Sustainable Energy School and College Program Information

Learn about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in sustainable energy. Take a look at common prerequisites and the coursework at each degree level. Explore different career paths and the employment prospects in the sustainable energy industry.

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Essential Information

Sustainable energy programs are available at community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. In general, these are technology- and engineering-based programs that cover modern concepts related to such alternative forms of energy as solar and hydroelectric power.

Associate's programs often include lecture-based classes, equipment lab sessions and internships, preparing graduates for work as sustainable energy technicians or assistants. Bachelor's and master's programs in sustainable engineering focus more on the design of sustainable energy systems, with master's programs being considerably more research-intensive than bachelor's programs. Graduates of these programs are typically qualified for work as engineers or engineering consultants.


Associate of Science in Sustainable Energy Technology

This 2-year program engages students in mathematics and science principles that apply directly to energy conservation. The students learn about wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels and other alternative energy sources and the modes by which they can be integrated into today's energy systems. In addition, students participate in internships at existing sustainable energy facilities. This degree program requires the applicant to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. A background in math and science and a passion for conservation and sustainability are helpful.

Program Coursework

The curriculum emphasizes working with equipment in a hands-on fashion while effectively applying acquired communication, math and science skills in order to work with existing professionals right after graduation. Here are some course topics that apply:

  • Chemistry
  • Wind energy
  • Biodiesel energy
  • CAD (Computer-aided-drafting)
  • Physics
  • Mechanical maintenance
  • Waste reduction
  • Alternative energy applications
  • Hybrid electric systems

Popular Career Options

Graduates of this degree program have a wide range of opportunities within the industry, due to the broad curriculum within the field. Jobs from hands-on work in maintenance and equipment construction to office-oriented positions in green investment and energy auditing are attainable upon completion. Here are a few jobs one might get:

  • Wind farm technician
  • Energy auditor
  • Maintenance electrician
  • Commercial installer

Bachelor of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering

Students gain an understanding of green building techniques, biofuels, alternative energy systems and renewable energy. Students gain practical knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering, and they learn how such engineering concepts apply to renewable and sustainable energy. Studies on fuel cells and geothermal energy are incorporated into the program. Students must hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and it is recommended that enrolling students have good math skills and a basic understanding of science.

Program Coursework

This program's goal is to give the student an understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering by incorporating math, chemistry and physics into the curriculum. Here are a few course topics one might expect:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Energy history
  • Electronics
  • Control system design
  • Biofuels
  • Electromechanical energy conversion
  • Solar energy systems
  • Geothermal energy
  • Renewable energy transportation systems
  • Energy-efficient building design

Popular Career Options

Upon completion of this program, students can become energy auditors, renewable energy system integrators, manufacturing engineers, renewable energy system designers and field engineers. Such professionals work in the following fields:

  • Civil engineering
  • Consulting
  • Agriculture

Master's Degrees in Sustainable Energy Engineering

This multidisciplinary degree program incorporates research from different departments of engineering, including nuclear, chemical, systems and mechanical engineering. Students learn about energy conservation, environmental risks, solar energy, alternative fuel cells and other technology surrounding the sustainable and alternative energy fields.

Educational Prerequisites

Enrolling students must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better. They need to have an understanding of thermodynamics, heat transfer and differential equations through an engineering program or related field.

Program Coursework

This program consists of core courses in alternative energy sources along with electives. In systems, reliability and nuclear engineering. Here a few courses one might take:

  • Energy conversion
  • Renewable energy applications
  • Solar energy
  • Solar thermal energy applications
  • Wind energy engineering
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Energy systems management
  • Reliability engineering
  • Energy systems
  • Fuel cells and batteries

Popular Career Options

According to the California Center for Sustainable Energy (energycenter.org), jobs related to sustainable energy grew by over twice the rate of all other jobs between 1998 and 2007. Here are a few sustainable energy engineering careers one might enter upon completion of this program:

  • Nuclear engineer
  • Systems engineer
  • Reliability engineer
  • Mechanical engineer

Continuing Education Information

Upon completion of this program, a student can elect to pursue a doctoral degree in his or her respective field of engineering. However, as of 2009, there were no doctoral degree programs in sustainable energy available.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate of Science - Wind Energy Technology
    • Non-Degree
        • Diploma - Wind Energy Technology

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
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    Distance Learning Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
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    • Alabama (1 campus)
    • Arizona (5)
    • California (23)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Hawaii (2)
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    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Appalachian State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
        • Solar Energy Technologies
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Math
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
        • Environmental Health Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Petroleum Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Math
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
        • Environmental Health Engineering
      • Geological Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Engineering Physics
      • Math

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