Master of Science in Sustainable Systems

General

Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

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Overview

Sustainable Systems accepts students from any academic background and encompasses a wide range of interdisciplinary studies in sustainability science. Here, you won’t be restricted to one sustainability topic or methodology. You will comprehensively learn and experience the methods that lead to environmental, social, technological, and business success, working one-on-one with a faculty advisor to tailor the degree to your sustainability interests.

In the Sustainable Systems MS, you will start with a broad foundation of knowledge in environmental life cycle assessment, sustainable decision making, economic and policy strategies, and more. Then, you will have the opportunity to customize your degree in areas that suit your interests and career goals—such as renewable energy or mobility—as well as get the hands-on experience that employers are seeking. In as little as one year of study, you will be prepared to make sustainability decisions that you can apply to any career.

Not only will you be able to focus on an area that interests you, but you will be able to get hands-on in your projects with the use of one of our many labs or through design modeling tools. This degree allows you the flexibility to adapt your career over time and in response to the ever-changing developments in sustainability. The Golisano Institute for Sustainability is dedicated to groundbreaking sustainability research and its business applications. Our research facilities are second to none, including Sustainability Institute Hall, a 75,000 sq. ft. LEED Platinum certified research building and multiple state-of-the-art research centers.

You don’t need a background in sustainability to join this program; just a desire to create positive change in the world. We bring in students of all ages, from all backgrounds—from mechanical engineering to political science—and from all over the world so that your learning experience comes not just from the classroom, but from the different perspectives of fellow students.

Plan of Study

Through a flexible and interdisciplinary curriculum, you’ll begin your degree with core courses in industrial ecology, risk assessment, the economics of sustainability, and more. Several electives from across the university will allow you to further tailor your degree to your talents and career goals, from sustainable craft brewing and distilling to corporate social responsibility.

Your degree culminates with a research thesis or a capstone project. Recent thesis examples include:

  • Techno-Environmental Analysis of Generating Animal Feed from Wasted Food Products
  • Fabrication and life cycle assessment of organic photovoltaics
  • Characterizing adaptive capacity to climate change in developing countries: a case study on Peru

You must complete 24 credit hours of course work plus a 6 credit hour thesis or capstone project, which can be completed in as little as one year by full-time students.

Potential tracks

Sustainable Energy

  • Sustainable Energy Systems
  • Food-Energy-Water Nexus
  • Energy Policy

Example Research Project: Inspection of wind turbine blades with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Circular Economy

  • Intro to Geographic Info Systems (GIS)
  • Data Analysis for Sustainability
  • Innovation Policy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Example Research Project: Assessing a baseline case for reaching carbon neutrality in Monroe County by 2027

Sustainable Urban Systems

  • Sustainable Mobility Systems
  • Graduate Sustainable Communities
  • Sustainable Building Metrics

Example Research Project: Evaluating strategies for sustainable renovation of RIT campus buildings

Enhanced career opportunities

Our graduates have a 100% placement rate, in part because of RIT’s dedication to career counseling and ongoing relationships with employers. This means that all of our graduates go on to get a job or further their education shortly after graduating. And If you’re interested in pursuing a career more focused in academia or research, the master’s degree is also an excellent stepping stone to a doctoral program, such as RIT’s Ph.D. in Sustainability, if you take the route of completing a thesis while here.

Community involvement

Rochester, NY, is a hub for sustainability professionals and entrepreneurship. Students in the Sustainable Systems degree program are often regularly involved with local companies and organizations, from teaching about sustainability practices at inner-city high schools to completing a capstone project for companies including Rochester Regional Health or Wegmans’ corporate headquarters.

Industries

  • Oil and Gas
  • Manufacturing
  • Utilities and Renewable Energy
  • Research

Curriculum

Sustainable Systems (capstone option), MS degree, typical course sequence (semesters)

First Year

  • ISUS-702 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science
  • ISUS-704 Industrial Ecology
  • ISUS-706 Economics of Sustainable Systems
  • ISUS-780 Capstone
  • ISUS-806 Risk Analysis
  • ISUS-808 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems
  • PUBL-810 Technology, Policy, and Sustainability (or approved substitute)
  • Electives

Sustainable Systems (thesis option), MS degree, typical course sequence (semesters)

First Year

  • ISUS-702 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science
  • ISUS-704 Industrial Ecology
  • ISUS-706 Economics of Sustainable Systems
  • ISUS-806 Risk Analysis
  • ISUS-808 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems
  • Electives

Second Year

  • ISUS-790 Thesis
  • PUBL-810 Technology, Policy, and Sustainability (or approved substitute)
  • Elective

Admission Requirements

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

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college from an accredited institution.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Have fulfilled the following curriculum requirements: one year of college science and one year of college mathematics (including calculus and statistics).
  • Submit scores from the GRE.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Participate in an interview with the academic department.
  • Submit two 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 100 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 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.
Last updated May 2020

About the School

With more than 80 graduate programs in high-paying, in-demand fields and scholarships, assistantships and fellowships available, we invite you to take a closer look at RIT. Don't be fooled by the word ... Read More

With more than 80 graduate programs in high-paying, in-demand fields and scholarships, assistantships and fellowships available, we invite you to take a closer look at RIT. Don't be fooled by the word "technology" in our name. At RIT, you will discover a university of artists and designers on the one hand, and scientists, engineers, and business leaders on the other – a collision of the right brain and the left brain. Read less