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.  If you have a question that is not reflected in this list, please send it along to


  • When will enrollment open for the Master's? The first courses are expected to open for enrollment in the first half of 2019.


  • 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 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? Information about financial aid for ASU Online degrees programs can be found here.


  • 24 credits from 12 courses that will take 8 weeks each to complete
    • most students will take 2 courses at the same time, taking a total of 48 weeks to complete the coursework
  • 6 credits from independent project
  • We estimate it will take 1.5 years to complete on the traditional United States semester system, so 3 semesters total.  This includes a summer and winter break. 


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


  • The admissions process to the program is still being determined.  As the masters degree will be granted through ASU, please look at their Graduate Admissions page for online degrees. 


  • What are the prerequisites for the Master's? Prerequisites will vary by course. Some courses are likely to require college Algebra or Calculus.
  • Will courses I take on Complexity Explorer count towards the Master's? Not at this time. 
  • What should I study while waiting to enroll in the Master's? We encourage prospective Master’s students to strengthen skills in math, programming and data analysis .Complexity Explorer's courses and tutorials can provide important grounding in foundational concepts and methods that will be elaborated in the course of the Master’s.
  • What programming language will be used in the Master's? Some courses in the Master’s will make use of NetLogo. Others may employ specific programming languages as decided by course instructors.


  • 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.  
  • When will you release the new MOOCs from the Master's courses? Courses will be typically be developed at MOOCs on Complexity Explorer subsequent to being offered as a course for the Master’s.
  • If I take a MOOC on Complexity Explorer, will I get credit towards the full Master's? Not at this stage - the two will be separate entities.


  • What will the structure of the Master's be? The Master's courses fall within three principal categories: foundations of complexity, methods and tools, and applications of complexity science. The Master’s will also include an independent research project.
  • What are the foundations courses? Courses establishing the foundations of complexity science will include generalized evolution, computation and information processing, collective intelligence, and invention and innovation. 
  • What are the methods courses?Courses relating key methods and tools in complexity science will include dynamical systems, networks, scaling, agent-based models, and game theory.
  • What are the applications courses? Courses exploring applications of complexity science to specific domains of study will include topics such as the science of cities, complexity economics, the evolution of societies, origins of life, and digital humanities.Exact course titles and topics are preliminary and may change as the curriculum is finalized.


  • What will a Master's student know how to do after completing this degree? Students will have established a strong foundation in the fundamental concepts and methods of complexity science developed at the Santa Fe Institute and elsewhere. This includes exposure to and experience with tools such as dynamical systems modeling, computational simulations, and data analysis.The degree will also give students opportunities to develop abilities in interdisciplinary communication, synthesis, and collaboration.
  • Will there be any employment or further education assistance for students that complete the Master's? Students of the Master’s program will have access to ASU’s career and professional development services. More information about ASU’s student support services can be found here.
  • What kind of job can I get after completing this Master's? Master’s students will include both students oriented toward academic careers in scientific research, including those who ultimately complete PhDs in complexity science or adjacent fields, as well as professionally oriented students wanting to establish skills and expertisein modeling, analyzing, and designing complex systems in applied settings of business or policy.