Is a Master of Management in Energy Worth It? What You Need to Know.
March 10, 2021
One degree, two names, and lots of potential for advancement in the energy sector. An MBA isn't the only—or even the best—way to join the ranks of leadership in traditional and renewable energy; this alternative master's degree can fuel a more lucrative career.
The energy sector is changing rapidly, and energy professionals who want to advance their careers need to keep up to compete. On one hand, growing demand for energy, the increasing interest in renewables, and the ever-changing array of technology used in the industry mean there are plenty of opportunities. On the other, the academic or professional experience that served you well in the past may not be enough to take your career to the next level. Going back to school for a master's degree is one way to get up to speed on the latest trends and tech in energy. The question you need to answer is: "Which degree?"
An Energy MBA might seem the obvious choice if you have experience in the energy industry and want to move into administrative and executive roles. Some Master of Business Administration programs across disciplines even accept recent college graduates. Before you start filling out applications, however, take a look at Master of Management in Energy programs. Part business degree, part science degree, the Master of Management in Energy is a great option for people who dream about lucrative careers in traditional energy, nuclear energy, renewable energy, or energy consulting.
In this guide to a Master of Management in Energy, we'll cover:
- Master of Management in Energy vs. the Energy MBA
- Possible fields and career paths for a Master of Management in Energy
- Prerequisites for a Master of Management in Energy
- Commitment required for a Master of Management in Energy
- What you'll study in an MS in Energy Management program
- Top schools for a Master of Management in Energy
- Is a Master of Management in Energy worth it?
Master of Management in Energy vs. the Energy MBA
Both of these degrees prepare students to step into leadership positions in the energy industry. The core coursework in these two programs can overlap considerably, although, of course, it varies from school to school and from program to program. In some cases, MBA and Master of Management programs look nearly identical. The biggest difference between these master's degree programs, where it exists, is in emphasis.
The Energy MBA is a masters-level business degree. Most programs will have more in common with traditional MBAs than with energy degrees. Many Energy MBA programs have more core business classes than classes focused on energy delivery or technologies, making this a better option for professionals who might want to transition out of energy in the future.
MS in Energy Management programs also cover core business concepts. However, they tend to devote a lot more course time to technology, quantitative methods, and management fundamentals relevant to the energy industry in particular. That makes it a more appropriate degree for professionals who know they want to work in the energy sector throughout their careers.
Possible fields and career paths for a Master of Management in Energy
MS in Energy Management graduates are qualified to step into a variety of mid-level roles in the oil, gas, renewables, and electricity industries. With this degree in hand, you can be a manager, analyst, researcher, or consultant. Here are some jobs you may want to check out after earning a Master of Energy Management degree:
- Director of operations If you're most interested in the 'management' aspect of Master of Management in Energy programs, becoming a director of operations might be for you. A director of operations oversees energy facilities, financial analysis, risk management, account planning, and revenue growth. The job comes with a lot of responsibility, but the pay is solid. The average director of operations salary is about $175,000.
- Energy manager Energy managers are responsible for evaluating energy usage and delivery and designing energy programs that reduce costs and increase efficiency. This can involve redesigning processes and overseeing equipment upgrades. The average energy manager salary is about $104,000.
- Energy pricing analyst Energy prices can fluctuate rapidly. Analysts are responsible for ensuring that those price fluctuations can be anticipated and managed. In this role, you might work creating new pricing strategies for oil, gas, or renewable energy companies. The average energy pricing analyst salary is about $73,000, but you can potentially make a lot more if you're leading a team of analysts at an energy company.
- Energy risk analyst In this role, you will do whatever it takes to manage risks associated with your company’s activities and transactions. Your work will involve analyzing global and regional energy trends and prices, monitoring technological systems, and identifying weaknesses in and emerging threats to those systems and your company's strategies. The average energy risk analyst salary is about $67,000.
Prerequisites for a Master of Management in Energy
Unlike Energy MBA programs, MS in Energy Management programs typically don't require applicants to have relevant professional experience to apply. You may not even need to have earned a bachelor's degree related to the energy industry. Most universities simply require that applicants hold a Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited college or university. If you don't have a bachelor's degree yet, consider majoring in one of the following subjects:
- Energy and environmental policy
- Energy management
- Energy science
- Energy services
- Energy business and finance
- Mechanical engineering
Most schools ask applicants to show either GMAT or GRE test scores, a résumé, and college transcripts, though some will waive the usual application requirements for applicants with exceptional work experience. You may also need to submit a statement of purpose or a video essay, and meet with an admissions officer for an in-person interview.
