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

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Best Online Associates Sustainable Studies

There is no doubt that the fields of green technology and in general “green jobs” are on the rise. Not only is this a lucrative and in-demand field, but it is a pathway that will enable one to actually make a difference. Many “green jobs” were designed to work against global climate change, by offering alternatives to fossil fuels for energy. You might be looking at a green technology associates, a renewable energy associates degree, an associates degree in renewable energy, or an environmental sustainability degree; all of which are fairly new pathways that have made their way into the public eye, as “green jobs” continue to be in demand.

Many of these degree programs have a specific focal point, including an emphasis on various natural resources such as forests, air, land, and minerals, all with a lens on preservation. Associates degree programs are perfect for those who are interested in getting their feet wet. This can be a  great way to explore if this is a good path for you, and then you can decide to transfer to a four-year degree program from there. There are many careers that are available in the green industry, however, if you are interested in staying where you are upon achieving an associate. They often include the labor end of the discipline including green technicians and building assistants, among others. We have come up with a list of the top 25 associate’s in sustainability programs based on the following metric:

  • Cost 
  • Reputation
  • Graduate Success Rate

1

Columbia College
Columbia, MO

Columbia College is a renowned private institution of higher learning in the state of Missouri. They offer a Christian foundation in all of their coursework. They have been coeducational since 1970. As far as green technology associates go, Columbia College offers an associate degree program in environmental studies. This course of study enables students to dive into a number of topics related to the environment including policy, politics, and law, as well as management skills and social implications. This program is available through Columbia’s online campus and is offered in a flexible format that is convenient for working professionals. Some of the core major courses include literature and ecological balance, physical science survey, resource management, principles of biology, and environmental ethics. This entire course of study was designed to give students the skills to look closely at natural systems as they relate to human, social and political implications. 

Degree Type: AS in Environmental Studies

Cost: $5,000.00

2

San Juan College

San Juan College offers an innovative and unique associate degree program in Tribal Energy Management Studies. Much of the degree focuses on learning the ins and outs of tribal energy management. Some of the coursework that the program requires includes completing 15 hours of tribal energy classes that focus on a myriad of topics. Such topics include Native American culture and history, science, and business as they relate to energy development on tribal lands. Not only is the program innovative in coursework, but also in delivery. It is structured in a non-traditional format that includes five seminar-like classes. They each are one week in length. Students are required to undergo 15-16 hours of general education classes. In addition, there are 15 required credits of online energy core coursework and 15 credit hours of energy concentration courses that students select themselves. 

Degree Type: AAS in Tribal Energy Management Studies

Cost: $5,000.00

3

Columbia College (Sonara, CA)

Columbia College in Sonara, California offers two associates of science programs in the subjects of Forestry and Natural Resources. Though these green technology associate’s degree programs can be taken fully online, they pride themselves on their gorgeous 280-acre campus that offers a variety of ecosystems that are perfect for exploring the natural world as it relates to the coursework at hand. These programs are career-minded, as they utilize the most up-to-date equipment and technology that is critical for building an understanding of watersheds, forest surveying, forestry, mapping, as well as other necessary skills. There is a myriad of off-campus sites as well as one that students can use as their laboratory: including Yosemite National Park, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and Stanislaus National Forest, as well as many more. This is a perfect program for students who are interested in transferring to a relevant four-year degree program, or for those who are interested in kick-starting their career upon completion. 

Degree Type: AS in Forestry and Natural Resources

Cost: $5,000.00

4

Central Piedmont Community College

The Central Piedmont Community College offers a renewable energy associate degree program in sustainability technologies. This program is designed for green building enthusiasts who are interested in building a professional skill set in technologies that relate to green building, conservation, and ethics. Some of the skills that are delivered in this program include ecology, math, CAD, sustainability, GIS, biology, and alternative solutions to energy problems. Piedmont believes that it is imperative to have hands-on experience that is coupled with classwork. Students will be able to engage in a real-world education with hands-on opportunities if they so choose. This program makes it easy to transfer to a four-year degree upon completion of the student is interested. It is also a great way to get your foot in the door in the world of green jobs if that is the goal. 

