Tufts School of Engineering, Arts & SciencesTake advantage of the breadth of courses offered at Tufts – from bioengineering and computer science to data analytics and environmental policy and planning – and build knowledge in areas that are aligned with your interests and career goals.