University of Rochester


MS in Sustainability

The Center for Energy and Environment offers a MS in sustainability. Our one-year master’s program teaches you the skills to understand and evaluate the ecological and public health effects of energy production processes and usage. You’ll also gain the knowledge to suggest sustainable solutions to counter or enhance those effects. We provide students with a firm foundation in the fundamental elements of:

  • Energy systems
  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Environmental health
  • Environmental law and policy

The program is a coursework master’s that includes a minimum of 32 credits of required coursework and requires an exit examination. Coursework includes four core courses, four elective courses, and a practicum course.

Completing the program prepares you to take positions with private and public institutions engaged in sustainability efforts addressing energy, environmental, and public health problems.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for this program, you must have either a bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree at the time of enrollment. All applicants must complete an online application and submit the following:

  • A personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all previous college and graduate programs
  • Three letters of recommendation from former instructors or employers
  • Official graduate records examination (GRE) scores
  • A writing sample

In addition, an official TOEFL examination report is required from applicants for whom English is not their primary language. The completed application will be reviewed by program faculty and by the Graduate Studies Office.

Applicants who believe they are eligible for admission to the program but do not meet the usual program requirements can request a waiver. Program faculty discuss all waiver requests and waive requirements if there is a compelling reason for doing so, subject to the dean’s approval. Students interested in a waiver should contact either the program director, Carmala Garzione, or the co-director, Edwin Van Wijngaarden.

Program Requirements

In addition to an exit examination, students are required to complete the following courses:

Core Courses (Five Courses)

One of the following:

  • CHE 488: Intro to Energy Systems
  • CHM 486: Energy: Science, Technology & Society

Plus all of the following:

  • EES 416: Environmental Geochemistry
  • SUS 401: Environmental Health
  • SUS 426/PSC 426: Environmental Law and Policy
  • SUS XXX: Practicum (1-4 credits)

Practicum Course

The practicum provides students with the opportunity to pursue an area of personal or professional interest while integrating principles from prior interdisciplinary coursework. Projects could include:

  • A detailed analysis of a community or business
  • An industrial or global issue
  • The creation of a curriculum or media product related to sustainability

At the end of their project, students will produce a report or a poster detailing the work and findings. The suitability of the practicum to fulfill requirements for the degree are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The practicum must have a sustainability-related focus and should be approved by the program director or co-director in advance.

Elective Courses (Four Courses)

Students should choose courses in consultation with their advisor to match their specific interest. PM courses are three credits each; all others are four credits each.

Environment Courses

  • EES 412: Climate Change Perspectives from Chemical Oceanography
  • EES 418: Atmospheric Geochemistry
  • EES 434: Fundamentals of Atmospheric Modeling

Energy Courses

  • CHE 458: Electrochemical Engineering and Fuel Cells
  • CHE 460: Solar Cells
  • CHE 464: Biofuels
  • CHE 465: Sustainable Chemical Processes
  • ERG 472: Energy System Economics and Modeling

Health Courses

  • PM 415: Principles of Epidemiology
  • PM 401: Quantitative Methods
  • PM 470: Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
  • CHM 475: The Chemistry of Poisons
  • TOX 521: Toxicology I
  • TOX 522: Toxicology II

Humanities Courses (One Course Maximum)

  • HIS 400: The History of Nature
  • PHL 430: Environmental Justice

View a sample program schedule.