Degree Type: AAS in Sustainability Technologies

Cost: $6,000.00

5

Lane Community College

Lane Community College offers an associate in applied science in energy management that can be completed entirely online. This green technology associate is delivered through the Science Division of the college and is offered entirely online. One special fact about this program is it is the first of its kind in the nation. In the time that they have been offering this course of study, they have perfected an energy management program that can contribute to building professionals in this lucrative and imperative field as it relates to combating global climate change. It offers the necessary training for students who want to immediately engage in professional careers as technicians in the field of energy as well as those who are interested in transferring to four-year programs in a similar field. This course of study has been offered 100 percent online for the last few years, making it a more flexible and convenient option for students with a variety of needs. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Management 

Cost: $6,000.00

6

New Mexico Junior College

New Mexico Junior College offers an associate in applied science in energy technology that can be completed entirely online. This associate’s degree in renewable energy is perfect for students who are interested in immediately engaging in low level technical green jobs upon program completion, as well as those who are interested in transferring to a four-year degree program. The program offers two areas of emphasis including petroleum technology and nuclear energy. The course work is in line with the country’s initiatives to improve the infrastructure for green energy. The program is offered entirely online, providing students with the opportunity to study in their own environments while still having access to all of the resources that New Mexico Junior College has to offer. They ensure that even within this online format, students will easily have access to all of their faculty members and gain the regular support that they need. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Technology 

Cost: $7,000.00

7

Texas State Technical College

Texas State Technical College offers an associate in applied science programs in solar energy technology. This course of study is interested in bringing Texans to the frontlines of the field of energy technology, and they have shown this by being one of the first to offer degree programming in solar energy technology. Though at least the majority of this program is taught online, students will have many opportunities for hands-on learning. Many of the skills covered in the coursework include installation, photovoltaic design, troubleshooting, maintenance, and electrical construction. TSTC has partnerships with the State Energy Conservation Office and Texas Renewable Energy Consortium. Within four semesters students can have completed their associate’s degree and in the field working as a professional in the field of solar energy technology. Many graduates have gone on to work at companies such as emphasize energy, tesla, SMA solar technology, and solar edge. 

Degree Type: AAS in Solar Energy Technology 

Cost: $7,000.00

8

Community College of Philadelphia

The Community College of Philadelphia offers an associate in applied science and engineering technology that can be completed entirely online. This course of study prepares students for careers in many occupations related to science and technology, as well as transfer to four-year degree programs that are technology-related. This program has made the list as it is an excellent foundation for any students who are interested in the foundational skills to apply to the field of environmental technology. There is a myriad of scientific classes required to complete the program including an introduction to chemistry and biomedical equipment technology. Additional relevant coursework includes safety, health, and the environment and introduction to nanotechnology. Students will have a lot of agency in their coursework as they will be able to choose classes that emphasize their particular career and future education goals.  

Degree Type: AAS in Applied Science and Engineering Technology

Cost: $8,000.00

9

Hudson Valley Community College

The Hudson Valley Community College offers an associate in applied arts programs in clean energy management that can be delivered online with some on-campus requirements. This renewable energy associate degree brings together business courses and renewable energy coursework to give students a well-rounded foundation for the disciplines at hand. This course of study emphasizes vocational pathways, ensuring students will be job-ready upon completion. Many students, however, choose to transfer to a four-year degree program once the associate degree is complete to further their study and career options. The faculty in this program are the same experts that teach the on-campus programming and offer the same rigor and current information. One of the perks of this program is convenience. Students can participate in coursework when it is best for them and don’t have to contend with set class times. 

Degree Type: AAS in Clean Energy Management 

Cost: $8,000.00

10

Salt Lake Community College

Salt Lake Community College offers an associate in applied science program in energy management that can be completed entirely online. The goal of this program is to make it easy for students to transfer into a four-year degree program following completion of the renewable energy associate degree. In fact, they have a partnership with Bismarck State College that allows students to easily transfer into their online bachelor’s program in applied science in energy management. There are some prerequisites for the program, which include math, writing, and excel. This course of study was explicitly designed to serve working professionals, and therefore, the schedule is extremely flexible and convenient for non-traditional learners to get their needs met. Some of the courses that make up the program include an intro to energy management, HVAC energy analysis, commercial energy analysis, building energy simulations, and energy control strategies. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Management

Cost: $8,000.00

11

Lamar Community College

Lamar Community College offers an environmental sustainability associate degree program in renewable energy technologies. Lamar Community College is the smallest school within the Colorado Community College System, with the benefit of intimate class sizes, even for online coursework. This course of study can be completed by participating in a variety of online courses. All of the classes in total add up to 60 credit hours. The required general education classes make up 35 credits. Students will choose from a long list of classes to fulfill a fourteen credit requirement that is major related. These class options include Introduction to Energy Technologies, Solar Thermal System Install, Solar Photovoltaic System Installation, and Construction Industry Standards among many others. This degree pathway is very transfer-friendly, however, students must achieve a C grade or better in each class for them to be viable towards a transfer. 

