Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Click here to view Mobile
Sustainability At RIT

Fields of Study

Fields of Study

These programs all utilize an interdisciplinary approach; capitalizing on the breadth of RIT’s academic program portfolio in science, engineering, math, technology, business, and the social sciences.

PhD Programs


The doctorate program in sustainability is the first program in the world to focus on sustainable production systems. The program seeks to advance research and education in alternative-energy development, sustainable production, sustainable mobility, and eco-IT.
The program’s curriculum emphasizes sustainable production systems, which create goods and services using processes that are non-polluting; conserving of energy and natural resources; economically viable; and safe for workers, communities, and consumers. Course work and research take a systems level and interdisciplinary approach to solving seemingly intractable sustainability problems.
 More »

Computing and Information Sciences (environmental informatics focus)

The doctoral program in computing and information sciences is designed to produce independent scholars, well-prepared educators, and cutting-edge researchers poised to excel in their work in computing and interdisciplinary academic, industrial, or government environments. The degree highlights two of the most unique characteristics of the Golisano College: its breadth of program offerings and its scholarly focus on discovering solutions to real-world problems by balancing theory and practice.
The program focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of cyberinfrastructure as applied to specific problems across multiple domains. It is a blend of intra-disciplinary computing knowledge areas and inter-disciplinary domain areas.
 More »

Microsystems Engineering (alternative energy or energy efficiency)

The multidisciplinary doctorate degree in microsystems engineering builds on the fundamentals of traditional engineering and science combined with curriculum and research activities addressing the numerous technical challenges of micro- and nano-systems. These include the manipulation of electrical, photonic, optical, mechanical, chemical, and biological functionality to process, sense, and interface with the world at a nanometer scale. The goal of the program is to provide a foundation to explore future technology through research in nano-engineering, design methods, and technologies and their integration into micro- and nano-scaled systems. More »

Master's Programs


At a time of significant transition for the architectural profession, the M.Arch. program allows for full incorporation of the skills and knowledge critical to the 21st century architect. The program’s purpose is to produce broad-thinking architects well grounded in the principles and practices of sustainability who can apply their knowledge and talents to the architectural problems posed by the modern city.

The master of architecture program is designed for students with a broad range of interests and backgrounds who are interested in studying architecture at the graduate level, but whose undergraduate degrees were obtained in fields outside of architecture.

The program’s curriculum has been shaped by the global emphasis of sustainability, factors that impact urbanism, and the hands-on application of the principles of design and technology on materials and construction. More »

Business Administration (environmentally sustainable management concentration)

Environmental issues are central to operational and strategic decision making in industries such as automobile, chemical, energy, transportation, and agricultural. This concentration is for students interested in understanding how firms can manage social and political demands for more environmentally sustainable products and operations. More »

Environmental Forecasting, Disaster Preparedness and Response

Floods, tornadoes, terrorist attacks—emergency responders navigate myriad disasters with increasing reliance on technology.

The MS program in environmental forecasting, disaster preparedness and response is helping to prepare the next generation of emergency responders to take the disaster management chain—planning, response, and recovery—to the next level.

The program is an integrated science master’s program focusing on environmental forecasting, disaster preparedness and response. The National Science Foundation-funded program wraps around existing master’s degrees in imaging science (with an emphasis in remote sensing), computer science, and environmental science. Graduates will apply the specialty training to their main field of study and gain a comprehensive understanding of the links among the business, policy, and scientific components of disaster management. More »

Environmental Science

Habitat loss, global climate change, water and air pollution, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, and the accumulation of toxic wastes are outcomes of human behaviors that stem from a general belief that the environment is infinitely renewable. It is not.

Environmental scientists must understand the complexity of problems that pit environmental limits against economic development, diverse cultures, ethics, values, and social stability. They must use integrated and holistic approaches to find solutions to these problems. More »

Environmental, Health and Safety Management

The last decade has seen significant changes in how organizations view and manage environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues. Increasingly, companies are capitalizing on the synergies among these three areas by managing them together creating a need for professionals who are cross-trained in all three functions. The emergence of voluntary standards and codes of conduct, including international standards, coupled with the need to manage costs and limit resources has resulted in a trend to go beyond regulatory compliance. Now, companies work toward sustainability through the use of environmental, health, and safety management systems, which are integrated into key business processes.

