I am applying for a scholarship at the USA in order to study renewable energies.
For that I have to ask if it is considered as a subfield of electrical engineering or not in the US, because I can't find a major in energy engineering in the application form and the closest in my mind to renewable energy engineering is electrical engineering.

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    Unfortunately, there is no black-and-white answer: at some institutions, renewable energy is an electrical engineering focus area, at others, it is not. – Mad Jack Aug 17 '15 at 16:50
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    It seems like different aspects of "renewable energy" could fall under different departments, even within a single institution. For instance, the production of alternative fuels could be in chemical engineering, while the building of hydroelectric and solar generation facilities could be civil engineering. So maybe you should narrow down what you want to study. – Nate Eldredge Aug 17 '15 at 17:01
  • I've also seen it taught under construction engineering, electronics and communications engineering, and a dedicated renewable energies department. Note: @ a mixture of universities; american universities abroad and others. – HBSKan Aug 18 '15 at 8:04

Renewable energy is an application of engineering, and requires expertise from various disciplines. For example, wind energy requires civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

I don't know how things work in the US, but in the UK my advice would be to identify which discipline interests you the most and pursue that in a department that includes renewables on the syllabus. Then either look for a job in renewables, or do a masters to learn more about that industry. However, I don't know how applicable that advice is to your situation.


Based on recent IEEE taxonomy, the renewable energy domain belongs to the Environmental Management discipline (or area of study and practice). Please refer to the 2014 IEEE Taxonomy document (v. 1.0, p. 33), available here. However, note that the above-mentioned attribution may vary from institution to institution, as @MadJack and @NateEldredge indicated in the comments.


You are interested in a fairly young field that is quite interdisciplinary. There are two ways to start figuring this out.

  1. Look around in google scholar for papers that appeal to you. Not just any old papers that happen to mention renewable energy -- papers that make you itch to read more by that author.

    Now look up the authors to see what type of departments they are employed in.

    Next, look up those departments to see what sort of programs of study they guide students towards, when a student is interested in renewable energy.

  2. Alternatively, google renewable energy phd along with the name of a particular university. I did that just now with Cornell University and found instructions for that institution: http://earthenergyigert.cornell.edu/apply/

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