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AES Program

Graduates of the Mines/NREL Advanced Energy Systems (AES) degree program are uniquely positioned to enter leadership roles supporting advanced energy innovation and energy systems integration in government, academia, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.

With a focus on emerging energy technologies, the Mines/NREL Advanced Energy Systems (AES) graduate degree program is designed to educate future thought leaders to tackle the complex challenges of a dynamic energy world, including:

  • Integrating a wide range of energy sources into a flexible, secure grid as power derived from renewables achieves cost parity
  • Implementing digitized and optimized energy control and management that maintains robust security and resilience
  • Addressing economic and policy barriers to the development of advanced energy markets and high-efficiency technologies for energy conversion and storage
  • Advancing transportation technologies and infrastructure.

The Mines/NREL AES program is structured around four core pillars to provide students with a broad, rigorous background in the energy sector. Core coursework is balanced with elective courses required to develop deep expertise in the selected area of focus. Ph.D. candidates will engage in dedicated research under the guidance of Mines and NREL advisors. Learn about NREL’s research and research collaborations.

Beyond the core curriculum, the program design also allows for flexibility to encourage individual student strengths across both campuses.

To learn more about the AES degree program, contact us at energy@mines.edu

Applications for Fall 2022 are now open


Program Information

Master's Non-Thesis Requirements

The Master of Science degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of energy related course work. This includes twelve credit hours of core coursework and 18 credit hours of approved elective coursework.

Core Courses 12
Electives 18
Total semester Hrs: 30
PhD Requirements

fThe following is a typical PhD schedule of progression through major milestones from admission to final defense.  

Semester Activities
Year One
Fall 1 Course Work 

ENGY 501 Energy Resources and Electric Power Systems – The Physics of Energy

ENGY 502 Energy for Transportation

ENGY 707 Research Credits and/or additional subject coursework as recommended by faculty advisor

ENGY 691 Graduate Seminar I – Analysis of Integrated Energy Systems

Spring 1 Course Work

ENGY 503 Energy Systems Integration and Efficiency

ENGY 504 Energy Economics & Policy

 ENGY 707 Research Credits and/or additional subject coursework as recommended by faculty advisor

ENGY 692 NREL Based Energy Science and Technologies

Research – Finalize research topic and confirm Mines faculty advisor and NREL research group

Summer 1 Qualifying Research Examination – June
Summer Research 
Year Two
Fall 2 Course Work
Elective and subject coursework and research credits
Research & Confirmation of Dissertation Committee
Spring 2 Course Work
Elective and subject coursework and research credits 
Thesis Proposal
Summer 2 Research
Thesis research under the primary direction of Mines Faculty Advisors in collaboration with NREL Mentors
Year Three
Fall 3 Course Work
Completion off coursework, continuation of research credits   
Research -Thesis research will be combined with internship at NREL, to include Thesis Committee formation and evaluation of progress
Spring 3 Research – Thesis research will be combined with internship at NREL 
Summer 3 Research – Thesis research will be combined with internship at NREL
Year Four
Fall 4 Research – Preliminary defense will be combined with internship at NREL
Spring 4 Research – PhD Final Defense


NREL Research engagement

The AES degree program provides PhD students with the distinctive professional development experience of working alongside industry thought leaders and innovators in a world-class laboratory setting. PhD students work with both Mines academic advisors and NREL research mentors on collaborative research spanning integrated energy systems and energy science and technologies, including:

  • Energy Systems Integration
  • Scientific Computing and Energy Analysis
  • Bioenergy Science and Technology
  • Mechanical and Thermal Energy Sciences
  • Materials & Chemical Science and Technology

Requirements and Outcomes

  • Participate in a weekly graduate seminar series covering the breadth of ongoing research at NREL
  • Conduct a literature review on chosen topic of interest under guidance of faculty advisor and research mentor
  • Prepare and present a research plan with quantitative objectives and a testable hypothesis
  • Interview key subject matter experts and communicate research progress 
  • Prepare a technical report in support of a multi-investigator research program
Core Courses

Core Course 1: Energy Resources and Electric Power Systems  3.0 Credit Hours

This course introduces how fossil, renewable and nuclear energy resources are extracted and converted to electric power.  This course surveys power-plant and energy-conversion technologies for the electrical grid.  Students will perform analysis of electricity generation, transmission, and grid-scale storage systems. The course will explore energy resource and electricity markets in depth with a focus on U.S. markets as a backdrop for analyzing other developed and developing markets. The course will introduce resiliency and security challenges facing the current electricity grid.

