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The emergence of Master’s in Energy Policy programs reflects the immediate need for professionals who can research and shape regulations and policies related to energy production and consumption. If a career in energy excites you, a Master’s in Energy Policy is a valuable diploma that can open doors to jobs in a high-growth sector and generally pays above median salaries.
This guide explores the Master’s in Energy Policy in great detail, from the types of coursework students can expect to what exactly you can do with it after graduation. And if you’re ready to browse opportunities at reputable universities, skip ahead to our easy-to-use directory of universities currently offering master’s in energy policy programs on campus or online.
- Employers are increasingly hungry for senior-level professionals who understand the nuances of markets, regulations, and environmental policy.
- Within our listings, you’ll find master’s programs in energy policy that address everything from global law to climate change policy analysis. Many of these programs are designed for working professionals; some are offered online.
- Sample job titles for a master’s in energy policy graduate include Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), utility director, utility rates analyst, energy trader, and senior energy policy analyst.
The Growing Need for Energy Policy Professionals
In the energy industry, you’ll most likely need a master’s degree (or be working on one) to land the most competitive jobs and salaries. A lot of the professionals who have worked in energy occupations are now retiring, leading to a growing demand for workers researching, innovating, commercializing, producing, delivering, marketing, selling, planning, and regulating energy in the U.S. and globally. Governments and businesses are spending big on reducing their carbon emissions and will be for years, making energy policy roles a reliable bet for students.
More than 40% of total U.S. energy sector jobs are in what is sometimes called cleantech or net-zero roles. Demand for these jobs has high growth projections. The U.S. Energy Department’s 2022 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) maintains the following:
- Between 2020 and 2021, growth in energy industry jobs exceeded overall U.S. job growth.
- The demand for jobs across and within every major clean energy technology is growing and is projected to continue developing over the next decade.
What can you do with a Master’s in Energy Policy degree? Common job titles include
- Regulatory affairs associate – average salary of $63,861
- Senior energy policy analyst – average salary of $75,007
- Energy data scientist – average salary of $110,000
- Utility rates analyst – average salary of $60,675
- Utility operations manager – average salary of $72,714
- Sustainability manager – average salary of $87,362
Thought leaders see clean, net-zero energy and the policies dictating its use as a key part of the solution to creating more resilient communities in the face of climate change. Earn a Master’s in Energy Policy and you’ll hold a highly marketable degree as you enter the workforce.
How Do Masters in Energy Policy Programs Work?
You will learn about energy generation, transmission and distribution, and end use by residential, industrial, and commercial energy consumers. Your master’s studies will stress institutional knowledge and skills in energy markets, technology, and policy.
The coursework is multidisciplinary, drawing from the social sciences and liberal arts, business and professional studies, and technical and scientific domains. You’ll learn about solar generation and battery storage, smart grids, electric vehicle technologies, policies, and finance. For most, a Master’s in Energy Policy is a professional degree preparing the holder for the workplace. Therefore, much of the coursework stresses applied knowledge and skills, but this degree also opens the door to seeking a PhD in Energy Policy or a related field.
Admission requirements for graduate energy policy programs are similar to any other master’s program. It’s typical for admissions to require a statement of purpose/personal statement, all undergraduate transcripts, GRE test scores (though not always), and letters of recommendation.
Program Length and Structure
Some Master’s in Energy Policy programs can be completed in only one year if enrolled full time, such as Stony Brook University’s MS in Technological Systems Management (with an Energy Technology and Policy focus). But programs are geared toward working professionals, meaning part-time study is available, leading to the completion of a master’s degree in around three years. Most can plan on completing their degree program in two to three years.
The early portion of your program usually comprises requisites in theory, practice, planning, implementation, and research methods. Once the requisites have been completed, a range of electives are available, which allows you to specialize. Most, if not all, Master’s in Energy Policy programs require completing an internship or a capstone project. For example, students in Johns Hopkins University’s MS in Energy Policy and Climate can complete optional intensive study field courses: students spend two weeks somewhere in the world to learn about real-world climate challenges and the role of policy in creating solutions. While intensive study courses are optional, all students complete a capstone project.
Masters in Energy Policy Curriculum and Coursework
You’ll find a mix of people with different undergraduate degrees studying for their Master’s in Energy Policy, including those who hold a Bachelor’s in Energy Policy or another degree with a concentration in energy. Whatever the prior degree, compared to coursework when earning a bachelor’s, studying for a master’s differs from undergraduate studies in several ways:
- Graduate-level studies involve highly specific coursework aimed at providing the knowledge and skills needed to be an expert in the energy domain, in contrast to undergraduate study, which focuses on more foundational learning.
- Graduate courses involve much more reading and project-oriented work than undergraduate courses, with a heavier emphasis on research design, methods, and statistics.
- Graduate programs can be more flexible than undergraduate programs, allowing you to choose from courses and specializations that most align with your professional interests.
