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The University of Tennessee
Energy Science and Engineering PhD Program

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Climate Sensitivity and Abrupt Climate Change
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Energy Science and Engineering

Specific Degree Requirements for the PhD in ESE

The PhD requires a minimum of 72 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, exclusive of credit for an MS thesis, and completion of the core requirements, as outlined in the section on Core Requirements.  Of this number, a minimum of 24 hours of 600-level Doctoral Research and Dissertation and six hours of 600-level coursework will be required.

No later than one year after entering the program, each student must take a qualifying examination. A student must pass the qualifying examination to proceed in the PhD program.   

No later than the end of the second year following entrance into the PhD program, each student must take and pass a comprehensive examination that includes presentation and approval of the proposed dissertation research. After passing the comprehensive exam, the student will be admitted to candidacy. Admission to candidacy indicates that the student has demonstrated the ability to do acceptable work in the area of study and has made satisfactory progress toward the degree. This action usually connotes that all prerequisites to admission have been completed and the program of study/research has been approved (see details in a later section).

After completion of the dissertation, prior to graduation, each student must pass a dissertation defense examination administered by the student’s doctoral committee. 

Course Requirements for the PhD in ESE

The course requirements include a minimum of 36 hours of coursework beyond the BS degree. Of these, the following 30 hours of coursework or their equivalent must be completed at a minimum, including the Core Curriculum, a Knowledge Breadth Curriculum, a Knowledge Specialization Curriculum, and Seminar Series.

Core Curriculum (6 credits)

ESE 511 and ESE 512 Introduction to Energy Science and Technology (3, 3 credits) (lead instructor plus guest lecturers). Topics include: energy basics; history of energy and society; current and future supply and demand; political and environmental aspects of energy production; energy technologies (fossil fuels, biomass, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, solar, wind, geothermal); energy conversion, storage, transportation, and distribution; energy efficiency; and innovation.

Knowledge Breadth Curriculum (6 credits)

Select two courses from the three following areas:

  1. Political, social, legal, ethical, and security issues related to energy (3-4 courses, each 3 credits)
  2. Entrepreneurship, leadership, and management (3-4 courses, each 3 credits).
  3. Environmental and climate sciences related to energy (3-4 courses, each 3 credits)

Knowledge Specialization Curriculum (15 credits)

Choose five courses in a given specialty area:

  1. Nuclear energy
  2. Bioenergy and biofuels
  3. Renewable energy
  4. Energy conversion and storage
  5. Distributed energy and grid management
  6. Environmental and climate sciences related to energy

ESE 599 Seminar (3 credits; 1+1+1)

Topical seminars in the focus areas of CIRE.


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Contact Information

Lee Riedinger
Professor of Physics
Director of Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education

Wanda Davis
Assistant to the Director

322 Perkins Hall
1506 Middle Drive
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN 37996