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Online Colleges for Systems Engineering

Systems engineers play a special role: they are responsible for creating the systems used in many economic sectors, including aerospace, health care, finance and manufacturing. The role of project manager often falls to the systems engineer as well; it is not uncommon for a systems engineer to oversee the creation of a system from its initial conception through implementation and final evaluation. This is a very rewarding and engaging career, but it is not an easy one. A substantial amount of knowledge and technical skill is required, and most people are not going to be able to pick all that knowledge up just through osmosis. This is where an online master's degree program in systems engineering comes in. While degrees in this subject are varied, they can be essential when it comes to learning how to succeed in systems engineering.

Online colleges for systems engineering are a great fit for students seeking careers as a systems engineer, particularly students with prior work or family commitments. To help you get started on your journey, we have selected ten high-performing colleges offering online programs for systems engineering and featured them in the following list. We made our selections based on data from National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our custom methodology, which you can see more about at the bottom of this page. Without further ado: our ten featured colleges for systems engineering.

1

Kennesaw State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,262
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
37
School Type
4-year

Kennesaw State University's online master's degree program in systems engineering is explicitly oriented towards working professionals. The program has an emphasis on using "real world" examples from a variety of industries to convey lessons and concepts, helping to make the lessons relatable and understandable. Particular weight is given to the following skills during the program:

  • Risk assessment
  • Understanding of requirements
  • Problem solving

The learning environment of Kennesaw is intriguingly unique. Half of the program is relayed to students via downloadable lectures, PPT's, etc. complete with voiceovers. The other half, however, is taught in a live virtual environment led by a professor. Students concerned about missing out on personal interactions in their online classes may find their worries allayed by this format offered at Kennesaw State University.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Location:

1000 Chastain Rd.
Kennesaw, GA 30144
2

Texas Tech University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,028
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
41.35%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
31
School Type
4-year

The Master of Science in systems & engineering management degree program at Texas Tech University has been designed with preparation for the job market in mind. To prepare its students, the program emphasizes engineering, science, technical, management and financial aspects of the field. Some of the courses in this program require the use of Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC), which lends those courses a personal touch that can be beneficial to learning. In total, the program requires completion of 30 credit hours, and is available in both thesis and non-thesis options.

Texas Tech is admirably accommodating of incoming students; the university's courses are offered in semesters, and new students may enroll at the beginning of any one of the four semesters during the year.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Location:

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
3

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,520
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
39
School Type
4-year

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide (ERAU) offers an online master's degree in systems engineering. This program works to prepare students who are aiming to become engineers or managers, offering them a systems-based perspective that can be applied to business and technology spheres. In order to meet all of their students' needs, ERAU allows them to select from two different tracks: technical or engineering management. The technical track focuses on systems design and implementation, while the engineering management track covers topics such as organization and management skills.

Of the ten schools featured on this list, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide had the fifth-highest scores for two important metrics in our study: admissions rate, and percentage of systems engineering degrees awarded in 2015 relative to total degrees awarded.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Location:

600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
4

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,628
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
37.92%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
School Type
4-year

At the Missouri University of Science and Technology, students may choose from two graduate level programs in systems engineering:

  • The Master of Science in systems engineering program requires students to complete six core courses and four courses in a selected area of specialization. The program may be pursued with or without a thesis project.
  • The Ph.D. in systems engineering program takes a self-structured approach, requiring approval from the student's advisory committee and the completion of a dissertation. Doctoral students must complete a master's degree in systems engineering as a prerequisite to enrollment in the Ph.D. program.

