Minor in Energy Studies

Energy is a fundamentally multidisciplinary topic. Transforming the world’s energy systems requires combining expertise from numerous fields in engineering and technology, natural and social science, and policy. A diversity of disciplinary perspectives is necessary to equip students to work in this complex, evolving field.

The Energy Studies Minor for undergraduates is an Institute-wide program that complements the deep expertise obtained in any major with a broad understanding of the interlinked realms of science, technology, and social sciences as they relate to energy and associated environmental challenges. The minor curriculum integrates these three domains in a thoroughly multidisciplinary program. The Energy Minor Oversight Committee, including faculty representatives from all five Schools, oversees the Energy Studies Minor program.

The Energy Studies curriculum has two components. The first is a core that provides an integrated perspective on energy and associated environmental challenges in three domains, each with a primary focus: Science Foundations (fundamental laws and principles that govern energy sources, conversion, and uses), Social Science Foundations (social scientific perspectives and tools that explain human behavior in the energy context), and Technology/Engineering in Context (the application of laws and principles to a specific energy context). The second component is a customized program of electives that is selected by each student in close consultation with his or her Energy Studies Minor faculty advisor.

Core Curriculum
Science Foundations12-27
Option 1
Physics of Energy
Option 2 - Select two subjects from one of the following groups:
Group A
Electromagnetic Energy: From Motors to Solar Cells
Thermal-Fluids Engineering I
or 3.012
Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering
Group B
Thermodynamics and Kinetics
Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment
or 12.340
Global Warming Science
Social Science Foundations33-36
Principles of Microeconomics
Economic Analysis for Business Decisions
Select one of the following options:
Option 1
Energy Economics and Policy
Energy Decisions, Markets, and Policies
Option 2 - Select one subject from each of the following groups:
Group A
Environmental Policy and Economics
Global Climate Change: Economics, Science, and Policy (9 units)
Group B
Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control
Politics of Energy and the Environment
Social Problems of Nuclear Energy
Technology/Engineering in Context12
Select one of the following:
Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion
Fundamentals of Energy in Buildings
Introduction to Sustainable Energy
Select 24 units from the following: 1,2
Global Change Science
Thermal-Fluids Engineering II
Marine Power and Propulsion
Fundamentals of Photovoltaics
Energy, Materials, and Manufacturing
Principles of Engineering Practice (9 units)
Principles of Engineering Practice
Materials Science and Engineering of Clean Energy
Environmental Technologies in Buildings
Power Electronics Laboratory
Introduction to Nanoelectronics
Statistical Physics I
A Philosophical History of Energy
Chemical and Biological Engineering Thermodynamics
Energy Engineering Projects Laboratory (15 units)
Chemical-Biological Engineering Laboratory (15 units)
Electrochemical Energy Systems (15 units)
Geography of the Global Economy
Urban Energy Systems and Policy
Alternate Energy Sources (6 units)
Global Environmental Negotiations (6 units)
Ethics of Energy Policy
Nuclear Systems Design Project
Engineering of Nuclear Systems
D-Lab: Energy
Energy, Environment, and Society
Total Units81-99

See the Energy Studies Minor website for potential elective and core subject substitutions or additions.


All subjects are 12-unit subjects unless otherwise noted.

Students who take more than the required subjects from any of the core curriculum subject lists may count the additional coursework toward the elective requirement. Contact Ann Greaney-Williams, academic coordinator, MIT Energy Initiative Education Office, Room E19-370D, 617-324-7236, or visit the Energy Studies Minor website for more information.