Graduate Programs with Sustainability Focus


Brandeis University

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University offers a Masters in Public Policy in Social Policy. This is an excellent program for anyone that is interested in the social side of sustainability. The program focuses on reducing poverty, vulnerability and inequality. The program is designed for the next generation of social policy experts who can design social policies, draft effective legislation, and use social science techniques to evaluate the effectiveness, fairness and impact of public policy. The faculty, students and staff of the Heller School are culturally and professionally diverse with broadly varied academic and organizational backgrounds. The school provides a setting where students who are experienced practitioners are exposed to innovative ideas, and those with less experience are honed to become policy experts.

Columbia University

The new interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Sustainable Development is designed to educate researchers, university teachers, and world leaders in the social and natural science disciplines that underpin sustainable development.

Housed at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Ph.D. program continues Columbia’s recent initiatives in multi-disciplinary doctoral education, and also reflects SIPA’s longstanding commitment to interdisciplinary graduate social science education for policymakers and analysts.

The purpose of the Ph.D. in Sustainable Development is to create a generation of scholars and professionals equipped to deal with some of the most crucial problems in the world today. By combining elements of a traditional graduate education in social science, particularly economics, with a significant component of training in the natural sciences, the program’s graduates will be uniquely situated to undertake serious research and policy assessments with the goal of sustainable development. The program includes a set of rigorous core requirements, but also provides students with the flexibility to pursue in depth research in a broad variety of critical policy issue areas. More information can be found at

The Earth Institute at Columbia University offers a Master’s of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy. This program focuses on applying systems-thinking to environmental issues. Students graduate prepared to engage in leadership positions in local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as in nonprofit organizations and the environmental divisions of private corporations.

Goddard College, VT

The Master of Arts in Socially Responsible Business and Sustainable Communities (MA in SRBSC) is a new stand-alone graduate degree program that Goddard College will begin in August 2006. The program will be offered in two formats: a two year full-time 48 credit master’s degree program and a one year full-time 24 credit certificate of graduate study program. The MA in SRBSC aims to help students acquire the resources they need to create and lead profitable, just, and socially responsible businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies; and in the process create sustainable communities that will assure a healthy, viable future for people and the planet.The program offers students the opportunity to choose among three focused study areas: socially responsible business, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable community development. Each student in the MA in SRBSC program, in collaboration with members of the faculty, creates an individual degree plan that embeds their unique personal and learning goals. Student degree plans integrate self-development and experiential learning along with theory and skill mastery.Socially Responsible Business regards people, principles, profits, and the planet as inextricably interconnected. SRB uses the power of business to create positive social change through the creation of values-driven, profitable and sustainable businesses. Socially responsible businesses utilize business, management, and ethical leadership practices that seek to create respectful, fair, and positive impacts for employees, stockholders, the community, and the planet. Socially responsible businesses balance multiple bottom lines such as profitability, quality of life for people, and environmental impact. The fundamental guiding principle of a socially responsible business is that business can do well by doing good.

Social Entrepreneurship is drive by a social mission. The explicit and central objective is to create positive and sustainable social change in the social sector by creating new models (not-for-profit, for-profit, or hybrids) that address entrenched social problems at their root. The criterion for successful social entrepreneurship is mission-related social impact rather than wealth creation as an end in itself.

Sustainable Community Development focuses on local community and economic development that is grounded in principles of sustainability. SCD supports the preservation of local character and/or improvement of the quality of community life by helping community members work together to create and implement their vision for a vibrant community, healthy environment, robust economy, good governance, and a sense of deep connection to their neighbors and world. Sustainable community development fosters democratic values, social and economic justice, environmental integrity, and respect and care for the community of life.


Slippery Rock University

The Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania offers a Masters of Science in Sustainable Systems. This program is designed to prepare graduate students to better face pressing environmental and societal challenges of the future using principles of sustainability as an underlying framework for action. Students study and practice sustainability through an integration of resource management, agriculture, and built environments. Particular emphasis is given to the design and management of productive systems that reflect and support the diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems.

Yale University

Master of Environmental Management: A degree designed for students interested in a career in environmental policy and analysis, stewardship, education, consulting, or management. The program requires course work in both the natural and social sciences, with a particular focus on the relationship among science, management, and policy. The ultimate purpose of the degree program is to prepare students to address ecological and social systems with scientific understanding and an ability to make sense of the complex underlying social and ecological context. See also other related Masters Programs at Yale (including joint degrees).


