Best MBA in Sustainability

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated June 19, 2024
An MBA in sustainability prepares business students to help organizations react, adapt, and respond to the world's concerns about sustainability.

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As businesses and organizations focus on reducing their ecological footprint, the demand for green leaders continues to grow.

An MBA in sustainability prepares business students to help organizations react, adapt, and respond to the world’s rapidly growing concerns about sustainability. Most organizations recognize sustainability as integral to their success, and professionals who can develop these initiatives enjoy successful careers.

While many organizations have felt the effects of COVID-19 and related economic downturns, the subsequent digital transformation has also improved sustainability for some businesses. Increased interest in personal health and safety now join the traditional environmental and social concerns of sustainability, pushing the field to greater heights.

Students earning an MBA in sustainability complete traditional business courses and specialized sustainability training, which expands their job prospects. Career opportunities for business management professionals, like sustainability experts, appear strong; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 5% growth rate from 2019-2029.

This guide explores sustainability careers in greater detail and ranks the best programs in this field.

Featured Online Schools

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The Best Online MBA in Sustainability

#1 Best MBA in Sustainability

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Location-markerStillwater, OK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,366
  • Out-of-state$20,877
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled24,079
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment42%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best MBA in Sustainability

Concordia University Wisconsin

  • Location-markerMequon, WI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$30,060
  • Out-of-state$30,060
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled5,777
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment39%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best MBA in Sustainability

Franklin Pierce University

  • Location-markerRindge, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$35,900
  • Out-of-state$35,900
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate66%
  • Students Enrolled2,114
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment28%
  • AccreditationYes

Best Online Programs

MBA in Sustainability

2022


The Best Schools

Online MBA in Sustainability Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on their quality, curricula, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation — including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degrees.

What Is an Online MBA in Sustainability?

An online MBA in sustainability teaches students to align organizational strategies with long-term sustainability goals. The training examines how businesses can reduce their environmental impacts and incorporate social responsibilities while remaining fiscally sound. These programs are designed for problem-solvers, forward thinkers, and socially conscious business professionals.

In addition to advanced leadership and management courses, an MBA in sustainability delivers focused training in sustainable finance, clean energy, and social innovation. Most MBAs feature 30-45 credits, though some may require up to 70 credits. Learners can usually complete the degrees in less than two years, though accelerated full-time programs and dual degrees can significantly vary in timeline.

Choosing an Online Green MBA

When selecting an online MBA in sustainability, students should consider their unique goals and needs. In addition to available concentrations, they should also consider factors like location, program length, and cost. Online learning can make attending distance programs easier, and out-of-state programs may offer in-state tuition rates for online enrollees.

Learners should closely examine program details, checking course listings and internship options. Since sustainability covers such a vast space, prospective students should identify desired specializations, such as climate change, clean energy, and sustainable investing. Some candidates may choose programs based on prestige, although highly regarded programs often have higher costs and stiffer competition.

Accreditation for Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

All students should check the accreditation status of their prospective schools and programs. Accreditation demonstrates to students, employers, and financial aid organizations that the institution meets rigorous educational standards.

For an online MBA in sustainability, programmatic accreditation may come from one of three major agencies: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of BusinessAccreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

What Can I Expect in Pursuing an MBA in Sustainability Online?

In many of the best online MBA programs, training covers several essential areas, such as finance, marketing, and economics. The sustainability concentration then delves into niche topics, including sustainability marketing, initiative implementation, and sustainable innovation. The courses below are popular in most curricula in the field.

Common Courses in MBA Online Programs

  • Sustainable Systems: This course examines the relationship between financial gain and ecological practices, preparing students to enter careers in consulting and management. Topics include strategies for reducing carbon emissions, developing community partnerships, and instigating corporate changes that promote sustainability.
  • Economics of Sustainability: Students enrolled in this course learn about principles of sustainability and environmental issues in the business world. This class explores the impacts of human and financial capital on sustainability to prepare students for financial advisory roles. Students also explore issues of consumerism, technological advances, and the ethical use of natural resources.
  • Sustainability and Legal Issues: This course provides an overview of the legal and ethical issues impacting sustainable economics, equipping students for management positions in marketing and consulting. Enrollees explore climate change policies, legal protection of the environment, and local and international laws affecting business strategies.

MBA Joint / Dual Degrees

These combination degrees challenge students to apply advanced business knowledge to other disciplines. The training may require more time and effort than a standard MBA, but a dual MBA degree gives graduates specialized credentials that can set them apart from competitors.

Earning a sustainability MBA dual degree can qualify graduates for many professions, depending on the subject of the second degree. For example, a public administration master’s dual degree can lead to careers as political scientists, while a master’s in economics can lead to a career as an economist.

Other common programs available for MBA joint or dual programs include master of environmental management and master of forestry degrees.

Certification

After completing an MBA in sustainability, graduates can bolster their resumes with professional credentials. Though not usually required for employment in this field, industry certifications can help distinguish students by demonstrating their understanding of sustainable business practices.

ISSP Certified Sustainability Associate or Professional

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals offers two certifications: the sustainability excellence associate credential for new professionals in the field and the sustainability excellence professional for more experienced personnel and sustainable organization stakeholders.

Individuals must renew these credentials every two years. To qualify, candidates must complete a set number of continuing education credits.

Sustainability Management Certified Associate or Professional

The Sustainability Management Association offers three types of certifications for students and professionals looking to gain a competitive advantage in the sustainability field. The association offers a student associate certification for degree-seekers, an associate certification for new graduates, and a professional certification for personnel with at least two years of relevant experience.

Once certified, each professional must maintain the credential by completing 15 hours of continuing education within the three-year certification window.

Green Careers

An MBA in sustainability establishes graduates as experts in providing sustainable business solutions. The training can lead to many of the traditional management occupations, plus some highly specialized and niche opportunities.

While the following sections highlight some of the more popular and direct career pathways, the list is by no means exhaustive. Some of the careers listed may require additional training or certifications.

Sustainability in Business Professional Organizations

Membership with a professional organization can provide crucial support and guidance. Through a professional organization, MBA students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals can all gain access to valuable resources, programs, and events that can help them advance their careers.

US Green Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce provides a unified voice for small businesses across the country. Business owners and entrepreneur members join a strong network where they can access sustainability resources, information, and technological solutions.

Business for Social Responsibility

BSR works with organizations around the world to help meet their sustainability goals. Member organizations enjoy access to sustainability consulting, global network collaboration, and research on emerging sustainability technologies and theories.

International Society of Sustainability Professionals

ISSP advances sustainability within organizations and public policy. Members can access the professional network for collaboration, information, and insight. ISSP also offers training and professional development programs, along with certifications.

Sustainability Management Association

SMA strives to improve the world’s sustainability actions and measures by standardizing specialized training and practices. The association offers access to networking opportunities, professional support, training programs, and certifications.

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