As sustainability and environmental protection are playing a growing role in society, the number of jobs in the field of sustainability is growing. As more companies clamor to include sustainability into their business and organizational strategies, students with experience and education in this area will have ever-increasing access to both the public and private sectors, finding work with companies as large as Amazon or with a government agency like the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Some potential titles for those who have earned a degree in sustainability include Sustainability Specialist, Climate Change Analyst, Corporate Sustainability Strategist.
Sustainability degrees can fall under a variety of umbrellas. When looking to earn a graduate degree in this field, students can first look to see whether a master’s in sustainability is offered through a school of business, public affairs, or another part of the college. A Master of Business Administration in Sustainability Management or Sustainability Systems is going to be much more business-minded than a Master of Science in Sustainability Studies. Some schools even offer dual degrees, so prospective students should think critically about their interests. Their decision can be made easier by also looking to see if the program has a specialization that is of particular interest. Lastly, students should also consider where graduates of these programs are working so that they can see what jobs can come from earning their degree at that school. Now, go check out the 20 Best Master’s Degrees in Sustainability 2020!
Featured Online Schools
Best Master's Degrees in Sustainability
At the top of this list is Harvard University’s Master’s in Sustainability, which helps students to understand the health of the world. Students in this program can pick from one of five concentrations, which are Corporate Sustainability, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Environmental Policy and International Development, Sustainable Food Systems, and Natural Resource Management. Overall, the degree requires 12 courses and can be finished mostly through distance learning, though at least one three-week course must be taken on campus. Lastly, students can choose between a thesis and a capstone. During the capstone, students work with real-world clients. Past clients have included Amazon, General Electric, and NYC Health + Hospitals.
The University of Pennsylvania has a Master of Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability program. It prepares students to work in both the public and private sectors in a variety of roles. The course of study requires 12-course units, and it can be finished in two years if completed full-time. Part-time students typically take three years to earn their degree. For the Environmental Sustainability Concentration, students can choose from a number of interdisciplinary courses, including Cities and Sustainability; Renewable Energy and its Impacts; and the Role of Water in Urban Sustainability and Resiliency. Many students also conduct research as part of their time at UPenn.
Cornell University offers a Master of Business Administration that has immersion in Sustainable Global Enterprise. This program typically takes two years to finish, and it requires 60 credit hours of coursework. The immersion takes place during the spring semester of their first year in the program, allowing students to do site visits, choose electives, and see real-world issues in their chosen area. The Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion brings together students on teams to consult with real clients. Cornell also has a number of companies who recruit students interested in this area, including Ernst & Young, Liberty Mutual, GE Energy Finance, and Unilever.
Tufts University has a Master of Science in Sustainability that helps students to build their experience supporting socio-ecological systems through sustainable solutions. The program can be finished in one year if students enroll full-time. Tufts also ensures that students are able to apply their interests in sustainability within other fields. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Students can also benefit from research centers at Tufts. The Global Development and Environment Institute and Tufts Institute of the Environment are both focused on considering the environment. The GDAE is more focused on economic development within a sustainable context while the TIE looks at the way human behaviors affect the environment.
Arizona State University offers both a Master of Arts and a Master of Science in Sustainability. The MA is geared toward the students looking to build upon their education in the social sciences, humanities, and planning. Though it must be noted that the MS is designed for those who have experience in the natural sciences, economics, engineering, and other science-based fields. Both require 37 credit hours of coursework as well as a thesis. Some potential courses include Social-Ecological-Technical Systems: Domains and Interfaces; Synthesis for Sustainability Research; and Perspectives on Sustainability. Up to 80% of graduates from both programs are employed while the other 20% are enrolled in another graduate course of study.
Students can earn their Master of Science in Sustainability from Columbia University, which brings together management with environmental consciousness. Students have the option to complete this program on a full-time or part-time basis, offering flexibility to those who currently work full-time. Columbia is also home to the Earth Institute, which is the largest university-wide research group in the world that focuses on sustainability. Overall, the program requires 36 credits of coursework, which includes classes with titles like Financing Natural Infrastructure, Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Urban Resilience, and Ethics for Sustainability Management and Finance. The degree culminates in the Integrative Capstone Workshop, where students serve as consultants for a real client.
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor offers a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability that ensures that students receive field-based training and the expertise to make management decisions. Students can choose from one of six fields of study to specialize in, which are Conservation Ecology; Environmental Informatics; Environmental Justice; Environment Policy and Planning; Sustainable Systems; and Behavior, Education, and Communication. Forty-two credit hours are required for this degree, and many students at UM also earn a dual degree during their time in graduate school there. Additionally, employers of graduates include Ford, the United States Department of Energy, the Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
American University utilizes its location in Washington, D.C., to give students real-world experience learning about the effects of sustainability policy on businesses and other organizations through its Master of Science in Sustainability Management. In this program, students complete 30 credit hours of coursework, nine of which come from a career track. Track options include Sustainability Executive, Sustainability Entrepreneur, Sustainability Consultant, and Sustainability Communications Executive. Graduates have gone on to work for companies like the DC Department of Energy and Environment, Rare, and Sustainable Design Consulting. It is also important to note that this is the only graduate sustainability course offered through a business school in the United State’s capital.
The Rochester Institute of Technology capitalizes on its expertise in technology and innovation through its Master of Science in Sustainable Systems. This interdisciplinary degree considers sustainable through the lens of the environment, society, technology, and business. Students begin by learning about environmental life cycle assessment before moving more deeply into policy, working with faculty members to progress through the degree in a way that suits their interests. In total, 30 credit hours are required, and students have access to cutting edge facilities throughout their time in the program, allowing them to conduct research that prepares them to go on to a doctoral program if they wish. For those who get a job after graduation, there is a 100% placement rate.
