Sustainability Ph.D.

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Laura Watts, PhD

Department Contact

Thomas Trabold, Ph.D., Program Director

Admission Deadlines & Requirements

Program Available Online? No
Application Deadline Rolling
Admit Term Fall
Entrance Exam GRE
English Language Exams:
TOEFL (Internet) 100
PTE Academic 68


Priority deadline - COMPLETE applications that are received by this date are given priority consideration for admission and financial aid (if applicable). Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

Rolling - There is no specific deadline for applications; applications will be accepted and reviewed throughout the year until the program reaches capacity.

Program overview

The doctorate program in sustainability is the first program in the world to focus on sustainable production systems. It seeks to advance research and education in alternative-energy development, sustainable production, sustainable mobility, and eco-IT.

The program’s curriculum emphasizes sustainable production systems, which create goods and services using processes that are non-polluting; conservation of energy and natural resources; economic viability; and safety for workers, communities, and consumers. Course work and research take a systems level and interdisciplinary approach to solving seemingly intractable sustainability problems.

Students have the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary faculty and researchers in numerous RIT research centers, including the Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery, the Center for Sustainable Manufacturing, the Center for Sustainable Mobility, the Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute—all of which are housed in the Golisano Institute for Sustainability.

Plan of study

Students must complete 60 semester credit hours of course work and research.


Sustainability, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ISUS-600 Graduate Seminar 2
ISUS-702 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science 3
ISUS-704 Industrial Ecology 3
  Elective 3
ISUS-706 Economics of Sustainable Systems 3
ISUS-806 Risk Analysis 3
ISUS-808 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems Analysis 3
Second Year
ISUS-705 Technology Policy and Sustainability or Approved Substitute 3
  Elective 3
Choose one of the following: 8
   ISUS-890    Dissertation Research  
   ISUS-807    Research  
ISUS-600 Graduate Seminar 2
Third Year
Choose one of the following: 8
   ISUS-890    Dissertation Research  
   ISUS-807    Research  
ISUS-600 Graduate Seminar 4
Fourth Year
ISUS-600 Graduate Seminar 2
ISUS-890 Dissertation Research 10
Total Semester Credit Hours 60


Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program in sustainability, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college from an accredited institution. Course work must include at least one year of college science and one year of college mathematics, including calculus and statistics.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit at least two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources. Letters should be submitted directly to RIT and must be confidential
  • Participate in a personal interview with the faculty committee (by teleconference, if necessary).
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.

Career Outcomes

The RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education website provides information pertaining to student skills and capabilities, salary data, career information, job outcomes, and contact information for the Career Services Coordinator by program.

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