The ESD PhD program aims to produce the next generation of leading engineering systems researchers and thinkers. It provides students with a strong technical foundation and puts an emphasis on inter-disciplinary and collaborative research. This is enhanced by experiences in industry, teaching, and international exchange. The program is mentoring-intensive with a unique flexible advising structure that allows students to work with multiple faculty members and faculty members to engage with multiple students. PhD students also benefit from professional development opportunities with a focus on soft skills, including communication, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Students attending the PhD program go through a rigorous set of common core courses in optimization, operations management, probability and statistics; moreover they will also have the opportunity to choose form a diverse set of elective courses that allows them to gain in-depth knowledge in one or more specialization areas.

The Distinctiveness of the ESD PhD

The ESD PhD program offers students the opportunity to work with faculty who are at the very forefront of their fields and come from the very best universities in the world, including MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, and Cornell, and with diverse nationalities, including countries from North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

The ESD pillar is rapidly growing and will continue to do so for the next several years. ESD faculty are engaged in leading edge research in a wide range of disciplines including optimization, stochastic modeling, game theory, economics, control science, system dynamics, public policy, organizational and behavioral sciences. They are also engaged in important applications including supply chains, transportation and logistics, healthcare, energy and the environment, service systems, financial engineering, critical infrastructure and security, social networks, telecommunication systems, renewable energy, and electricity markets. ESD faculty are tackling these problems using analytical, computational, empirical, and experimental approaches and methodologies.

View the ESD PhD Brochure
View the ESD PhD Brochure


To fully benefit from courses offered in the ESD PhD program, enrolled students are expected to be familiar with the following topics:

For each course, follow the hyperlink to reach the corresponding MIT OpenCourseWare page with a typical syllabus and study material. Furthermore, students must show the ability to program in a modern computer language.

Note that the ESD PhD committee may decide to admit students who did not take some or all of these courses during their previous studies. However, it is expected that such students will familiarize themselves with the topics before the PhD program starts.


We welcome and encourage applications to the ESD PhD program from bright and motivated students. Please note the following dates and requirements.


Applicants should possess, or be in the process of receiving, at least a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution and be in excellent academic standing.

Application Period

For more information on the application period, please refer to the following link:

The ESD PhD provides students with a strong technical foundation and puts an emphasis on inter-disciplinary and collaborative research.

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Application Process

The application process takes about 20 minutes and will require the following in order to be complete (incomplete applications are not considered):

  • Transcripts and certificates for any academic degrees earned or currently in progress. Please submit your latest official transcripts and an official letter of certification from your institution, indicating the expected date of graduation and/or conferral of your degree if your degree is still in progress. For non-English documents, an official English translation must be provided.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report. If the medium of instruction at your undergraduate institution was not English, please submit your up-to-date TOEFL or IELTS score.
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score report (highly recommended). Please have your up-to-date scores submitted to SUTD. The SUTD university code used by Educational Testing Services is 7398.
  • Letters of recommendation from at least 3 references. Letters should preferably come from faculty members who can comment on your scholastic capabilities and achievements as well as your ability to complete the ESD PhD program. Additional letters may be submitted as desired. Please contact your referees well ahead of time to allow them ample time to prepare and submit the letters by the deadline.
  • A photocopy of a government issued identity card with a photograph. Provide a copy of your passport, or similar equivalent document.
  • A Statement of Objectives. The Statement of Objectives (about 3,000 words) should describe your experiences, research interests, and reasons for applying for admission to the ESD PhD program. This is your opportunity to tell the admission committee how your experiences and accomplishments thus far as well as your future goals make a PhD the next reasonable step for you, and why you should be considered.

In addition, while not required, any additional information that supports your application such as awards and publications may be submitted.

Short-listed applicants may be asked to attend an interview (via Skype, telephone, or in some cases, face-to-face).