Au Sable Institute

Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies provides college and university level programs in environmental studies, field biology, stewardship ecology, and ecological sustainability. Au Sable helps prepare college and university students to understand natural ecosystems, environmental degradation and its causes, the ethical nature and content of environmental problems, and responsible and appropriate practice. Courses are offered in the Great Lakes Forest of northern Michigan, Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, north of the Everglades, East Africa, and South India, and internships are provided across the globe for its students and alumni. Credits for Au Sable courses are transferable to over 50 colleges and universities. For completion of specific programs of study, the Institute awards various certificates, including a post-baccalaureate Stewardship Ecologist Diploma. Au Sable’s Graduate Fellowship Program serves graduate students with seminars and meetings on environmental stewardship ethics.

Columbia College – Chicago

Beginning in 2007, Columbia College Chicago’s Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in Architectural Studies and Interior Architecture will be centered on sustainable design, making Columbia among the first schools in the nation to ground its academic architecture design training in sustainable practice. The programs were developed in collaboration with the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment and will feature cooperative arrangements with the Chicago Center for Green Technologies. The curriculum will prepare students with knowledge and skills regarding sustainable practice in multiple areas of design. The MFA programs will offer concentrations in the areas of sustainable design, museum design, adaptive reuse and exhibit/furniture/product design.

Michigan Technological University

At Michigan Technological University, a unique program has been created to train students to value community service and be prepared for the international marketplace. The International Sustainable Engineering Initiative features the University’s one-of-a-kind Master’s International (MI) Program. The program combines a graduate degree in civil or environmental engineering with 2+ years of training and engineering service in the U.S. Peace Corps. Over one hundred engineering students have participated in the MI program since its inception in 2001.

University of Madison-Wisconsin

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Madison-Wisconsin now offers a Masters of Science in Water Resource Management. This degree combines the biological and physical sciences, engineering, social sciences, and law to one of nature’s most valuable resources, water. These subjects lead to qualifications in water management and planning, while also allowing students also specialize during the program. Upon completion students are prepared for employment in private, nonprofit, education, or government sectors.

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Madison-Wisconsin offers a Masters of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy in Environment and Resources. Students in this program work with advisors to design a study plan, which can combine courses from any college on campus. Environment and Resources prepares students to build creative solutions to complex environmental problems.




Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University’s Center for Environmental Management Studies (VCEMS) offers a Master’s curriculum that is interdisciplinary and focuses on environmental business, management and technology. This is a very flexible program and offers students the opportunity to craft a program that meets their needs. In addition, Vanderbilt is one of the only universities in the country to offer a PhD program in Environmental Management (offered in conjunction with Bridgestone/Firestone [which pays the bill if you get a fellowship from them]).


Green Steps program at Australian Universities

The Green Steps Program focuses on providing graduates with the knowledge and skills required of effective organizational change agents. It is widely recognized by political, community and business leaders that substantial change is required if we, as a society, are to embark on the path to sustainability.

The Green Steps Program has the following, interlinked objectives:

  • To enable participating students to translate their existing passion to effective, focused environmental change action, by enhancing:
    • their relevant skills, and
    • their confidence and sophistication levels in the relevant areas.
  • To enhance the employability of participating students in the environmental field, and to link them to relevant professional networks.
  • To impart to participating students a more sophisticated understanding of the environmental change field and their potential place therein.
  • To supply skilled environmental change agents to the host universities and to the job market.
  • To create future environmental leaders.

The Green Steps Program was initiated by Monash University students in 2000. In first semester 2005, the program will be run at Monash University, Flinders University, the University of Queensland and James Cook University. In second semester, the program will be delivered to ANU, Monash and Sydney based students. Additionally, the program will be run at the University of Melbourne both semesters.


Introducing new ideas, and hopefully new values into the core of an MBA program requires a number of actions by the leadership of a business school. In the case of INCAE in Costa Rica, they have been hard at work for the last 14 years to make the ideas of sustainable development available and, most importantly, key to the decision-making of all graduates.

As an international program primarily serving students from emerging economies, the creation of an effective framework to link sound business decisions with the ideas of sustainability is of utmost importance. For these frameworks and ideas to become a key part of their effective decision-making, students must accept sustainability as part of their values.

In order to achieve this, the school first has to develop credibility. In our case, we founded―with the support of world leaders in the field―a think tank and research center dedicated to original research and the dissemination of the key ideas of sustainability in the countries where the school primarily operates. At the same time, we established alliances and joint projects with leading organizations in the field such as, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Social Enterprise Knowledge Network, and the AVINA Foundation, all of which helped advance and legitimize the process.

