Where to begin?

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If you are interested in the RESS program, but aren't quite sure where to start or how to go about figuring out what to do next, read on - you are in the right place!

First - consider your alternatives

There are several paths that you can take as part of the RESS program.  Depending on your background or situation, one of these possibilities may work best for you: 

  1. Professional Master's Program: This is the 32 credit program that gives you a Penn State Professional Master's degree in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems.  Admission to this highly regarded program is competitive, and completion of the degree is a distinct achievement that will set you apart in the workplace.  As part of this degree, you will be able to select an “option” whereby you focus your studies on one of four RESS tracks: bioenergy, solar energy, sustainability management & policy, or wind energy.  Your final course for the degree involves completing a semester-long capstone project that synthesizes your skills as a RESS student.
  2. Graduate Certificate: Many people find that they need advanced education in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems but are not in a position to pursue a full master's degree.  That's where the RESS Graduate Certificates come in. These certificates require completion of 3 or 4 prescribed courses in that subject area, and result in the student receiving an official graduate certificate in that specific track from the university.  We have available Graduate Certificates in Bioenergy, Solar Energy, Sustainability & Management Policy, and Wind.
  3. Try a Single Course: Sometimes you might not be sure if you are cut out for the Professional Master's Program or even the Graduate Certificate, or aren't sure if your schedule can handle the additional task of taking a graduate course.  In this case, it's often a great idea to register as a "non-degree student" for a single course to try things out.  That way, you'll be able to find out how you are handling a graduate course and also how useful the RESS program is without committing to a multi-year program. 

Keep in mind that it is possible to apply to the full master's degree after completing a graduate certificate, or even after completing one or two courses as a "non-degree" student.  Also, it is possible to apply for the graduate certificate even if you have already taken one or two of the certificate courses as a "non-degree" student. 

Second - Ask some questions

You probably have some questions at this point.  We'd love to hear them!  Whether it's about scheduling, course content, finances, or some other issue, you can email us at info@ress.psu.edu.

  • You may also want to take a look at the class schedule to see which courses are offered when. While you are on that page, click on a course name to take a look at the syllabus for that course.
  • The credits and options page gives more information about the program curriculum, including an example schedule for students.
  • The  RESS FAQ page is another great place to learn more about the program. 

Third - Go for it! 

If you're ready to apply to the RESS program, then great!  Step-by-step instructions on applying for the Master's or Graduate Certificate can be found on our "Apply" page

If you would like to register for a single course as a "non degree" student, see "Taking a Single RESS Course."