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Best Online Master’s in Sustainability Studies
Top Online Degree Programs 2020

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Best Online Masters Sustainable Studies

There are many ways to approach finding masters in sustainability programs. Generally, if you are interested in participating in a master’s program in sustainability, you have some background in the field and are interested in focusing on a particular aspect of environmental sustainability. For example, You might be considering going into the disciplines related to solar energy or deepening your capacity for a leadership role. Some other options include global environmental policy, sustainability management, and environmental protection. Another discipline that falls under this umbrella is the sustainable design field. There are many programs that emphasize sustainable building practices and managerial roles in such career paths. Many programs offer a social justice component and/ or a business component to the emphasis at hand. Some other topics that may be centralized include social innovation, energy, and sustainability. 

There are a myriad of flexible online masters in sustainability programs that can be achieved entirely online. We have sourced 25 of the best masters in sustainability programs for you that are all designed for people who are interested in flexibility. We ranked these program according to the following metrics:

  • Affordability
  • Reputation
  • Student Success Rate

You will notice that all of the programs on the list offer something a little different. The majority are fully online, though some require in person residencies generally once or twice. 

1

Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Stanford University offers a Civil and Environmental Engineering Master of Science degree program that is delivered in a hybrid format. The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a terminal degree to students seeking to advance in their field. There are several reasons to seek out a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. While the earth continues to show signs of warming, big business is going green, and manufacturing companies begin to bend to consumer outrage. This leaves a big job for engineers to examine current processes and systems and optimizes a green standard. This course of study is 45 units and takes 3-5years to complete. Be aware that although there are courses in this program offered online, there are some core course requirements that are only offered on campus. There is no thesis or research required for program completion. 

Degree Type: MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Cost: $12,000.00

2

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Atlanta, GA

The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a master’s degree in sustainability energy and environmental management with many distance learning options. This is considered a multidisciplinary course of study with classes offered throughout various campuses in the Georgia Technical system. Some of the topics that students can consider include business, public policy, industrial and systems engineering, civil and environmental engineering, regional and city planning, economics, among others. The program is known for being both convenient and flexible, with 30 credit hours in total. There are two required courses, two classes in quantitative methods, three electives, and one policy and management elective.  Students will learn how to integrate the theoretical with the practical skills necessary to be successful in the environmental sciences. There are many options for students to individualize their learning paths. Another perk is the fact that there are many start dates throughout the year. 

Degree Type: MS in Sustainability Energy and Environmental Management

Cost: $15,000.00

3

Columbia University in the City of New York
New York, NY

Columbia University offers a master’s degree program in Earth and Environmental Engineering. This program is known for being flexible as it is delivered in an online format. The entire course of study is made up of 30 credit hours. One of the perks of the program is that it was designed with busy working professionals in mind. Prospective students are required to take the GRE for application. Some of the topics covered in the coursework include industrialization and urbanization, population growth, overwhelming waste production, quick consumption of natural resources, climate change, and overall threats to human health. The program intends to offer students space for inquiry and to devise solutions for complex problems. The program also emphasizes sound mining and primary materials processing (including energy, water, and minerals) and ways to recycle used materials.  An example of the courses includes introduction to surface and colloid chemistry and introduction to aquatic chemistry. 

Degree Type: MS in Earth and Environmental Engineering

Cost: $23,000.00

4

University of Washington

The University of Washington offers a masters of science program in construction, energy and sustainable infrastructure that is delivered in a fully online format. Students have the option, however, of participating in the program on campus. The faculty and resources are the same in both formats. The program requires 42 credit hours of coursework. The online programs include construction engineering online masters program and energy infrastructure and management. The construction engineering track focuses heavily on construction and is offered in partnership with the civil and environmental engineering and construction management departments. Some of the course options include geospatial data for energy projects, design and construction law, energy infrastructure and the environment, electric grids, statistical methods for construction, electricity fundamentals, air pollution, and occupational safety and health, accounting and finance for construction, and communications and cyberinfrastructure systems. 

Degree Type: MS in Construction, Energy and Sustainable Infrastructure

Cost: $12,000.00

5

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan offers a masters of engineering (ME) in energy systems engineering that is delivered entirely online. There are no campus requirements for this particular program, ensuring convenience and flexibility, without skimping on quality or rigor. Students can complete this program in as little as one to two years’ time. Some of the critical topics covered include sustainable energy generation, conversion, and storage. Also heavily emphasized is conventional and alternative energy technologies as well as the ways these technologies benefit the economy. Some of the required courses include energy systems specialty: which includes three classes that can be chosen from the energy specialty discipline; energy analysis: which are two courses that can be chosen from existing disciplinary offerings; and a culminating capstone project. The capstone is one course that enables students to create a relevant final project. 

