Online Degrees & Training in Climate Science & Engineering

People have a severe impact on the environment. Reports published by NASA (2020) show the highest levels of carbon dioxide ever recorded; the average temperature of the earth has risen 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit since the end of the 19th century; Greenland alone lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019; massive glaciers retreats have been measured on every continent; and the sea has risen approximately eight inches in the last 100 years.

Our planet needs more educated climate science and engineering professionals to tackle these problems.

Entering this field takes dedication and education. While professionals can enter this line of work with a bachelor’s degree, most have earned a master’s degree or higher. The most commonly earned degrees include a master’s of science in environmental engineering or civil engineering. Aspiring professionals in this field should look for engineering programs that include a concentration in climate, natural resources, or sustainability. Many of the top degree programs in climate science and engineering can be earned online.

Although the field of climate science and engineering professionals isn’t growing quickly right now, it is slated to boom in the coming years with more Americans supporting measures to combat climate change.

For example, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), currently before the Illinois General Assembly, will require government agencies, enterprises, and employers to invest in jobs and technology that improve the environment rather than damage them. Professionals who already have degrees in climate science and engineering will be poised to move into these newly created roles.

Below is a list of some of the top online climate science and engineering degree programs in the US. These degrees can be completed while working full-time or raising a family. Continue reading to learn what the programs entail as well as profiles of three outstanding professors.

Fast Facts: Why are Climate Science & Engineering Skills Important?

  • A Rewarding Field – The work climate science and engineering graduates perform is rewarding as it can have a lasting impact. New regulations and laws can be written based on the research and work completed by professionals in this field.
  • A Growing Field – Clean energy jobs, which many people with climate science and engineering degrees are qualified for, are growing. By illustration, NPR (2020) reported that clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania—a major national hub for energy careers—were among the fastest growing in the state from 2017 to 2019.
  • Make A Difference – Climate change is a massive concern for the entire planet. Climate science and engineering professionals are on the cutting edge of research that can alter the course of climate change on our planet.
  • Data-Driven Field – Graduates of climate science and engineering programs are trained to use data to make conclusions. These conclusions can then drive government policy and corporate decision making.

Mentors: Three Climate Science & Engineering Gurus to Know

Accredited Online Degree Programs in Climate Science & Engineering

University of California at Riverside – Bourns College of Engineering

In 13 months, students can complete an online master’s of science in environmental engineering at the University of California at Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. Students in this program not only gain strong engineering skills with a specialization in environmental systems and water, but they also receive extensive leadership and management training.

This program requires students to complete a total of 36 semester-credit-hours. Sixteen hours are in general engineering while the other 16 are in environmental engineering water specialization. The final four credits are a semester’s long capstone project. Graduates work in a variety of fields to increase access to clean water and improve the natural environment.

  • Location: Riverside, CA
  • Duration: 13 months
  • Tuition: $26,604 per year
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Grainger College of Engineering

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Grainger College of Engineering, students can earn either a master’s of science in civil engineering or a master of science in environmental engineering with an emphasis in energy, water, and environmental sustainability (EWES). Both degrees offer cross-disciplinary studies allowing students to take courses across departments. This program’s focus is on sustainable energy production, buildings, waste management, and energy exploration.

These degrees are offered entirely online, and neither degree requires students to complete a thesis. Students must complete 30 semester-credit-hours to graduate. They have the flexibility to choose the majority of their courses and tailor their education to their interests. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s of science with a 3.0 GPA or higher, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a statement of purpose.

  • Location: Urbana, IL
  • Duration: 18 to 24 months
  • Tuition: $1,110 per credit-hour
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Columbia University – Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

The master’s of science in earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is the ideal program for scientists and engineers already engaged in environmental management. The primary focus of this program is on mining practices and how to safely dispose of materials to create a sustainable system that benefits society and the environment to reduce the effects of climate change.

Since this program is offered completely online, students have the flexibility to complete the required 30 semester-credits at their own pace. Students must complete nine credits in elective courses, allowing them to tailor their education to their interests. Due to the research nature of this master’s degree, it takes students up to five years to complete the program, although most students complete it in three-and-a-half years.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Duration: Five years
  • Tuition: $2,196 per credit-hour
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Ohio University – Russ College of Engineering and Technology

The online master of science in civil engineering at Ohio University Russ College of Engineering and Technology has a concentration in environmental engineering for professionals pursuing education in climate science and engineering. With this degree, graduates will be able to research, design, and develop long-lasting solutions to help the planet.

Coursework for the environmental engineering focus includes open channel hydraulics, chemical fate and transport in the environment, advanced water treatment, and environmental analysis transportation systems. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a completed application.

  • Location: Athens, OH
  • Duration: Five semesters
  • Tuition: $27,744 per year
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

Johns Hopkins University – Whiting School of Engineering

The Environmental Engineering and Science department for the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering offers various education options, including a master of science, graduate certificate, or post-master’s certificate in environmental engineering and science; and a climate change, energy, and environmental sustainability graduate certificate.

Students who complete the master’s program can focus on energy policy and climate. This unique degree and concentration examine how engineering can influence policy to combat climate change. Coursework completed for this focus is done in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Advanced Academic Programs Energy Sciences and Policy Program.

  • Location: Washington, DD
  • Duration: Two to five years
  • Tuition: $5,701 per three-credit course
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

North Carolina State University – College of Engineering

North Carolina State University College of Engineering offers an entirely online master’s of environmental engineering degree. This non-thesis degree program can be completed while still employed full time, and no relocation is required. Graduates will have the education and understanding to improve infrastructure, the environment, and human health.

With over 15 online courses offered every semester, students can quickly complete the required 30 semester hours. Coursework includes the physical principles of environmental engineering, engineering principles of air pollution control, energy and climate, and principles of air quality engineering. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or related field, prerequisite coursework, and GRE test scores.

  • Location: Raleigh, NC
  • Duration: 18 to 24 months
  • Tuition: $1,312 per credit-hour
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

DIY Skill-Building in Climate Science & Engineering

Climate change is something everyone can do something about. Taking online courses in climate science and engineering can help professionals in the field and amateurs hone skills necessary to help the planet. There are numerous online courses available for curious people to gain expertise in this field.

Udemy
This online learning marketplace offers over 5,500 courses in climate science and engineering. Courses are taught by experts in these fields, and all classes have a 30-day money-back guarantee if it doesn’t meet expectations.

Classes offered include everything from the basics of engineering, math, and climate change to more advanced coursework such as earth pressure theories, engineering thermodynamics, and environmental chemistry. While there is a cost for most of the classes, there are several free or low-cost options available as well.

Coursera
With over 360 courses in climate, engineering, and the environment, Coursera is a great place to gain skills in this field. Professionals and experts teach their courses in conjunction with universities around the world. Many courses offer the option to earn a certificate, allowing professionals the ability to boost their resume while learning about climate science and engineering. There are even complete master’s of science (MS) in engineering and public health programs available.

Kimmy Gustafson
Kimmy Gustafson
Writer

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world-traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was six and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 25 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. When not writing or parenting she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.

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