Masters in Sustainable Energy, Renewable Energy, and Green Energy Programs in Atlanta
Masters in Sustainable Energy, Renewable Energy, and Green Energy Programs
Master's in Sustainable Energy programs are designed to address environmental sustainability, with a focus on teaching students how to reduce the negative impact society has on the environment and preserve the planet’s diminishing supply of natural resources.
What’s the Difference Between Sustainable, Renewable, and Green Energy?
While these terms may be used interchangeably, and while are all geared toward mitigating the negative effects of energy production and use, there are actually subtle differences between the three.
Sustainable energy is energy that renews itself automatically. In this way, it could remain a viable energy source across many generations. Examples include water, wind, and the sun.
Renewable energy comes from resources that could easily be produced or renewed. These resources are theoretically exhaustible; however, the types of renewable energy that are being explored consume minimal amounts of resources and thus could be viable for the foreseeable future. Examples include ethanol and hydroelectric power. Wood might be considered renewable at its current level of use, but if usage increases, or deforestation becomes a more prevalent practice, wood might no longer be a source of renewable energy.
All sustainable energy is renewable; however, not all renewable energy is sustainable.
Green energy is energy that uses resources that do not produce pollution, such as is found with fossil fuels. Not all green energy fits in the category of renewable energy. For example, producing energy through burning organic material may be renewable, but it is not necessarily green, since CO2 is a byproduct of the burning process.
What to Expect from a Masters in Sustainable Energy Program?
Master’s degree programs may vary depending on the type of degree program. You’ll find both MA and MS programs in renewable energy and sustainable energy—MS programs may be more research-based. There are also MBA degree programs that offer concentrations in renewable or sustainable areas, as well as programs with an engineering focus. Which you choose depends on your current educational and professional background and your future goals.
Curriculum overview for renewable energy programs
A renewable energy graduate curriculum often combines a focus on the processes involved in renewable energy as well as policy and business concepts. Coursework might cover areas such as:
- Energy policy
- Renewable energy resources
- Economics of sustainable energy
- Energy finance
- Carbon management
Research and internship opportunities in renewable energy programs
Many renewable energy programs offer chances to pursue research or internships through both government and schools. For instance, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy grants many virtual, on-site, and hybrid graduate student internships.
Graduate schools also offer research programs that could suit a student’s particular course of study. Research opportunities sometimes even give applicants a reason to choose a particular graduate program. Other students might want to combine research with an internship at a green energy company or research institute. This could potentially afford them an inside track after they graduate if it’s a good fit.
Faculty and alumni profiles of renewable energy programs
Professors and alumni in renewable energy programs often exemplify the leaders in an array of green industries. From high-tech CEOs to activists and scientists, sustainable education makes knowledge across disciplines accessible in many graduate classrooms. The planet’s urgent need for renewable energy helps bring together noteworthy industry thinkers and students with their hearts set on facing this challenge.
Alumni from renewable energy graduate programs might span the gamut of policymakers, inventors, founders, and scientists making advances in sustainability across the globe.
Why Pursue a Masters Degree in Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy programs are designed to teach today’s students how to make sustainability a more tangible reality, one class at a time. Graduates with a renewable energy degree have worked toward ways to make the world a better place. When green energy graduates enter the workplace, they might find opportunities from public policy positions to cleantech jobs or scientific research. These careers are designed to make a difference with sustainable energy industry sectors poised to play a critical role in slowing climate change with technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and focused advocacy for the environment.
Career opportunities in renewable energy
By earning a green master’s degree, graduates may help make critical government policy changes or maybe help develop the next form of hybrid transportation. Thanks to ongoing evolutions and innovations in green education and technology, it’s possible that careers that don’t even exist yet could be perfect for next gen graduates.
Scroll down to learn more about specific career opportunities, including salaries and job growth.
Advancements in renewable energy technology
Green technology continues to evolve with many new advancements thanks to compounding resources. For instance, Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are using renewable electricity to create fuel from corn at a more efficient rate and with fewer emissions.
Improving efficiencies like this could help foster change at many levels for a more sustainable planet. For instance, increased productivity and savings may inspire fuel companies to adopt more green sources for their products. These types of innovations also often help grow job markets and contribute to the economy while inspiring an uptick in market demand for green energy. This demand could create opportunities for entrepreneurship and contribute to sustainable economic development.
How to Choose a Great Renewable Energy Program for You
Choosing an ideal renewable energy program starts with aligning available options to your specific priorities. Applicants may focus on the type of career they hope to achieve after graduation as well as their scholarly journey while enrolled. There are also program prerequisites for admissions and costs to consider.
