1. Where do RESS graduates usually get jobs? What kind of careers do they pursue upon graduation?
Based on Penn State’s World Campus research, there is a significant growth of jobs related to renewable energy industry across the country. Many organizations and businesses develop sustainability plans, which push for energy and emission cuts, using sustainable technologies and products, and adopting practices that mitigate waste and pollution. With expansion of solar industry, there are more opportunities for on-site power generation. Implementation of those changes across sectors requires experts and leaders who have broad and thorough understanding of energy technology, markets, and policy, and this workforce niche is what RESS program specifically targets.
In general, the RESS program prepares its graduates for management level jobs and leadership positions in industry, businesses, and government organizations that require both technical knowledge of energy systems and knowledge of socio-economic aspects of industry development. The RESS education is centered around the sustainability project management, thus making acquired skills very transferable.
Graduates from the RESS Master’s program get jobs in very diverse domains, and that often depends on their interest and specialization. We have two tracks within the program – one focused on renewable energy, primarily solar projects, and the other focused on policy and management related to renewable energy and sustainable development in broader sense. Many of the graduates who passed through the renewable energy track find jobs in energy consulting, and firms procuring solar projects for clients. Quite a few took on management of new directions within their companies and implementation of sustainability goals. Sustainability management and policy specialization brought people to work in government entities and help businesses develop sustainable practices.
The RESS job market is not confined to a specific industry, but rather spans across areas. That presents both an opportunity of broader search and tapping to a relatively wide scope of industries as well as a challenge, as you are not prescribed where exactly you should go to file your job application. It is highly beneficial to develop your career vision early in the program as there are ways to tailor your course selection for more energy-oriented or policy-oriented curricula.
Here are a few examples of jobs/occupations some of our RESS alumni hold:
- Sustainability Advisor (for a consulting agency)
- Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Consultant
- Assistant Project Manager (for Energy Utility)
- Energy Efficiency Account Manager
- PV Associate
- Systems Engineer
In RESS, students learn to pull multiple project aspects together, which include technical (performance) data, resources, economics, social and ethical factors. This systemic approach to problem solving makes it the best foundation for consulting jobs, energy and sustainable business start-ups, and leadership positions, when people seek to move up to higher level positions in their own company.
2. How long does it usually take to finish an MPS degree?
We typically advise students to only take one or two courses per semester. This is because most of our students are already working professionals and are not full-time graduate students. So, if you took six courses per year, you could be done in about two years. If you found time only to take three or four courses per year, it would take you about three-and-a-half years to complete your degree.
3. Do courses need to be taken in a certain order? What are the best courses to start with?
While there is no specific order of courses based on prerequisites, we do recommend taking some courses earlier in your degree program. For students in either the Solar or SMP track of the MPS, we recommend trying some of the track specific courses first, then moving on to the core courses after you’ve become comfortable with taking a class with us.
4. Do I need to take the GRE or TOEFL exam? Can I request a waiver?
The GRE is no longer required for applying to the RESS Program, therefore a waiver is no longer needed.
The TOEFL requirement is a Graduate School enforced policy, however if you earned a degree from an accredited English speaking university, you can request a waiver to the graduate school, when completing your application.
5. Do I need to log in to a class at any specific time?
All of our RESS courses are "asynchronous" but run on a weekly schedule. So, there are no meetings where you have to participate at a specific time, but you need to complete your coursework on a weekly schedule, such as discussion forums with your classmates. Since we do have students from all over the world, it is nearly impossible to expect everyone to be able to make it for a typical class time. Some classes will offer question and answer Zoom sessions for anyone that can make it. If you cannot make it in those cases, you can send the instructor a question and can watch the response later as a recorded Zoom session.
6. Is there any financial assistance available or scholarships?
World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.
Currently, there are no scholarships being offered by the RESS Program.
7. Do I really need official transcripts?
Yes. Official transcripts are required by the bursar’s office and the Graduate School.