The Master of Science degree in environmental, health, and safety management was developed by experienced professionals and designed to provide students with a solid foundation in both the technical and managerial aspects of developing, designing, and implementing environmental, health, and safety systems. More »

Facility Management

The physical assets of an organization are typically one of its largest financial holdings. The strategic planning, development, and maintenance of these assets are critical to an organization’s long term financial health and stability.

Facility managers need to be knowledgeable about business management, strategic planning, environmental management, interior and architectural design, construction management, information technology, real estate, engineering, safety labor relations, and quality of life aspects in the work environment. It’s a broad-based field that requires individuals to have breadth and depth in their education and, eventually, their work experience.  More »

Packaging Science (sustainable packaging track)

The MS program in packaging science is designed to meet the needs of both professionals who have been employed in the field and for students who wish to pursue a graduate program immediately upon earning a BS degree.

Although an undergraduate curriculum in packaging science is preferred as preparation for the MS program, graduates from certain other disciplines can successfully pursue the program if certain introductory packaging science courses are coupled with appropriate work experience. More »

Science, Technology, and Public Policy (environmental policy concentration)

This innovative Master of Science degree in science, technology and public policy emphasizes the creation and understanding of engineering, science, and technology policy. The program builds on RIT’s strengths as a technological university, enabling students to interact with faculty members and researchers who are working on scientific developments and technological innovations that drive new public policy considerations.

The program is interdisciplinary and draws significantly from disciplines and courses of study in RIT’s colleges of Liberal Arts, Business, Science, Engineering, and Applied Science and Technology. The program is geared toward graduates who will make significant contributions in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. More »

Sustainable Engineering (MS) or (ME)

Sustainable engineering refers to the integration of social, environmental, and economic considerations into product, process, and energy system design methods. 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 while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders. The MS program in sustainable engineering is multidisciplinary and managed by the industrial and systems engineering department. More »

Sustainable Systems

The MS degree in sustainable systems focuses on sustainable production systems, which 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. Course work and research takes 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. More »

Bachelor's Programs

Chemical Engineering (alternative energy and environmental tracks)

Students graduating from the chemical engineering program will have a firm and practical grasp of engineering principles and the underlying science associated with traditional chemical engineering applications, and will also learn to tie together phenomena at the nano-scale with the behavior of systems at the macro-scale. While chemical engineers have always excelled at analyzing and designing processes with multiple length scales, modern chemical engineering applications require this knowledge to be extended to the nano-scale, and our program addresses this emerging need. More »

Chemistry (environmental chemistry option)

The program prepares graduates for positions in several fields of chemistry, including professional industrial work in processing and laboratory operations, research and experimental work, supervision of technical projects, and managerial positions. A substantial number of graduates continue their education and earn advanced degrees in chemistry or pursue careers in pharmacy, medicine, and dentistry.

The chemistry program allows for flexibility in the type and number of chemistry and university-wide elective courses taken by the student. The program also provides students with the option of planning an elective concentration in complementary fields such as imaging science, business, graphic arts, psychology, biology, criminal justice, computer science, engineering, environmental science, forensics, mathematics, packaging science, physics, and printing. More »

Civil Engineering Technology (Water Resources option)

Using the language of codes, working drawings, and specifications, students in the civil engineering technology program learn how to translate the innovative concepts of the engineer into functioning systems and structures. The program prepares students for employment in the fields of civil engineering technology, construction management, or any of the many closely related fields. In addition, the program teaches the skills necessary for graduates to pursue additional education, certification, or professional licensure. The program also encourages students to grow in responsibility and leadership through course work and extracurricular activities designed to broaden their involvement in organizations within and outside their profession. These objectives are achieved through a broad-based curriculum that offers students a choice of five elective paths that meet specific career interests.
 More »

Electrical Engineering (Clean and Renewable Energy option)

Electrical engineering addresses the high-technology needs of business and industry by offering a rich academic program that includes analog and digital integrated circuits, digital signal and image processing, microwave electronics, optical electronics, bioelectronics, radiation and propagation, power electronics, control systems, communications and information theory, circuit theory, computer-aided design, solid-state devices, microelectromechanical systems (MEMs), robotics, and pattern recognition. Our nationally recognized program combines the rigor of theory with the reality of engineering practice.

