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Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Systems

This degree will give you an understanding of basic sustainability principles and the expertise to analyze and solve complex sustainability issues. Gain technical training in energy and recycling systems, environmental assessment, economics and policy. A personalized thesis/capstone experience builds expertise in your area of interest. Tracks are available in Sustainable Manufacturing, Sustainable Mobility, and Sustainable Energy Systems.

With this degree, you could become a(n):

  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Campus Sustainability Manager
  • Energy Program Manager
  • And more!

The Master’s degree program is a rigorous multi-disciplinary program in sustainability science and analysis that focuses on systems that create goods and services using processes that are: non-polluting; conserving of energy and natural resources; economically viable; and safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers. Coursework and research takes a systems level and interdisciplinary approach to solving seemingly intractable sustainability problems, as opposed to single disciplinary and locally optimized approaches destined to yield marginal positive impacts.

Graduates of this program will be prepared to undertake or continue careers in their chosen fields with an understanding of basic sustainability principles and the expertise to analyze and solve complex sustainability issues.

Sign up to receive information about this degree and available financial aid opportunities.


Most Master’s students will concentrate in sustainable manufacturing, sustainable mobility, or sustainable energy systems and will have the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary faculty and researchers in the Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery (C3R), an internationally-recognized leader for applied research in remanufacturing, the Center of Excellence in Advanced & Sustainable Manufacturing (COE-ASM), which is dedicated to enhancing the environmental and economic performance of products and processes, the Center for Sustainable Mobility (CSM) that focuses on the evaluation of life-cycle environmental and economic impacts of alternative fuel and vehicle propulsion technologies, or the NanoPower Research Labs (NPRL) that are dedicated to the creation and utilization of nanomaterials for power generation and storage.

Elective courses are selected in consultation with the student's advisor from a wide variety of courses offered by GIS or one of RIT's colleges. Tracks available to students include:

  • Sustainable Manufacturing – the development of processes and logistics that reduce the environmental footprint of products in the manufacturing stage and promote the recovery of materials and embodied energy in products at their end-of-life. Elective courses may include: Material Cycling, Applied Life Cycle, Assessment Remanufacturing Processes
  • Sustainable Mobility – the creation of vehicle systems and fuels that reduce energy consumption and draw on renewable sources of energy. Elective courses may include: Sustainable Mobility Systems, Alternative Fuels and Energy Efficiency
  • Sustainable Energy Systems – the development and management of energy systems that rely heavily on renewable sources. Elective courses may include: Thermodynamics for Sustainability, Sustainable Energy Systems, Fuel Cell Technology

Or students can create their own concentration by selecting elective courses and a capstone/thesis topic.

Student Learning Objectives include:

  • Producing professionals who are able to comprehend interrelated sustainability concepts drawn from multiple disciplines.
  • Developing core competencies to independently conduct and disseminate original and high quality interdisciplinary research in sustainability science
  • Preparing professionals for diverse team-based sustainability careers in industry, academia, non-profit sector, and government agencies
How to Apply

An earned baccalaureate degree including at least one year of college science, one year of college mathematics (including calculus and statistics) is required. Admission decisions will be based on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), official transcripts, grade point average (3.0 or greater is required), recommendation letters (minimum two), TOEFL score for applicants whose native language is not English, and interviews with members of the faculty.

For registration and enrollment information, or to apply online, press the button below. Applications will be accepted until July 1. Apply by January 15 for preferred financial aid consideration.

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What Our Students Say

What Our Students Say

  • What Our Students Say

    I received an extremely well-rounded graduate education in sustainability from an excellent, highly respected research and teaching faculty.

    David Frank
    Sustainability Director, Aramark
  • Ricardo Dias

    What Our Students Say

    GIS really expanded the ways in which I am empowered to positively impact the world. The things I learned and experienced in the MS program led me to successfully start my own energy management business back home in Brazil. I will never forget how my instructors cared about my personal and academic achievements – that means a lot when you are eight thousand miles away from your family.

    Ricardo Dias
    Founder & Operations Planner, CUBi Energia
  • What Our Students Say

    The GIS program is rigorous. I think that going through the GIS program both as a student and graduate research assistant has increased not only technical skillsets but also soft skills such as resourcefulness, perseverance and steadfastness. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in this program.

    Kim Bawden
    Pollution Prevention Engineer, New York Pollution Prevention Institute

Student-Centered Research

About Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY location on map of USA

Rochester, New York is a metropolitan area near Canada inhabited by a little more than one million people. Small enough to be welcoming, but large enough to be lively, Rochester is known for its many lakes, festivals and craft brewers, as well as its low cost of living and sizable high-tech startup community. Get to know the area ›

Most classes will take place in our state-of-the-art LEED platinum building, a learning, living laboratory, where pioneering R&D is happening with some the biggest names in business and industry. Tour our building ›