Renewable Energy Masters and Graduate Degree Program Information
Graduate degree programs in renewable energy are relatively new to the academic world and are commonly found in overseas universities. However, there are some universities in the U.S. that offer such programs, which are designed to provide students with the skills to help find and use alternative energy sources. One such program in the field is a Master of Science in Renewable Energy.
Master of Science in Renewable Energy
Master's degree programs in renewable energy are usually offered through the engineering or natural sciences departments of 4-year universities. These programs provide students with the educational background necessary to both search for renewable sources of energy and teach the public about clean, alternative energy sources. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in renewable energy learn how to integrate new energy sources into existing technologies and use new energy sources in manufacturing industries. They also learn how to develop an economic model that makes renewable energies viable while developing practical solutions for finding and using those energies. Many master's degree programs in renewable energy allow or require that students complete a thesis paper or research project that explores a particular aspect of the renewable energy field in depth.
Students who aspire to enroll in a master's degree program in renewable energy and become experts or researchers in the field should first complete a baccalaureate degree program in a subject, such as environmental science, engineering or natural resources. Many schools also require the submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and previous grade point averages.
Courses included in a graduate degree program in renewable energy cover the various sources of renewable energy, as well as the economic and practical realities of using those sources. Some common topics include:
- Solar energy
- Hydrogen energy
- Advanced renewable energy systems
- Wind power energy
- Electrical power processing
- Fuel cell science
- Energy research methods
- Electrochemical energy
- Energy production and management
Popular Career Options
According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change (www.pewclimate.org), several states in the U.S. have to meet mandatory standards to reduce energy reduction by using renewable sources. These mandates have given rise to the demand for renewable energy engineers, specialists and experts. Some positions in the field that are open to graduates of a master's degree program include:
- Energy consultant
- Solar panel equipment engineer
- Wind power equipment engineer
- Carbon sales adviser
- Energy auditor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide job outlook information on renewable energy careers, O*Net Online listed that energy engineers were projected to see a median annual wage of $92,030 in May 2012. Additionally, energy auditors or consultants were projected to see median wages of $65,120 in 2012.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
As a way to highlight their expertise in the field of renewable energy, graduates may consider becoming certified. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners offers various levels of certification to professionals in the renewable energies industry. Certifications are available for solar thermal installers, small wind installers and PV installers. Individuals must typically demonstrate their professional experience and pass an examination before they are eligible to gain certification.
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