The program prepares students for exciting careers within the varied electrical engineering and allied disciplines and for positions in business management. Graduates also have the foundation to pursue advanced study at the most prestigious graduate schools.
 More »

Environmental Science**

Environmental scientists solve problems relating to power generation, waste reduction and recycling, pollution control, land use and land cover change, preserving biodiversity and ecological services, transportation, forestry, agriculture, economics, and a wide range of other areas. They study our relationship to nature and to each other, developing solutions that prevent or reverse environmental deterioration and work toward sustainability. Meeting these challenges requires problem-solving abilities based in science, mathematics, the social sciences, and other disciplines. The BS and BS/MS environmental science programs provide students with the education and experiences they need to be successful. More »

Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety**

The BS degree in environmental sustainability, health, and safety is focused on social responsibility for our activities and being good stewards of the products we make and the services we provide. The program prepares students to work as environmental sustainability, health, and safety professionals in both industry and government. Students gain a strong foundation in science, applied environmental, health and safety science and technology, sustainability and social responsibility, and are provided with the basic tools of financial management, team building, and leadership. More »

International Studies (science, technology, and society track)

The Bachelor of Science in international studies highlights interdisciplinary approaches for understanding global processes, such as the impact of globalization on local communities, regions, and environments and how people in different parts of the world can promote equitable and sustainable development in the future. The program seeks to educate a new generation of global citizens who will acquire the expertise to assess and analyze salient issues such as flexible capitalism, consumer culture, economic opportunities, international migration, social change, political violence, and terrorism. The program prepares graduates for careers that demand an understanding of the social, economic, political, and environmental issues that are central to globalization. More »

Mechanical Engineering (energy and environment option)

Mechanical engineering is perhaps the most comprehensive of the engineering disciplines. The mechanical engineer’s interests encompass the design of automotive and aerospace systems, bioengineering devices, and energy-related technologies. The spectrum of professional activity for the mechanical engineering graduate runs from research through design and development to manufacturing and sales. Because of their comprehensive training and education, mechanical engineers often are called upon to assume management positions.

The mechanical engineering department offers professional courses in the areas of bioengineering, energy systems, applied mechanics, manufacturing, materials science, systems analysis, computer-aided graphics and design, robotics, and automotive and aerospace engineering. More »

Packaging Science (sustainable packaging track)

The packaging science program prepares students for employment in areas such as package development, sales, purchasing, structural design, production, research, and marketing.

Packaging is increasingly related to total marketing concepts; it has even greater dependence on new developments in materials and processes. Therefore, the industry requires management personnel with creativity and a strong background in business, engineering, and science. More »

Philosophy (social sciences and political philosophy track)

The philosophy program provides a thorough grounding in the three main areas of philosophy (history, value theory, and reasoning/epistemology), as well as a four-course specialization within philosophy. The program concludes with a senior thesis integrating philosophy with a field of application.

Most of the skills required for student and career success—how to learn, how to apply that learning in professional and personal environments, and how to communicate that knowledge—are central to philosophical training. Philosophy students are taught to evaluate complex problems, identify and examine underlying principles, investigate issues from diverse perspectives, and communicate clearly in both written and oral forms. More »

Public Policy** (environmental policy concentration)

The public policy program explores the intersection of public policy, technology, and our natural world. The program provides students with an opportunity to integrate their interests in science, technology, government, economics, and other social science fields. The BS degree combines an understanding of these fields with the analytical tools needed to study the impact of public policy on society. Through the program, students acquire policy analysis skills, with particular attention on analyzing policies that emerge in a technology-based society. More »

Undergraduate Minors and Concentrations

Environmental Modeling

The environmental modeling minor introduces students to the process of spatial modeling as part of a toolset for investigating environmental issues and to provide opportunities to apply these skills through advanced course work. The required core courses are designed to give students a solid foundation of environmental issues and concepts. Central to this minor are the development of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing techniques, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of the multiple stakeholder perspectives often involved with environmental issues. More »

Environmental Science

The environmental science minor introduces students to the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues and concepts and provides them with opportunities to further investigate many of these issues through advanced course work. Central to this minor are the development of field, analytical, and problem-solving skills and an understanding of the multiple stakeholder perspectives often involved with environmental issues. More »

Environmental Studies (concentration)