Factors to consider when choosing a renewable energy program
Renewable energy programs each have their strengths and concentrations. When choosing a program to fit your goals, you may want to investigate programs that focus on the sector of renewable energy studies that inspires you most.
For some applicants that may mean finding a school with a strong energy science and engineering department. Others might have more specific studies in mind, such as energy policies and politics. These applicants might find that graduate schools with rigorous government and political science programs along with a renewable energy curriculum could correspond to their interests and goals.
Admissions requirements for renewable energy programs
Graduate school degree programs usually require a bachelor’s degree in a related field for admission. Renewable energy programs would likely also prefer candidates with a proven interest in sustainability and a strong foundation in the prerequisite courses of study. For example, these requirements may include science and engineering courses as well as environmental studies.
Financial aid options for graduate programs in renewable energy
Foundations focused on sustainability are proliferating thanks to a growing interest in renewable energy. Many such associations offer or sponsor graduate program fellowships, as do many government agencies and institutes, including the Department of Energy. There are also a variety of scholarship and fellowship opportunities offered through schools and granted by corporations with a vested interest in sustainability.
Career Paths for those Earning a Masters in Sustainable Energy or Green Energy Degree
Have you ever noticed a letter grade in the window of a building? It’s likely an Energy Auditor assigned that number based on their assessment of the building’s energy efficiency. Energy auditors often hold a master’s degree in renewable energy. It’s just one example of a potential career path after earning a master’s in sustainability studies. Other possible career paths for renewable energy master’s graduates include architecture in sustainable design, energy policy analysis, and green energy engineering.
Following are several occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with salaries and projected job growth.
Environmental Scientist or Specialist
Median annual salary, 2022: $76,4801
Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 5%2
Industries with the highest levels of employment in Environmental Scientists and Specialists, including Health, 2022:1
|Industry||Employment||Annual mean wage|
|State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)||20,060||$73,690|
|Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services||16,700||$89,040|
|Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)||10,750||$77,950|
|Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services||10,150||$80,530|
|Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)||5,000||$106,930|
Median annual salary, 2022: $96,5303
Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 4%4
Median annual salary, 2022: $64,4605
Projected job growth, 2021–2031: 5%6
Future of Renewable Energy and its Impact on the Environment
The potential impact of renewable energy could reach across the globe and into every home. Green energy could create jobs, boost economies, and increase air quality.
Knowledgeable scientists, engineers, and environmentalists also agree that renewable energy could reduce climate change. The diversity of potential power supply options with renewable energy could also help create a society that’s less prone to reliance on fossil fuels.
Potential of renewable energy to combat climate change
Climate change solutions focused on renewables could reduce fossil emissions. That’s because renewable energy sources, by definition, don’t run out. The planet has limited fossil fuels, and, although they’re providing a significant amount of our fuel, they also contribute to climate change.
Renewables aren’t carbon-free, but they tend to emit fewer emissions than fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. Nuclear energy, while carbon-free, isn’t renewable. We need uranium to create nuclear energy, and although seemingly common, only a specific type of uranium called U-235 works for nuclear fuel.
Innovations in renewable energy technology
Biofuels, solar, and wind often dispatch the headlines when it comes to renewable energy. But fueling transportation and homes isn’t the only focus for renewable energy technology and innovation. Replacing fossil fuels has been a major focus given our planet’s reliance on them and their impact on the climate, but it’s not the only energy we use beyond our means.
For instance, increased battery usage has impacted critical metal resources like lithium. This has driven recent innovations such as sodium ion batteries and new modes of critical metal extraction. Discoveries like these could help reduce the environmental impact of battery usage and help create even more renewables.
Challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy industry
The renewable energy industry has its share of ups and downs. Increases in biofuels from corn crops have contributed to food scarcity and world hunger. Increased usage of hybrid vehicles has impacted our plant’s lithium supply with the uptick in battery demands. But these challenges may also serve as opportunities for more diverse renewable energy sources and increased innovation.
There’s more to going green than just solving a planetary problem—it could also improve the quality of our lives. From simple everyday pleasures like breathing cleaner air to the power of changing government policies, renewable energy may help make a positive difference. Earning a degree in renewable energy could give you a chance to play a part in the change you want to see in the world.
Schools with Green & Sustainable Energy Graduate Master’s Programs
Sources: 1https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192041.htm | 2https://www.bls.gov/OOH/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm#tab-1 | 3https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172081.htm | 4https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/environmental-engineers.htm#tab-1 | 5https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191031.htm | 6https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/conservation-scientists.htm#tab-1 |
Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Accessed 7/19/2023.