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Curriculum, Funding Opportunities & Research

Fostering Climate Leadership


Northwestern has made it a priority to foster leaders in energy and climate change. All students at Northwestern can explore sustainability topics during their academic career, even those who are not pursuing an environmental degree. We are all accountable for protecting our planet, and there are opportunities to incorporate sustainability into every field.

A comprehensive catalog of Northwestern's energy and sustainability-related classes, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, is searchable at the Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy's website.

Pursue a Degree in the Environment and Sustainability

Explore the options below.

Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy

The Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy works to advance global sustainability and energy solutions through transformational research, interdisciplinary education, and public engagement. The Institute offers an undergraduate certificate, over 60 undergraduate and graduate course offerings on the topics of sustainability and energy, and a master's degree in Science in Energy and Sustainability.

McCormick School of Engineering

The McCormick School of Engineering offers courses, majors, and research opportunities related to sustainability. The school offers undergraduate degrees and minors in environmental engineering as well as master's and PhD opportunities in environmental engineering and science, geotechnical engineering, and transportation systems analysis and planning. Additionally, students earning a Master of Science in civil and environmental engineering with a focus in environmental engineering and science have the option of completing a certificate in global and ecological health engineering.

All McCormick degrees require seven courses in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Because some of these courses must be thematically related, this requirement is often called the Theme. The Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience has compiled a list of allowable undergraduate social science and humanities courses related to sustainability.

Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences

Program in Environmental Sciences

The Environmental Sciences Program in the Weinberg College offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares students to address one of society’s greatest challenges, namely preservation and stewardship of the natural world.

Program in Environmental Policy and Culture

The Environmental Policy and Culture Program offers students an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies, focusing on the social sciences and humanities. The program has a focus on global issues, including climate change, energy production, and sustainable water and food supplies for a growing population. An adjunct major caters to students interested in studying environmental questions from the perspective of the social sciences and humanities and a minor provides an interdisciplinary understanding of how environmental issues are always social, cultural and political and never solely natural or technical. 

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate study in traditional geologic topics as well as the latest advances in earth science. Courses may include theory, descriptive studies, data analysis, computer modeling, laboratory exercises, and field training.

Biological Sciences

Biology majors choose an area of concentration representing one of the foundational modern biological disciplines. Students discover the interactions between ecology and evolution, the impact of climate change, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and other factors in biodiversity and ecosystem health through the Ecology Evolution and Conservation Concentration.

Funding Opportunities

Interested in student funding opportunities?

Explore the funding options listed below.

  • Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy Funding Opportunities
    The Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy collaborates with the Office of Undergraduate Research in the Provost's Office to provide summer research grants for undergraduates on sustainability and energy topics. Summer Grants will provide an unrestricted $4,000 to cover research and living expenses for full-time summer projects.
  • NU Sustainability Fellows
    Through Northwestern’s partnership with Ameresco, Inc., students can apply to receive funding through the NU Sustainability Fellows program. Through the program, students work on a revolving set of projects during summer and winter quarters.
  • Research Funding
    Northwestern community members can identify additional sources of funding at the Office for Research website.
  • Catalyzer
    Catalyzer™ enables Northwestern's student organizations, alumni groups, and departments on campus to raise money for meaningful projects that make an impact—socially, culturally, and globally. 


University Research Institutes & Centers

Northwestern offers countless opportunities to engage in research related to climate, environment, and sustainability. Check out the University Research Institutes & Centers webpage to identify research opportunities that are of interest to you.

Northwestern University's Global Strategic Plan

To identify research opportunities that align with the UN SDGs - ranging from clean water and sanitation to climate action - look at current scholarship taking place at Northwestern through the University’s Global Strategic Plan.