Hofstra University offers a Master of Arts in Sustainability, which emphasizes the roles that ethics, economics, philosophy, and the environment play in sustainability. This program requires 30 semester hours of coursework for completion, and it challenges students to think critically about sustainability in the world. Because of this, students must complete either a thesis or an internship while in the program. Hofstra allows students to enroll with either a full-time or part-time schedule, and students can choose to apply for scholarships toward their graduate studies. Hofstra also is home to the National Center for Suburban Studies, which allows students to consider sustainability within a suburban context.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, students can earn their Master of Business Administration in Sustainable Business Practices at Duquesne University. It is designed to help students understand and build strategies that consider the financial, social, and environmental impact of a business or organization. This program can be finished in one year, and it includes an international study trip. Overall, 39 credits are required for graduation, and classes include Strategic Innovation Management, Leading Change in Sustainable Enterprises, and Managing People for Sustained Competitive Advantage. Graduates of this program have gone on to work for companies like Capital One, the Environmental Protection Agency, and IBM.
Western Kentucky University has a Master of Business Administration with a graduate certificate in Sustainability that brings together economic, social, and environmental interests. The MBA requires 30 credit hours of coursework. Nine of the 12 credit hours in certificate overlaps with the MBA coursework. These credits come from the following courses: Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship; Survey of Business Sustainability Issues; Sustainable Business Operations; and Sustainability Marketing. This degree and certificate can be completed entirely online through seven-week classes. Students are able to work full-time while attending classes. Full-time students are able to finish in a year.
The Maharishi University of Management has a Master of Business Administration in Sustainable Business. The program works with students to help them to live a sustainable lifestyle, both professionally and personally. The class sizes at Maharishi are also small, leading students to feel supported by their faculty members. Some sample courses include Socially and Environmentally Responsible Management, Sustainable Technologies, and Sustainable Community Development. This program is also accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education. The degree requires 58 credits of coursework and is comprised of a blend of two-credit and four-credit classes that last four or eight weeks respectively.
Edgewood College offers a Master of Arts in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership that is student-directed and community-focused. The program follows a cohort model, allowing students to join a community that brings together experience and expertise in a variety of different areas. The program requires 33 credits of coursework, and it can be finished in as little as 17 months if students are enrolled full-time. However, they do also have the option to attend part-time. For those who are undergraduates at Edgewood, there is the opportunity for an accelerated master’s. This program also works with a number of partners in order to help the community and to give students real-world experience. Some partners include the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, American Family Insurance, and the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative.
Chatham University prepares students to work in sustainability management and other leadership roles through its dual Master of Sustainability/Master of Business Administration degree. Upon graduation, both master’s degrees are conferred. In total, this program requires 57 credits and can be completed in two years. During their time in the program, students work with local businesses and complete projects that are focused on real-world issues in the field of sustainability. Students are also able to advance professionally through a summer professional placement. Additionally, the Eden Hall Campus at Chatham is also one of the first campuses to produce zero carbon emissions.
Franklin Pierce University prides itself on the flexibility of its Master of Business Administration in Energy and Sustainability. Students can complete coursework online and finish the degree in four academic terms. They can also opt to attend on either a full- or part-time basis. This program seeks to help its graduates influence corporate and community sustainability efforts. The degree requires 13 courses, including Building a Sustainable Enterprise, Energy Economics, and the Future of Energy, Business, and Society. To apply, students need to submit their transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement. Franklin Pierce is usually looking for students to possess an undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or higher.
Wilmington University has a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability that is geared toward working professionals seeking to advance in their professions. It requires 36 credits for completion. For the concentration in Environmental Sustainability, students can take classes like Environmental Regulations and Ethical Issues, Strategic Planning for Sustainable Organizations, and Global Marketing Management. Students can start this program every eight weeks, allowing flexibility for students to begin at their own pace. The program is also accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Administration. Graduates of this program have gone on to work at companies like JP Morgan and Bank of America.
Presidio Graduate School gives students the unique opportunity to earn two master’s degrees in at the same time through its dual Master of Business Administration and Public of Public Administration. Both degrees can be finished in two years through the completion of 60 credits of coursework. Because of this dual degree, students are prepared to work in both the public and private sectors, and it is optimal for those who are in or wish to transition into leadership roles. Courses in this program include Multisector Sustainable Partnerships; Systems, Sustainability and Social Justice; and Market Failures & the Regulatory Environment. Upon graduation, students are prepared to work at NGOs, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and many others.
Bard College has a Master of Business Administration in Sustainability that follows a hybrid model with low-residency requirements. What this means is that students need only come to campus for 20 four-day retreats over the course of two years. The rest of the coursework is completed online. Bard’s program allows flexibility for students to still work while taking classes. Overall, it is designed to help students to lead in business while also thinking about their role through the lens of sustainability. Students can also complete a focus area in either Impact Finance or Circular Value Chain Management. The program requires 60 credits for completion.
The SIT Graduate Institute offers a Master of Arts in Sustainable Development: Advocacy, Leadership, and Social Change. This program centers on the role that NGOs, community organizations, social movements, and faith-based institutions play in sustainability. It also allows students to connect with the local community, benefiting from the working experience and leadership of program alumni. Students can also specialize in one of the following areas: Monitoring and Evaluation, Social Innovation and Management, or Policy Analysis and Advocacy. There is also a six-month practicum built into the program, as well as other optional field courses. In total, students complete 40 credits of graduate coursework, which culminates in a final paper and presentation.