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Natural Resources & Energy Policy

M.S. in Natural Resources and Energy Policy (NREP)

Program Overview

NREP applies a multidisciplinary social science lens to natural resources and energy issues, teaching a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, with a strong focus on original research, critical thinking, and written and oral communication. Courses are offered in small seminar settings with excellent faculty to student ratios; most classes have 10-20 students. Our faculty will work with you to create the optimal education to meet your individual goals. The program includes 18 credit-hours (5 classes) of core requirements plus 12 credit-hours (4 classes) of electives. Core and elective courses will generally have students from other programs on campus, helping link our course material to engineering programs where faculty and students work on technologies for renewable energy, fossil fuels, mining, hydrology and more.


“I chose Mines and the NREP program for the opportunity to study political science with a specific focus on water and renewable energy. Through a diverse array of courses, I have been able to dig deeper into water politics, renewable energy policy, environmental law, and sustainable mining practices. The program has also connected me with industry leaders, and helped me get an internship with the largest water utility in Colorado: Denver Water. With my NREP degree, I feel prepared for a career in the public sector.”

— Madeline McDonald


“One of the many reasons I really enjoy this program is that we have a mix of backgrounds in the room with engineers, scientists, social scientists, and humanities. With these different perspectives we constantly challenge each other’s assumptions, allowing us all to gain a better understanding of the situation at hand.”

– Gabe Stephens


Our classrooms are truly interdisciplinary, with students coming from a variety of academic backgrounds: engineering, social sciences, law, business, and humanities are all welcome.

We have a wide range of experiences in the classroom, from students who have just received their Bachelor’s to those with decades of work experience. Mid-career professionals may be looking for a career pivot, from domestic to international work, or from engineering to community outreach, policy, etc.  Or they may want to gain acumen for advancement from processing engineer to general manager; from general manager to executive. Ask your company for tuition support.

Applicants with 5+ years relevant experience can ask to have the GRE waived. Email your resume to the program director for consideration.

Currently enrolled Mines undergraduates, you should apply before you graduate to get the GRE waiver and to count two of your undergrad courses toward the Master’s degree.  Make sure to take the undergraduate equivalent of our graduate courses for  double-counting.


NREP prepares you for either of two career paths:

  • an engineering career with credentials that demonstrate you have the skills and knowledge to understand the social and political contexts in which engineers work, making you a standout job candidate and preparing you for a leadership role as general manager or executive manager.
  • a career that goes beyond engineering, such as a natural resources and energy expert with government, international development banks, and other related agencies; a social responsibility manager or human resources specialist in industry; or an employee with an advocacy organization such the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Solar Energy Industries Association, or Western Resource Advocates.

How you use your degree depends on your academic and work background and your career goals. Some examples of our current alumni are:

  • Chief Executive Officer of Gradiant Energy Services
  • Risk Management Consultant at the Harvard Risk Management Corporation
  • Director of the South Star Mining Corporation
  • Economist at The World Bank
  • Executive Director of the Colorado AG Water Alliance

Your faculty advisor, our Advisory Board members, internships, and Mines’ excellent Career Center will help you find the job that’s right for you.



Website Dr. Amery specializes in water politics and policy in the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on threats to water and food security in the Arab World. Graduate courses: Global Water Politics & Policy, International Development (Middle East)


Website Dr. Battalora is an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR) Advisory Committee and the Sustainable Development Technical Section Steering Committee. Graduate courses: Environmental Law &  Sustainability

Elizabeth Van Wie DavisWebsite
Dr. Davis—who has lived and worked in Asia for many years—initially focused her academic research on Chinese energy policy and the environment, though it has expanded to other parts of Asia, including field work and publications on Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. Graduate courses: Energy & Security Policy, International Development (Asia)

Tina GianquittoWebsite
Dr. Gianquitto is interested in examining the intellectual and aesthetic experience of nature for women in nineteenth-century America and investigating the linguistic, perceptual, and scientific systems that were available to women to describe those experiences. 
Graduate courses: Available for independent studies.

