There are a few program options for students who want to study renewable energy at the graduate level. They can pursue a master's degree in engineering or environmental policy management with a concentration in renewable energy, or they can choose a graduate certificate program in renewable energy. Students in these programs learn about the various sources of renewable energy, as well as the economic and practical realities of using those sources.
In order to apply to either of these programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores. Graduate certificate programs take one year to complete, while master's-level programs take two years and may require the submission of a thesis or final project prior to graduation. Both programs are usually available online.
Master's Degree and Graduate Certificate Program in Renewable Energy
Students enrolled in graduate-level renewable energy programs can expect to learn about energy research methods and advanced renewable energy systems. Common course topics include:
- Solar energy
- Hydrogen energy
- Wind power energy
- Electrical power processing
- Fuel cell science
Popular Career Options
According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change (www.pewclimate.org), several states in the United States have to meet mandatory standards to reduce energy by using renewable sources. These mandates have given rise to the demand for renewable energy engineers, specialists and experts. Students who earn a master's degree in renewable energy may be qualified for some of the following jobs:
- Energy consultant
- Solar panel equipment engineer
- Wind power equipment engineer
- Carbon sales adviser
- Energy auditor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers grouped in the employment category of 'engineers, all other,' which includes energy engineers, earned a median annual wage of $95,900 in 2015. Business operations specialists, including energy auditors, earned a median annual wage of $68,170 in 2015.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
As a way to highlight their expertise in the field of renewable energy, graduates may consider earning professional certification. 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 have professional experience and pass an examination before they can be certified.
Master's degree and graduate certificate programs with renewable energy concentrations are available to students interested in preparing for careers related to energy consulting, engineering and energy auditing, among others. Graduates can also pursue professional certification.