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Program in Sustainable Energy

Program of Study


A concentrator in this program must satisfy both program and departmental requirements. The program for each student is worked out by the student and his or her program adviser. The program requirements are as follows:

  1. All students must take six courses, including two core courses and four elective courses. The two core courses must be taken by choosing one from the Introduction to Energy Technology category (A1) and the other one from the Introduction to Climate Change and Geo-environmental Science category (A2), respectively. Depending on the student’s interest and background, the four elective courses should be taken from categories B1 and B2, with at least one from a different category (for example: three courses from B1 and one course from B2, or vice versa, or two from each category). In case a listed course is not offered, students should consult the program director for an alternative course. However, students are encouraged to plan ahead as certain courses are offered only in the spring or fall semester. To qualify for the certificate, a minimum grade average of B- in the six program courses, and the independent work or senior thesis is required. In some cases, an elective course that fulfills this certificate program requirement can also meet a regular departmental requirement.  If a student is enrolled in more than one certificate program, there may be no more than three overlapping courses between the Sustainable Energy program and any other program.

Core Courses

(one from each category — A1 and A2)

A1. Introduction to Energy Technology

  • MAE 228 Energy Technologies in the 21st Century (also EGR/CBE/ENE 228)*   offered Spring 2022
  • MAE 328 Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World (also EGR/ENV/ENE 328)**  offered Spring 2022

*Students who do not have a thermodynamics background should choose MAE 228. **Students who have completed Thermodynamics (MAE 221 or CBE 246) are encouraged to take MAE 328.

A2. Introduction to Climate Change and Geo-environmental Science

  • CEE 334/SPI 452/ENV334/ENE 334 Global Environmental Issues
  • EEB/ENV 417A, 417B Ecosystems and Global Change
  • ENE 202/ARC 208/EGR 208/ENV 206 Designing Sustainable Systems
  • GEO 427/CEE 427/ENV 427 Fundamentals of the Earth’s Climate System
  • GEO 102A /ENV 102A/STC 102A Climate: Past, Present, and Future

*Seniors who still need to fulfill the A2 requirement should consult with the program director if the available A2 courses do not work with their schedule.

Elective Courses and Subject Areas

(four courses with at least one from a different subject area — B1 and B2)

B1. Energy Science and Technology

(Fossil energy, non-fossil and renewable energy, energy conversion and storage systems and technologies)

  • AST 309/MAE 309/PHY 309 Science and Technology of Nuclear Energy: Fission and Fusion
  • CBE 335/MAE 338/ENV 335/ENE 335 The Energy Water Nexus
  • CBE 341 Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transport—or—MAE 423/ENE 423 Heat Transfer
  • CBE 421/CHM 421/ENE 421 Catalytic Chemistry offered Spring 2022
  • CBE 441 Chemical Reaction Engineering offered Spring 2022
  • CEE 305/GEO 375/ENE 305 Environmental Fluid Mechanics—or—CEE 306 Hydrology—or—MAE 222/CEE 208 Mechanics of Fluids—or—MAE 335 Fluid Dynamics
  • CEE 471/GEO 471/URB 471 Introduction to Water Pollution Technology
  • CEE 477/ENE 477 Engineering Design for Sustainable Development offered Spring 2022
  • CEE 564/ENE 564 Biology, Electrochemistry and Technology offered Spring 2022
  • ECE/ENE 441,442 Solid State Physics I, II
  • ECE 481/ENE 481 Principles of Power Electronics
  • ECE 557/ENE 557 Solar Cells: Physics, Materials, and Technology
  • ENE 267/MSE 287/CEE 267 Materials for Energy Technologies and Efficiency
  • ENE 273/ECE 273 Renewable Energy and Smart Grids offered Spring 2022
  • ENE 318/CBE 318 Fundamentals of Biofuels offered Spring 2022
  • ENE 321/CEE 321/ENV 371 Resource Recovery for a Circular Economy
  • ENE 422/MAE 422 Introduction to the Electricity Sector-Engineering, Economics, and Regulation offered Spring 2022
  • ENE 431/ECE 431/ENV 431 Solar Energy Conversion
  • MAE 426 Rocket and Air-Breathing Propulsion offered Spring 2022
  • MAE 427/ENE 427 Energy Conversion and the Environment: Transportation Applications offered Spring 2022
  • MAE 531 Combustion offered Spring 2022

