Embark on a green journey with a Master’s in Sustainability—cultivate solutions, impact change, and be the eco-champion the world needs. Turn passion into purpose, shaping a sustainable tomorrow with every step of your masterful sustainability adventure!
Today, there is a high demand in the field of sustainability. The number of environmental and sustainability management focused graduate programs continues to grow. Options for online students range from traditional distance education schools to major, state-funded university systems. Ranking these online masters in sustainability is a key way of determining which programs are best for every eco-friendly career interest in the United States and abroad.
This degree combines:
- environmental science
Methodology: How online masters in sustainable development programs were ranked
Before choosing an online sustainability master program based on its ranking in this list, aspiring graduate students need to know exactly why each school was given its placement. The ranking methodology used focuses on a combination of factors, including:
- networking potential
- academic rigor
These are all key components of a graduate education. A detailed overview of these factors can be found below.
Prestige: Graduate degrees require an even greater educational expense on behalf of every student, but the prestige of the institution can help to mitigate that cost. Prestige provides greater visibility in job searches and gives students access to a larger alumni network. Prestige is typically correlated with academic rigor, which indicates a more highly qualified applicant in the eyes of most recruiters.
Networking potential: Graduate school is equal parts classwork and networking, and that reality is reflected in the rankings. Schools with better networking events, career offices, and alumni associations outrank schools where these programs might be lackluster or nonexistent outside the primary classroom environment.
Academic rigor: The number of credits, the admission requirements of a sustainability degree program, and its core curriculum are used to determine how academically rigorous it is for the typical student. Beyond professional networking, students should be able to learn something about sustainability and hit the ground running in a mid-level job after graduation. Rigor is essential to making that a reality.
Below are our top online master’s in sustainability.
Related Resource: Highest Paying College Majors
Please Note: Tuition costs were accurate at time of publication and are subject to change. Additional fees may apply. In-state tuition is used when applicable.
University of Connecticut
Online Energy and Environmental Management Master’s Degree
The University of Connecticut offers a top online master’s in sustainability taught by UConn’s renowned faculty. Students will gain a deep understanding of the complex interactions between environmental and sustainability management. Courses are delivered in a fully online format, giving students much-needed flexibility. The multi-disciplinary perspective helps bridge the areas of management, science, and policy.
Elective course offerings support the unique interests of each student. Electives in this sustainability degree program fall into three categories including:
- Planning and Management
- Environmental Law
- Geographic Information System
Students can also earn a graduate certificate in Sustainable Environmental Planning and Management and/or Geographic Information Systems.
Penn State World Campus
Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems
Penn State is one of the few schools in the United States that is popularizing the Master of Professional Studies degree. Though this degree has been around for decades, schools like Penn State are redefining their role in higher education. They offer one of the top sustainability masters programs with their MPS program. The MPS at Penn State focuses on a dual concentration of renewable energy and sustainability systems. This gives students insight into the green economy in both a practical and technological sense and prepares them for future applications of renewable energies in business systems. Students also take several sustainability management courses that focus in-depth on:
- environmental policy
- the process of adopting new regulations
- how to implement regulations in everyday business practice
Penn State is home to the nation’s largest, dues-paying alumni association. More than 100,000 Penn State alumni take part in the Association, which coordinates:
- networking events
- fundraising opportunities
Arizona State University
Master of Sustainability Leadership
Arizona State University’s sustainability programs are offered in three distinct formats, each leading to a different degree. Graduate students can choose from the following programs:
- Master of Sustainability Solutions
- Executive Master/Master of Sustainability Leadership
The Master of Sustainability Leadership program is the only fully online option, while the other two degree programs are offered in a hybrid format that blends online and offline instruction for local students. This path focuses less on hands-on experience and more on leading organizations that focus on creating a sustainable footprint in their market areas Graduates of the online master’s degree in sustainability program are primed to be:
- leaders of corporate environmental efforts and sustainable development
- advocates for better public policies on the environment
- managers who know how to make eco-friendly decisions
Arizona State University ranks third in the nation for its online, non-MBA graduate programs. The school is also ranked in the top 130 national universities, stands out in the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best public institutions, and is home to a massive alumni organization. Graduate students also have the opportunity to take part in:
- virtual career fairs
- online networking events
- elective career seminars
Each of these will boost their hiring potential upon graduation.
University of Denver
Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability
At the University of Denver, students pursue an M.S. in energy and sustainability. This dual focus is unique among masters in sustainability online programs. Because of the focus on energy, students take coursework that weighs the pros and cons of both sustainable and non-sustainable energy sources, like:
- natural gas
The sustainability focus of the program teaches students how to make practical, environmentally conscious decisions in:
- energy policy
- corporate management
The program features:
- a sustainability core
- an energy core
- a series of electives
Electives allow students to choose courses based on their academic or professional interests.
Master of Natural Resources
Known more popularly as Virginia Tech, students can earn their Master of Natural Resources in a flexible online format through the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability. Virginia Tech is one of the few national universities to feature a center for green leadership. The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability coordinates not only an online sustainability master’s degree, but also several research efforts into:
- green energy
- green jobs
- the impact of public policy on the broader sustainability industry
The MS in Natural Resources offers core courses that include:
- Global Issues in Environmental Sustainability
- Leadership Communication for Sustainability Professionals
- Sustainability Systems
Research opportunities are also offered to online students local to the campus.
