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Ph.D. Degree in Sustainability

This interdisciplinary program instills a systems-level approach to solving seemingly intractable global sustainability problems. While developing technical depth in laboratory and/or modeling specialities, you will learn to work in the broader context of environmental assessment, economics and policy. Research areas include sustainable energy, production, mobility and eco-IT.

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

  • Corporate Sustainability Director
  • Industrial Research and Development Specialist
  • Environmental Policy Analyst
  • And more!

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About the Program

This broadly defined multidisciplinary program is designed for students who are driven to become sustainability change agents within organizations worldwide, including industry (executive management, product development, manufacturing & remanufacturing, supply chain management, and service), executive and legislative branches of government, nongovernmental agencies, academic institutions, professional associations, financial and investment communities, the indemnification industry, and legal profession.

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

Graduates will have skills in such diverse areas as development of sustainable product and manufacturing systems, industrial ecology, economics of sustainability, risk analysis of sustainable systems, and multi-criteria decision making. They will study 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, and apply these in their research. The development of the Ph.D. program was funded in part by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The Ph.D. program focuses on sustainable production systems — 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.

Students 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.

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.

Current opportunities being offered include an engineering project with Manufacturing USA's new REMADE Institute, which will research ways to reduce embodied energy in manufacturing processes.

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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), personal statement, research interests, and 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. For preferred consideration, apply by January 15.

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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

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 ›