Degree Type: ME in Energy Systems Engineering

Cost: $16,000.00

6

University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin offers a masters of science program in sustainable management that is delivered entirely online. The entire program is made up of 12 courses in all, which bring together 34 credit hours. The program stresses the focus on all students regardless of their life/ work situations. They have designed a course of study that is available to students from all walks of life and ages. Some of the topics that the curricula covers includes: the changing relationships between nature and humans, economic systems, the carbon cycle, modeling techniques that are used to assess business scenarios, law and public policy, effective change leadership campaign management, and national and international perspectives on environmental policy. The program culminates in a capstone course that, in most cases, is taken in the final semester. This is a class that will give students hands-on experience to facilitate a real-world project that will be delivered in a real-world setting. 

Degree Type: MS in Sustainable Management

Cost: $18,000.00

7

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University offers a masters of science program in energy systems that can be available entirely online. For students who are already Texas A&M students, they offer quick admit for the spring of 2021. One of the perks of this comprehensive program is that it is accelerated so students can complete the entire course of study in just 10 months. The entire program is made up of 23 modules, which includes seminars. This is made up of 36.5 credit hours. It is offered in two tracks; one is a thesis track and the other non-thesis. Students will be exposed to critical energy opportunities and challenges. They work in the program to create a new generation of professionals who understand the complexities of quantitative analytical methods and multi-scale approaches. Online students can easily customize their curriculum by pulling from the list of electives such as environmental issues of energy systems, bioenergy, and reservoir characterization and modeling. 

Degree Type: MS in Energy Systems

Cost: $19,000.00

8

North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Raleigh, NC

North Carolina State University offers a master of soil science program that is delivered entirely online. This program was offered through the college of agriculture and life sciences. Prospective students are required to complete the GRE exam for their applications. They must also have a 3.0 GPA or better and significant coursework under their belts in topics such as biology, mathematics, soil science, and physics. This program can be a stepping stone for the related professional licensure. Students will learn all of the essential skills related to the evaluation of land for different uses. These include many protective methods that can be applied to wetlands restoration and protection, forest management, waste disposal on-site, agriculture, and horticulture. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours, which includes enrollment in two hands-on field-based classes that are shorter than general courses. 

Degree Type: Master of Soil Science

Cost: $16,000.00

9

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The University of Southern California offers a master of science in green technologies program that is delivered through their USC Online School. The USC Viterbi School of Business is the Parent college to this comprehensive program. This course of study prides itself on its interdisciplinary nature that is related to traditional disciplines of engineering. These include alternative energy, fossil energy, energy distribution, environmental engineering, energy conservation, and of course carbon waste management and energy efficiency. Graduates of the program have many doors open to them as far as career paths go. Students can choose to go into fields such as industrial engineering, clean energy, construction, electrical engineering, geosciences, environmental engineering, and oil and gas. With full-time status, students can complete the program in as little as one and a half to two years, and with part-time status, the program can be completed in as little as two and a half to three and a half years. 

Degree Type: MS in Green Technologies 

Cost: $30,000.00

10

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona State University offers a master’s of legal studies in law and sustainability that is delivered entirely online. This program is unique as it is designed for non-lawyers to actively engage in the legal field. It is delivered through Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The faculty are all trained lawyers who are considered experts and leaders in the field. The program is made up of a total of 30 credit hours. The entire program consists of 10 classes with seven and a half weeks per class. This degree program is considered both flexible and convenient, not only because of its online format but because of it’s customizability. They give students the option of choosing between nine study options which include: conflict resolution, sports law, and business, construction law, law and sustainability, contract management, intellectual property law, corporate and healthcare compliance, HR and employment law, and criminal law. 

Degree Type: Master of Legal Studies in Law and Sustainability

Cost: $12,000.00

11

Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

John Hopkins University offers a masters of arts degree in sustainable energy that is taught through their School of Advanced International Studies. The program is delivered entirely online, ensuring that working professionals will be able to complete the coursework without making big life changes. The curriculum is considered innovative and cutting edge as it is designed to help reshape the world of renewable energy and in turn, offer a bright side to the future of the planet. One of the perks of the program is the fact that they utilize the cohort framework which offers students a built-in community and collaborators. The entire course of study can be completed in 21 months time. The course list includes energy and environmental policy, systems analysis for sustainable energy, advances, and challenges in sustainable energy, and an overview of the most important sustainable energy governance. This program offering is highly regarded by employers. 