An academic and/or professional background in engineering management, environmental science, energy, or business administration can make you a more attractive candidate when you're applying to MS in Energy Management programs. If you don't have either, you can differentiate yourself from other applicants by completing one or more internships with companies in the energy industry.
Commitment required for a Master of Management in Energy
The commitment required for earning a Master of Management in Energy varies from program to program; degree requirements can vary significantly. There are accelerated 10-month programs, full-time one-year programs, and multi-year part-time programs—all of which are structured differently. Only you can predict how long it will take to earn an MS in Energy Management because only you know how much time you can comfortably devote to pursuing this degree. Most Master of Management programs are designed to be completed in about a year, but that doesn't mean every student earns a degree in that amount of time.
What you'll study in an MS in Energy Management program
Most MS in Energy Management programs dive straight into topics related to management in the energy industry. Students take courses like:
- Energy Management
- Systems Engineering
- Engineering Management
- Energy Technology in Perspective
- Energy Accounting and Valuation
- Energy Data Analysis
- Energy and Environmental Economics
- Energy Fundamentals and Trading
- Power Plant Systems
- Alternative Energy Systems
- Facilities Operation and Maintenance
- Facilities Management
- Sustainability Management
- Computer Applications for Energy Management
- Facility Security and Contingency Planning
- Energy Risk Management
- Energy Markets and Policy
- Energy Finance
- Smart Grid Systems
- Solar Energy Technology
- Wind Energy Technology
- Environmental Management, Audits, and Monitoring
These programs typically don't offer students a lot of elective options or general management courses, which is why they can usually be completed more quickly than Energy MBA programs.
Top schools for a Master of Management in Energy
One thing that will jump out at you when you're searching for energy management master's programs is that a lot of them are outside of the US. Energy MBA programs are much more common in the US, which means just a handful of American schools offer this degree.
You'll find strong on-campus and online master's degree programs at:
- New York Institute of Technology (Master of Science in Energy Management)
- Oklahoma City University (MS in Energy Management)
- Tulane University (Master of Management in Energy)
- The University of Texas at Dallas (Master of Science in Energy Management)
Of these, Tulane's 10-month program is probably the best, but if it's flexibility you need, the program at Oklahoma City University can be completed part-time, online. Whatever you do, don't choose a university based on name recognition alone. Finding the right Master of Science in Energy Management (or Master of Management in Energy) program is all about knowing what to look for.
The best MS in Energy Management programs:
- Have the flexibility you need: Can you comfortably commit to one year of full-time study? If the answer is no, search for part-time MSM programs designed for working professionals or an accelerated master's degree program designed for students who want to graduate ASAP.
- Are offered in partnership with the school's energy research center: Tulane University, for example, is home to the Tulane Energy Institute, and students have opportunities to be a part of projects at a broad spectrum of energy companies.
- Have courses that align with your interests: Some energy management programs are very focused on emerging energy technology and are STEM-certified. Others are focused on traditional energy and include more business coursework.
- Give graduate students real-world, hands-on experience in energy: Top graduate schools for energy typically include site visits in the curriculum. You can learn a lot just by visiting actual production platforms, power plants, refineries, and corporate offices in the energy sector.
- Place graduates in high-profile jobs in the energy industry: You can't go wrong applying to programs at universities that have close recruiting relationships with large and/or local energy companies.
- Have an active alumni network: You want an alumni network that includes executives in the energy industry. Some universities have alumni groups specifically for energy management graduates.
Is a Master of Management in Energy worth it?
That depends. There are typically very few, if any, general business courses in MS in Energy Management programs. Everything you'll learn when you pursue this degree will relate directly to your future work in the energy sector. So, if you're looking for the kind of deep-dive business content you'll find in an MBA program, then probably not. If you want to go all-in on energy, however, or you're just that passionate about oil, gas, coal, electricity, or renewables, then you'll probably get a lot out of this degree.
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