Kathleen HancockWebsite Dr. Hancock specializes in politics of renewable energy, African energy, and Russia and Eurasia. Graduate courses: Natural Resources & Energy Policy: Theories and Practice, Political Risk Assessment, Energy Politics

John HeilbrunnWebsite
Dr. Heilbrunn’s research interests include the political economy of the extractive industries with an emphasis on oil exporting states in Africa, the extractive industries and emerging middle classes in low and middle income countries, the political economy of governance and anti-corruption, natural resources and development in Africa, political economic change in Africa, and French politics.
Graduate courses: Corruption and Development, Natural Resources & War in Africa, International Development (Africa), Natural Resources & Development

Derrick HudsonWebsite
Dr. Hudson specializes in African natural resources and development, renewable energy strategies in Africa, and social justice issues and development in Africa.

Graduate courses: International Development (Africa)

Adrianne KroepschWebsite
Dr. Kroepsch studies environmental governance in the American West and has active research projects on water, unconventional oil and gas, and wildfire.
Graduate courses: U.S. Water Politics & Policy, Environmental Communication

Jon LeydensWebsite
Dr. Leydens specializes in engineering education research that looks at how stakeholders leverage communication and social justice to transform and challenge educational practices and the engineering profession.
Graduate courses: Available for independent studies.

Shannon MancusDr. Mancus’s expertise revolves around environmental communication and the performance of environmentalist identities in popular culture.
Graduate courses: Environmental Communication

Ken OsgoodWebsite
Dr. Osgood specializes in U.S. political and diplomatic history, as well as the history of intelligence and propaganda.
Graduate courses: Available for independent studies.

Dr. Smith specializes in artisanal and small-scale mining, sustainable development and energy and extractive industries, corporate social responsibility, and engineering education.

Graduate courses: Energy, Natural Resources & Society 

Jay StrakerWebsite
Dr. Straker specializes in changing experiences and representations of youth in West Africa.
Graduate courses: Available for independent studies.

Qin ZhuWebsite
Dr. Zhu is interested in environmental ethics, energy policy and politics in China, and the cultural foundations of energy behavior.

Graduate courses: Available for independent studies.

Core Courses

Students take six core courses worth 18 credit-hours. Five are taught with a focus on social science, humanities, and legal frameworks; the sixth is a quantitative course you can select from among several taught on campus. For the quantitative class, with the program director’s prior approval, students may request to take an online course or one from another campus that is equivalent to one of those offered at Mines.

For descriptions of core and elective courses, see the graduate catalog: https://catalog.mines.edu/

HASS 593 Natural Resources & Energy Policy: Theories and Practice – Fall

This course introduces students to the policy-making process, drawing on a variety of theoretical approaches, geographic locations (within the US and in other countries), and resources and energy issues. Coordinated by the NREP Graduate Director, speakers will be from HASS, Economics and Business, Petroleum Engineering, Mining, and other departments with policy expertise, as well as from others who influence and create public and private policy. In the second half of the course, students will conduct original research projects that focus on natural resources and energy, applying theoretical frameworks they have learned from the speakers.

MNGN 571 Energy, Natural Resources & Society – Spring

This is a graduate course that applies a social science lens to understanding the intersections between energy and mineral developments and communities. In this course, we will examine these intersections through a case study approach that includes directed readings, such as ethnographies and peer-reviewed journal articles, and that incorporates student-led discussions and research projects. By exploring various development initiatives, such as oil and gas, mining, wind, solar, nuclear, hydropower, and geothermal, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the energy-mineral-society nexus and the role communities play in both furthering and limiting these developments.

PEGN 530 Environmental Law & Sustainability – Fall

In this course, students will be introduced to the fundamental legal principles that are relevant to sustainable engineering project development. General principles of United States (U.S.) environmental regulation pertaining to air quality, water quality, waste management, hazardous substances remediation, regulation of chemical manufacture and distribution, natural resources, and energy will be discussed in parallel with international treaties, and conventions pertaining to environmental protection and human rights. In the context of engineering project design, students will explore legal, societal, and ethical risks, and risk mitigation methodologies.


