Industrial and systems engineering is concerned with the analysis, design, and implementation of systems through optimal use of resources--human, materials, energy, information, and financial. Systems may range from small units to extremely large operations. In order to accomplish these activities, the industrial engineer must be skilled in mathematics, physical sciences, management, and human relations, as well as manufacturing, computer systems, economics, optimization, human behavior, and systems analysis and design. 

Industrial engineers improve the quality of our lives by making systems and process better, faster, cheaper, and safer. They excel at exploring business challenges and developing ways to make industries, hospitals, education, and government more effective. They know how to work with others and how to help people work more effectively, and they're typically responsible for implementing the delicate and complex process of system change.

Why Study at Iowa

The BSE in industrial engineering is one of eight Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the College of Engineering, which offers excellent opportunities for students to participate in research, internships, study abroad, and student organizations.

Students choose to study engineering at Iowa because of the college's academic excellence, individual attention, small-college environment, camaraderie, and tremendous opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranks Iowa's undergraduate program in the top 20 percent of engineering programs nationwide. 

Iowa admits incoming first-year students directly into engineering. About 525 first-year students and 100 transfer students enroll each year. Women account for over 26 percent of Iowa's engineering students; the national average is 20 percent. 

BSE/MS Fast-Track Degree Program

The BSE/MS fast-track degree program is for eligible students who seek to complete both the BSE and MS degrees in industrial and systems engineering at Iowa. Students interested in this program apply in the second semester of their junior year and, if admitted, enter that program in the first semester of their senior year. The fast-track program allows 12 hours to be counted toward both their BSE and MS degrees. 

Course Work

The major in industrial and systems engineering requires a strong foundation of courses in engineering science, mathematics, design, manufacturing, social science, and humanities.  

Advanced work includes specialty courses in human factors and ergonomics, management, information systems, manufacturing, quality control, and operations research. Design is an integral part of the undergraduate programs and all students complete a comprehensive design experience. 

The industrial and systems engineering program emphasizes both a broad education in industrial engineering fundamentals and the opportunity for in-depth learning. All BSE students complete the BSE core requirements as well as the curriculum designed for their major program, which covers four major stems: mathematics and basic sciences, engineering topics, the general education component, and an elective focus area.

Elective focus area courses enable students to gain depth of knowledge in a career path. Students may choose from several pre-approved focus areas or work with their adviser to develop an individualized focus area, which is subject to approval by the department's curriculum committee.

Standard elective focus areas in industrial and systems engineering include:

  • Big data analytics
  • Computer and information systems
  • Design and manufacturing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Human factors and ergonomics
  • Management
  • Wind energy

See Industrial and Systems Engineering in the UI General Catalog for more details.

Admission Requirements

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Student Opportunities

Engineering student support services include free tutoring for your first two years of math, science, and engineering courses.

Engineering student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and national honorary societies offer many opportunities to develop your leadership abilities.

In addition to having more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Iowa's nationally and internationally renowned faculty members, including physicians and practicing engineers, teach all engineering classes, including those for first-year students. No classes are taught by teaching assistants. Faculty members also encourage undergraduates to work in their research labs. 

The college recently completed a $37 million, 65,000-square-foot addition to the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences to accommodate growth in enrollment and faculty research. 

The Seamans Center addition addresses multiple strategic needs that will enable the college to maintain its momentum and growth, including further encouraging student success, expanded classrooms, collaborative learning spaces, learning and discovery in fluid mechanics, sustainability, advances in teaching and conducting research in computer-aided design and simulation, and fostering engineering and the arts. 


On average, 93-98 percent of our graduates are employed in their field of study or pursuing advanced education within seven months of graduation.

Employment opportunities for industrial and systems engineers are among the most varied in the engineering field. There are opportunities for employment and service in manufacturing and energy firms, wind turbine manufacturers, government agencies, and service organizations such as airlines, banks, hospitals, health care groups, and consulting companies. 

Industrial and systems engineers hold positions as advisers to management or may participate directly in management decisions. Typical job titles include industrial engineer, manufacturing engineer, systems analyst, quality specialist, operations research analyst, internal consultant, human factors specialist, supervisor, and manager. 

Engineering is a well-respected profession that is used as a foundation for a variety of careers in industry, medicine, law, government, and consulting. Engineering majors hold eight of the top ten spots on the list of top-paid majors for bachelor's degree graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Engineering Professional Development (EPD) develops and promotes experiential education and professional opportunities for students in the College of Engineering. Professional staff coordinate the college's co-op and internship program, engage in employer outreach, and provide opportunities for students to network with employers, including an engineering career fair each semester and other programming related to career development. 

EPD also offers individual advising and class presentations on resume and cover letter preparation, job and internship search strategies, interviewing skills, and job offer evaluations. 


Apply early for scholarships. The college offers Engineering First-Year Scholarships as well as many other scholarship opportunities for sophomore, junior, and senior students. Visit the College of Engineering Scholarships to learn more. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

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Apply to the College of Engineering.


Industrial and Systems Engineering (BSE)
Focus Areas
Big Data Analytics
Computer and Information Systems
Design and Manufacturing
Human Factors and Ergonomics
Wind Energy
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission