Undergraduate education

Energy studies minor

The Energy Studies Minor grounds students in the triple challenge of energy—producing more energy for more people while removing carbon emissions from the energy system in the necessary timeframe to mitigate climate change. You will gain an integrative understanding of energy and develop the skills required of tomorrow’s energy professionals, leaders, and innovators in research, industry, policy, management, and governance.

As an Energy Studies Minor student, you will engage directly with the complex reality of energy through a core of foundational subjects in the domains of energy science, technology, economics, and social science. Research interests and career paths of minors have encompassed thin-film solar panels, smart grids, conservation and efficiency, policy and economics, electricity transmission and storage, hydrogen fuel cells, traditional oil and gas, and more.

I loved the Energy Studies Minor. The fact that MIT has a minor entirely dedicated to interdisciplinary study of energy was part of the reason I chose to come to MIT and I was not disappointed.2014 Energy Minor Graduate

The heart of the Energy Studies Minor is a core of foundational subjects in the domains of energy science, technology, and social science.

The minor prepares graduates with subject-specific knowledge and an integrative understanding of energy issues. Students are offered hands-on subjects and opportunities to engage in the complex reality of energy.

Remembering William “Bill” Wynot (1922–2020): Bill Wynot was a champion of MITEI’s undergraduate energy education program and a friend to us all. Watch as MIT energy alumni reflect on Bill’s lasting impact through his support of the Energy Studies Minor.


Who can apply to the minor?
Any currently enrolled undergraduate at MIT can apply.

When is the best time to take 8.21 or 12.021, the classes that fulfill the Energy Science requirement?
We strongly advise you to take one of these classes your sophomore year, as the science underpins the rest of the classes.

Who are the Energy Studies Minor advisors? How do I get an advisor?
Every course with classes in the minor has at least one professor serving as an ESM advisor:

Course 1: Ruben Juanes, Saurabh Amin

Course 2: Ahmed Ghoniem

Course 3: Juejun Hu

Course 4: Christoph Reinhart

Course 5: Moungi Bawendi

Course 6: Steve Leeb

Course 8: Robert Jaffe

Course 10: Tom Kinney

Course 11: David Hsu

Course 12: Brad Hager

Course 14: Paul Joskow

Course 15: Chris Knittel

Course 16: Zoltan Spakovszky, Steve Barrett

Course 22: Michael Golay, Scott Kemp, Mike Short

You will be assigned an advisor when you fill out the ESM sign-up form. If you’re not sure which advisor to consult, ask Rowan Elowe.

Will the required subjects be offered every year?
Not every subject will be offered every year. Check the course catalog and talk to Rowan Elowe about class availability.

Can I change the Minor subject classes once I’ve applied?
Yes, but we recommend that you consult your Energy Studies Minor advisor or Rowan Elowe first.

Can classes that qualify for the Minor also qualify for other Institute requirements like my major?
A minimum of three subjects (or 36 units) taken for the Energy Studies Minor cannot also count toward a student’s major or other minor.

Can I take any of the Minor requirements under Junior-Senior P/D/F?
No. Subjects taken under the Junior-Senior P/D/F grading option cannot be used for a minor program. More information.

Can any of the Minor requirements be designated as a Sophomore Exploratory Subject?
Yes. Any subject taken at MIT or through cross-registration may be designated as exploratory, including electives, General Institute Requirements, and requirements for majors and minors. More information.

Can I make substitutions?
Yes, on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to take or have taken a class you think should get Energy Studies Minor credit, work with your Energy Studies Minor advisor to prepare a petition. Your petition should be 1-2 pages long and explain how this substitution fits into the Energy Studies Minor, including comparisons to other relevant classes that are already approved. Submit your petition and a copy of the syllabus and description of the class to Rowan Elowe. If there are other relevant comparison classes, submit a copy of their syllabi and class descriptions as well. Submit this petition at least one full term before the term in which you plan to graduate (that is, before the beginning of your senior year).

What should I do if I can’t finish the Minor?
Get in touch with Rowan Elowe, who will help you figure out what to do next.

How do I gain access to  the Energy Commons in Building 10?
All Energy Studies Minors gain swipe access to the Energy Commons as soon as they complete and submit their minor application.

Will this minor appear on my diploma?
MIT minors are not listed on the S.B. diploma, but they are listed on official transcripts and we’ll give you a separate certificate.

What can I do with an Energy Studies Minor?
Check out this sampling of student experiences as fellows, interns, and research assistants. Contact Rowan Elowe for more examples of what students have done with their energy education both during and after their degree.


View the requirements (MIT Course Catalog)

View the class list (Microsoft Word .docx)

UROPs for credit may also be counted as electives. Additional classes or substitutions may be approved on a case by case basis. Consult your Energy Studies Minor advisor or Rowan Elowe with any questions.


Step 1: Tell us!

Send an email to Rowan Elowe and let us know you plan to minor. That way we can help you plan your classes and you can be sure not to miss invitations to talks and other events. You can do this as early as freshman year.

Step 2: Get formal approval

Consult your advisor, pick classes, and fill out the ESM sign-up form. Don’t worry, you can change your class selections later if you need to. Once you complete this step, you’ll get access to the Energy Commons in 10-063.

We recommend that you complete this form by the end of your sophomore year, but you absolutely must have it signed and submitted before the start of your last semester.

Step 3: Graduate

MIT minors are not listed on the S.B. diploma, but they are listed on official transcripts and we’ll give you a separate certificate.

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