To create the necessary critical mass, we hired four PhDs with expertise in the key topics―energy and ecoefficiency, environmental economics, social economic and environmental project appraisal, and corporate social responsibility. We allocated significant resources to research in the field, including four full time researchers at the master’s level.

The introduction of sustainability concepts as useful conceptual frameworks, as specific courses and programs, and as part of the school’s value system, has required years of planning, specific action, and consistency. Their goal is to conduct research and offer seminars in topics such as sustainable production and sustainable competitiveness. In the process, they hope to bring new angles—such as social entrepreneurship and institutional reform—to the idea of sustainability.

Masdar Institute is a pilot and model sustainability project in Abu Dhabi. They offer both graduate degrees (in engineering or computer sciences) and an interdisciplinary PhD program. They do accept applications from international students. As with any graduate program, acceptance depends on academic qualifications. All lectures, laboratory sessions, and written/oral examinations at the Institute will be conducted in English.

All successful applicants to Masdar Institute are offered a scholarship which provides full financial support. The scholarships, which are available to students from all nationalities, include all tuition fees, laptop, medical insurance, housing, travel expenses, and a cost of living allowance.

Nottingham University School of Business

MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility

The MBA in CSR is a unique programme that combines advanced teaching and learning in management with state of the art thinking in corporate social responsibility. This combination allows progressive learning at the leading edge of knowledge in the general discipline of management studies and socially responsible business.

  • The MBA in CSR enables students
  • To study organisations, including private, public, and not-for-profit organisations, their management, and the changing external environment in which they operate.
  • To critically evaluate at an advanced level the core business disciplines, while applying business ethics and corporate social responsibility issues across all management disciplines.
  • To develop a career in business and management.
  • To develop the capacity for lifelong learning in global business and to enhance personal development.

MA in Corporate Social Responsibility

The MA in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) enables participants to advance their knowledge and understanding of contemporary issues in CSR, business ethics and sustainability. This degree combines both academic and practical perspectives relating the area. As a result it is appropriate for students wishing to develop academic expertise on management and CSR issues and for those interested in a career relating to CSR, be it in the business, government or non-government sectors.


Swedish University

The Blekinge Institute of Technology has announced the creation of a unique, one-year international masters program entitled “Strategic Leadership Toward Sustainability,” based on The Natural Step Framework. The institute is located in Karlskrona, a picturesque city on the south coast of Sweden.

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, internationally recognized for his contribution to the understanding of sustainability and founder of The Natural Step, Sweden, will be leading this course development. The program, conducted entirely in English, represents new capabilities in education and training for The Natural Step. For the first time, professionals in a wide variety of fields can receive deep education in The Natural Step’s sustainability Framework, an internationally recognized model for guiding strategy towards sustainability.

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester’s (UK) institute for development policy and management offers an MSc in Globalisation and Development. The MSc is suitable for people from business backgrounds who do not want to pursue an MBA programme but who want to extend themselves intellectually and consider issues of corporate social responsibility. The goal of the program is to train and equip students with a more general take on the issues of development than they would usually get. The program is intended to convey the global origins of development problems.

The University of Manchester’s institute for development policy and management also offers an MSc in Environment and Development. The program is for those interested in policy-making, planning, or management in environment or development-related fields. This will include students interested in government, NGOs, development agencies, and multi-nationals. While the program addresses issues relevant to both industrial and non-industrial economies, particular emphasis will be given to examples and case studies from less-industrialised and recently-industrialised countries.

University of Sussex

The University of Sussex (England) offers a Masters of Science (MSc) in Energy Policy for Sustainability. This MSc provides broad-based, interdisciplinary social science training for future energy policy professionals working in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The program adds to a suite of Energy, Policy, Technology and Sustainability postgraduate programs. In addition, SPRU MSc scholarships are available to UK, Europe and Overseas students.

The degree focuses on opportunities, challenges and constraints associated with making the transition to low-carbon energy systems in both the developed and developing world. This transition has scientific, technological, economic and political dimensions that are complex, multidimensional and interlinked. Key challenges include promoting the innovation and diffusion of low carbon technologies and balancing multiple economic, social and environmental objectives. The MSc offers a comprehensive coverage of the energy and climate policy agenda including energy security, market liberalisation, carbon mitigation and energy poverty. It is unique in combining insights from economics, policy analysis and innovation studies and draws on the combined expertise of one of the largest independent social science energy policy research groups in the world.

In addition, the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, offers an MA in Participation, Development and Social Change. The program aims to deepen knowledge, innovation and practice of v participatory approaches for engaging people in decision-making and active citizenship.