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Sustainable Engineering MS

Program overview

Sustainable engineering refers to the integration of social, environmental, and economic considerations into product, process, and energy system design methods. Additionally, sustainable engineering encourages the consideration of the complete product and process lifecycle during the design effort. The intent is to minimize environmental impacts across the entire lifecycle while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders. The MS in sustainable engineering is multidisciplinary and managed by the industrial and systems engineering department.

The program builds on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education and offers students the flexibility to develop tracks in areas such as renewable energy systems, systems modeling and analysis, product design, and engineering policy and management. Course work is offered on campus and available on a full- or part-time basis.

Educational objectives

The program is designed to accomplish the following educational objectives:

  • Heighten awareness of issues in areas of sustainability (e.g., global warming, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, pollution, ethical issues, fair trade, gender equity, etc.).
  • Establish a clear understanding of the role and impact of various aspects of engineering (design, technology, etc.) and engineering decisions on environmental, societal, and economic problems. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic objectives.
  • Strong ability to apply engineering and decision-making tools and methodologies to sustainability-related problems.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to distinguish professional and ethical responsibilities associated with the practice of engineering.


Technical in nature, the program equips engineers with the tools they need to meet the challenges associated with delivering goods, energy, and services through sustainable means. In addition to basic course work in engineering and classes in public policy and environmental management, students are required to complete a capstone project or thesis directly related to sustainable design challenges impacting society. Many of these projects can be incorporated into sustainable research by RIT faculty in the areas of fuel-cell development, life-cycle engineering, and sustainable process implementation.

Students must successfully complete a total of 33 semester credit hours of course work comprised of five required core courses; two graduate engineering electives in an area of interest such as energy, modeling, manufacturing and materials, transportation and logistics, or product design and development; two social context or environmental technology electives; two semesters of Graduate Seminar I, II (ISEE-795, 796); and a thesis. This research-oriented program is designed to be completed in two years.

Contextual electives

Students choose one elective from each of the following groups.

Social context:

  • Energy Policy
  • Technical Innovation and Public Policy
  • Managing for Environmental Sustainability

Environmental technology:

  • Resource Reduction
  • Product Stewardship
  • Industrial Waste Water Management
  • Air Emissions
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Management

Sustainable engineering, MS degree, typical course sequence

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ISEE-785 Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering 3
ISEE-771 Engineering of Systems I 3
MECE-629 Renewable Energy Systems 3
ISEE-795 Graduate Seminar I 0
ISEE-786 Lifecycle Assessment 3
  Engineering Electives 6
ISEE-796 Graduate Seminar II 0
Second Year
ISEE-787 Dsign for the Environment 3
  Environmental Technology Elective 3
  Social Context Elective 3
ISEE-790 Research and Thesis 6
Total Semester Credit Hours 33

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in sustainable engineering, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution in engineering, mathematics, or science,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) from all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0,
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE),
  • Submit a statement of purpose,
  • Submit three letters of reference from individuals well qualified to judge the candidate's ability for graduate study, and
  • Complete a graduate application.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Applicants who have a bachelor's degree in a field outside of engineering may be considered for admission; however, additional bridge course work may be required before full admission into the program.

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