Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute

ASU-SFI Master's Degree in Complexity Science 

The Santa Fe Institute, in collaboration with Arizona State University, will be launching the first online Master's Degree in Complexity Science.  Faculty from both SFI and ASU will prepare courses and be hosted on ASU online.  This is a developing project and this page will contain information on the upcoming Master's degree.  This page will be updated frequently as details about the Master's become firmer.  If you have a question that is not reflected in this list, please send it along to


  • When will the Master's launch? We expect early 2019 to be the earliest possible launch date.
  • When will enrollment open for the Master's? We do not currently have this information.


  • How much will tuition cost? We do not have this information, but Arizona State University typically charges between $510 and $1312 USD per credit hour for graduate level courses.  The Master's degree is likely to be a 30 credit hour program, so we estimate the cost will be between $15,300 and $39,360 USD.  This cost is inclusive of all fees and is the same regardless of a student's location of residence.
  • Will there be scholarships? We cannot promise this at this stage, however we would very much like to be able to offer scholarships. 


  • Where will the Master's be hosted? The Master's will be hosted and run through ASU's online education portal.  


  • What are the prerequisites for the Master's? We do not currently have this information as we are building the curriculum.  The curriculum will in part dictate what the prerequisites are.
  • Will courses I take on Complexity Explorer count towards the Master's? Not at this stage.  All of the courses in the Master's will be newly developed.  
  • What should I study while waiting to enroll in the Master's? We do not currently know what prerequisites will be required; however, it's a good idea to work on your math, programming and data analysis skills as there will likely be rigorous quantitative elements to the Master's.  It's also a good idea to take Complexity Explorer's courses and tutorials as they can give you a head start in the area of foundational concepts and methods.
  • What programming language will be used in the Master's? We do not have this information yet.


  • Will you stop offering new MOOCs and tutorials on Complexity Explorer? Quite the opposite! We will be re-packaging many of the courses produced for the Master's and will offer them as non-credit MOOCs on Complexity Explorer.  This is going to help us create a large number of new, interesting MOOCs for you much faster than we normally can.  
  • When will you release the new MOOCs from the Master's courses? We will first concentrate on getting the Master's program going.  Once a Master's course has been offered, we will get to work repackaging it as a MOOC.
  • If I take a Master's MOOC on Complexity Explorer, will I get credit towards the full Master's? Not at this stage - the two will be separate entities.
  • What is the Complex Systems Certificate Program? We will be working to create a non-credit SFI Complex Systems Certificate consisting of a series of MOOCs and culminating in a Complexity Challenge.  We plan to use the MOOCs created from the Master's courses, as well as non-Master's Complexity Explorer MOOCs, to create this.  This is a long term development goal.


  • What will the structure of the Master's be? The Master's will be made up of courses and elements that fall within four broad categories: foundations, methods, electives, and an independent project element. Students will be expected to complete a number of courses from each category, plus the independent project.  The number of courses a student will have to complete within each category has not yet been decided.
  • What are the foundation courses? The curriculum has not been finalized, but some broad topics to be covered may include generalized evolution, computation and information processing, collective computation and decision making, and invention and innovation. 
  • What are the methods courses? The curriculum has not been finalized, but some examples of methods to be included in these courses may include computational modeling, game theory, networks, nonlinear dynamics, and scaling.
  • What are the electives courses? The curriculum has not been finalized, but there may be electives covering topics such as urban systems, complexity and data analysis, complex economies, evolution, health and medicine, people and complex social systems, governance and policy,  statistical physics, and sustainability.

These topic lists are only for illustrative purposes and are subject to change at any time until we have finalized the curriculum.


  • What will a Master's student know how to do after completing this degree? We are actively designing learning outcomes and will update this section when we have more information to share.
  • Will there be any employment or further education assistance for students that complete the Master's? We are actively working to answer this question and will update this section when we have more information to share.
  • What kind of job can I get after completing this Master's? We are actively working to answer this question and will update this section when we have more information to share.