The environmental studies concentration is an examination of the basic environmental problems we face, how environmental resource depletion and energy issues are related, and what kind of environmental ethics and/or values we have today and have had in the past. The concentration also explores the economic, legislative, and regulatory framework within which most environmental decisions are made. Since most technological areas are associated with significant environmental implications, it is essential that students have an understanding of, and a well-thought-out value orientation about, such environmental consequences. More »

Environmental Studies (minor)

This minor provides students with opportunities for the in-depth analysis of global and regional environmental issues, their causes, and their potential solutions. The minor features an emphasis on sustainability and holistic thinking. In particular, a required 500-level seminar will serve as a capstone experience, helping students to integrate knowledge from several disciplinary perspectives, including socio-cultural, historical, political, economic, ethical, scientific, and/or technological factors. More »

Global Justice and Peace Studies

The global justice and peace studies concentration examines attempts to effect lasting accord and social justice on the international scale. Courses in philosophy, social sciences, and literature help students to understand concepts of human rights, world poverty, and global solidarity. The goal of the concentration is to elucidate the link between concepts of peace and justice while assessing non-violent means of conflict resolution. More »

Historical Perspectives in Science and Technology

This minor exposes students to a rigorous analysis of the history of science and technology and emphasizes history as a distinctive way of thinking. Students augment their degree program with a series of courses analyzing the historical development, impact, and significance of science and technology. Having completed the minor, students entering such professional fields as science, engineering, law, journalism, and public affairs will be well-prepared to deal with cross-disciplinary, historical questions involving the social, cultural, and environmental contexts of modern science and technology. More »

Industrial Environmental Management

The industrial environmental management minor broadens the learning experiences and professional opportunities of students in technical and business disciplines who have an interest in the management of wastewater, hazardous materials, and solids. Air emission management also is covered. More »

Science and Technology Studies

The science and technology studies concentration examines some major impacts of science and technology in the contemporary world. Special reference will be given to American concerns. Students gain an overall appreciation of the social nature of science and technology as they have developed in the past, as they exist today, and as they may affect society in the future under various scenarios. Science and technology have become social systems in their own right and have made possible increasing freedom, a fantastic variety of choice, and, paradoxically, the growing interdependence of all segments of world society. A new level of public awareness and concern is crucial to understanding and dealing successfully with these consequences. More »

Science, Technology and Policy

This minor provides both breadth and depth in the field of science and technology policy by allowing students to make connections between public policy and other scientific and technical fields. Students will explore contemporary science and technology policy issues and will build a foundation for understanding the policy process. Through the minor, students obtain a deeper understanding of what science and technology policy is and how it is integrated within a number of specific contexts. This minor is closed to students enrolled in the public policy degree program or already taking a minor in science, technology, and environmental studies or public policy. More »

Science, Technology, and Society

This minor integrates the studies of human society and science and technology in their social content and context. The minor bridges the humanities and social sciences to provide better understanding of the ways in which science, technology, and society are mutually interacting forces in our world. Students will learn how to analyze the social institutions, the built environment, and their role in creating them. This minor will enhance a student’s ability to contribute to the development of science and technology in ways that are historically, culturally, and ethically informed. More »

Sustainable Product Development

This multidisciplinary minor is aimed at students interested in exploring issues associated with developing and delivering sustainable product systems. Courses in the minor enhance the understanding of the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, ethical, environmental), develop awareness of the need for more sustainable approaches to product development, and explore strategies for developing and delivering sustainable product systems. More »

Urban Studies (concentration)

Metropolitan areas must address such perennial issues as housing, transportation, education, crime, safety, recreation, and economic development. Each must do so with recognition of its place in the wider regional, national, and global contexts as well as with sensitivity to its own defining features. The urban studies concentration helps students identify and analyze such fundamental issues and allows them to explore and assess various ways policy-makers respond to those issues. More »

Urban Studies (minor)

This minor focuses on the interplay between urban issues and urban policy. Every metropolitan area must address such perennial issues as housing, transportation, education, crime, safety, recreation, and economic development. Each community must do so with an understanding of its unique social mix and neighborhood relations, and with recognition of its place in wider regional, national, and global networks. Students identify and analyze central issues and social problems of urbanization and explore and assess various ways decision-makers respond to these issues. More »

Water Resources

The water resources minor will broaden the learning experiences and professional opportunities of students in technical disciplines who have an interest in engineering technology courses related to water treatment, wastewater treatment, hydrology, and the environment.
 More »