Core Course 2: Energy for Transportation  3.0 Credit Hours

This course will explore the distribution of fossil and alternative fuels and of electricity to enable vehicle transportation and distributed power generation. Students will assess the cost and environmental impacts of various technologies. Students will also get an insight into the national and global network of pipelines and/or shipping routes for natural gas and oil distribution, and the limitations in current systems. In addition to providing an introduction to alternative energy carriers, including hydrogen, natural gas, and electrified transportation, the course will include a review of engines, transportation infrastructure, and supply chains as well as in-depth discussion of policies and technology innovations influencing the development of the transportation sector with a focus on efficiency, emissions, and expanded capabilities.

Core Course 3: Energy Systems Integration and Efficiency  3.0 Credit Hours

This course will introduce efforts to increase energy efficiency in buildings, the commercial sector, and heavy industries with an emphasis on energy-intensive manufacturing. Students will explore how advances in energy systems, such as demand response technologies and intelligent loads, are providing grid services and balancing power demands for buildings, commercial operations, and manufacturing processes. The course will also address the integrated nature of energy systems with an emphasis on their connections to water, food, land, and mobility.  A key focus area of study will be challenges and risks arising due to cybersecurity and resiliency threats facing highly integrated energy systems.

Core Course 4: Energy Economics and Policy  3.0 Credit Hours

Energy Economics and Policy applies a social science lens to understanding the main issues in the energy sector. In this course, AES students will examine these intersections through a case study approach that includes directed readings, such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles, student presentations, and research projects. A critical feature of the course is discussing the role governments and market structure play in shaping the energy landscape. 


Elective Courses - Partial Listing

CEEN 477 – Sustainable Engineering Design 3

CEEN 479 – Air Pollution 3

CEEN 501 –  Life Cycle Analysis 3

CEEN592. Environmental Law 3

CEEN594. Risk Assessment 3

CEEN611. Multiphase Contaminant Transport 3

EENG570. Advanced High Power Electronics 3

EENG571. Modern Adjustable Speed Electric Drives 3

EENG572. Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation 3

EENG573. Electric Power Quality 3

EENG580. Power Distributions System Engineering 3

EENG581. Power System Operation and Management 3

EENG582. High Voltage AC and DC Power Transmission 3

EENG583. Advanced Electrical Machine Dynamics 3

EENG584. Power System Stability 3

EENG586. Communication Networks for Power Systems 3

EENG587. Power Systems Protection and Relaying 3

EENG588. Energy Policy, Restructuring and Deregulation of Electricity Market 3

MEGN560. Design and Simulation of Thermal Systems 3

MEGN566. Combustion 3

MEGN569. Fuel Cell Science and Technology 3

MEGN571. Advanced Heat Transfer 3

EBGN521. Microeconomics of Mineral and Energy Markets 3

EBGN523. Mineral and Energy Policy 3

EBGN528. Industrial Systems Simulation 3

EBGN530. Economics of International Energy Markets 3

EBGN570. Environmental Economics 3

EBGN575. Advanced Mining and Energy Asset Valuation 3

EBGN580. Exploration Economics

EBGN610. Advanced Natural Resource Economics 3

EBGN611. Primary Fuels 3

GEOL550. Integrated Basin Modeling 3

GEOL551. Applied Petroleum Geology 3

GEOL552. Unconventional Petroleum Systems 3

GEOL553. Geology and Seismic Signatures of Reservoir Systems 3

GEOL609. Advanced Petroleum Geology 3

GEOL613. Geologic Reservoir Characterization 3

LAIS558. Natural Resources and Development

LAIS589 Nuclear Power and Public Policy 3

LAIS590 Energy and Society 3

Any Sets of Courses in Petroleum Engineering, PEGN

CBEN569. Fuel Cell Science and Technology 3

CBEN580. Natural Gas Hydrates 3

CHGN584. Fundamentals of Catalysis 3

MTGN569 Fuel Cell Science and Technology 3

MTGN593 Nuclear Materials Science and Engineering 3

PHGN542. Solid State Devices and Photovoltaic 3

PHGN590. Nuclear Reactor Physics 3

Courses Related to Cyber Security (from the cyber security and privacy curriculum at the Colorado School of Mines is mapped to the four-year core Knowledge Units (KUs),

CSCI-403           Database Management

CSCI-406           Algorithms

CSCI-442           Operating Systems

CSCI-471           Computer Networks I

CSCI-474/598    Introduction to Cryptography

CSCI-475/598    Information Security & Privacy