Prestigious universities like Stanford, Duke, Boston University and MIT have renowned alternative energy programs with cutting-edge technology and globally recognized instructors.
But there are lesser-known colleges offering first-rate renewable energy programs and grooming young leaders to make a lasting impact. Here are our top eight.
Appalachian State University – Boone, NC
In the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, North Carolina, lies Appalachian State University. The public institution’s leadership in sustainability education dates back more than 40 years. Appropriate Technology (Sustainable Technology) began in 1978 as Earth Studies and the program has been taught ever since.
Today, the university offers 11 sustainability-focused degrees, from a minor to bachelor’s and master’s degrees that focus on sustainable development, environmental science, building science, sustainable technology and more. Students also have the option to study abroad and learn how to integrate sustainable technologies in a global society, from Nicaragua to Taiwan.
Appalachian State boasts the nation’s longest running Sustainable Development Program, established in 1991. Since then, the university has facilitated community-driven development and social change by enriching human well-being, protecting natural systems and advancing an ecologically minded mindset. Students can further their education outside the classroom, taking part in organizations like the Sustainability Council and Solar Club. These opportunities help students develop leadership skills as they educate other students and inform community residents about the impact and importance of sustainability efforts.
University of Colorado – Boulder
Nestled against Boulder’s iconic Flatirons, the University of Colorado is comprised of innovative scholars dedicated to accelerating human potential to solve the humanitarian, social and technological challenges of our time. The university has an institute dedicated to addressing complex energy issues, aptly called the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI). A joint venture between the university and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), this institute offers both graduate and undergraduate certificates in renewable and sustainable energy, as well as a Master of the Environment with specialization in renewable and sustainable energy. The certificate programs are open to current graduate and undergraduate students from any major and department.
RASEI’s practice-based program focuses on clean energy technologies, law and policy, and business practices and skills in the renewable energy sector. The institute hosts a number of conferences and symposiums each year that feature both nationally and globally renowned speakers. The university also conducts interdisciplinary research on a number of impact areas, ranging from grind innovation to advanced biofuels to sustainable transportation.
University of Massachusetts – Lowell, MA
Committed to advancing the renewable energy industry, the Energy Engineering Program at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell began more than 25 years ago. Once focused solely on solar, the program now encompasses various renewable technologies, from wind to fuel cells to green combustion.
The university’s Renewable Energy Engineering Program (REEP), as it’s known today consists of six colleges that offer an undergraduate minor in energy engineering, a graduate certificate, and both master’s and doctoral degrees. Graduates have designed off-grid solar-powered water pumps in Peru, started companies to bring clean lighting to India, and improved the reliability of wind turbines off the coast of Rhode Island. Students at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell are sure to walk away with hands-on expertise to truly make a world change.
City College of New York – NYC
Diverse and dynamic, the City College of New York has provided high-quality and affordable education to New Yorkers since the mid-1800s. It is a public senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), located in the heart of New York City.
At the college’s Grove School of Engineering lies the CUNY Energy Institute, a collection of world-renowned scientists and teachers who are discovering new ways to produce, store and use sustainable energy. Students have the extraordinary opportunity to work alongside these faculty members and be a part of this innovative research.
Students in the Grove School of Engineering can pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Systems Science and Environmental Engineering or in Environmental Earth System Science. There are two tracks for graduates: a Master of Science degree in Earth Systems and Environmental Engineering (ESEE) and a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degree in Earth Systems and Environmental Engineering.
The City College of New York also offers a Sustainability Master’s degree in Urban Environment. This unique interdisciplinary program was designed to equip tomorrow’s workforce to meet the growing challenges that face urban areas in the 21st century and beyond.
Santa Clara University – Santa Clara, CA
Located in the center of Silicon Valley, the world’s center of technology and innovation, lies Santa Clara University. The educational institution features a cutting-edge Power Systems and Sustainable Energy Program to produce graduates who are well adept at the latest trends in renewable energy generation and guided by an understanding of the social, political and ethical relationships surrounding these.
Santa Clara University offers three options within its sustainability program: a minor that incorporates existing classes from different schools, a Renewable Energy Graduate Certificate and a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy. Graduate students are introduced to a wide range of courses – from power systems and smart grids to energy management and security. These courses are complemented by lectures, workshops, and quarterly field trips offered by the university’s Energy Club. Graduates work at companies including Google, SunEdison, Sunpower, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and many more.
Georgia Tech – Atlanta, GA
Georgia Institute of Technology is a leading research university that aims to improve the world through advanced science and technology. The Atlanta-based public institution recognizes the importance that technology plays in balancing our nation’s energy needs with better environmental stewardship.
Announced in March 2019, Georgia Tech will launch the state’s only graduate degree fully dedicated to sustainability issues – a new Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM). Beginning in August of 2019, the program will prepare graduate students to deliver fact-based policy expertise through analytical techniques so they can assess the full scope of environmental problems and their implications on society.
Undergraduate students can pursue a minor in Energy Systems, designed to add a scope of knowledge and expertise to areas outside of a student’s primary major. Through recruiting efforts and targeted programs, Georgia Tech produces the most female engineers in the country, empowering women to opt for careers in an often-male-dominated field.
Crowder College – Neosho, Missouri
In Southwest Missouri, this two-year community college is making strides in educating tomorrow’s leaders on renewable energy. Crowder College in Neosho has an average class size of 17 students, making instructors more accessible and focusing on individualized attention.
Crowder College collaborated with the School of Engineering at the University of Missouri at Rolla to design its Alternative Energy Program. The collaboration offers science and engineering students a unique foundation in solar and renewable energy technology. and wind technologies and applications. The program emphasizes learning through team-based applied research projects. Crowder College operates the state’s renewable energy education center, known as the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology Center. In addition, students participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, having designed various solar-powered homes (and even earned a few first-place finishes over the years).
Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester, NH
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an online degree in environmental science with a concentration in Natural Resources & Conservation. With classes that include geology, ecological principles and field methods, students learn about the chemical impact in addition to the societal implication of our earth’s resources.
Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU also offers an online MBA in Sustainability and Environmental Compliance. This graduate program is one of the most affordable in the nation, at less than $630/credit hour (as of spring 2019). Sustainability instructors are not just teachers, they’re equipped with a diversity of knowledge and experience – from activism to executive positions. Students learn how to stay in compliance with the ever-changing environmental laws while becoming advocates for positive change.
Interested in a career in clean energy? Browse the different positions on Clean Energy Jobs List and see what kind of skills employers require. And remember, it’s never too soon to create a free professional profile. Even if you’re still in school, include the classes you’re taking and the knowledge you’re gaining – you just might find the internship of your dreams.