Sustainable Energy Carleton University

Last Updated on December 24, 2022

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MA Sustainable Energy

Program Highlights

The Master’s program in Sustainable Energy prepares students for employment related to sustainable energy in government, business, or the civil society sector, and/or to serve as a foundation for further graduate education at the doctoral level. The program involves learning across two distinct disciplines – engineering and public policy. Students specialize in one side or the other of the program, graduating with either an engineering degree (MASc or MEng in Sustainable Energy) or a public policy degree (MA in Sustainable Energy) as appropriate. At the same time, students also take courses that engage with the other disciplinary component: public policy for those specializing in sustainable energy engineering; and engineering for those specializing in sustainable energy policy. Moreover students across the program as a whole work and learn together, garnering a greater understanding of the complexity of sustainable energy problems and acquiring an understanding of, and experience with, interdisciplinary collaboration.

Governments across the world are increasingly preoccupied by issues tied to energy—whether these involve the security or shipment of supplies or the environmental consequences of production and consumption. Many of these governments recognize that a dramatic transformation of energy systems is necessary in the near future if we are to meet societies’ demands while significantly reducing the impact on the global environment. This transformation will create both tremendous needs and tremendous opportunities for technological and policy innovation.

The MA Sustainable Energy prepares you to be a part of this process by strengthening your background in the technical and political dimensions of energy problems and decision-making. Following an interdisciplinary approach, you will examine the engineering considerations, the economic implications and the policy instruments that affect the public and private choices around sustainable energy. By becoming conversant in these domains, you will be able to interpret and respond to energy issues holistically and to communicate effectively across disciplinary boundaries.


Our graduates are participants and leaders in the organizations and processes that are building a lower-carbon future. They work as policy analysts for federal, provincial and municipal governments, serve in the government-relations offices within energy companies or work for consultancies or NGOs that seek ways to make energy systems more efficient and sustainable. Our alumni form a strong professional network across the country, providing ongoing learning opportunities and career advantages.

The Program

The program is a joint undertaking of the School of Public Policy and Administration and the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University—making it unique in North America for being interdisciplinary in content, delivery and student cohorts.

A suite of core courses provides a foundational understanding of the technical, political and economic dimensions of making energy more sustainable. They introduce you to the key engineering principles for non-specialists as these relate to the production, transmission and consumption of energy. They enable you to recognize the incentives and constraints posed by energy markets, and to anticipate the imperatives and processes that affect public policy and decision making. Plus, the courses provide a grounding in the fundamental tools for evaluating alternative polices and technologies—tools that you will then apply by working in teams with engineering students to assess or develop real-world energy projects. These courses allow you to acquire the conceptual and practical skills needed by energy professionals who seek to expand the availability and use of renewable sources, or technologies to minimize the environmental impacts of non-renewable sources, or practices for smarter energy demand management.

The Experience

Students enter the MA Sustainable Energy from across Canada and abroad, and from a variety of educational backgrounds including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering. The first two terms of full-time study focus on the interdisciplinary aspects of sustainable energy. The final terms allow students to specialize in particular aspects of sustainability—with the option of conducting independent research. Electives cover everything from environmental policy and climate change politics, to urban sustainability and natural resource management. A student-run peer-reviewed journal in sustainable energy policy, innovation, science and the environment gives student research a greater profile by publishing the best papers.

Faculty from the School of Public Policy and Administration, as well as the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, join seasoned professionals to deliver the program. A speaker series, field trips and guest lecturers provide the immediate insights of practitioners who are active in advancing energy sustainability. Many students build direct career experience into the degree by completing one or two terms of paid co-op work with a federal, provincial or municipal government department, or in the private or nonprofit sectors.

Degree Structure

The program comprises seven single-semester required courses and three elective courses, (5.0 course credits) or a major research project or thesis option with a reduced number of elective courses. The program can be completed by spring of the second year of the master’s program, including two terms of full-time co-op work.