B2. Environmental Science and Geoscience

(Earth science, climate, environment, ecosystems, policy and economic assessments of carbon capture and storage technology)

  • ART 250/ARC 250/ENV 250 Architecture, Globalization, and the Environment
  • CEE 207/ENV 207 Introduction to Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 311/CHM 311/GEO 311/ENE 311 Global Air Pollution
  • CEE 334/SPI 452/ENV 334/ENE 334 Global Environmental Issues
  • EEB/ENV 417A, B Ecosystems and Global Change
  • ECE 547C Selected Topics in Solid State Electronics
  • ENE 308/MAE 308/GEO 308 Engineering the Climate: Technical and Policy Challenges
  • ENE 372/EGR 372/ENV 372 Rapid Switch: The energy transition challenge to a low-carbon future offered Spring 2022
  • ENV 200A-F The Environmental Nexus
  • ENV 302/CEE 302/EEB 302 Practical Models for Environmental Systems offered Spring 2022
  • ENV 327 Investigating an Ethos of Sustainability at Princeton offered Spring 2022
  • ENV 377/CEE 377/SAS 377/URB 377 Sustainable Cities in the US and India: Technology & Policy Pathways
  • ENV 531/GEO 531/CEE 583 Topics in Energy and the Environment
  • GEO 203/ENE 203 Fundamentals of Solid Earth Science
  • GEO 363/CHM 331/ENV 331 Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems
  • GEO 425/MAE 425 Introduction to Ocean Physics for Climate
  • ORF 455 Energy and Commodities Markets
  • SPI 306/ECO 329/ENV 319 Environmental Economics
  • SPI 350/ENV 350 The Environment, Science and Policy
  1. A senior independent work project or thesis on a topic relevant to the program and acceptable to the Program Committee must be completed. The project or thesis title and abstract need to be presented to and approved by the program director. In addition, a minimum grade of B- for the project or thesis is required to qualify for the certificate. Students are required to present their project/thesis to faculty and program students at an annual symposium held in the spring.
  1. Close collaboration with faculty is expected. Program students are expected to demonstrate strong academic performance. Program courses may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis unless that is the only grading alternative for the course.
  1. For the Program enrollment, students must fill out the Program Enrollment form on the program website. It is especially important to assure that requirements for the certificate will be met by the end of the senior year.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all program requirements will receive a certificate of proficiency in sustainable energy upon graduation.

Additional Information

Seminars on Energy and the Environment

Seminars on energy and the environment are announced to all students registered in this program. Students are encouraged to attend regularly scheduled Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment Highlight Seminars and Princeton Environmental Institute seminars to further enrich their understanding of the field.

Undergraduate Independent Research Projects

Undergraduate projects are usually undertaken for independent work or senior thesis credit, and opportunities exist for summer and work-study projects. These projects typically last for one or two academic terms, although they may extend over greater periods of time. Students work closely with faculty and staff members in academic departments and University-associated laboratories, such as the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), and they have access to sophisticated computers and experimental facilities while conducting their independent research.

Undergraduate Off-Campus Experiences and Internships

Students are encouraged to expand their experience through site visits and summer internships with companies, government agencies, and national and university laboratories (e.g., PPPL, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment Undergraduate Summer Internships), and Princeton faculty. The energy technology core course provides several off-campus site visit experiences to power generation stations, a fusion laboratory, and energy research labs on campus.  Please note: due to the ongoing pandemic, for AY21-22 certain restrictions on travel remain in place ( and students should refer to these before considering any travel. In addition, courses may not include site visits, depending upon current federal, state, and University policies.