GPPES Requirements

Program Overview and Objectives

The Graduate Portfolio Program in Energy Studies (GPPES) is designed to give students a broad picture of the energy sector and equip them to deal with energy issues from an overall policy perspective. The program takes advantage of UT’s strength in energy-related topics to create a genuinely interdisciplinary program. Completion of the program is noted on the student’s final transcript, providing documentation of their study of energy policy issues that should enhance their attractiveness to employers in the private sector, government agencies or not-for-profit institutions in the energy sector. The program is a cooperative effort involving the Energy Institute, which manages the program, together with eight schools and colleges. These include the Cockrell School of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Natural Sciences, the Jackson School of Geosciences, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law and the School of Architecture. Other schools and colleges on the UT Austin campus may elect to participate. Graduate students from any UT school or department may register for the program. Students can design their own program to meet the coursework requirements of the GPPES by choosing from the wide range of energy-related courses offered at UT. The diversity of available courses enables students to combine an overview of energy policy issues with the opportunity to dig more deeply into specific areas of interest. It is expected that, in almost all cases, the GPPES requirements can be met within the timeframe of the student’s original degree plan. A core requirement of the GPPES is the gateway course, “Energy Technology and Policy,” offered by a number of colleges and schools at UT. This course focuses on the economic and environmental issues raised by both traditional and emerging energy technologies. GPPES students also attend a weekly symposium in which distinguished speakers from UT and elsewhere discuss current concerns and recent developments in the energy field. Participants in the program carry out an energy oriented research project – this can be a Master’s thesis, a doctoral dissertation or a stand-alone project – and make a professional presentation of their results. The GPPES was offered for the first time in the Spring 2014 semester. Note that the transcript notation that signifies completion of the program cannot be made until the program is listed in the Graduate Catalog, which will be in Fall 2015.

Requirements for Award of the GPPES: Coursework

In order to be awarded the GPPES, a student must demonstrate that he or she has a broad knowledge of the energy sector, an awareness of current energy policy issues, and an in-depth knowledge of an energy-related topic or topics. A broad knowledge of the sector means, at a minimum, an understanding of the essentials of oil and gas production, transportation fuels and technologies, the electricity generation sector and energy efficiency. The Energy Technology and Policy course provides an overview of these topics and is a 3-hour core requirement of the GPPES. In addition to Energy Technology and Policy, students must select other energy-related courses, to make up a total of twelve credit hours. The list of courses here provides some guidance on course selection, but it is not a complete list of energy-related courses at UT, and students applying to take the GPPES are encouraged to submit their own lists of courses that they plan to take. Any course having a suitable energy-related content may be counted towards compliance with the twelve credit hour requirement, at the discretion of the GPPES Graduate Advisor. One of the courses selected must be on energy-related environmental issues or energy law. With the approval of the GPPES Graduate Advisor, registration in an internship course may be counted. No course of independent study may count. Each student’s portfolio program must include coursework offered by at least two graduate programs other than their own major program. The Energy Technology and Policy course has been cross-listed by a number of graduate programs during the last two years. Students may wish to register for a section of this course offered by a program other than their own so that it may be counted towards the requirement for courses outside of the student's home department. The Energy Institute supports a series of lectures on energy topics by distinguished internal and external speakers, listed as PA 188S: International Energy Symposium. The intention is to foster interdisciplinary discussion among students and faculty on contemporary energy issues. This weekly symposium addresses the requirement of the GPPES for an awareness of current policy issues in the energy sector: attendance for at least two semesters and participation in the email discussion after each session are core requirements of the portfolio program. Students need not take the symposium as a course for credit: they may, instead, register to audit PA 188S by submitting a Class Auditor Permit Form (pdf download from the webpage of the Office of the Registrar). Students who choose to enroll for academic credit complete an additional writing requirement to receive one credit hour per semester of attendance, which may be counted towards the twelve credit hours required for completion of the GPPES. Students should note, however, that taking two semesters of symposium for credit could leave them one hour short of the 12-hour portfolio requirement, and very few one-hour energy related courses are offered at UT.

Requirements for Award of the GPPES: Research and Presentation

Each student is required to prepare a research paper on a topic related to energy. A Master’s dissertation or doctoral thesis on a suitable topic would meet this requirement; alternatively, the student may choose to design a stand-alone research project. In all cases, the student must provide the GPPES Graduate Coordinator with the name of the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the research project and review the resulting report/paper. The project is regarded as complete when the research supervisor notifies the GPPES Graduate Advisor that the research and the resulting report/paper meets standards appropriate to the student’s level of study. Linked with the research requirement, each student must make a presentation of the research paper, either at a recognized academic conference or to an internal UT audience that includes faculty. The presentation may be oral or may be a poster presented in a poster session. The UT Energy Symposium devotes one session each semester to student presentations – if the time allocated for presentations at the UTES proves insufficient, the Energy Institute will provide assistance in identifying a suitable forum.

Admission Requirements

Students in good standing in an approved graduate degree program may apply to the GPPES at any point in graduate study. Candidates must complete and file a Portfolio Application Form with the GPPES Coordinator – the form may be found here. The application will be reviewed by an Admissions Subcommittee of the Faculty Steering Committee. It should include:

  • A one-page essay describing the relationship of a specialization in energy to the student’s degree program and career goals and interests;
  • A list of the courses the student intends to use for the portfolio program;
  • A brief description of the proposed research program, with the name of the faculty member who has agreed to act as supervisor;
  • A supporting signature from the GPPES Faculty Steering Committee member from the student’s participating school or college or, in the case of a student from a school or college not represented on the Faculty Steering Committee, from the GPPES Graduate Advisor (a list of current members of the Faculty Steering Committee can be found here); and
  • A statement by the student that the student’s home department is aware that he/she intends to register for the portfolio program.

Admission to the GPPES will be selective, based on the applicant’s GPA and the items mentioned above. The Faculty Steering Committee reserves the right to admit or reject applicants.

Certification Requirements

Candidates who have completed all requirements for the GPPES must complete and file an Application for Portfolio Certification with the GPPES Coordinator, providing details of how the coursework, research and presentation requirements of the portfolio program have been met. This application will be reviewed by a Certification Subcommittee of the Faculty Steering Committee. The Certification Subcommittee will notify the Graduate School when a student has completed all portfolio requirements by submitting a Graduate School Portfolio Completion Reporting Form. When the student’s graduate degree is certified, the Graduate School will forward the portfolio information to the Office of the Registrar, requesting a transcript notation. This notation will indicate that the student’s degree was awarded “with certification in the Graduate Portfolio Program in Energy Studies.”


Students interested in the portfolio program should contact Dr. Dave Tuttle, who serves as the Portfolio Coordinator and GPPES Graduate Advisor, providing students with a single point of contact to deal with all GPPES-related issues.