Governments across the world are increasingly preoccupied by issues tied to energy — whether these involve the security or shipment of supplies or the environmental consequences of production and consumption. Many of these governments recognize that a dramatic transformation of energy systems is necessary in the near future if we are to meet societies’ demands while significantly reducing the impact on the global environment. This transformation will create both tremendous needs and tremendous opportunities for technological and policy innovation.

The MA Sustainable Energy prepares you to be a part of this process by strengthening your background in the technical and political dimensions of energy problems and decision-making. Following an interdisciplinary approach, you will examine the engineering considerations, the economic implications and the policy instruments that affect the public and private choices around sustainable energy. By becoming conversant in these domains, you will be able to interpret and respond to energy issues holistically and to communicate effectively across disciplinary boundaries.


Our graduates are participants and leaders in the organizations and processes that are building a lower-carbon future. They work as policy analysts for federal, provincial and municipal governments, serve in the government-relations offices within energy companies or work for consultancies or NGOs that seek ways to make energy systems more efficient and sustainable. Our alumni form a strong professional network across the country, providing ongoing learning opportunities and career advantages.

The Program

The program is a joint undertaking of the School of Public Policy and Administration and the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University — making it unique in North America for being interdisciplinary in content, delivery and student cohorts.

A suite of core courses provides a foundational understanding of the technical, political and economic dimensions of making energy more sustainable. They introduce you to the key engineering principles for non-specialists as these relate to the production, transmission and consumption of energy. They enable you to recognize the incentives and constraints posed by energy markets, and to anticipate the imperatives and processes that affect public policy and decision making. Plus, the courses provide a grounding in the fundamental tools for evaluating alternative polices and technologies — tools that you will then apply by working in teams with engineering students to assess or develop real-world energy projects. These courses allow you to acquire the conceptual and practical skills needed by energy professionals who seek to expand the availability and use of renewable sources, or technologies to minimize the environmental impacts of non-renewable sources, or practices for smarter energy demand management.

The Experience

Students enter the MA Sustainable Energy from across Canada and abroad, and from a variety of educational backgrounds including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering. The first two terms of full-time study focus on the interdisciplinary aspects of sustainable energy. The final terms allow students to specialize in particular aspects of sustainability—with the option of conducting independent research. Electives cover everything from environmental policy and climate change politics, to urban sustainability and natural resource management. A student-run peer-reviewed journal in sustainable energy policy, innovation, science and the environment gives student research a greater profile by publishing the best papers.

Faculty from the School of Public Policy and Administration, as well as the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, join seasoned professionals to deliver the program. A speaker series, field trips and guest lecturers provide the immediate insights of practitioners who are active in advancing energy sustainability. Many students build direct career experience into the degree by completing one or two terms of paid co-op work with a federal, provincial or municipal government department, or in the private or nonprofit sectors.

Degree Structure

The program comprises seven single-semester required courses and three elective courses, (5.0 course credits) or a major research project or thesis option with a reduced number of elective courses. The program can be completed by spring of the second year of the master’s program, including two terms of full-time co-op work. For more info on course structure please visit the Sustainable Energy website

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For an estimate of tuition fees, please use the fee estimate calculator.