Degree Type: MA in Sustainable Energy 

Cost: $31,000.00

12

University of Tennessee–Knoxville

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers a masters of science program in environmental engineering program that is delivered through the department of civil and environmental engineering. Students will choose between five concentrations in the civil engineering program which include: transportation engineering, construction, structural engineering, geotechnology and materials engineering, and public works engineering. In the environmental engineering program, students can choose between three concentrations, which include: water resources engineering, climate impacts engineering, and environmental engineering. Each concentration has its own set of core courses that are applicable. For example, in the climate impacts engineering path, students will be required to take such classes as environmental chemistry, air pollution engineering and control, and environmental transport and kinetics. Even online students have access to a myriad of support services, including engineering advising services, the student success center, and career support services.  

Degree Type: MS in Environmental Engineering 

Cost: $10,000.00

13

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
University Park, PA

The Pennsylvania State University World Campus offers a masters of professional studies in renewable energy and sustainability systems that is delivered in an entirely virtual format. The entire course of study is made up of 33 credit hours. Some of the themes covered in the coursework include” technological advancement, policy changes, and a heightened awareness of global resources. Students will learn the ins and outs of leadership within the green economy from the classes offered. In addition, students will learn: systems thinking and analysis, business acumen, advanced critical thinking, and policy analysis.  Twelve credits will be dedicated to core courses, 12 credits for track courses, and additional electives make up six credits. The capstone experience is made up of three credit hours. Some of the track driven courses include sustainability-driven innovation, applied energy policy, renewable energy and nonmarket enterprise, and technologies for sustainable systems. 

Degree Type: MPS in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems

Cost: $23,000.00

14

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers a masters of science program in Environmental Engineering that is delivered entirely online. This course of study is given through the department of civil and environmental engineering. To make sure that this is the right program for you, they encourage prospective students to participate in live online information sessions that offer a space to ask any and all questions. The entire course of study is made up of 33 credit hours, which includes 11 classes. Each class is made up of three credit hours. This program ensures that students will have a customized experience, as each student will receive a faculty advisor that will help them make an academic plan that is unique to their particular academic and career goals. Some of the required courses include industrial waste treatment, emerging trends in corporate sustainability, surface water quality monitoring, and advanced principles of wastewater treatment. 

Degree Type: MS in Environmental Engineering 

Cost: $41,000.00

15

Northeastern University
Boston, MA

The College of Engineering at Northeastern University offers a masters of science program in energy systems. This master’s program in sustainability is delivered entirely online in a flexible format that won’t break to bank or conflict with your full-time job. Students can choose if they want to participate in this program on a full or part-time basis. The entire course of study can be completed anywhere from one and a half to two years. This interdisciplinary program emphasizes implementation strategies of energy systems analysis that are both effective and integrate skills including financial planning, and systems engineering technology. One of the unique aspects of this program is that they offer co-op positions that are paid, enabling students to offset some of their tuition costs. There is no GRE required for program application. There is an extensive list of restricted elective courses that includes hydropower and wind energy systems. 

Degree Type:  MS in Energy Systems

Cost: $32,000.00

16

University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY

The University of Wyoming offers a master of business administration in energy offered entirely online. Looking beyond into the future is the task professionals of climate change have today. Developing innovative renewable resources for the population is the way to beat the clock on the climate crisis. To begin offering this concentration UW spoke with industry leaders in the energy sector and came up with the following three courses: supply chain management, energy finance, and fundamentals of accounting in the energy industry. This program is an AACSB accredited online master program and is designed to be taken by professionals, especially in these times, to advance careers in energy. Unlike some online master programs that require at least one visit to campus for testing labs or thesis presentations, this program is 100% online. This program can be completed in three semesters with full-time enrollment. 

