Prospective Students


The Sustainable Engineering program objective is to apply a whole- systems approach to problem-solving through a lifecycle lens using engineering principles. The program is characterized by its interdisciplinary nature, weaving theory, assignments, guest lecturers and case studies with team project experience.  The core courses also use interactive, critical thinking sessions to build students’ awareness and gain better appreciation of the STEEP (social, technological, environmental, economical and political) issues that are inter-related on most product, process and system views.


Villanova’s Sustainable Engineering program is ideal for those interested in gaining further expertise and knowledge in the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable engineering. This program is open to engineers, as well as the non-engineering degree holder. Please refer to the Graduate Admissions page for information applicable to all graduate engineering admissions.

Degree Requirements

PhD= 48 credits (6 classes plus a 30-credit dissertation)

MS = 30 credits (10 classes)

  • 10 classes
  • 9 classes plus a capstone
  • 8 classes plus a thesis

Certificate = 15 credits (5 classes)

Core Curriculum

EGR 7110 - Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering

Provides an introduction to the state of science and public policy directives, while addressing the sustainability challenges and opportunities resulting from global climate change. Also introduces the comprehensive STEEP framework for evaluating these impacts and opportunities.

EGR 7111 - Life Cycle and Impact Assessment

Presents methodologies to access impacts of process and product development or new project construction, across the entire life cycle, based on the STEEP sustainable engineering framework. Industrial ecology and circular economy concepts are also addressed.

EGR 7112 – Economic and Social Equity Integrators

Provides an approach for identifying and evaluating the balance of environmental, economic and social equity issues and the impacts of a product, process or infrastructure project. Introduces specific tools for evaluating and measuring  impacts, and focuses on systems thinking, risk management and resiliency.

EGR 7113 - Sustainable Materials and Design

Provides a comprehensive, systems-focused basis for selecting materials for new uses and as sustainable alternatives.  A whole-systems perspective, coupled with the understanding of the STEEP aspects, helps in designing eco-efficient, renewably sourced, recyclable alternate materials, technologies to reduce material intensity and material solutions inspired by nature (biomimetic).

STEEP Framework

The STEEP framework is a scalable model that can be used with products, processes and capital projects. Students conduct an impact assessment for key stakeholders, assessing and prioritizing STEEP impacts and interdependences throughout the product, project or process lifecycle. The priority issues that result are then addressed.

Specific learning objectives for the STEEP framework include:

  • Understanding major aspects of sustainability and its interdependencies, going beyond the environment to include social, technological, economic and political factors
  • Reviewing common frameworks for measuring and reporting impacts
  • Appreciating the role of different stakeholders, including international organizations, governments, private business and NGOs in responding to sustainable growth challenges


Students then take four courses from one of the six track options below

Alternative and Renewable Energy

As we transition to the use of renewable energy, multiple opportunities for new technologies will materialize for corporations and entrepreneurs. The purpose of the Alternative and Renewable Energy track is to prepare sustainable engineers to work in all aspects of this transition to a new renewable future.

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Sustainable Materials

Our economy is transitioning from linear (take, make, waste) to circular. This process necessitates a redesign of products and services. The Sustainable Materials track will prepare the sustainable engineer to understand that the critical aspect of this redesign is the selection, use and management of materials that will have the least impact on our environment and economy.

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Sustainable Infrastructure

The unsustainability of modern infrastructure necessitates a paradigm shift in both principle and practice for engineers, planners and other practitioners. This track will equip students with the mindset and evaluative tools to analyze and design a new generation of sustainable infrastructure. In three modules, students will study the existing system, explore the principles and ideas needed to catalyze a long-term, sustainable solution and develop proficiency in the evaluative tools needed to measure progress. Students learn to view infrastructure as a complex, dynamic service system with multiple sectors, development stages and impact potentials on the natural world and society. For the final group project, students integrate their knowledge to design and evaluate a real-world infrastructure challenge.

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Environmental Sustainability

A sustainable future involves environmental, economic and social priorities. Over the last 50 years, since the original Earth Day in 1970, our focus has been on environmental issues. A proliferation of federal laws has established diverse requirements for building and operating engineering solutions. The purpose of this track is to provide an overall environmental framework for this critical aspect of sustainability.

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Water Resources Sustainability

Water has been described as the next oil. It is one of our critical planetary boundaries and already in short supply in much of the world. This track will prepare the sustainable engineer to manage all aspects of water resources across the hydrological cycle. Coursework for the Water Resources Sustainability track draws upon curriculum from Villanova’s MS program in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering. Instructors include world renowned experts in the field of sustainable urban storm water management. Course options cover areas including hydraulics, surface and groundwater hydrology, water quality topics, geo-environmental engineering topics, and water resources planning and management.

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International Development

Where technological innovation intersects with global development for the delivery of products and services to meet basic needs and improve livelihoods, the challenges faced are often complex in nature and complicated across multiple social, economic, institutional, cultural and technical dimensions. The Sustainable Engineering for International Development track takes a whole-systems approach to preparing engineers and scientists to be effective development practitioners.

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 Track Course Offerings

Track courses are offered either once every year in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms, or in many cases once every two years. Incoming students will work with their advisor to map out a plan of study. Below is a summary of track course offerings by semester to help you map out a plan of study.

Cross-Cutting Sustainable Engineering Courses

EGR 7200 - Biomimicry

Uses observations from nature to provide sustainable solutions to everyday needs. Key outcomes include whole-system understanding of current solutions (benefits/issues), nature’s capabilities and new solutions by applying nature’s capabilities to today’s needs. Restricted to engineering students or permission of instructor.

EGR 8111 - Advanced Life-Cycle Analysis and Introduction to Product Design

Designed as an in-depth exploration of LCA issues and applications. Students will complete a baseline LCA semester team project, then use sustainable product design techniques to reduce overall impacts of the product or material.

EGR 8112 - Supply Chain Sustainability

Explores sustainability practices from upstream sourcing from suppliers to manufacturing through delivery to customers and disposal. It also covers how these factors impact a company’s triple bottom line (social, environmental, economic). Topics include product/process design, green procurement, network management, life-cycle assessment, performance measurement, risk management and more.

Learning Options

Our Sustainable Engineering program is convenient for any lifestyle. Program options include:

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • On campus
  • Online via our E-Learning program

Full-time students planning to complete the MS program over a two-year cycle take two to three courses per semester. Below is an example of a typical course sequence for full-time MSSE students and for full-time MSSE students in the International Development track, respectively.

Part-time students typically take one to two courses per semester depending on their schedules, completing the program in as little as three years.


Villanova’s award-winning E-Learning program allows students the flexibility to earn their degree on their terms. With the synchronous learning option, students are able to participate in class in real-time from anywhere in the world. When their schedules permit, working professionals also have the option of joining their classmates on campus.

Our advanced technology gives you access to course materials and lectures 24/7. Through the use of video teleconferencing and the latest rich-media Web broadcast, you can move at the pace that fits your lifestyle and schedule.

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