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The United States (and much of the world) has turned its attention to addressing climate change, which presents obvious challenges with less obvious solutions. One by-product of these tough discussions is the growing role of the energy policy industry. Energy policy professionals can be found consulting with major corporations, leading think tanks, or working for political organizations focused on the government’s energy policies. The need for energy policy professionals has led universities to launch energy policy degree programs.
Students who are passionate about climate change and want to have an impact on the rapidly evolving energy landscape should consider a bachelor’s degree in energy policy. This guide addresses students’ options for studying energy policy at the undergraduate level and includes the types of energy policy programs available, typical curriculum requirements, and career opportunities. We also provide a directory of bachelor’s in energy policy degree programs—skip ahead to browse opportunities.
- Bachelor’s programs in energy policy teach students how to address complex challenges like climate change, energy generation & production, and the role of energy in the economy.
- The field of energy policy is interdisciplinary, with coursework in business, economics & finance, technology, engineering, science, and law. That’s why our listings contain BA and BS programs.
- Energy policy graduates often pursue work as energy analysts, project managers, and environmental planners for governments and private corporations. Some find jobs in political organizations and think tanks.
What are Energy Policy Degrees?
A bachelor’s in energy policy will show employers that you have learned about the nature, role, and management of energy as a critical resource for all the world’s people. Energy policy degree holders can help shape goals and approaches to future energy production.
With a bachelor’s degree in energy policy, you’ll be prepared for roles across the energy ecosystem in the generation, transmission, and distribution aspects of electricity and energy resources, along with fuels like solar and wind, oil and natural gas, and commercial nuclear energy.
You’ll graduate with an in-depth knowledge of how energy is harnessed to solve complex problems. Studying multi-disciplinary coursework in energy policy exposes students to a range of prominent issues, including the pros and cons of using different types of fuels, the role of energy in the economy, jobs, transportation, and environmental affairs such as climate change.
There is strong demand for workers in cleantech energy (technologies that promise no or low emissions to combat climate change and less costly energy), from renewable solar and wind energy to energy efficiency, battery storage, and electric vehicles. Energy policy degrees prepare graduates for a variety of professional positions, or serve as a stepping-stone to a graduate degree in energy policy or law.
What Types of Energy Policy Degrees Are Available?
Energy policy programs are typically multi-disciplinary, meaning they draw upon course offerings from a spectrum of academic disciplines, including
- Business and public administration, management, marketing, and communications
- Policy and applied qualitative and quantitative research
- Economics and finance
- Applied technical, engineering, and scientific applications
- Pre-law studies
There are dozens of different names for energy policy degrees, with each having a slightly different focus. Examples of real energy policy program names include
- Bachelor of Arts in Energy Policy and Management
- Bachelor of Science in Energy and Environmental Policy
- Bachelor of Arts in Energy and Sustainability Policy
- Bachelor of Arts in Energy Management
The wide variety of program specializations makes it possible for students to pursue the energy policy program that closely aligns with their ultimate career goals, whether that’s in business, research, or public administration.
What Will You Learn in an Energy Policy Degree Program?
The study of energy policy spans a broad spectrum of fuels, applications, and technologies in commercial, industrial, residential, government, and transportation markets. To develop a firm understanding of the strengths of individual programs, it’s best to read through each program description as well as the foundational and elective course offerings to find those that best meet your goals. The following types of courses are common in studying energy policy as an undergraduate:
- Energy Policy and Politics
- Energy and Environment
- Energy Economics
- Climate Change and Global Warming
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
- Energy Technologies
- Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Compliance
- Communications Studies
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
- Energy, Data Science, and Information Technology
Coursework leading to a bachelor’s degree in energy is cross-cutting, with a curriculum that blends academic concepts and professional skill sets. Studying energy policy develops and refines analytical, management, and technical skills in strategic planning and problem-solving, and data science and modeling, and cultivates understanding trade-offs, stakeholder engagement, and the ability to interface between technical and non-technical audiences.
Understanding energy policy fosters a deep appreciation of energy and global change, politics and policy, social behaviors, economic development, land use, smart cities and climate change, ethical choices, and financial markets. Graduates possess an in-depth knowledge of the role energy plays, how energy is harnessed, and how to harness it more efficiently, effectively, and inexpensively to solve compelling problems, including climate change and the need to create a sustainable future.
Online Bachelor’s in Energy Policy Degrees
Online energy policy degrees are not widely available to undergraduates. In fact, we’ve only found a handful of programs offered online. A few examples include
- Penn State World Campus’ BS in Energy and Sustainability Policy
- Penn State World Campus’ BA in Energy and Sustainability Policy
- Bismarck State College’s BAS in Energy Management
Because online bachelor’s degrees in energy policy are uncommon, students may need to consider related environmentally-focused majors including sustainability, environmental science, or engineering. Alternatively, students can focus on policy through a more mainstream discipline like public affairs or business management.
There’s good news, however, for students planning to continue their education in an online master’s in energy policy program—there are many reputable universities (e.g., NYU, Johns Hopkins, Columbia) with online energy policy master’s programs.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s in Energy Policy Degree?
These are exciting times in the field of energy. A transformation is underway and will be for years. The advent of new clean energy (cleantech) is front and center in managing domestic and global challenges in business and government, both of which are driving an explosion in job opportunities in the energy sector.
The demand for workers in this field are expected grow for at least a decade. About 3.1 million jobs exist in the U.S. energy sector today. Employment, concentrated in cleantech energy, grew 4.0 between 2020 and 2021, compared to 2.8% for the wider economy. Here are examples of job growth in selected occupations:
- Electric vehicle jobs grew by 26.2%
- Solar energy jobs grew by 5.4%
- Wind energy jobs grew by 2.9%
- Energy efficiency jobs grew by 2.7%
Utilities, solar and wind developers, innovators, and producers of advanced technologies that employ people with energy policy degrees generally pay better than median wages earned from other sectors in the energy field. Here are some estimates of annual salaries for positions in energy policy: