Sustainable Engineering Master of science degree

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A sustainable engineering degree that allows you to reduce a product’s environmental effects at every stage of its lifecycle–from conception, development, and prototyping to commercialization, recycling, and disposal.

Sustainable engineering refers to the integration of social, environmental, and economic considerations into the design of products, processes, and energy systems. Additionally, sustainable engineering encourages the consideration of the complete product and process lifecycle during the design effort. The intent is to minimize environmental impacts across the entire lifecycle of a product or process while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders. This environmental engineering degree builds on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education, and offers students the flexibility to develop tracks in areas such as renewable energy systems, systems modeling and analysis, product design, and engineering policy and management.

Educational objectives

The sustainable engineering degree is designed to accomplish the following educational objectives:

  • Heighten awareness of issues in areas of sustainability (e.g., global warming, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, pollution, ethical issues, fair trade, gender equity, etc.).
  • Establish a clear understanding of the role and impact of various aspects of engineering (design, technology, etc.) and engineering decisions on environmental, societal, and economic problems. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic objectives.
  • Strong ability to apply engineering and decision-making tools and methodologies to sustainability-related problems.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to distinguish professional and ethical responsibilities associated with the practice of engineering.

Plan of study

The MS in sustainable engineering builds on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education and offers students the flexibility to develop tracks in areas such as renewable energy systems, systems modeling and analysis, product design, and engineering policy and management. Course work is offered on campus and available on a full- or part-time basis. Technical in nature, the program equips engineers with the tools they need to meet the challenges associated with delivering goods, energy, and services through sustainable means. In addition to basic course work in engineering and classes in public policy and environmental management, students are required to complete a research thesis directly related to sustainable design challenges impacting society. Many of these thesis projects support the sustainability-themed research being conducted by RIT faculty in the areas of fuel-cell development, life-cycle engineering, and sustainable process implementation.

Students must successfully complete four required core courses, two graduate engineering electives in an area of interest (such as energy, modeling, manufacturing and materials, transportation and logistics, or product design and development), one social context elective, one environmental technology elective, two semesters of Graduate Seminar, and a thesis. This research-oriented program is designed to be completed in two years.


  • Consumer Packaged Goods

  • Design

  • Fashion

  • Food and Beverage

  • Internet and Software

  • Real Estate

  • Scientific and Technical Consulting

  • Utilities and Renewable Energy


outcome rate of graduates


median first-year salary of graduates

Curriculum for Sustainable Engineering MS

Sustainable Engineering, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Engineering of Systems I
The engineering of a system is focused on the identification of value and the value chain, requirements management and engineering, understanding the limitations of current systems, the development of the overall concept, and continually improving the robustness of the defined solution. EOS I & II is a 2-semester course sequence focused on the creation of systems that generate value for both the customer and the enterprise. Through systematic analysis and synthesis methods, novel solutions to problems are proposed and selected. This first course in the sequence focuses on the definition of the system requirements by systematic analysis of the existing problems, issues and solutions, to create an improved vision for a new system. Based on this new vision, new high-level solutions will be identified and selected for (hypothetical) further development. The focus is to learn systems engineering through a focus on an actual artifact (This course is restricted to students in the ISEE BS/MS, ISEE BS/ME, ISEE-MS, ISEE-ME, SUSTAIN-MS, SUSTAIN-ME, PRODEV-MS, MFLEAD-MS or ENGMGT-ME programs or those with 5th year standing in ISEE-BS or ISEEDU-BS.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering
This is a high level survey course that reviews the product lifecycle from various perspectives and highlights the leverage over material, process, and environmental impacts available at the design phase. Tools and strategies for reducing the environmental impacts associated with the sourcing, manufacture, use, and retirement of products will be reviewed and evaluated. (This course is restricted to students in ISEE-MS, ISEE-ME, SUSTAIN-MS, SUSTAIN-ME, ENGMGT-ME, MECE-MS, MECE-ME, SUSPRD-MN or those with at least 4th year standing in ISEE-BS or ISEEDU-BS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Lifecycle Assessment
This course introduces students to the challenges posed when trying to determine the total lifecycle impacts associated with a product or a process design. Various costing models and their inherent assumptions will be reviewed and critiqued. The inability of traditional costing models to account for important environmental and social externalities will be highlighted. The Lifecycle Assessment approach for quantifying environmental and social externalities will be reviewed and specific LCA techniques (Streamlined Lifecycle Assessment, SimaPro) will be covered. (This course is restricted to students in ISEE-MS, ISEE-ME, SUSTAIN-MS, SUSTAIN-ME, ENGMGT-ME, MECE-MS, MECE-ME, SUSPRD-MN or those with at least 4th year standing in ISEE-BS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Graduate Seminar I*
This class introduces students to state of the art research and research methods in industrial, systems, and sustainable engineering. Presentations include off campus speakers and students/faculty presentations on current research under way in the department. (This course is restricted to students in ISEE-MS, SUSTAIN-MS or ISEE BS/MS.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
Renewable Energy Systems
This course provides an overview of renewable energy system design. Energy resource assessment, system components, and feasibility analysis will be covered. Possible topics to be covered include photovoltaics, wind turbines, solar thermal, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal. Students will be responsible for a final design project. (Prerequisites: MECE-310 or equivalent course or graduate standing in MECE-MS or MECE-ME or SUSTAIN-MS or SUSTAIN-ME.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Engineering Electives
Second Year
Technology Elective
Social Context Elective
Choose one of the following:
   Project with Paper, plus one Engineering Elective
This course is used by students as a capstone experience. The student must demonstrate an acquired competence in a topic that is chosen in conference with a faculty advisor. The work may involve a research and/or design project with demonstration of acquired knowledge. A written paper and an oral presentation of the work are required. Project 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
In conference with a faculty adviser, an independent engineering project or research problem is selected. The work may be of a theoretical and/or computational nature. A state-of-the-art literature search in the area is normally expected. A formal written thesis and an oral defense with a faculty thesis committee are required. Submission of bound copies of the thesis to the library and to the department and preparation of a written paper in a short format suitable for submission for publication in a refereed journal are also required. Approval of department head and faculty adviser needed to enroll. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Engineering Capstone, plus one Engineering Elective
For the Master of Engineering programs in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Engineering Management, and Sustainable Engineering. Students must investigate a discipline-related topic in a field related to industrial and systems engineering, engineering management, or sustainable engineering. The general intent of the engineering capstone is to demonstrate the students' knowledge of the integrative aspects of a particular area. The capstone should draw upon skills and knowledge acquired in the program. (This course is restricted to students in ISEE-ME, ENGMGT-ME, SUSTAIN-ME or the ISEE BS/ME programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Total Semester Credit Hours

* Graduate Seminar I (ISEE-795) must be completed twice in the first year of study.

Admission Requirements

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

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college in engineering, mathematics, or science.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a statement of purpose.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.


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