Carnegie Mellon University

17-638 Systems Architecture for Managers

Systems Architecture for Managers is a 6 unit half semester course.

Modern businesses are run on information systems of ever-increasing complexity and sophistication. As a result, business managers must be able to make effective decisions regarding the strategic selection, specification, design, and deployment of information systems. Appropriate application of architectural design concepts and techniques can significantly improve these decisions. The course introduces key architectural concepts, techniques, and guidance to aspiring managers of IT organizations to enable them to make more effective architectural decisions and avoid common pitfalls. Although the course covers a significant body of technical material, the focus is on managerial challenges rather than technical implementation.

More course details can be found in the Systems Architecture for Managers syllabus.

After completing this course, students will:

  • be better equipped to organize, manage, and lead high tech organizations in building and deploying large scale software intensive systems;
  • understand what software architecture is, what it is used for, and how it relates to the overall business context of the organization;
  • be capable of identifying architecturally relevant aspects of the business context, and to articulate relevant architectural drivers to reflect these objectives;
  • understand how to manage business tradeoffs based upon the available architectural options;
  • understand the basics of architectural documentation and how, as managers, architectural documentation can be used to facilitate responsibilities.


  • The only formal requirements for this class are good standing in the Masters in Software Engineering graduate program or the Masters in Business Administration program. Students with appropriate backgrounds from other programs may enroll in the class with the instructor's permission. Experience building, designing, specifying, or working with large information systems will be helpful but is not required.
  • Some reservations are for Graduate Students in INI.