May 28, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Management of Complex Systems, M.S.

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Program Description
Contact: John Abatzoglou, MIST Graduate Group Chair,

The Management of Complex Systems (MCS) program is designed to educate a new generation of management scholars with depth in analytical methods and a focus on complexity as the driving force behind issues in management of human-technology systems and in management of coupled human-natural systems. The program draws upon the multidisciplinary composition of MIST faculty and the interdisciplinary spirit of UC Merced to deliver a distinctive educational experience – one that provides students the flexibility to cross-breed coursework and mentorship with other domains of engineering, science, and social science. Likewise, the program does not require prospective students to have any particular undergraduate degree.

Courses are directly taught by MIST core faculty who have expertise in various facets of adaptive management of complex coupled human and natural systems, including for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and public and private enterprises. As such, coursework and thesis projects are aimed at developing management skills tailored for  ‘wicked problems’–those of indeterminate scale and scope requiring interdisciplinary collaboration–that that are so often encountered in complex adaptive systems. Both the sources and solutions to the grand challenges of the 21st century are at the intersection of people, organizations, information, technology, and the natural world. By focusing on this nexus, this program will prepare our students with a valuable skillset for working with other scholars, practitioners, and policy makers in order to address challenges of monitoring, analysis, modeling, entrepreneurship, adaptive management and change leadership that managers and leaders are faced with across a diverse array of public and private organizations.

Prospective applicants must hold the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree from a four-year accredited college or university.

Master’s Program Requirements

M.S. students must:

  • Complete at least two semesters in full-time academic residence at UC Merced (12 units minimum per semester).
  • Complete a minimum of 24 units of courses at the upper division and graduate levels with a letter grade of B or better, with at least 20 units of graded graduate (200-level) courses in the major subject, including Fundamentals I and II (MIST 252 & 253) and at least two Methods courses.
  • Enroll in the MIST Speaker Series seminar (MIST 251 ) twice for credit (S/U)
  • Either pass a comprehensive exam (non-thesis option), or give a public oral presentation and successfully defend a master’s thesis containing original research (thesis option).

To apply for the M.S. in Management of Complex Systems, applicants must follow the application procedure of the UC Merced Graduate Division.

Master’s Program Learning Outcomes

The goal is for the students to master cross-disciplinary management concepts and their application in a range of real-world problems, providing a solid basis for future academic and industry positions. There are five Program Learning Outcomes:

  1. Foundations. Students will apply disciplinary concepts and theories for framing and defining research questions and plans from business, management, economics, sociology, psychology, cognitive science, environmental science and engineering.
  2. Methods. Students will be able to apply contemporary social science and scientific methods needed to conduct rigorous research in their area of specialization.
  3. Communication. Students will communicate effectively to experts and non-experts, in professional (scientific and management) and community settings, preparing and delivering oral and written presentations using appropriate technologies.
  4. Research Practice and Independence. (Thesis option) Students will be able to initiate and conduct independent research (e.g. review of literature, development of a research question and methodology, analysis, discussion, and conclusion) that makes an original contribution to knowledge, and which may be published in a peer reviewed outlet. (Non-thesis Option) Students will be able to initiate and conduct supervised research (e.g. review of literature, development of a research question and methodology, analysis, discussion, and conclusion).
  5. Research ethics and societal context. Students will demonstrate familiarity with all aspects of research ethics and the societal context of their work.

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