University of Wisconsin Madison
Online Master of Engineering: Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE)
For students with either career experience or an interest in engineering, no program can compete with what the University of Wisconsin at Madison has to offer. The school is one of the few to offer an online degree in sustainability systems engineering to students with a highly technical background or a demonstrated interest in systems engineering. The program blends cutting-edge sustainability education with the traditional components of a systems engineering degree.
A particular focus of the program is on creating positive change and leading the organizational transition to more sustainable systems. Students have the ability to qualify for on-campus assistantships if they’re local to the Madison campus.
In terms of prestige, few Midwestern universities are as widely known and respected as the University of Wisconsin at Madison. For decades, the school has ranked near the top of the list for public universities, national universities, and “best value” schools. It offers one of the lowest graduate tuition rates among universities in the Upper Midwest, provides access to a free alumni association with more than 50,000 members globally, and is one of the school recruiters specifically targeted when filling mid-level positions.
Online MBA with a concentration in Sustainability
At Northeastern University, students who wish to study sustainability must enroll in the school’s top-ranked MBA program. The program, which requires submission of top-notch GMAT scores and several years of professional experience, requires 15 core business courses and at least three courses in the student’s chosen concentration. The sustainability concentration at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business focuses on a combination of:
- sustainable business practices
- awareness of public policy that influences sustainability management
- how to create positive, more sustainable change within large organizations
Northeastern University is one of the best private research universities in New England, with top rankings among business schools, research institutions, and national universities. Though the school is located in Boston, students who graduate from the online program will be able to find networking connections
University of Colorado Denver
MBA with a specialization in Managing Sustainability
The University of Colorado’s Denver campus offers an innovative concentration that goes beyond first-world sustainability management issues. Indeed, the school is one of the few to offer coursework that focuses on creating a sustainable business environment in the developing world. Students who choose the sustainability concentration within the UC Denver MBA also focus on:
- social leadership and social justice
- managing organizations for sustainability
- accounting for sustainability
The sustainability degree program can be completed in as little as 11 months.
The chief rival to the University of Denver, the University of Colorado’s Denver campus is the leading public institution for people in the greater Denver metropolitan area. It’s also a great choice for online students. In both cases, the school offers top rankings as a national university, a research institution, and a leader in online education. UC Denver’s online graduate programs are ranked among the top 25 nationally. Graduates are inducted into an alumni association that encompasses the broader University of Colorado System. The alumni association gives them access to tens of thousands of graduates who provide a sound professional network.
The Culinary Institute of America
Online Master’s in Sustainable Food Systems
The Culinary Institute of America features an innovative sustainability master’s program focused on food and food systems. Students will develop a deep understanding of the relationship between planetary health and food systems. They will gain the leadership skills needed to impact sustainability on the local and global levels.
Courses are taught by faculty dedicated to food systems change. Short, in-person residencies allow students to learn about food systems on the West and East Coasts. Course offerings include:
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Sustainability and Climate Change
- Leadership, Engagement, and Impact
All students complete an applied project in food systems and sustainability. Most students can complete their degree in just two years.
The University of North Carolina Greensboro
Master of Science in Sustainability and Environment
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers one of the best sustainability masters programs online with their Master of Science in Sustainability and Environment. This highly customizable degree program is delivered in an asynchronous format. Courses are taught by expert faculty. Students can choose from several areas of focus including:
- Natural Sciences
- Society and Equity
- Economics and Development
- Aesthetics and Ethics
Graduates are prepared for a variety of exciting career options working in:
- urban planning
- energy efficiency
Sustainability degree applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. There is no GRE exam required for admission.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Master’s in Sustainability offers a blend of environmental impact and career growth. I will prepare you to tackle global challenges. With a strong emphasis on ethical practices and innovation, it’s a worthy investment in shaping a more sustainable and rewarding future. Jobs such as urban planning require a master’s degree.
Career Opportunities with a Master’s in Sustainable Development:
• Sustainable Project Manager
• Environmental Consultant
• Renewable Energy Analyst
• Policy Analyst
• Sustainability Specialist
• Nonprofit Program Manager
• Urban Planner
• Corporate Sustainability Officer
• Environmental Educator
Salaries vary based on roles, but positions like Environmental Scientists, Sustainability Analysts, or Renewable Energy Managers can earn competitive salaries. Starting salaries for entry-level sustainability roles range from $50,000 to $70,000, and experienced professionals can earn well over $100,000.
As the demand for sustainability professionals increases, the field offers rewarding careers that align with making a positive impact on the planet.
A Master’s in Sustainability typically takes about 1.5 to 2 years to complete, providing an in-depth understanding of sustainable practices and preparing you for impactful roles in environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility. The program integrates interdisciplinary studies to equip you with the skills needed for a dynamic and purpose-driven career.
• Start by pursuing a degree in sustainability or a related field during your undergraduate studies.
• Gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions in organizations focused on sustainability.
• Network with professionals in the field, attend sustainability conferences, and engage in relevant communities.
• Stay informed about current sustainability trends, technologies, and best practices to enhance your knowledge and marketability in the evolving field.
Yes, there are MBA programs with a focus on sustainability, often referred to as “Sustainable MBA” or “Green MBA.” These programs integrate traditional business education with a strong emphasis on sustainable practices, corporate responsibility, and environmental stewardship. An MBA in sustainability can equip you with the skills to lead organizations towards environmentally and socially responsible practices in the business world.