Admission Requirements

MASc and MEng Sustainable Energy

All applicants must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in a discipline relevant to engineering disciplinary foundations with an average of B + or higher
  • Students whose first language is not English or who have not completed a previous degree at an English speaking university must demonstrate an adequate command of English by attaining, at least, a TOEFL score of 580 (written) or 86 IBT overall with a minimum score in each component of writing – 22; speaking – 22; reading – 20 and listening- 20, or a CAEL score of 70, or an IELTS score of 7.0.

MASc students should find a supervisor prior to entering the program. You can do so by emailing faculty members prior to submitting your application. Click here for a list of our faculty members.  Please note that you should not email faculty with “SPPA” by their name as these faculty members are from the School of Public Policy and Administration and not from an engineering department.

MA Sustainable Energy

All applicants must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent), with an average of B+ or higher.
  • 1.0 credit in university-level micro- and macroeconomic theory (ECON 1000 [1.0] or the equivalent).
  • 0.5 credit in PSCI at the 2000-level or higher, dealing with institutions and processes by which governments legitimize and exercise power, ideally in a Canadian setting (PSCI 2003 or equivalent).
  • A working knowledge of algebra
  • Met language requirements (see above)

The level of academic performance and potential demonstrated within the degree is more important than the discipline; students may enter the program from a wide variety of academic backgrounds in the social sciences, humanities, sciences and engineering. Mid-career applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree, but who have demonstrated professional excellence over a number of years of work in the public sector will also be considered.

In some cases, applicants may be admitted to the program despite not having completed one of these prerequisite courses in economics or political science, on the condition that the course be completed with a grade of B- or higher in the first year of the program. It is strongly recommended that students complete the prerequisites before starting the program, to ensure that their progress through the core courses is unimpeded.

Graduate Programs in Sustainable Energy

At Carleton University, our graduate students benefit from the advantages that can only be found from living and studying in Canada’s national capital. Students study and work alongside researchers and students from around the world and benefit from living in the place where national decisions are made.

Our new Masters in Sustainable Energy is a groundbreaking program exposing students to both policy and energy technology issues delivered collaboratively by the Faculty of Engineering and Design and the School of Public Policy and Administration.

Master’s Degrees in Sustainable Energy

This multidisciplinary program is offered in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and Design and the School of Public Policy and Administration. The Sustainable Energy Masters program has three fields:

  1. Mechanical Energy Conversion: This field covers advanced principles of sustainable energy engineering from a mechanical point of view and leads to either an M.A.Sc. or an M.Eng.
  2. Efficient Electrical Energy Systems: This field involves research in technological devices, components and systems that are intended for sustainable electrical energy generation, conversion, distribution and monitoring, and leads to either an M.A.Sc. or an M.Eng.
  3. Sustainable Energy Policy:  This field focuses on the public policy dimensions of sustainable energy problems, leading to a MA degree. Graduates gain an advanced understanding of the ways in which energy policy is made, policy choices and policy instruments, and the challenges that confront public policy in this field.

Course Requirements

Students in the Master’s program in Sustainable Energy must successfully complete a total of 5.0 course credits. Courses must be appropriate to the student’s prior qualifications and selected with the approval of the student’s supervisor. All up to date program requirements can be found on the Graduate Calendar.

Co-op Option for MA and MENG Students

A Co-op option is available to full-time students in both the MA and MENG program. Please note that the MENG option is only available to students starting the program in fall 2020.  Students admitted to this option must satisfactorily complete at least two work terms in order to graduate with co-op designation on their transcripts and diplomas. These work terms are four months in duration and locate students in government departments or other organizations in order to work at a junior officer level. They provide students with opportunities to integrate the theoretical and practical aspects of public administration. During a work term, students will register in the co-op work term courses: PADM 5913 (MA students) or SERG 5913 (MENG students). While on a work term, students are limited to an additional 0.5 credit course. It should be noted that most co-op positions in the federal public service are restricted to Canadian citizens.

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