University of Rochester


MS in Sustainability

There is a growing need for professionals who have the experience and interdisciplinary training needed to craft innovative, practical solutions to provide energy, water, waste, and other goods and services in a more environmentally friendly, sustainable and public health-conscious manner.

The Center for Energy and Environment helps students prepare to meet these needs by offering a MS in Sustainability. Our program blends a dynamic, interdisciplinary approach with individual mentoring to help students shape their course of study and crystallize their career plans. Students will benefit from a personalized, small program and the interdisciplinary resources of The University of Rochester’s highly ranked programs in environmental science, engineering, public health and political science.

Our one-year master’s program teaches students the skills to understand and evaluate the environmental and public health impact of energy and other industrial production processes and usage, and to suggest sustainable solutions. We provide students with a firm foundation in:

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

This foundation is supplemented by a robust offering of elective courses from which students can select to meet their individual needs.

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 and four elective courses, culminating in a core practicum course that provides students with an opportunity to gain valuable research, outreach, or work experience in or outside of the Rochester area.

This MS provides students with an opportunity to prepare for exciting new opportunities in sustainability, such as in alternative energy and policy development, as well as positions with companies, universities, non-profits, consulting firms, government agencies, and other private and public institutions engaged in sustainability efforts addressing energy, environmental, and public health problems.

Admission Requirements

Applications are strongly encouraged by February 1 to allow consideration for scholarships. Applications received after February 1, will be considered on a rolling admissions basis. Applications must be received by May 15 for consideration for fall admission.

To be eligible for this program, you must have either a bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree at the time of enrollment. Particularly strong applicants would have a B.S. degree in a relevant science, engineering, or social science discipline. 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 transcript from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test
  • A writing sample is encouraged, but optional

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, Terry Noto, or the co-directors,  Carmala Garzione and 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 environmental courses:

  • SUS 213: Hydrology and Water Resources
  • EES 412: Climate Change Perspectives from Chemical Oceanography
  • EES 416: Environmental Geochemistry
  • EES 436: Physics of Climate

Plus all of the following:

  • SUS 488: Intro to Energy Systems
  • SUS 401: Environmental Health
  • SUS 446: Environmental Law and Policy
  • SUS 499: Practicum (1-4 credits)

Practicum Course (SUS 499)

The practicum provides students with the opportunity to build experience while integrating principles from prior interdisciplinary coursework through either an internship, research project, outreach project or other suitable practicum. We provide individual support and advice to students in the design of their practicum courses. Students have a great deal of independence in the design of the capstone practicum experience. At the end of their internship, research project, or outreach project, students produce a final product, such as a memorandum, 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 interests. The following list of electives are suggested, but additional electives will be considered to address the specific goals of the student. 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.