Energy Science and Technology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Designated Emphasis

Reliable and economical energy is essential for society to endure. Reliance on fossil sources has now created a dependence that through progressive depletion in the not too distant future, may threaten the stability of economic systems and lead   to serious, if not irreparable, environmental damage. To avoid future catastrophic global conflicts and damaging climatic changes, present energy technologies are required to operate at their highest possible efficiencies with the lowest possible environmental impact, and new technologies need to be devised and deployed that are economic, renewable, and of low or zero climate impact.  This compelling scenario is propelling the development of a distinct area of science and technology that is focused on supporting the needs of the global energy market place. 

The development of future, and even present-day energy sectors holds special challenges:  many supply and demand technologies have multi-decadal lifetimes, appropriate forms of governmental oversight are not widely agreed upon, and the market entry of new technologies is often effectively impeded and increasingly encumbered by national security concerns. The looming energy and climatic problems are truly global issues that complicate and accelerate other problems: many energy markets are international in nature, and over the next two decades, commercial energy use in developing nations will soon surpass that in the industrialized nations.

A deepening of the understanding of factors that affect efficiencies, more accurate modeling of systems and processes, study and discovery of new materials that enable innovative energy technologies, and effective management and policies are at the basis of continued dramatic change in a wide range of technologies.  This may stimulate a revolution in energy technology systems and their management that will hopefully alleviate the pressing energy needs of our present-day society and of generations to come. 

The dominant energy sectors at present either rely on electricity generation from fossil sources, or on liquid fossil fuels for transportation.  The potential exists, for example, to change today’s electricity systems to encourage and incorporate new supply and demand-side innovations as well as innovative management policies. This would transform an enormous and vital component of U. S. infrastructure into one that provides greatly improved energy services, ensures energy diversity, is highly secure against market manipulation and terrorist attacks, and permits the provision of energy with greatly reduced regional and global environmental impacts. High efficiency combustion systems can be devised that strongly increase the conversion from hydrocarbon fuel to energy.  Based on new materials physics and materials chemistry, scientific advances and inventions in nanotechnology have opened the door to potentially affordable and efficient solar and thermoelectric power generation.  Novel nuclear reactors using designer fuel with minimal waste generation can now be conceptualized, significantly reducing fossil fuel consumption and nuclear waste, that in the coming decade will generate power without the inherent global warming from CO2 emissions. Advances in the understanding of biochemistry open the door to carbon-neutral technologies from biomass.  Similarly, dramatic transformations can be expected in transportation systems, where new fuels, such as hydrogen or alcohols, could be produced in mass by solar, biomass, or nuclear technologies, and be consumed in highly efficient fuel cell or battery-powered vehicles. All this is possible, but will require an unprecedented level of dedication to education and interdisciplinary energy study and research.

The Designated Emphasis in Energy Science and Technology (DEEST) advances these ongoing efforts at the University of California at Berkeley, and educates a new group of leaders for the global enterprise of creating future energy systems. 

Designated Emphasis in Energy Science and Technology (DEEST) 

The  Graduate Group in the in Energy Science and Technology has to date  eleven affiliated Ph.D. programs: Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Nuclear Engineering, the Energy Resources Group, Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, Plant and Microbial Biology, Mechanical Engineering, EECS, the ME- Fluid Mechanics and Ocean Engineering Group, and Applied Science and Technology.  

The main goal of the DEEST is to enrich student’s technical education in an important field and to enhance and facilitate interactions between faculty and students in different programs by creating a flexible and integrated interdisciplinary research and teaching environment.  

Academic Nature of the Designated Emphasis

Students are required to complete academic work in the DEEST in addition to or as part of the full requirements of the affiliated programs. Where appropriate, affiliated Ph.D. programs may choose to recognize the DEEST as fulfilling the requirements of an outside field in their program. The Minimum Requirements are two technical courses and one additional course on Energy Management and Policy (see Section 2.4 Curricula). In addition, it is required   that the student  participate in seminars relevant to the DEEST when such are offered.

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To be admitted to the DE in Energy Science and Technology, an applicant must already be accepted into one of the affiliated PhD programs. Candidates must then submit a petition for admission to the DEEST Graduate Group Admissions Committee prior to taking the PhD qualifying examination in the affiliated program. A sponsoring faculty member in the student's affiliated program who is member of the DEEST Graduate Group must endorse the petition. As different affiliated programs have different examination requirements, the timeline for the application may vary. 

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit:

  1. The DEEST petition form and the Graduate Division "Change of Major or Degree Goal" petition to the chair of the DEEST for approval. The "Change of Major or Degree Goal" must also be signed by the vice-chair of the graduate studies of the applicant.
  2. The "Change of Major or Degree Goal" petition to the Degrees Unit, 318 Sproul Hall, to indicate admission to the DEEST. Upon receipt of the appropriately signed petition, the addition of the DEEST will be entered into the Graduate Division and Registrar's databases.

It is important to submit the “Graduate Petition for Change of Major Degree Goal" since the student must be admitted to the DEEST before the qualifying examination. In the early stages of the DE, admission after the qualifying examination might be considered by the DE admission committee in exceptional cases, where it can be certified that a member of the DEEST Graduate Group was on the student’s qualifying exam committee, and that at least one of the student’s qualifying topics had sufficient content in the field of energy science or energy technology and engineering to meet the requirements of the DE. Such an exception must be recommended to the Graduate Division for its approval.

The Admissions Committee of the Graduate Group for the DEEST decides on admission to the DEEST.

For further information regarding admission to graduate programs at UC Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions website.

