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Sustainability Ph.D.

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.


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

Sustainability, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ISUS-600 Graduate Seminar 2
ISUS-802 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science 3
ISUS-804 Industrial Ecology 3
  Elective 3
ECON-810 Economics of Sustainability 3
ISUS-806 Risk Analysis 3
ISUS-807 Research 2
ISUS-808 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems Analysis 3
Second Year
ISUS-805 Technology Policy and Sustainability or Approved Substitute 3
  Elective 3
ISUS-899 Dissertation Research 7
ISUS-800 Graduate Seminar 2
Third Year and Beyond
ISUS-890 Dissertation Research 16
ISUS-800 Graduate Seminar 4
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:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree 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),
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE),
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) from all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit at least two letters of academic and/or professional recommendation. Referees should send recommendation letters by email to or via postal service directly to Graduate Enrollment Services.
  • Participate in a personal interview with the faculty committee (by teleconference if necessary), 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. Minimum scores of 600 (paper-based) or 100 (Internet-based) are required. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores will be accepted in place of the TOEFL. Minimum scores will vary, however, the absolute minimum score required for unconditional acceptance is 6.5. For additional information about the IELTS, please visit

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