Renewable Energy Masters and Graduate Degree Program Information
Read about the requirements and curricula of graduate degree programs in renewable energy. Learn about salary and employment trends, career paths, and certification options in this field.
Master's degree programs in renewable and clean energy are relatively new and rare, and are generally offered as engineering degrees. Graduate certificate programs in renewable energy are becoming more available, as are concentrations in renewable energy within environmental and policy management graduate degrees.These programs are normally available online.
Degree programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete, and a thesis or project is usually required for graduation.Graduate certificate programs can take a year, full-time, and applicants may not need a related undergraduate degree for admission.
Students who aspire to enroll in a master's degree program in renewable energy should first complete a baccalaureate degree program in a related 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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