America's energy sector is in the midst of a decades-long transformation. Many of the buzzwords we associate with energy—like "sustainability" and "efficiency"—originated in the 1970s and '80s. That's when the US first recognized the dangers of relying on fossil fuels (often sourced to hostile overseas nations). In response to a decreasing supply and consequent price increase, the government implemented programs to diversify energy resources and promote conservation, including the Weatherization Assistance Program and the National Energy Conservation Act.
Today, concerns over global warming's effects have entered the mix, exerting a multiplier effect on the rate of change. With the general public far more aware of sustainability, climate change, and carbon regulation, energy management within the corporate sector receives more attention than ever before. Improved profitability and efficiency represent further windfalls of this trend. The less money a business spends on electric bills, the more they can spend on hiring employees, energy management professionals included.
Today, commercial businesses, industrial organizations, government agencies, nonprofits, and other institutions all offer energy management positions. Responsibilities range from implementing conservation measures and monitoring energy consumption to assessing sustainability decisions and seeking opportunities to increase energy efficiency. These roles go to highly analytical professionals with strong management skills and an in-depth understanding of energy systems, renewable energy issues, and energy use in the business world.
An advanced degree isn't technically a requirement for a career in the field. Even so, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Energy Management is ideal for candidates looking to hone their energy industry knowledge. These graduate degrees provide the trusted coursework of a generalist b-school experience alongside specialized study of sustainability and business ethics. An increasing number of schools offer this degree online, enabling students to earn their MBA without relocating or leaving their current jobs.
Our guide to online MBA programs in energy management answers the following questions:
As more businesses look to reduce costs and attract customers concerned about corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, the demand for professionals who can help tackle climate change and increase energy efficiency grows.
To put this in perspective, consider the Deloitte Resources 2020 Study, which highlights responses from more than 1,500 consumers and 600 business decision-makers responsible for energy management practices at companies with more than 250 employees. According to the report, nearly nine in ten businesses have developed plans to address climate-related risks. Additionally, 68 percent of consumers agree strongly or somewhat with the statement, "I'm very concerned about climate change and my personal carbon footprint."
Deloitte researchers note that the call for continued energy management progress relates to three trends or "reinforcers":
No matter their intended specialization (or lack thereof), MBA applicants typically need to submit their undergraduate transcripts, reference letters, a statement of interest, and a resume or CV when filing applications.
Many programs note a "four-year degree or equivalent" requirement from accredited institutions. Meeting programs' minimum undergraduate GPA threshold is a must too. At most top 20 schools, the average GPA hovers around 3.5, while at the highest-ranking MBA programs, like those at Harvard University and Stanford University, average undergraduate GPAs around the 3.7 mark.
Some business schools also require applicants to submit standardized test scores, including the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Many programs allow applicants to forgo submitting their test scores, particularly when they've met specific criteria regarding work experience, education, or other areas, while others don't require them at all.
Energy management MBAs provide students all the benefits of a generalist business school education alongside expertise in fundamental areas of the energy sector. Students in these programs typically also develop a comprehensive understanding of our energy system from an international business perspective.
Most two-year programs find students pursuing core courses in various foundational areas of business administration such as marketing, financial management, economics, organizational behavior, and business ethics during their first year, followed by concentration requirements during their second year.
Coursework in this realm varies from one program to the next. It may include environmental and energy law, the global energy market, and aspects of the energy value chain that range from oil and gas to power, petrochemicals, and renewables. Students at the University of Tulsa, for example, can choose from the following concentration courses:
Beyond energy management coursework, some programs may allow students to complete electives at other graduate schools or academic departments to fill a gap in their skills, gain knowledge within a subject of interest, or explore new industries or business areas.
Online energy management MBAs exist at accredited colleges and universities across the US. However,the majority are offered by institutions known for their "energy-relevant" locations. Think: Oklahoma's focus on petroleum and natural gas and Texas's identity as an all-around energy production hub.
MSU's 33-hour online MBA in energy management offers students a path to gaining the business knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to enter the region's long-standing oil and gas industry. Students complete concentration courses in energy management, energy accounting and law, and energy industry and finance. These courses focus on the worldwide dynamics of energy supply and demand, how independent energy companies operate within the oil and gas industry, and topics specific to energy exploration, production, and acquisition.
TCU's Energy MBA is available for both current and aspiring professionals in the energy industry. The program combines the integrated, broad business perspective of foundational business courses, practices and tools specific to the energy industry with strategies for managing the risks and opportunities in the field.
In addition to an on-campus option, students may complete online synchronous coursework that combines general business subjects with concentrated topics ranging from energy economics and energy legal and regulatory issues to oil and gas industry geologic, engineering, and business frameworks. Students may also complete a 10-day "study abroad" course, during which they travel to an energy-rich region, gain first-hand knowledge of international energy issues, and meet with execs at global energy companies.
Distance learners who enroll in TSU's 42 credit-hour, part-time energy MBA can earn their degree in 18 to 24 months. The school also offers a full-time, 12-month accelerated option for students with a strong business background, high GMAT scores, and three or more years of professional experience.
The University of Mary offers two master's degree tracks in the energy management realm: an MBA and a Master of Science in Business (MSB). Its MBA in energy management offers both an on-campus and hybrid option. The school also offers an accelerated online degree that allows distance learners to complete coursework in managerial finance and accounting, current issues in energy development, economics and markets of energy, and legal issues in energy management. Online students can complete their degree in as few as 18 months.
A Catholic institution, UofM weaves Christian, Catholic, Benedictine values throughout the curriculum. Coursework examines and interprets energy management issues in the 21st century from a faith-based standpoint. Students consider the ethical and moral factors in evaluating economic factors, energy markets, and trading practices used in the energy sector, and compare and contrast the environmental, regulatory, and legal and political environments for different companies.
The University of Oklahoma's executive MBA in energy targets corporate executives and managers, enabling them to earn their degree without taking time away from their careers. Spanning 36 credit hours, the program consists of six online modules and three in-person residencies that include two weeks on-campus and a European residency. During this latter experience, students take courses, meet with energy leaders, visit energy companies, and explore the energy industry from an international perspective.
GRE and GRE scores aren't required. Even so, the program emphasizes a highly selective admissions process. Students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, three years of experience in the energy industry, and at least eight years total work experience with current employment within, or related to, the energy industry.
UT Dallas' 15 MBA concentrations include options in real estate, supply chain management, and marketing. Also included: an energy management track that provides students the analytical and managerial decision-making skills to thrive in the global energy market. Students can also choose to enroll in one of 13 dual degree programs that span from a combined MD/MBA to a range of MS/MBA options.
Like students in all concentrations, distance learners in UT Dallas' energy management track must complete a minimum of 53 semester-credit-hours, 32 of which highlight core coursework in subjects like international business economics, statistics and data analysis, and managing IT in the analytics age. Energy management-related coursework takes shape through 21 credit hours of electives in topics including supply chain, operations, finance, and risk management. Students can also pursue certificates in project management, executive and professional coaching, organizational consulting, and strategic HR while completing their degrees.
TU's online Master of Energy Business targets professionals with experience in business, engineering, geosciences, law, and related disciplines, who are looking to expand their careers to the energy industry. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines management topics and classes specific to the energy field with elective options in energy law, energy finance, and strategic energy operations management, students:
Since the program is primarily for working professionals, most students attend part-time. They can complete the required 34 credits of coursework in as little as 24 months. Candidates with an undergraduate degree in any discipline and a minimum of two years of professional experience may apply. However, students who lack training or experience in a relevant discipline may need to complete prerequisite or "leveling" courses before enrolling.
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