While uncommon, a few programs in renewable energy can be completed online or in a hybrid format at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Programs may require campus attendance for laboratory work, practical training or testing. Students may also have voluntary internship or research opportunities. Applicants should show a proficiency in computing.
Degree programs may be focused on different aspects of the field of renewable energy, like technology or management. Potential majors might be energy technology, alternate energy, clean energy or sustainable energy. Technology-based programs usually exist at the undergraduate level.
Associate's Degree - Energy Technology
An Associate of Applied Science in Energy Technology explores energy conservation and regulation and the effective management of alternative power supplies. Students acquire technical knowledge as well as the business and communication skills necessary to gain employment in the field.
Coursework can be completed entirely online in two years. A short on-campus session and an internship may also be required for students to gain first-hand experience working with green technologies. The program requires proficiency in computing and an intensive math and science focus.
The study of renewable energy is interdisciplinary. Environmental science and math courses prepare students for curriculum in computer modeling, conservation and business management.
Public demand for naturally renewable energy sources is growing. This course reviews alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal, biomass and geothermal power and compares them to traditional fossil fuel-generated energy.
Computer simulation is used for forecasting energy needs and quantifying the benefits of developing renewable energy sources for a region. Familiarizes students with databases and statistical analysis.
Examines modern methods of energy storage and distribution in a historical context. Technological advances in energy transfer have led to the development of new, more efficient systems.
Bachelor's Degree - Alternate Energy
A Bachelor of Science in Alternate Energy prepares students for careers in the business, management, production and marketing functions of the renewable energy field. Students hone math and science skills necessary for engineering careers. Additionally, students gain increased awareness of the cultural and ethical issues surrounding the transition from fossil fuels to green energy.
A bachelor's degree can be obtained in four years. While all coursework may be completed online, proctored exams administered at approved testing centers nationwide may be necessary at intervals throughout the program.
Interactive online discussions with classmates and instructors comprise an essential component of distance learning classes, meaning students need reliable, high-speed Internet access.
Writing and communication courses prepare students for roles as effective team leaders as well as marketers and advocates for alternative energy. Coursework in leadership, accounting, policy, and legal and ethical accountability builds business management skills. Specific classes in the various types of alternative energies provide technical instruction.
Energy conservation requires not only decreasing consumer and producer waste, but also engineering efficient technologies for producing and distributing energy. Students learn methods of auditing energy use and management techniques.
Energy policy is affected by financial constraints, legal regulations and public awareness. The alternative energy market is presented in light of socio-economic impacts.
Increased use of renewable energy has led to innovations in sustainable building construction. The class explores the ways in which architecture can be designed to be more energy efficient while simultaneously reducing impact on the landscape by utilizing natural materials.
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Master's Degree - Energy and Sustainability
A post-baccalaureate Master of Science in Energy and Sustainability can be obtained online. Tailored to working professionals, flexible coursework choices reflect the skills and subject areas relevant to particular specialties within the energy industry. Students customize the program to meet their specific professional development needs.
The master's degree takes one year. Flash player, e-mail and high-speed Internet are required for Web instruction and online participation in class discussion. Course materials may be delivered in Word or PDF formats. Distance learners are encouraged to login daily and participation is essential.
A course in research and writing provides the foundation for graduate study and builds the skills needed to complete a final independent thesis project. General courses provide a background in environmental economics and the historical context of alternative energy. All other courses are elective and designed to prepare students for specific professional roles.
Scientific methods of assessing climate change are introduced. Scientific data support a transition to alternative energy to counteract the effects of fossil fuel emissions.
Social awareness contributes to environmental regulations on the transportation industry. Considers things such as public transportation systems and pollution prevention.
Reviews current federal and state legislation pertaining to sustainable energy and discusses the role of various governmental agencies and advocacy groups in environmental stewardship.
Graduates can become technicians who install and operate renewable energy equipment. According to PayScale.com in October 2016, the median salary for wind turbine technicians was $48,436. Most technicians earned between $37,434 and $72,775.
A renewable energy bachelor's degree can lead to a career in energy auditing, analysis or modeling. Other career titles in this field include energy manager, power systems analyst, power engineer, systems or controls engineer, application engineer and facilities manager. The industry also needs knowledgeable advocates for marketing green technologies to consumers. According to Salary.com in November 2016, the median salary for energy managers was $96,535.
Students interested in studying renewable energy can find online degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels that will prepare them for an array of careers, including wind turbine technicians and energy managers. Requirements and coursework vary depending on the level of education, but some course topics include environmental policy, sustainable energy and global warming.