Sustainable Energy

Program Offerings

Offering type

The future of societies, the global economy and the global environment depend on collaborative research into renewable energy, alternative fuels, advanced energy conversion and storage systems, technology transfer to developing countries and prudent judgment on policies to support sustainable energy technology. Innovations and inventions require multidisciplinary approaches and entrepreneurship, as well as grounding in theory and practice, in topics that are not covered by a single department. The Program in Sustainable Energy offers an integrated set of core and elective courses, introducing students to fundamental concepts, providing depth in specific fields of interest, gaining laboratory and site visit experiences and setting the stage for further work in the field. Students are encouraged to expand their experience through summer internships with companies, government agencies, national and university laboratories and Princeton faculty.

Goals for Student Learning

The Program in Sustainable Energy provides students who are interested in pursuing careers or graduate education in sustainable energy science and technology with the opportunity to:

  • Gain an understanding of current energy resources, carriers, end users, technologies, and their impact on climate and the environment. 
  • Develop the ability to analyze, design and develop innovative energy systems and technologies that support sustainable economic growth, energy security, biological diversity and environmental harmony for life on Earth.
  • Expand their knowledge of Earth, global climate and the environment from a variety of perspectives, including engineering, technology, economics and public policy.
  • Acquire critical skills in conducting research in both coursework and a final independent research project in sustainable energy.

Admission to the Program

The program is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who have a satisfactory background in engineering and science. Normally, students should have successfully completed MAT 103, MAT 104, PHY 103, and PHY 104 (or their equivalents, including AP equivalents). Students who have slightly different preparation should consult with the program director to discuss eligibility. Students planning to earn the program certificate should complete the online student profile at the program website as early as possible, but no later than the midpoint of the fall term of their junior year. Application for admission is made to the program committee. Upon acceptance to the program, the program director will recommend a program adviser to the student to assist in planning a program of study, research and off-campus internship.

Program of Study

Students in this certificate program must satisfy both program and departmental requirements. 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). If 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 an independent work project or senior thesis, are required. In some cases, an elective course that fulfills a 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):

Consult the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE) website for the current list of approved courses.

  • A1. Introduction to Energy Technology
  • A2. Introduction to Climate Change and Geo-environmental Science

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

Consult the ACEE website for the current list of approved courses.

  • B1. Energy Science and Technology (Fossil energy, non-fossil and renewable energy, energy conversion, and storage systems and technologies)
  • B2. Environmental Science and Geoscience (Earth science, climate, environment, ecosystems, policy and economic assessments of carbon capture and storage technology)

2. A senior independent work project or thesis whose topic is 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.

3. 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.

4. For program enrollment, students must fill out the student profile form on the program website. It is especially important to assure that requirements for the certificate will be met by the end of 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. Advanced students are encouraged to attend regularly scheduled departmental and Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and High Meadows Environmental Institute seminars to further enrich their understanding of the field.

Undergraduate Independent Research Projects

Undergraduate projects usually are 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 through summer internships with companies, government agencies, national and university laboratories (e.g., PPPL) and Princeton faculty. The energy-technology core course provides several on-campus site visit experiences to power generation stations, a fusion laboratory and energy research labs on campus. Students should consult the University's permitted travel policy before considering any travel. In addition, courses may not include site visits, depending upon current federal, state and University policies.


  • Director

    • Egemen Kolemen
  • Executive Committee

    • José L. Avalos, Chemical and Biological Eng
    • Andrew B. Bocarsly, Chemistry
    • Minjie Chen, Electrical & Comp Engineering
    • Kelsey B. Hatzell, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Yiguang Ju, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Simon A. Levin, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Luigi Martinelli, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Forrest M. Meggers, Architecture
    • Michael E. Mueller, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Michael Oppenheimer, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Stephen Pacala, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Catherine A. Peters, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Z. Jason Ren, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Michele L. Sarazen, Chemical and Biological Eng
    • Daniel M. Sigman, Geosciences
    • Elke U. Weber, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Claire E. White, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Gerard Wysocki, Electrical & Comp Engineering

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.