Uses social science analytical tools and readings as well as indices prepared by organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to create assessments of the political, social, economic, environmental and security risks that multinational corporations may face as they expand operations around the world. Students will develop detailed political risk reports for specific countries that teams collectively select. Prerequisite: LAIS 545 and IPE Minor. 3 hours seminar; 3 semester hours.

One additional HASS course.

See options in the Electives list.

Quantitative Methods

Options include: Econometrics I (EBGN590), Statistical Methods (MATH530), Mine Risk Management (MNGN565), Geological Data Analysis (GEGN532), Applications of Geographical Information Systems (GEGN575), Economics of Water (EBGN 537), Life Cycle Assessment (CEEN501) and Geological Data Analysis (GEGN532).


Students take at least four elective courses worth 12 credit-hours, allowing them to focus on the areas of greatest interest. Courses are offered in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Division as well as in economics, engineering, and science. At least two courses must be from HASS. Up to two classes may be at the 400-level. Be sure to check with the relevant professor on per-requisites for courses outside the HASS Division.

Electives by Focus Areas

Students may opt to take courses within a focus area in order to demonstrate a particular expertise. Alternatively, students may select across the focus areas to demonstrate breadth. Other Mines graduate programs may offer a minor in their area. Consult with the relevant program to learn what courses they require for a minor.

Energy, Water, and the Environment


  • CEEN 501 Life Cycle Analysis (Online)
  • CEEN 573 Reclamation of Disturbed Lands
  • CEEN 574 Solid Waste Minimization and Recycling
  • CEEN 575 Hazard Waste Site Remediation
  • CEEN 576 Pollution Prevention: Fundamentals and Practice
  • CEEN 591 Environmental Project Management
  • CEEN 593 Environmental Permitting and Regulatory Compliance
  • CEEN 595 Analysis of Environmental Impact
  • EBGN 537 Water Economics
  • EBGN 570 Environmental Economics
  • GEGN 466 Groundwater Engineering
  • GEGN 585 Fluid Mechanics for Hydrology
  • HASS 521 Environmental Philosophy
  • HASS 525 Environmental Communication
  • HASS 584 U.S. Water Politics & Policy
  • HASS 587 Environmental Politics and Policy
  • HASS 588 Global Water Politics & Policy
  • HASS 591 Energy Politics
  • HASS 592 Energy and Security Policy
International Development and Global Issues
  • HASS 535 International Development: May be taken up to three times for different regions (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East, Eurasia)
  • HASS 558 Natural Resources and Development
  • HASS 591 Energy Politics
  • HASS 592 Energy and Security Policy


  • CEEN 556 Mining and the Environment
  • CEEN 573 Reclamation of Disturbed Lands
  • EBGN 521 Microeconomics of Mineral and Energy Markets
  • EBGN 535  Economics of Metal Industries and Markets
  • GEGN 532 Geological Data Analysis
  • GEOL 514 Business of Economic Geology
  • MNGN 501 Regulatory Mining Laws and Contracts
  • MNGN 503 Mining Technology for Sustainable Development
  • MNGN 510 Fundamentals of Mining and Mineral Resource Development
  • MNGN 540 Clean Coal Technology
  • MNGN 565 Mine Risk Management
Business, Economics, and Energy Analytics
  • EBGN 509 Mathematical Economics
  • EBGN 510 Natural Resource Economics
  • EBGN 521 Microeconomics of Mineral and Energy Markets
  • EBGN 530 Economics of International Energy Markets
  • EBGN 535  Economics of Metal Industries and Market
  • EBGN 594 Time-Series Econometrics
  • EBGN 632 Primary Fuels
  • GEOL 514 Business of Economic Geology
  • MATH 530-series Statistical Methods