Designated Emphasis Requriements

Normative Time Impact on Affiliated PhD Programs

For students who can enroll in the DE curriculum to satisfy an outside field requirement in their PhD program of study, the DE should have little impact on normative time, as it might require only one additional class, plus one seminar per semester. Only for students who decide to join the DEEST after finishing their regular PhD coursework this might require additional time, but this problem should diminish in the future, and then be of relevance only for a small number of students.


The curriculum of the DE will consist of graded upper division and graduate courses with the following distribution: 

One course required in Group A: Energy Policy and Management
Two required technical courses selected from two course groups, Group B: Energy Sciences, and Group C: Energy Technology.

The selection of courses will be maintained and regularly updated by the DE Graduate Group’s Curriculum Committee to follow developments in the field, and the offering of new relevant courses.

An initial list is given below. In addition, students are required to attend a  seminar series and discussion forum, as arranged by the curriculum committee, which is to serve as a focal point for communication and interaction between the participants. It is expected that students who elect the DEEST will do so in fields that broaden their subjects of study beyond that of their major. It is also expected that the major programs contain sufficient background to support the choice of courses for the DEEST. While the course selections do not have to focus on one technology or one science aspect, the choices in Groups B and C have been presented so as to allow a selection of coherent sets. Variations and exemptions may be allowed upon petition to the DEEST Graduate Group’s Advising Committee.

Required Group A: Energy Management and Policy
ENE,RES C100Energy and Society4
ENE,RES C200Energy and Society4
Politics of Energy and Environmental Policy
ENE,RES 280Energy Economics3
CIV ENG 107Climate Change Mitigation3
MBA 212Energy and Environmental Markets3
ESPM 261Sustainability and Society3
Group B: Energy Sciences
Chemistry: graduate course sequence of three 1 unit course modules may serve as satisfying one 3 unit course in Group B.
PHYSICS 250Special Topics in Physics (this course may have different topics. Not all of these can be considered for the DEEST)2-4
CHEM 143Nuclear Chemistry2
CHM ENG 176Principles of Electrochemical Processes3
MEC ENG 259Microscale Thermophysics and Heat Transfer3
Modeling Energy, Environmental, and Resource Systems
MEC ENG 253Graduate Applied Optics and Radiation3
NUC ENG 180Introduction to Controlled Fusion3
NUC ENG 280Fusion Reactor Engineering3
NUC ENG 281Fully Ionized Plasmas3
CHM ENG 244Kinetics and Reaction Engineering3
CHM ENG 245Catalysis3
Group C: Energy Technology
Electrical Power Systems:
ENE,RES 254Electric Power Systems4
Nuclear Power Systems:
NUC ENG 225The Nuclear Fuel Cycle3
NUC ENG 161Nuclear Power Engineering4
NUC ENG 167Risk-Informed Design for Advanced Nuclear Systems3
NUC ENG 265Design Analysis of Nuclear Reactors3
NUC ENG 124Radioactive Waste Management3
NUC ENG 224Safety Assessment for Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes3
Safety Assessment for Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
CHM ENG 183Climate Solutions Technologies3
Renewable Resources:
Renewable Resources for Electric Generation
Hazardous and Industrial Waste Treatment.
MEC ENG 241BMarine Hydrodynamics II3
MAT SCI C226Photovoltaic Materials; Modern Technologies in the Context of a Growing Renewable Energy Market3
Materials Engineering:
MAT SCI 136Materials in Energy Technologies4
Fuel Cells, Batteries, and Chemical Sensors: Principles, Processes, Materials, and Technology
MAT SCI 213Environmental Effects on Materials Properties and Behavior3
EL ENG 290YAdvanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Organic Materials in Electronics3
NUC ENG 120Nuclear Materials4
NUC ENG 220Irradiation Effects in Nuclear Materials3
NUC ENG 221Corrosion in Nuclear Power Systems3
Thermal Engineering:
Thermal Environmental Control
Computer-Aided Thermal Design
MEC ENG 140Combustion Processes3
MEC ENG 246Advanced Energy Conversion Principles3
MEC ENG 249Machine Learning Tools for Modeling Energy Transport and Conversion Processes3
MEC ENG 252Heat Convection3
MEC ENG 253Graduate Applied Optics and Radiation3
MEC ENG 254Advanced Thermophysics for Applications3
MEC ENG 255Advanced Combustion Processes3
MEC ENG 256Combustion3
MEC ENG 257Advanced Combustion3
MEC ENG 258Heat Transfer with Phase Change3

Examination Requirements

The Qualifying Examination shall include examination of knowledge within the DEEST. The Qualifying Examination Committee shall include at least one member of the DEEST Graduate Group.  If a faculty member of the student’s major, the DE representative can serve either as the  chair or as an inside member of the committee.  If the DEEST representative is from an affiliated program, it is permissible for him or her to serve as either an additional inside or outside member.  Satisfactory performance on the qualifying examination for the PhD will be judged according to the established standards in the student’s major program.

Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation topic shall incorporate study within the DEEST. The Dissertation Committee shall include at least one faculty member of the DE to ensure that the dissertation contributes in significant manner to the interdisciplinary field of Energy Science and Technology.

Degree Conferral Process

Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student’s transcript and diploma will record the designation: “Ph.D. in Affiliated Program Name with a Designated Emphasis in Energy Science and Technology.” This designation certifies that the student has participated in and successfully completed the DE in addition to the affiliated program’s requirements for the Ph.D.

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Energy Science and Technology

6141 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-1338

Fax: 510-642-6163

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DEEST Chair/Head Graduate Advisor

Van Carey, PhD

6123 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-7177

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Yawo D. Akpawu

6189 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-5084

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