Degree Type: MBA in Energy  

Cost: $13,000.00

17

University of California-Riverside
Riverside, CA

The University of California Riverside offers a masters of science program in environmental engineering systems that is delivered entirely online. This is a fully online degree program that promises enough flexibility to enable you to continue working your full-time job. There are no residency requirements. Students can graduate in as little as 13 months’ time. Even the admissions are flexible, as they offer three start dates. Students will learn how to combine leadership skills with in-depth strategy and technical skills. There are multiple specializations, all of which include four one-credit capstone projects throughout the program. The capstones enable students to have hands-on learning opportunities. Some of the core courses include engineering in the global environment, principles of engineering management, and technology innovation for engineers. The Environmental Engineering (Water) Specialization, for example, requires such classes as water chemistry in natural and engineered systems, advanced treatment systems, physical-chemical separation processes, and biological treatment processes. 

Degree Type: MS in Environmental Engineering Systems 

Cost: $13,000.00

18

Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara University offers a masters in power systems and sustainable energy program that is offered entirely online. This master’s program in sustainability is offered through the School of Engineering and is designed to be flexible and convenient. The entire program can be completed in 2 years time. The course of study is perfect for students who are interested in achieving a career in the energy and power industry, academia, national research laboratories, and government. There are many topics covered in the coursework including the economics of energy, fundamentals of power systems, public policy, different types of renewable energies, and storage systems. Some of the required courses include an introduction to alternative energy systems, introduction to smart grids, power systems generation and transmissions, and power systems: distribution. Some of the graduate core courses include energy public policy, introduction to systems engineering management, and distribution. 

Degree Type: Master’s in Power Systems and Sustainable Energy

Cost: $37,000.00

19

University of Denver
Denver, CO

The University of Denver offers a masters program in energy and sustainability. This masters program in sustainability is delivered in an entirely online and flexible format that enables students to study from anywhere in the world. Each term can be completed in a ten-week timeframe. The curriculum is made up of five core courses, four concentration courses, and three elective courses. The list of core courses includes environmental finance and economics, research practices and applications, environmental protection law, environmental foundations and principles, environmental project management, introduction to ecology. Students will participate in both a capstone seminar and a capstone project. Some of the concentration courses include integrated environmental systems, sustainable transportation, renewable and alternative energies, and sustainability: policy and practice. Students are also given the opportunity to customize their program to meet their unique academic and career goals. 

Degree Type: Masters In Energy and Sustainability 

Cost: $29,000.00

20

University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND

The University of North Dakota offers a masters of science in energy systems engineering and a masters of engineering program. This program can be completed entirely online if the student is interested in participating in a more convenient and flexible version study option. The entire course of study is made up of 30 credit hours. Students can complete the entire program in one to two years’ time. Each year, there are three application deadlines and three start dates. The masters of engineering program track is more course based then the masters of science program that is more research-oriented. The masters of science program require a thesis project and an independent study plan. In some cases, depending on the prospective student’s situation, a GRE might be required for acceptance. Students will be in collaboration with an academic advisor as they choose classes and their specific academic path. 

Degree Type: MS in Energy Systems Engineering 

Cost: $16,000.00

21

University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

The University of Dayton offers a masters of science program in renewable and clean energy that is delivered entirely online. This online master’s in sustainability program was designed to train the next leaders to offer a future to the planet. The entire course of study is made up of 30 credit hours. There is a thesis option that includes 24 credit semester hours, which add up to eight unique classes and six credit hours for students to participate in their own research projects. The non-thesis option enables students to complete 30 credit hours in coursework, which adds up to 10 classes. The second option is considered the best fit for international students. There are four areas of research embedded into the program including design and environment, thermal systems, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and ground source heat pumps. 

Degree Type: MS in Renewable and Clean Energy 

Cost: $31,000.00

22

Wilmington University
New Castle, DE

Wilmington University’s online masters in sustainability is one of the thirteen programs offered by the MBA program. This online intensive program can be completed in 12 months. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credits. Sustainability is a hot topic as the global climate crisis continues to motivate voters to pressure state representatives for environmental laws to regulate energy and resource companies to change their process. At the roots of the solution is a trained workforce knowledgeable in environmental sustainability and this impacts the role energy resources have on the global economy. Wilmington University has flexible start times, scheduled on an eight-week cycle, so students can begin learning when they are ready.  While earning an MBA students will practice skills to obtain management and leadership roles in sustainability. There is a non-refundable application fee to apply.

