Flexible Courses for Working Professionals Anywhere in the World

Students in distance-equipped classroom

Are you passionate about renewable energy as a force for good in the world?  Designed in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Environmental Studies Program, The RASEI Professional Certificate program provides working professionals and lifelong learners with an in-depth study of renewable and sustainable energy technologies, policies, and business--the cornerstones of this rapidly growing industry.  The certificate provides students, working professionals, and alternative energy practitioners with the background and skills to begin or advance careers in renewable and sustainable energy.  You will learn from engaging and experienced experts in the field, collaborate with graduate students from across the CU campus, and network with other professional students who share your interests.  You can take the courses in person or online through state-of-the-art distance learning technology, and our program and instructors are flexible and responsive to the needs of working professionals around the world.  

Upon completing this three-course program, participants receive nine graduate-level credits and earn a professional certificate granted by the University of Colorado Boulder, a Tier 1 research institution. In addition, these course credits may be counted towards the ten courses required for the Engineering Management Program’s(EMP) Master of Engineering (ME) degree, or toward the Renewable and Sustainable Energy specialization track within the Masters of the Environment degree.  

Our program draws from a wide range of backgrounds.  Some of our students are looking to pivot to new careers in the sustainable energy field. Others may already work in energy, but desire an expanded network and a broader array of skills and knowledge in order to advance to new roles. Students work together to share their experience and expertise with one another.  Hear from NREL scientists and administrators who have completed the professional certificate!

Does your employer offer reimbursement for job-related educational expenses?  If so, you may qualify for delayed payment of tuition until after you have completed coursework.  Simply fill out the appropriate form for Fall or Spring semester.  

Professional certificate program summary:

  • Three, three-credit required courses.
  • One to two years to complete the certificate requirements.
  • Courses taught by CU faculty who are accomplished alternative energy educators and scholars with significant experience in the renewable energy industry.
  • Courses offered online and in-person.

The application process is ongoing.  Apply Now

This graduate-level renewable energy certificate program is intended for both onsite and distance learners seeking comprehensive knowledge of renewable energy, but who may lack the time or resources to enroll in a regular graduate degree program. All three core courses are offered online.

Note: Current CU-Boulder students are not eligible to enroll in this program.

The renewable energy certificate program provides an in-depth understanding of the following areas:

Energy science and technology. How traditional and renewable energy systems work, how energy technologies function, energy conversion processes, and the status and potential of renewable technologies.

Energy policy. How stakeholders interact to accomplish policy decisions, the impacts and potential of policies to promote renewable energy, and congressional and governmental processes.

Energy industry. Finance, project development, economic analysis, and other components of building a viable business around renewable energy.

These three areas are the cornerstones of the rapidly growing renewable and sustainable energy industry. With the knowledge this certificate provides, students and alternative energy practitioners will be well-equipped to begin or advance careers in renewable energy.

Tuition for each of the three courses is $2,500. The total for the certificate program is $7,500. There may be additional costs for textbooks or other course material.

You must complete the three required courses, earning a grade of “C” or higher in each course.

Depending on your schedule, it takes 8 to 16 months to complete the program. The first course (ENST 5000) is offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters, the second course (ENST 5001) is offered in the Fall semester, and the third course (ENST 5002) is offered in the Spring semester. Each course is a regular, full-semester course. We recommend (but do not require) that you take the renewable energy certificate courses in order – for example, the ENST 5000 in the spring, ENST 5001 the following fall, and ENST 5002 the next spring.

To enroll in the energy efficiency coursework required for the certificate program, you must have an undergraduate degree (BA, BS, or equivalent) from an accredited academic institution, as well as the ability to:

  • Read and write in English
  • Write a term paper
  • Understand basic math concepts

There are no specific technical or other prerequisites. We have designed these energy courses to be accessible to both technical and non-technical students.

Apply by completing the online application. When your application is received, our staff will contact you by email to let you know the status of your application. If your application is approved, we'll help you enroll in the required courses.

You may take one, two, or all three of the courses. However, to earn the Professional Renewable Energy Certificate, you must take all three of the courses and earn a grade of "C" or higher in each course.

ENST 5000 Energy Science and Technology:  This course examines the basics of energy science and technology with a focus on the fundamentals of both conventional and renewable/sustainable energy. The first half of the course concentrates on conventional energy sources such as oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. The second half concentrates on renewable/sustainable energy technologies including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, ocean and conservation. A thorough comparison between conventional and renewable energy sources is a key to understanding the possibilities and limitations of new energy sources. We investigate the technological promise and progress of each technology, as well as its limitations and challenges. At the conclusion of the course, students will have a solid understanding of energy sources and the foundation to pursue additional energy study.  Spring:  Taught by Dr. Paul Komor, whose prolific work in technology assessment and policy has informed the work of the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and for which he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  Fall:  Taught by Dr. Suzanne Tegen, Section Manager for NREL's Wind and Water Deployment Program, and Mr. Ian Baring-Gould, Technology Deployment Manager and Senior Engineer for NREL's Wind Research division.  View a sample syllabus here! 

ENST 5001 Energy Policy in the 21st Century:  The global energy system has been described as "the world's largest machine."  This description, while accurate in scale, can hide the fact that large-scale energy systems are social as well as technological phenomena.  These socio-technical systems are operated, directed, and changed by human beings possessed of agency, values, and conflicts.  This course will examine the policies, laws, customs, and practices at varying levels of international, national, and subnational governance that shape the global sociotechnical energy system.  We will pay special attention to policies and approaches that envision the system's transformation toward sustainability, arguably the overarching goal of human civilization in the 21st Century.  Students in this course may work in groups with real-world clients in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors to complete a semester-long energy policy project.  Taught by RASEI Education Director Adam Reed, an attorney and international energy policy expert, faculty member at CU Boulder and the Universiti Teknologi Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and co-author of the International Electrotechnical Commission's 2012 White Paper on the Grid-Integration of Large-Capacity Renewable Energy Sources and Use of Large-Capacity Electrical Energy Storage.  View a sample syllabus here!

ENST 5002 The Business of Sustainable Energy:  Addresses the business of renewable and sustainable energy, including opportunities and challenges with renewable electricity, renewable transportation fuels, and energy efficiency. Topics include energy markets, opportunity identification, life cycle analysis, economic analysis, policy impacts, and project financing of sustainable and renewable energy business models. Taught by Dr. Stephen Lawrence, Associate Professor of Operations Management at CU's Leeds School of Business, and an expert in supply chain management, technology management, and entrepreneurship.  View a sample syllabus here!  

Yes.  The three certificate courses may be counted towards the ten courses required for the Engineering Management Program's Master in Engineering (ME) degree, as well as toward the Renewable and Sustainable Energy specialization track for the Masters of Environment (MENV) degree.  Note that admission to these degree programs requires separate application procedures for each program, and completion of the Professional Certificate does not guarantee admission to any degree program.  

We can help you determine if this program is a good fit for you. Email us with your questions and we’ll get back to you.

The application process is ongoing. Apply Now