Sustainable Systems MS

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Laura Watts, PhD

Department Contact

Gabrielle Gaustad, Ph.D., Program Director

Admission Deadlines & Requirements

Program Available Online? No
Application Deadline Rolling
Admit Term Fall/Spring
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

Students in the MS degree in sustainable systems will develop an understanding of basic sustainability principles and have the expertise to analyze and solve complex sustainability issues.

The program focuses on developing sustainable production systems, which create goods and services using processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources; support economic viability; and ensure health and safety for workers, communities, and consumers.

Course work and research occur at a systems level and are interdisciplinary. This approach ensures that production changes are positive and impactful industry wide.

Plan of study

Students must complete 24 credit hours of course work plus a 6 credit hour thesis or capstone project.

Full-time students may complete the degree in one year (two semesters plus one summer term).


Students may choose one of four tracks:

  • sustainable manufacturing
  • sustainable mobility
  • sustainable energy systems
  • sustainable built environments.

Students also may create additional tracks using elective courses (selected in consultation with an adviser) from a variety of courses offered by the Golisano Institute for Sustainability or any RIT college.


Sustainable systems, MS degree, typical course sequence (semesters)

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ISUS-702 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science 3
ISUS-704 Industrial Ecology 3
ISUS-706 Economics of Sustainable Systems 3
ISUS-806 Risk Analysis 3
ISUS-708 Sustainability Practice 3
  Electives 6
ISUS-705 Technology Policy and Sustainability* 3
Choose one of the following: 6
   ISUS-780    Capstone  
   ISUS-790    Thesis  
Total Semester Credit Hours 30


Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in sustainable systems, 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.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Have fulfilled the following curriculum requirements: one year of college science and one year of college mathematics (inclduing calculus and statistics). 
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Participate in an interview with the academic department.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • 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.

Additional information

Non-matriculated students

An applicant with a bachelor’s degree from an approved undergraduate institution and the appropriate background is permitted to take graduate courses as a non-matriculated student. If the student is subsequently admitted to the graduate program, a limited number of credit hours from courses taken at RIT as a non-matriculated student can be transferred to the degree program. Any applicant who wishes to register for a graduate course as a non-matriculated student must obtain permission from the chair of the graduate program and the course instructor.

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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