Degree Type: MBA in Sustainability 

Cost: $15,000.00

23

Montana State University
Bozeman, MT

Montana State University offers a Master of Science in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences. This online professional degree is a multiple discipline degree that allows students to chart their own course of study. This program focuses on the observation and understanding of natural and managed environments, and their global function during a global climate crisis. This flexible 30 credit program gives students the freedom to select courses that fit their professional interests. Graduates will have to complete a professional paper worth 3 credits towards their degree. Prospective students for this program are required to have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or better to be accepted into the program. Although a GRE test is usually required, students entering into the spring 2012 semester are exempt due to the pandemic. 

Degree Type: M.S. in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Cost: $18,000.00

24

Franklin Pierce University
Rindge, NH

Franklin Pierce University has an Masters of Business Administration program  in Energy and Sustainability program delivered part-time online. Admission to this MBA program requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of a 2.8 GPA. Looking ahead towards impactful change in the climate industry, what the movement needs more than anything are qualified professionals. This program combines environmental core knowledge such as energy and natural resource management with business core courses, like marketing and finance. Graduates will be able to affect long-lasting environmental change in companies that are focused to recognize that environmentally friendly is the only option. Learn with industry professionals, who present material in quantitative terms so as to be applied in current work practices. In order to ensure students are qualified to be impactful when discussing renewable energy, included in the degree are building a sustainable enterprise, energy economics, and the future of energy. 

Degree Type: MBA in Energy and Sustainability 

Cost: $30,000.00

25

Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, NH

Southern New Hampshire University offers a Masters of Business Administration in sustainability and environmental compliance. This MBA program has over twenty career-focused concentrations and all of them are delivered entirely online. As the green technologies industries take off amidst this rise in the demand for environmentally friendly systems, so is the need for a check system to maintain the standards set by the state and federal municipalities. This degree is for the individuals passionate about climate justice and helping companies comply with the surmounting environmental laws. In this program, graduates will master the skills necessary to advocate for environmental sustainability that makes economic sense while developing strategies for positive change. While the core courses are not unlike traditional online masters of business administration programs, they also incorporate topics like ecological and renewable energy. Students will study complex climate issues within a theological framework. This program can be completed in as few as 15 months. 

Degree Type: MBA in Sustainability and Environmental Compliance

Cost: $40,000.00

Not only is the field of sustainability incredibly vast, but in the current world we are living in, the positions that exist are only growing to meet the needs of the multitude of planetary challenges. Global warming is becoming more of an obstacle for all who live on this planet. The aforementioned top 25 masters programs offer a survey into the world of curricula and skills related to this diverse career path. 

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Sustainability?

When considering masters in sustainability jobs there are many directions one can take. For starters, most positions will offer a leading-edge, as the masters programs in sustainability offer students the managerial and leadership skills that are beyond the education that you might receive in a bachelor, associates, or certificate program. Some of the careers graduates of a master’s degree in sustainability can look towards include chief sustainability officers, sustainability engineers, sustainability analysts, and sustainability director positions. Some other careers that are relevant to this advanced degree pathway include sustainability director, zoologist or wildlife biologist, and environmental scientist. These positions can exist within consulting firms, government agencies, academic contexts, the fields of insurance, and energy. In fact, expert consultants make up a large number of leadership roles when considering masters in sustainability jobs. Masters in sustainability programs cover a myriad of topics that enable students to graduate and move into such fields. This includes analytical, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. Communication skills are imperative for success in every career path, and in the world of sustainability, they are especially necessary. This is in line with the concept of skill-building in terms of research skills and experience as well as interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Professionals in the fields of sustainability have a lot to contend with when confronting the urgency of environmental degradation. Being able to effectively and efficiently problem solve in the field of sustainability can make students ripe for a variety of professions within the field. 

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Sustainability?

Not only is this field a good one if you want to make a lasting impact, but it can prove to be lucrative as well. For example, according to payscale, a chief sustainability officer salary is anywhere $54,000 and $197,000. On average, a chief sustainability officer’s salary is something to the tune of $88,261. The average salary for a sustainability engineering salary is $71,686. There is quite a salary range for a sustainability analyst career. The average sustainability analyst salary is $59,913 according to payscale. You are sure to make a pretty penny if you are interested in investing in a career as a sustainability director. A sustainability director’s salary is on average $102,606. There are many positions that are similar to the ones mentioned above with lateral salaries. A sustainability coordinator’s salary is not unlike the director’s pay range. A master’s in sustainability management salary can be akin to a payscale expressed above as well. It is a wide range, but the potential is there.

Related:

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What Can I Do with a Master’s in Sustainability?