Potential areas of specialization include, to name just a few:

  • Big data analytics and management and security
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Model based engineering
  • Infrastructure systems

In addition to all of its versatility, the university also represented itself well in our metrics. Missouri University of Science and Technology achieved high scores in every area we reviewed, from graduation rate to admissions rate to percentage of systems engineering degrees awarded in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCAHLC)

School Location:

1870 Minor Circle
Rolla, MO 65409
5

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,558
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
25.06%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
41
School Type
4-year

With the third-highest admissions and graduation rates out of the ten schools on this list, Colorado State University-Fort Collins makes a good case for itself as a school worth enrolling in. Emphasizing problem solving and critical thinking, the university's online Master of Engineering or Master of Science degree programs with a systems engineering specialization are a great fit for working professionals seeking to improve their knowledge. Content in the program's courses covers a variety of subjects, among them:

  • Systems optimization
  • Model-based systems engineering
  • Utility theory
  • Lifecycle assessment

Colorado State University-Fort Collins places importance on being flexible for its students. These system engineering programs are offered via a hybrid course delivery strategy, allowing students to engage with lessons when and where is most convenient for them: online while the lecture is occurring on campus; watching a recorded version after work or on the weekend; or attending courses in person at the school's South Metro Denver location.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCAHLC)

School Location:

102 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
6

George Mason University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,952
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
23.29%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
25
School Type
4-year

The online Master of Science in systems engineering degree program at George Mason University is designed to accommodate working professionals. Courses are offered entirely online, and can be delivered in synchronous or asynchronous format. In a synchronous format, all students in the course log on at the same time of day in order to take part in course activities together; meanwhile, in an asynchronous format, students can log on at the best time of day for them in order to review class material when convenient. The program offers concentration courses in four different areas of specialization for the subject, and ends with a capstone project.

Out of the schools being featured here on our list of online colleges for systems engineering, George Mason ranks second in graduation rate. The university also ranks fourth in both admissions rate and in the percentage of systems engineering degrees awarded.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Location:

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
7

University of Florida

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$6,381
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
56.94%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
47
School Type
4-year

Students searching for the right online program for systems engineering may find what they're looking for at the University of Florida. The university offers programs for either a Master of Science or Master of Engineering in industrial and systems engineering online via the UF EDGE (University of Florida Electronic Delivery of Graduate Engineering). In addition, UF's Industrial and Systems Engineering Department also offers access to a systems engineering certificate program, which might be a more attractive option depending on your previous education and current needs.

The highest graduation rank on our list belongs to the University of Florida, which stands head and shoulders above the competition in this regard. It is also notable that, of all those graduates acquiring degrees, a sizable portion of them were from the college's systems engineering program: UF ranked No.2 for percentage of systems engineering degrees awarded in 2015. Between these two factors, University of Florida is clearly worth checking out for prospective system engineers.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

School Location:

P.O. Box 116595
Gainesville, FL 32611
8

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,304
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
20.79%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
11
School Type
4-year

The University Of Michigan-Dearborn provides potential systems engineering students with an option to attend graduate school online. Its Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.) in industrial and systems engineering program is intended to enrich the skillsets of engineers and other professionals who work with large integrated systems, and it offers multiple specializations to accomplish this:

  • Human Factors/Ergonomics
  • Operations Research & Management Science
  • Quality Systems Design
  • Advanced Manufacturing & Automation
  • Information Systems Management
  • Program Management & Product Development

At 30 credit hours in length, this program is long enough to provide quite a lot of information, yet short enough to be completed quickly if needed. It would seem that several of the students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn are doing just that, seeing as the school ranked No.3 of all ten schools on this list for percentage of systems engineering degrees awarded in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

School Location:

4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
9

University of Arizona

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,877
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
22.68%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
23
School Type
4-year

Emphasizing customization and practical abilities, the University of Arizona's Master of Science in systems engineering encourages students to build their own academic plan in order to satisfy their personal professional goals. Both the academic plan and the practical thesis or project that concludes the program can be completed alongside an advisor and/or faculty members. While the exact courses will differ depending on the plan you create for yourself, a few common threads the available courses are likely to concentrate on include:

  • Financial modeling
  • Linear systems
  • Quality control
  • Reliability testing
  • Statistics and Stochastic modeling

The University of Arizona understands the importance of students both entering and leaving its enrollment; it scored No.4 for highest admissions rate and No.5 for highest graduation rate of the ten schools featured on this list.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

School Location:

