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Sustainable Systems MS

Program overview

The MS degree in sustainable systems focuses on sustainable production systems, which create goods and services using processes that are non-polluting; conservation of energy and natural resources; economic viability; and safety and health for workers, communities, and consumers. Course work and research take a systems level and interdisciplinary approach to solving sustainability problems, as opposed to single disciplinary and locally optimized approaches destined to yield marginally positive impacts.

Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in their chosen field with an understanding of basic sustainability principles and the expertise to analyze and solve complex sustainability issues. 


Students must complete 24 semester credit hours of course work plus a 6 semester credit hour thesis or capstone project. Full-time students may complete the degree in one year (two semesters plus one summer term).


Students have the option of choosing one of four tracks: sustainable manufacturing, sustainable mobility, sustainable energy systems, and sustainable built environments. Students can also create additional tracks using elective courses (selected in consultation with the student's adviser) from a wide variety of courses offered by the Golisano Institute for Sustainability or any one of RIT's other colleges.

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

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ISUS-802 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science 3
ISUS-804 Industrial Ecology 3
ECON-711 Microeconomics for Graduate Students* 3
ISUS-806 Risk Analysis 3
ISUS-708 Sustainability Practice 3
  Electives 6
ISUS-705 Technology Policy and Sustainability* 3
ISUS-807 Thesis or Capstone 6
Total Semester Credit Hours 30

* This course may be replaced by an approved elective.

Admission requirements

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

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university,
  • Have fulfilled the following curriculum requirements: one year of college science and one year of college mathematics (including calculus and statistics),
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0,
  • Participate in an interview with the academic department,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE),
  • Submit two letters of reference,
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives,
  • Submit a current resume, 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). 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 exam. The minimum acceptable score is 6.5.

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.

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