Courses approved for Quantitative Methods may also be taken as electives

Student Fellowships and Funding Opportunities

  • Teaching Assistant Positions:  Each semester, we offer about 10 teaching assistant positions, paid on an hourly basis. These are competitive and offered on a rolling basis. Professors may also hire research assistants with their own funding. For priority consideration, apply by January 15th.
  • Fellowships: We offer merit-based fellowships of $5,000 to $20,000 per year. To be considered for fellowship, apply for the NREP program by January 15. No additional application materials are needed.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Applicants who apply early may be eligible for a paid fellowship with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). NREL also offers competitive paid internships.
  • Internships: Our students have held internships with the National Renewable Energy Lab, Congressional Research Service, United Nations, Platts Analytics and Energy Africa. Once accepted, students may apply through the Mines DiggerNet system for a wide variety of internships with energy, mining and engineering companies.

Graduate Individual Minor

A 12 credit-hour minor for graduate students pursuing degrees in other Mines academic units. Please contact either a HASS faculty member with whom you are interested in working or the director of the HASS graduate program. The Graduate Individual Minor must be approved by the student’s graduate committee and by the HASS Division.

Certificate in Natural Resources & Energy Policy

If you don’t have time to complete a Master’s degree, consider a Certificate.  Certificates require 12 credit hours selected from the Core Courses, listed above.

Jobs and Opportunities for NREP Students

From the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:


NREP has now made standardized tests (GRE/LSAT/MCAT) optional. Applicants who choose to include test scores may still do so.



Scholarship Opportunity

Get your NREP education paid for with a scholarship from the Association of Energy Engineers. Deadline is May 1st, but you must first be nominated by an AEE chapter. For more information, see https://www.aeecenter.org/about-aee/aee-foundation    

Water as a Resource Curse?

Dr. Kathleen Hancock (with Benjamin Sovacool) published "International Political Economy and Renewable Energy: Hydroelectric Power and the Resource Curse” in International Studies Review, 2018.  The authors argue that abundant water can create some of the same...

Dr. Kroepsch Research Award

Dr. Adrianne Kroepsch and her collaborators were awarded $300,000+ from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their research and service project, “Understanding and Addressing Research Fatigue in Rural Communities: Lessons for the Social Sciences from Energy...

Bazilian to lead Payne Institute for Earth Resources

Morgan Bazilian, former lead energy specialist at the World Bank, will join Colorado School of Mines in February as the executive director of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources and research professor of public policy. Read the full story for further info.

Contact Us

To learn more about the program, contact Dr. Kathleen J. Hancock, Graduate Director

Application Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree. All disciplines are welcome.
  • GRE or LSAT. Waived for current Mines students and mid-career students with 5+ years relevant experience. If using LSAT scores, send a copy of the score sheet to grad-admissions@mines.edu
  • 3 letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  • Statement of purpose
  • TOEFL scores for international students: a minimum of 79 internet-based test (iBT) or 550 paper-based test (PBT).
  • Deadlines for Fall: US residents July 1;  International students March 1
  • Deadlines for Spring: US November 1;  International October 1


Combined BS-MS Program

Mines students: earn our MS degree in just one year. You can start completing the MS in NREP while earning your bachelor’s.  You will want to take 400-level HASS courses that count toward the degree, so sign up early!

Where Our Alumni Work

  • Kimmeridge Energy
  • National Nuclear Security Administration
  • Lawrence Livermore Lab
  • Natural Resources Governance Institute
  • Asia Pacific Research Center
  • Black & Veatch
  • AXON Energy Products
  • Samson Oil & Gas
  • Marston Mining
  • Kinross Gold
  • BP
  • Casper Electric
  • Monadnock Mineral Services
  • Wood Mackenzie
  • Colorado Ag Water Alliance
  • Shell International Exploration and Production
  • Behre Dolbear
  • Global Data
  • World Bank
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Newmont Goldcorp
  • Denver Water