1401 E. University
Tucson, AZ 85721
10

Colorado Technical University-Online

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,297
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
62.15%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
N/A
School Type
4-year

Rounding out this list of featured online colleges for systems engineering is Colorado Technical University-Online. The school's Master of Science in systems engineering program was designed in agreement with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). The program runs on quarter-credits (rather than semester credits, like some of the other schools on this list) and requires completion of 48 quarter-credits to be finished. Some example courses from this program are:

  • Applied Managerial Decision-Making
  • Project Planning, Execution and Closure
  • Systems Engineering I and II
  • Systems Acquisition Processes and Standards

Colorado Technical University-Online is committed to making graduate school available to students of all backgrounds. The university offers prospective students the benefit of an open admissions policy, which means any applicant who has earned a high school diploma or a GED certificate can be accepted to the school.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

School Location:

4435 N. Chestnut, Suite E
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Degree Overview: Systems Engineering

Systems engineers need a solid grasp on the design, modeling, and analysis of technological systems in order to work in such varied fields as communication, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing on a day-to-day basis. The courses of a systems engineering degree program are structured in such a way to help students learn the fundamental skills they need in order to design equipment, networks and devices that solve clients' problems. But what are those courses, and what are the skills they teach? This is what we will be discussing here.

Online Systems Engineering Courses

Bachelor's degree programs in systems engineering typically focus on teaching students the engineering principles needed to analyze and design models that improve functionality. Along with general education classes, students of this field will encounter advanced mathematics, science, and computer courses. The most common course requirements include:

  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Computer programming
  • Systems modeling/ design
  • Engineering management
  • Operations research

Some undergraduate programs also offer a track option to prepare students to enter medical school after they've completed their bachelor's degree.

For those who'd like to continue their studies, master's degree programs in systems engineering delve deep into advanced theories of system modeling, risk analysis, and research methods. These programs are typically designed for working professionals with a desire to solve complex engineering problems in fields such as energy, aerospace, environment or government. Students of these programs may be able to focus their studies onto a specialization, such as:

  • Biomedical systems engineering
  • Cybersecurity systems engineering
  • Human systems engineering
  • Modeling and simulation systems engineering
  • Project management
  • Software systems engineering

In addition, students may choose to further their education with any number of post-master's certificate programs that focus on systems engineering specializations, including engineering management, power systems engineering and systems architecture. If you do your research early enough, some certificates are even structured as companion programs that can count toward master's degree requirements, helping you to earn both certificate and degree in one fell swoop.

There are also a few Ph.D. level degree programs in systems engineering, and they are usually geared toward professionals and executives who have extensive experience working in the field. Candidates usually have to prepare a dissertation in a specific topic area, such as systems engineering architecture or dynamics of complex engineering systems, in order to complete the program.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

There is a growing need for engineers with an understanding of not just just the pieces, but how all of those pieces interact with one another. Systems engineers do not focus on just the electronics, ergonomics, or software, but instead on the system as a whole. They must be able to lead projects and integrate all of their team's specialties into one cohesive unit, so communication skills are key. Analytical and adaptive thinking are also valued skills, since systems engineers are involved in the entire process from concept to design, and then on to production and ultimately operation. These professionals must be able to consider their customers' needs from both a business and technical viewpoint in order to provide a quality product that truly meets their needs, as well as being able to change their plans and ideas in case something should go terribly wrong with the process.

A strong background in research is also valuable in many regards. It's important to understand the progression of knowledge and invention through the past, with its various successes and failures, as well as the status of engineering in the present, regarding what kinds of projects are underway and the revelations that have come about from their progress. Being aware of this information helps engineers to develop innovative methods of tackling problems and improving operations in the varied fields of computer networking, building design, transportation, manufacturing, bio-medicine, government, and more.

Career Outlook for Systems Engineering

Students who enroll in systems engineering degree programs have a range of career options and prospects across a range of different industries. Here's a closer look at what to expect in a few of these industries.

