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RIT’s Ph.D. in Sustainability is a practically based program that fosters innovation and creativity in solving real-world challenges within social, economic, technological, and business realms. In this inherently interdisciplinary field, you’ll become part of a network of academics from across RIT who are working to optimize sustainable systems and practices in engineering, manufacturing, energy, education, and more.

Program Overview

Our approach to sustainability means working in the broader context of environmental assessment, economics, and policy. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from areas across the entire university to develop your own innovative approach to the field, building off of methodologies such as life cycle assessment, environmental risk and impact assessment, design for the environment, pollution prevention, closed loop supply chain management, and product life assessment.

Moreover, you’ll work side-by-side with our world-renowned faculty who are avid researchers in diverse areas including biofuels, transportation, energy policy, resource recovery, smart products and systems, and more. Each faculty member sponsors a select number of students on specific research projects, with the scope varying from fundamental science to applied engineering to corporate sustainability applications. On acceptance into a sponsored research project, you’ll receive a fully funded education, a stipend to help with living expenses, your own office space, and the time to develop your technical expertise in sub-areas dependent on your research. Contact a faculty member to learn more today.

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Sponsored Research Opportunities

A large part of the Ph.D. program involves sponsored research, a fantastic benefit that further improves the worth of your degree. Sponsored research provides a student with the opportunity to participate in an Institute research project led by a faculty member. In return, all tuition costs are covered, and a stipend is given to help pay for living expenses. Each faculty member sponsors a select number of students on a specific research project, with the topics varying from engineering to corporate sustainability applications.

Contact a faculty member today to learn more.

How to Apply

In order for your application to be reviewed, you must first be accepted into a sponsored research project. Our available research opportunities, mainly provided by the sponsored research activities of the faculty, are highly competitive. It is important to align with a faculty advisor as soon as possible. Contact a faculty member with similar research interests regarding openings today.

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

True innovation is born from diverse backgrounds and ideas.

The Ph.D. degree helps you think innovatively about how sustainability can positively impact systems all over the world through big-picture solutions, from training future business leaders to maximizing natural resources. You don’t need a background in sustainability to join this program; you just need a desire to create positive change in the world.

We bring in students of all ages, from all backgrounds—from biotechnology to business—and from all over the world. You’ll also find a wide range of ages—many of the program’s students have 10+ years of careers and/or education under their belts when they enroll.

Shape your career in industry or academia

Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared for diverse academic and industry jobs where you can make an impact on the way the world views and utilizes sustainable practices, from the macro to the micro.

Graduates from RIT’s Ph.D. in Sustainability are employed around the world as:

  • Research scientists
  • Professors
  • Directors of sustainability
  • Project engineers
  • Research consultants
  • Policy planning specialists

What Our Students Say

What Our Students Say

  • What Our Students Say

    GIS is a beautiful living laboratory filled with wonderfully bright and passionate faculty, staff, and students. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this burgeoning program. Keep an eye out for us, world!

    Dr. Michele Bustamante
    Postdoctoral Associate, MIT
  • What Our Students Say

    The most important career skill I gained at GIS is the conducting of environmental impact assessment of products, processes and systems. Other skills that I found very useful include life cycle assessment, multi-criteria decision analysis and statistical analysis.

    Dr. Xue Wang
    Project Coordinator, UL Environment

Student-Centered Research

Learn from the industry’s trailblazers.

Your Ph.D. in Sustainability faculty are well-known scholars and active researchers who not only bring their knowledge into the classroom, but also directly involve students in their scholarship.

Community is at our core.

Rochester, NY location on map of USA

Rochester, NY, is a hub for sustainability professionals and home to rich natural resources, such as fertile farmland and the nearby Finger Lakes. Students in the Ph.D. in Sustainability program connect regularly with faculty at other colleges throughout RIT, as well as national labs and corporate partners. 

Many students also share their passion for sustainability with the local community by working in volunteer service on projects like K-12 education, community gardens, farmer’s markets, and more. In addition, you will connect with the larger sustainability world by attending and presenting at professional conferences all over the world.