Providing Graduate Students with Skills and Knowledge that Transcend Traditional Disciplines

Applcations for Fall 2018 are no longer being accepted. Please check back for certificate program updates. 

The RASEI graduate renewable energy certificate equips students across graduate degree programs with skills and knowledge that transcend traditional disciplines and establish a firm grounding in the business, policy, economic, and institutional aspects of energy.  We couple a required core of science and technology, policy, and business courses with electives specific to each student's degree program to produce experts with both depth in the energy aspects of their disciplines and the breadth to work across sectors and knowledge communities to drive transformation of the global energy system.  

Solving the global challenge of energy transition is not just a technical challenge, and requires contributions from a variety of approaches.  Thus no specific disciplinary background is required, and our program draws from the business school, the humanities, journalism, the sciences, engineering, and law.  This graduate certificate program is intended to supplement, not replace, graduate students' degree programs. Graduates from this certificate program - whether they have JDs, MBAs, masters degrees, or doctorates—will have a strong understanding of energy systems, energy alternatives, energy markets and business, and energy policy.  Most importantly, the certificate program connects emerging experts in energy with one another, and creates a transdisciplinary community of energy students that reach across colleges and departments on campus.  

Participating Faculty/Program Governance

Adam Reed, RASEI Education Director and an Instructor in Environmental Studies, directs and manages this program. Decisions about the program, including those related to course requirements and admissions, are made by the Energy Certificate Committee. Members of this Committee are:

Program Requirements

The certificate program requires 18 hours of coursework: 9 for core courses, and 9 for electives. The core courses cover the essentials of renewable and sustainable energy:

  • An understanding of energy science and technology: resources, units of measurement, conversion technologies, supply and demand trends and forecasts.
  • An understanding of energy politics, policy, and law: how society makes decisions about energy, what are the policy tools that can influence energy use and how do they work, how stakeholders interact to yield energy policy decisions.
  • An understanding of energy markets and business. How the private sector influences energy supply, demand, and conversion; how energy markets operate; opportunities and risks in energy markets and energy businesses.

These core courses are followed by electives, which allow students to focus on specific areas that are of interest. These electives are varied, however they all share a focus on energy.

Required Courses

Students must take the three courses listed below, and achieve a grade of C or better in all three courses. It is recommended that the courses be taken in the sequence shown.

ENST 5000 Energy Science and Technology.  This course provides an understanding of the basics of energy science and technologies. The course starts with energy concepts (such as 'power, 'resources,' and 'carriers'), and then takes a closer look at how the U.S. produces, transforms, and consumes energy. The course explores how energy use contributes to environmental challenges, notably climate change. The course then assesses alternatives, including renewables and energy efficiency, to better understand their potentials and limitations. No technical background is required. Fall:  Taught by Paul Komor.  Spring:  Taught by Richard Mignogna.  View the syllabus here!

NOTE: Completion of a similar course, or substantive energy work experience, may be able to substitute for ENST 5000. See the FAQ section.

ENST 5001 / ENVS 5820 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 Adam Reed.  View the syllabus here!

ENST 5002 / BADM 6930 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 rewnable energy business models. Prerequisites:  restricted to graduate students. Taught by Jeff York.  View the syllabus here!

Elective Courses

Students must take 9 credits of qualifying electives. Any of the energy-related courses qualify as electives, with one exception: courses with course numbers below 4000 do not qualify. 

We recommend, but do not require, that at least 3 of the 9 elective credits be taken outside of the student's home school or department.

How To Apply

Applications are accepted during the fall semester, for admission the following spring semester. Applications are accepted starting October 1, and the deadline for all application materials is November 30. Decisions are made by December 7.

Applicants are asked to submit the following:

  • A current CU-Boulder transcript; unofficial copies are acceptable.
  • A one-page statement of purpose: why do you want to enroll in this program?
  • Your most recent standardized test score: GRE, LSAT, or GMAT

All materials should be submitted electronically as PDF attachments and emailed to

Frequently Asked Questions

No. There is a separate certificate program intended for undergraduates - Click here.

No, however we offer a number of other programs to non-students, including a professional certificate in renewable energy. Click here

Probably. The certificate program allows for this. However, you should check with your home department/program to ensure that they allow this.

Yes. If you have been accepted to CU-Boulder for graduate studies, and are planning to enroll, you may apply. See the How To Apply section for details on how to do so.

Yes. All CU-Boulder graduate students are eligible for this program. J.D. students wishing to participate in this certificate program should be aware that no more than six of the nine core certificate class credits can count towards graduation, so participation in this program will require them to take more than the 89 credits normally required for the J.D. degree. Interested J.D. students should consult with law school advisor William Boyd and the law school registrar for more details.

No. The first core course, ENST 5000, provides basic energy knowledge.

Send an email to with details on the course, including a syllabus or web site link if available. We'll review it and let you know if it qualifies.

Students with energy efficiency technology