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Why Johns Hopkins SAIS Is Launching a New Online Degree on Sustainable Energy

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Blog Posts Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

ISEP – the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy – is an interdisciplinary research program that uses cutting-edge social and behavioral science to design, test, and implement better energy...

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  • Apr 21, 2020

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Over the past two years, the faculty and staff at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) have prepared to launch a new Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy (MASE). I am honored to serve as the inaugural Director of the degree.

MASE is a cohort-based program that is delivered online and is completed in 21 months. Combining policy, technology and economics education, the degree prepares graduates to lead clean energy research, policy and development initiatives. It prepares each cohort for a dynamic industry and a sizzling hot job market.

MASE breaks new ground at SAIS in a number of ways:

  • It is focused specifically on the grand challenges of clean energy and climate change
  • It is taught mostly online, with two residency components in Washington, DC.

At SAIS, our flagship degree is a 2-year Master of Arts that combines general international affairs with language, economics, and a specialization. One of those specializations is Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE). Over the years, thousands of students have developed a robust understanding of key challenges in the field and launched successful careers in the United States and beyond.

Why, then, launch a new online degree? The fact of the matter is that a 2-year residential degree does not meet the needs of all learners. Not everyone can leave their job behind and move to Washington, DC (or Bologna or Nanjing, where we also have campuses) for 21 months. Many working professionals value the rigorous learning experience and credential that a Johns Hopkins degree provides, yet leaving their day job and relocating is out of the question, whether for professional or personal reasons.

MASE is a perfect opportunity for these students. It offers an ideal combination of rigor and flexibility:

  • The MASE curriculum is rigorous and structured. Each student cohort goes through a series of courses that offer a deep dive into the world of sustainable energy.
  • Each MASE course has an instructor and a teaching assistant, who work closely with the student cohort. The learning experience is intense and rewarding.
  • The residencies and a culminating capstone project offer the students practical experience and badly needed preparation for the job market.
  • Because MASE requires only minimal synchronous participation, it is perfect for a working professional with a day job. While the students need to work really hard, they can do so on their own daily and weekly schedule.

I am excited about the opportunity to work with our inaugural cohort, beginning August 2021.


Johannes Urpelainen is the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also the Director of the ERE Program and the Founding Director of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP).

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