Earning a Master’s in Energy Policy requires completing roughly 30 credits, the equivalent of ten courses. For example:
- The Master of Science (MS) in Energy Policy and Climate at Johns Hopkins University consists of ten online and on-site courses for 30 total credits.
- The University of Delaware’s Master of Energy and Environmental Policy (MEEP) requires the completion of 36 credits, composed of a 21-credit core curriculum and 15 elective credits.
- The University of Denver’s Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management requires 12 courses (48 credit hours) be completed to matriculate, with four core courses, six concentration courses, and two electives.
In addition to required coursework, you will choose from a selection of electives to complete your master’s. Specific course titles vary from program to program, but examples of real programs include
- Climate Change Policy Analysis at Johns Hopkins University
- Global Environmental Law and Policy at University of Denver
- Political Economy of the Environment at University of Delaware
- International Environmental Policy at Duke University
- The Geopolitics of Energy at New York University
As you might expect, opportunities in energy policy can be found within the legal field. Students can pursue an LLM (Master of Law) degree in Energy Law. Here’s a list of law schools offering LLM Energy Law programs:
- Vermont Law School, Master of Law (LLM) in Energy Law, online
- Lewis & Clark College, Master of Law (LLM) in Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, and Energy Law, online
- George Washington University, Master of Laws (LLM) in Energy & Climate Law, online
- New York University Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental and Energy Law, online
Note that law school admission and course requirements differ greatly from Master’s in Energy Policy programs. Compare the two types of programs to determine whether an energy law (LLM) or energy policy master’s program is right for you.
How Much Do Masters in Energy Policy Degrees Cost?
Master’s in Energy Policy programs aren’t cheap. Total program tuition is often north of $30,000. As expected, private universities tend to be more expensive than public ones. Program delivery, meaning on-campus versus online instruction, also plays a role in pricing.
Here are examples of how much Master’s in Energy Policy programs cost at notable universities:
- The Master of Science (MS) in Energy Policy and Climate at Johns Hopkins University is $4,580 per course, plus a $200 per-course technology fee, for a total of $47,800.
- The MS, Environmental and Energy Policy at Michigan Tech is $23,332 per year.
- The University of Denver’s Master’s in Energy and Sustainability lists a total price of $38,688 and can be completed in as few as 18 months.
Online Master’s in Energy Policy Programs
Just as energy’s role in all aspects of our lives grows, the number of online Master’s in Energy Policy offerings is growing. You’ll find a number of energy policy graduate programs offered either partially or entirely online, including
- Johns Hopkins MS in Energy Policy & Climate
- New York University (NYU) LLM in Environmental and Energy Law
- George Washington University LLM Specializing in Environmental & Energy Law
- Vermont Law & Graduate School (VLGS) LLM in Energy Law
Are online energy policy programs less valuable than their on-campus counterparts? In short, no. For example, Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Energy Law and Policy program offers a challenging curriculum through the university’s Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE). The program delivers a wide range of course offerings on clean energy, sustainability, and net-zero transportation, with a strong emphasis on research. And it was one of the first graduate programs to focus on sustainable energy.
VLGS’s operates an Energy Clinic where student clinicians engage themselves on projects “to resolve energy law and policy challenges in a sustainable and socially equitable manner, for both the local community and the world.” Resources like the Energy Clinic demonstrate the impressive tools available to online energy policy students as they network and pursue jobs throughout the entirety of the energy ecosystem.
Is a Master’s in Energy Policy Worth It?
Depending on your specific goals, a Master’s in Energy Policy may be necessary to progress in your energy career. A graduate degree in energy policy on your résumé communicates to employers that you have been trained and possess the advanced knowledge needed for energy related positions. At the very least, it gives graduates a leg up on the most competitive and rewarding positions in government, research, or business.
The demand for energy professionals will grow robustly for at least a decade. The jobs are stable and pay well, however, geographic area does impact salary figures. For example, energy policy professionals in Washington, DC, or New York City may earn higher salaries than professionals in smaller cities. However, some small cities have a higher concentration of energy jobs, leading to competitive salaries (e.g., Richmond, VA). Review energy policy salaries in your area to learn more.
Here’s a sampling of average salaries for selected energy sector jobs:
- Chief Sustainability Officer: $110,894
- Wind Energy Analyst: $76,555
- Utility Director: $121,641
- Energy Trader: $76,974
- Energy Policy Analyst: $57,257
The surge in demand for workforce is being driven by climate change and the need to innovate, market, sell and install, operate, and manage cleantech/net-zero energy solutions to meet decarbonization targets. Many jobs in the energy ecosystem are with utilities, government, nonprofits, and businesses with better than average work-life balance and wellness policies.
For someone seeking a challenging career with strong growth forecasts and good pay, plus ample opportunities to make a difference, pursuing a Master’s in Energy Policy is a sound choice.