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Graduates with STEM backgrounds are in high demand within the energy industry. If you’re passionate about engineering, mathematics, and climate change, a BS in energy engineering might be the perfect fit!
Why choose to specialize in energy? The World Energy Employment Report from the International Energy Agency shows that the energy industry is poised for significant expansion, largely attributed to increasing investments in decarbonization and a growing global energy demand. This is expected to drive substantial growth in clean energy-related employment opportunities, particularly energy engineering.
In this guide, we explore the jumping-off point to your career: obtaining an energy engineering bachelor’s degree. First, understand what energy engineering degrees are, the various types of programs, what you’ll learn, and potential career paths. Then, browse our degree listings to explore every bachelor’s in energy engineering program in the country.
- Bachelor’s degrees in energy engineering are interdisciplinary programs that fuse engineering coursework with studies in energy systems & technologies. Explore our listings to find the BS of your dreams.
- After you’ve tackled foundational credits, you can specialize in a particular realm of energy engineering (e.g. electrical, chemical, mechanical, civil, etc.). Be prepared for challenging coursework in math, physics, and hard sciences.
- A reputable 4-year undergraduate degree in energy engineering will set you up for well-paying jobs in the public and private sector. Entry-level salaries can start at $85,000 per year or above.
What Are Energy Engineering Degrees?
Bachelor’s degrees in energy engineering are multidisciplinary programs that apply engineering principles to energy technologies. Coursework includes a heavy dose of math, science, and engineering, with a focus on the generation, conversion, and transmission of energy. See the curriculum links in our listings to get a sense of your options.
Coursework in energy management or policy could be required; however, engineering degrees are not business programs. Students interested in business, management, or public administration might find energy management or energy policy degrees better suited to their needs.
What Types of Energy Engineering Degrees Can Students Pursue?
Unlike programs in energy policy, which are often Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees, every energy engineering degree in our directory is a Bachelor of Science (BS) program due to its focus on math and science. There are many disciplines that fall under the “energy engineering” umbrella.
- Electrical Engineering Energy Degrees: Electrical engineering students study the generation & distribution of electricity and its application to equipment, devices, and systems. That means those who major in energy often end up exploring topics such as solar panel design, EV technologies, battery storage, Smart Grids, and energy efficiency. Explore the BS in Electrical Engineering (BSEE): Power and Renewable Energy from the University of Central Florida to see what we mean.
- Civil Engineering Energy Degrees: Civil engineering students who specialize in energy learn how to create sub-grade and above-grade infrastructures for energy generation, processing, and transmission. Think of anaerobic digesters for biogas generation or concrete pile design for wind turbines & solar farms. Civil engineers are also often involved in environmental water & wastewater permitting and air permitting. You can see these subjects being addressed in the BS in Engineering Technology (BSET) and Civil Engineering Technology: Applied Energy and Sustainable Systems from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
- Mechanical Engineering Energy Degrees: Mechanical engineering students who focus on energy are able to combine their love of mechanical systems & physical machines with energy technologies (e.g., wind turbines). They often study thermal-fluid systems (rather than just machinery), which means they can design electrical generation turbines, as well as process piping, heat exchangers, and combustion equipment. They also analyze processes to increase energy efficiency. Take a look at how Arizona State University prepares mechanical engineers for the energy industry through their BSE in Mechanical Engineering: Energy and Environment.
- Chemical Engineering Energy Degrees: Chemical engineering students are fascinated by the transformation of raw materials into usable products using chemical processes. When they turn their attention to energy, they could be involved in the refining and processing of renewable energy sources, such as plant-based sources or biogas. Or they may be dealing with traditional liquid and gas fuel processing from fossil sources. Examine the University of Illinois Chicago’s BS in Chemical Engineering: Energy & Environment for more on this path.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! As an aspiring engineering student, you’ll find energy degrees in all areas of the field, including materials science and systems engineering. You could also select an engineering degree that focuses on specific energy sources, such as renewable, nuclear, or conventional fossil-fuel-based (coal, oil and natural gas) energy engineering.
What Will You Learn in an Energy Engineering Degree Program?
Energy engineering degree curricula are designed around math, physics, engineering, and other STEM coursework. All engineering students start with foundational coursework in hard sciences (e.g., General Chemistry), engineering (e.g., Intro to Engineering), and mathematics (e.g., Calculus I). But universities also place an emphasis on the skills students need to succeed on the job: critical thinking, observation, problem solving, creativity, and communication.
Once you reach your junior & senior years, the focus of your program will have a big impact on your particular coursework. For instance:
- Atlantic International University’s Bachelor in Oil Gas and Energy Engineering program includes classes in petroleum refining, well drilling, and engineering safety.
- Kennesaw State University’s Mechanical Engineering Technology degree gives students hands-on experience designing mechanical energy systems (e.g., air conditioning, refrigeration, solar, etc.).
As you might expect, advanced coursework and electives will vary significantly. Explore the curriculum links in our listings to get the full picture.
Online Bachelor’s in Energy Engineering Degrees
Is it possible to earn your energy engineering degree online? Yes! There are nearly 20 colleges offering online energy engineering degrees, with more expected in the coming years. For example:
- Arizona State University now has an Online BSE in Electrical Engineering with an Electric Power and Energy Systems track. Your diploma and transcripts will be the same as those awarded to on-campus ASU students, without distinguishing between in-person and online. The online program’s rigorous curriculum is ABET accredited, making the degree reputable within the engineering field.
If an energy engineering master’s degree is in your future, then it’s worth considering a dual BS/MS in Energy Engineering. These are accelerated programs that enable students to complete graduate coursework during their undergraduate years, streamlining the path to a master’s degree. For instance:
- The University of North Dakota’s combined Online BS and MS/MEng in Energy Engineering can be completed online in 4–6 years. Students work through asynchronous coursework (i.e., on their own schedule with no set class times) with the occasional trip to campus for in-person projects.
We talk more about distance learning options in our guide to Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Energy.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Energy Engineering?
Employers & Salaries
Top companies currently hiring energy engineers include Tesla, the US Navy, and ICF, along with Fortune 500 companies such as Leidos. Energy engineering is a lucrative field, with an average annual salary of $106,280, or an hourly rate of $51.10. Entry-level salaries typically begin at $85,000 per year for an undergraduate degree, while experienced professionals with advanced education such as an MEng or PhD can earn $140,000 or more per year.
Job Titles & Responsibilities
Energy engineers pursue careers in energy management, waste management, energy supply chains, and factories—to name just a few! Think of job titles such as:
- Nuclear power engineer
- Hydroelectric power plant production manager
- Electrical engineer
- Power plant engineer
- Solar power engineer
- Electromechanical engineer
- Energy analyst/engineer
- Environmental engineer
Daily responsibilities could encompass:
- Designing & testing equipment and energy generation or recovery processes
- Researching innovative methods to produce energy from novel sources
- Devising ways to optimize existing processes
- Advising and involvement in policy-making
Work environments will depend on the field of study. Energy engineers can be found in office & laboratory settings, field locations, and even remote corners of the world.
Graduate Education Opportunities
Continuous education options for energy engineering graduates are plentiful. Many professionals often pursue advanced degrees in their original area of study, while others complete complementary degrees in business management, computer science, law, and a variety of other disciplines.
Going back to school to pursue a master’s or PhD may seem time-consuming or stressful, but the long-term impact on your career can make it well worth it, especially regarding opportunities for job promotion and increased pay. See our guide to the Master’s in Energy Engineering for more on this route.