Aerospace Engineers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$112,010
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
20,700
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-2.3
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Want to design a spacecraft that can take man to Mars, or build the next satellite sent off to explore the outer edges of our solar system? Aerospace engineers primarily design, manufacture and test air- and spacecraft. They assess projects to determine if they can be built safely, and make sure all designs meet engineering principles and quality standards.

This career requires a wide range of specialties, including aerodynamic fluid flow, guidance systems, control and instrumentation, robotics, propulsion and much more. It's not an easy career to work in -- it is, in fact, literally rocket science -- but it certainly is a fascinating one, filled with possibility and opportunity!

Architectural and Engineering Managers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$143,870
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
59,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

People working in these positions have no shortage of responsibilities. Architectural and engineering managers typically oversee and coordinate their staff to work seamlessly with other organizations on a given project. One day you may be in a meeting with a company's finance, production and marketing directors to consider the overarching direction for the company's next move; the next you may spend at your desk, drawing up work schedules for the individual members of your own team. People in these management positions prepare departmental budgets and draft budgets for new projects; hire and oversee new staff; coordinate work; and draft plans to best develop new projects and designs. Most architectural and engineering managers have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have earned master's degrees with specialties in management or technology management. It is not uncommon for engineering managers to earn a master's degree in business administration as well.

System Engineers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$99,250
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
33,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Systems engineers must be able to look at the "big picture." It is their duty not only to help plan and design successful systems, but also to provide technical consulting, training and support to team members and customers. They coordinate the activities of different departments, reporting performance, goals, objectives and outcomes to managers and other executives. System engineers are brought on board in the early stages of a development cycle so they can document system requirements, and then they work with other teams to move the development cycle from inception to operation. For most projects, they must consider and flesh out many different aspects, including: operations, performance, testing, manufacturing, training and support and cost and schedule. Students who consider themselves "big thinkers" and enjoy working as part of a team may find this a rewarding career path.

Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

  1. Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Florida, http://www.ise.ufl.edu/
  2. Graduate Degree Programs - Systems Engineering (M.S./Ph.D.), Missouri University of Science and Technology, http://dce.mst.edu/credit/degrees/systems/
  3. Master of Science in Systems Engineering, Colorado Technical University, http://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/masters/systems-engineering
  4. Master of Science in Systems Engineering, Kennesaw State University, http://learnonline.kennesaw.edu/graduate-programs/engineering/ms-systems_engineering.php
  5. Master of Science in Systems Engineering, University of Arizona, http://online.engineering.arizona.edu/online-programs/systems-engineering/master-of-systems-engineering/
  6. Master of Science in Systems & Engineering Management, Texas Tech University, https://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/masters/systems-engineering-management/
  7. Master of Systems Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, https://erau.edu/degrees/master/systems-engineering/
  8. M.S.E. in Industrial & Systems Engineering, University of Michigan-Dearborn, https://umdearborn.edu/cecs/departments/industrial-and-manufacturing-systems-engineering/graduate-programs/mse-industrial-systems-engineering
  9. Aerospace engineer, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/aerospace-engineers.htm
  10. Architectural and Engineering Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/architectural-and-engineering-managers.htm#tab-2
  11. Systems Engineer, Society of Human Resource Management, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/job-descriptions/pages/cms_001557.aspx
  12. System Engineering, International Council on Systems Engineering, http://www.incose.org/AboutSE/WhatIsSE
  13. Systems Engineering B.S., George Mason University,, Accessed August 2017, http://advising.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/SYST-Sample-Schedule-2017-2018.pdf
  14. B.S. in Systems Engineering, The University of Arizona, Accessed August 2017, http://www.sie.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/SystemsEngineering16-17.pdf
  15. Systems Engineering, Johns Hopkins, Accessed August 2017, https://ep.jhu.edu/programs-and-courses/programs/systems-engineering
  16. Systems Engineering, Colorado State University, Accessed August 2017, https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/systems-engineering/
  17. Online Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, Colorado State University, Accessed August 2017, https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/systems-engineering-phd/
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Sources and Methodologies