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Studying engineering brings students to the forefront of state-of-the-art technologies and the future of the job market. When it comes to the engineering fields that most shape the way our world looks, it’s hard to imagine a more impactful sphere than energy engineering.
Energy engineering covers the whole energy spectrum, including fuel production, power generation, grid systems, and end-use consumption. At every step of this energy journey, trained engineers are needed to maximize the energy resources to ensure the future is sustainable, affordable, and equitable.
Energy engineering may be particularly appealing to undergraduate students with a background in science and engineering. Specifically, a master’s degree in energy engineering can prepare students to shape the world of tomorrow. Keep reading to learn about what master’s in energy engineering programs entail, as well as every master’s in energy engineering program offered at US universities.
- Accelerating advancements in energy technologies & systems are leading to a high demand for energy engineers with a master’s degree in energy engineering.
- Our listings feature MS and MEng degrees across a range of energy sectors, including nuclear energy and renewable & clean energy. You may even be able to choose a concentration in an area of interest (e.g. advanced energy storage).
- The cost of a master’s degree will usually hover between $25,000-$40,000. However, you should be able to command a significantly higher salary than a graduate with a BS in energy engineering.
The Role of Energy Engineers
Energy engineers are rising in prominence, both in terms of importance and the quantity needed across the workforce. For students that graduate with a master’s in energy engineering, this new world can present them with a wide variety of opportunities:
- Developing renewable energy resources in the field to increase the clean energy in global energy systems
- Optimizing the use of power in major energy-intensive areas, such as major manufacturing plants or in the future of electric transportation systems
- Providing hands-on expertise for how the transmission and distribution of electricity can be made more efficient, reliable, and affordable via real-time analysis of data, trends, and models
- Offering on-site expertise at power generation sites, whether renewable solar farms or baseload nuclear plants, or even in advancing new areas like geothermal energy and across the hydrogen economy
The takeaway is that a master’s degree in energy engineering will undoubtedly open doors to an array of opportunities in a student’s specific area of interest. Energy engineering is constantly growing and diversifying, and it will be one of the most critical areas of tomorrow’s economy.
How Do Master’s in Energy Engineering Programs Work?
Master’s degrees in energy engineering provide advanced knowledge of the energy systems that drive our economy. These programs are designed to build upon a foundational engineering background with modern energy systems, as well as to prepare students to be able to learn continuously throughout their careers as energy technologies evolve.
Types of Energy Engineering Graduate Programs
While energy engineering goes beyond basic engineering education, this field is still somewhat broad, encompassing multiple energy specialties. Just as the energy sector itself is broad (different types of power sources, various parts of the energy supply chain, and unique needs across sectors from residential to commercial to industrial), the types of energy engineering graduate programs available vary substantially.
For example, students will find programs focused on different energy sources:
- At Wright State University, students can pursue their Master of Science in Engineering, majoring in Renewable and Clean Energy.
- George Washington University offers a Master of Science in Engineering Management with a focus on Environmental and Energy Management.
- The University of Maryland focuses its MEng program on Energy Systems Engineering.
Leaning into the fossil fuel sector, Atlantic International University offers a Master in Oil, Gas, and Energy Engineering.
In addition to differentiating by energy source, degree programs can also vary by type of degree awarded. For example
- Iowa State University’s Energy Systems Engineering program will lead to a master of engineering (MEng).
- University of Buffalo awards a master of science to its clean energy engineering graduates.
- Washington University in St. Louis leans into the business of energy engineering with a dual MEng/MBA.
The above examples demonstrate the many approaches universities take to energy engineering programs, so it’s important to weigh the options and determine which pathway best matches your career aspirations.
Master’s in Energy Engineering Curriculum and Coursework
While the specific type of master’s in energy engineering program will impact coursework completed, students will see some common threads between various energy engineering graduate programs.
To start, most programs typically require 30 credits taken over one to two years of full-time study (or three to four years part time). Foundational coursework usually includes some essential courses relevant to all energy engineers, regardless of discipline. For example
- Energy Systems Management at the University of Maryland
- Environmental Risk Analysis at the University of Maryland
- Power System Modeling at Villanova University
After completing critical foundation courses, the program’s specialty will then dictate which advanced and specialized classes are offered or required:
- Oregon Tech features specializations in Advanced Energy Storage for its energy engineers.
- The Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering program at North Carolina State University features unique coverage in air pollution, coastal engineering, and water management.
- UMass Lowell allows students to dip into specific energy sources for their degree, including either solar energy or nuclear energy.
Note that all the above areas of focus are meant to supplement, not replace, the classes that these students are expected to have already completed during their bachelor’s degrees. This might include engineering, scientific basics (physics, chemistry, materials science), and general coursework on thinking, planning, and making decisions. Having those prerequisites completed allows the energy engineering master’s programs to hone in on what separates an energy engineer from a general engineer.
Before graduating from one of these master’s programs, students can also anticipate some real-world experience as a part of the schools’ core requirements:
- At Louisville, students are able to learn hands-on at the Renewable Energy Research lab.
- The University of Dayton places students in project-based experiences with local industry and government partners.
- Many programs require a real-world challenge to be addressed through a final capstone or culminating project, such as the University of Buffalo’s digital portfolio or the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s master’s thesis.
How Much Do Master’s in Energy Engineering Degrees Cost?
Pursuing a master’s in energy engineering is a commitment not only of time but also in funds. As with other master’s in engineering degrees, a typical energy engineering master’s will likely cost somewhere between $25,000 to $35,000 over the two years and 30 credits. The total, of course, will be determined based on location, institutional prestige, delivery (online or in person), residency status, and more.
Approximate costs of specific energy engineering master’s programs include
- UMass Lowell: $25,000
- MIT: $29,000
- University of North Texas: $30,000
- University of North Dakota: $30,000
- University of Illinois: $38,000
Online Master’s in Energy Engineering Programs
The modern master’s student is increasingly looking for opportunities to complete their studies remotely through online degrees. Thanks to the advanced virtual learning technologies, such opportunities are more available than ever for energy engineering students.
In fact, master’s in energy engineering programs are more commonly available online (20+ options) than any other type of energy program in our database. And the schools offering this option include many of the most reputable in the field:
- Clemson offers in-person, online, or a hybrid format for maximum flexibility.
- The University of Washington offers a fully online degree for students unable to visit campus.
- NC State University makes its on-campus offerings available to all through its Engineering Online (EOL) program.
Is a Master’s in Energy Engineering Worth It?
Pursuing a master’s degree is a major commitment, so it shouldn’t be pursued unless the student is certain about the direction of their career. But the numbers certainly back this educational pursuit as well worth the investment.
With a master’s in energy engineering, graduates will open more doors with a higher starting salary: the median annual master’s in engineering salary is $100,000, notably above the $87,000 for graduates with only a bachelor’s, according to UC Riverside.
With the ever-expanding energy sector in the US and abroad, workers who are well trained and fluent in necessary energy technologies are going to be some of the most in-demand professionals in the future. Completing a master’s in energy engineering best prepares students to fill that critical role.