Advanced Energy Systems Graduate Engineering Program

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

With a focus on emerging energy technologies, the Advanced Energy Systems (AES) graduate engineering degree program is designed to enable future energy professionals and research leaders to tackle the complex challenges of a dynamic energy world. The breadth of potential research topics is considerable and spans topical areas including biofuels, hydrogen and electrochemical devices, solar, wind, building energy systems, grid modernization, energy security and resilience. A common thread is the application of science and engineering fundamentals to develop effective solutions in any of the dimensions needed to secure a sustainable energy future.

The Mines/NREL AES program is structured around three core pillars to provide students with a broad, rigorous foundation in the energy sector. Core coursework is balanced with elective courses required to develop deep expertise in the selected STEM area of focus. Ph.D. candidates from a variety of STEM backgrounds 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 allows guided flexibility to encourage individual student strengths and STEM interests across both campuses.

To learn more about the AES degree program, contact us at

Applications for Fall 2023 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 9 credit hours of core coursework and 21 credit hours of approved elective coursework.

Core Courses   9
Electives 21
Total semester Hrs: 30
PhD Requirements

The 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 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
Spring 3 Research – Preliminary Defense 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 research and professional development experiences 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 graduate seminar series 
  • 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.


Elective Courses - Sample 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