Degree Type: AAS in Renewable Energy Technology 

Cost: $9,000.00

12

Delaware Technical Community College

The Delaware Technical Community College offers an associate in energy management degree that is designed to support students to be career-ready. This academic pathway was designed to be a transfer-friendly degree program. In fact, it is considered a connected degree program, which means that it is easily transferable to a four-year degree program. Some of the careers that can be achieved with this degree program include energy analyst, energy auditor, energy manager, energy program manager. With this associate’s degree alone graduates can earn a solid income of $30,000-$40,000. Some of the additional skills covered in the program include communication skills that are effective and clear, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, quantitative reasoning combined with scientific inquiry. In addition, students will learn about the hardware and software related to building lighting systems. Students will also be able to prepare and make presentable technical reports. 

Degree Type: Associate in Energy Management 

Cost: $9,000.00

13

Santa Fe Community College

Santa Fe Community College offers a Sustainable Technologies program with a concentration in Solar Energy as an Associate of Applied Science degree. This is an engineering-focused course, and for students who want to use their mechanical minds to join the green energy movement. This is not traditionally an online program, yet Santa Fe Community College is offering its courses towards this field of study online for the time being as universities and higher education institutions continue to assess the safety risks of in-person learning. The bulk of the degree is spent taking general education courses, which are required to graduate. The focus is not only on understanding renewable energy but on traditional energy processes. Solar Photovoltaic focus will include classes such as design and installation, advanced solar photovoltaic design, and solar thermal installation. These classes are primarily delivered as labs. Many graduates have gone on to work as: solar Industry sales and technical support specialists, solar hot water system installers, and solar construction project managers. 

Degree Type: AAS in Sustainable Technologies, Solar Energy 

Cost: $9,000.00

14

Bismarck State College
Bismarck, ND

Bismarck State College has an Associate of Applied Science in Energy Services & Renewable Technician program. This green technology associate degree is offered entirely online. This flexible option allows those passionate about climate change and the environment to continue their study. This course of study begins in the spring, with classes pre-scheduled at a set tie each semester. Each course takes 3-4weeks to complete, for students to be successful they will need to set aside 15-20 hours each week. The Energy Services and Renewable Energy Technician program is completed with 70 credit hours. This is a limited enrolled program. Limited enrollment means that not all applicants who apply will be accepted. Due to the limited enrollment status, the program can fill very quickly, so it is important to pay attention to the application process. Once accepted, graduates will have mastered skills pertaining to the conventional and renewable energy industry. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Services & Renewable Technician

Cost: $10,000.00

15

Colby Community College

Colby Community College has an Associate of Applied Science in Sustainable/Renewable Energy offered completely online. This two-year program has two concentrations of solar photovoltaic and wind technology. The need for qualified renewable energy technicians will serve the 105% growth in jobs in the next 5 years. The predicted growth is what is making programs like Colby Community Colleges renewable energy associates degrees online. Students can learn at their own pace from the comfort of their home, or while maintaining employment. The entire course of study consists of 66 credit hours, 17 credit hours are dedicated to general education courses. There are two specializations to choose from, solar photovoltaic track or wind technology track. The benefits of beginning with an associate in renewable energy is you can decide where your interest lies, before seeking an advanced degree in the field. 

Degree Type: AAS in Sustainable/Renewable Energy

Cost: $10,000.00

16

Kent State University

Kent State University offers an Associate of Technical Studies in Environment Management delivered entirely online. The complete course of study is 61 credit hours,  for students who have finished registered green industry apprenticeship or journeyman training programs. This prerequisite accounts for 27 credits towards their degree. The registered apprenticeship is a key part of the degree and a requirement for acceptance into the program. The program focuses on the managerial and business aspects These courses are segmented into 11 courses offered online.  Some of which include general education courses, business management, and communications. Topics taught to focus on green industry management, management technology, and labor relations. Graduates of this program will have mastered skills to predict future environmental change, and help understand systems and structures of the earth, so as to minimize environmental degradation. 

Degree Type: ATS in Environment Management

Cost: $10,000.00

17

Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College’s Associates of Applied Science in Water Environmental Technology is a fully hands-on online program. What is truly unique about this online degree is that it offers an innovative experience, dedicated to providing an online course and an internship. This course of study makes it easy to transfer credits to a four-year program. Kirkwood Community college works directly with the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. Graduates will reflect the rigorous environment through an understanding of the concepts required to aid the management and operating staff of municipal, commercial, and industrial facilities. Graduates can qualify to work as  Water treatment system operator Wastewater treatment system operator Environmental engineering technician. This is a two-year program, four-semester, and 1 summer with opportunities to receive financial aid. Water quality specialization requires certification, this program provides exam support for students interested. 

Degree Type: AAS in Water Environmental Technology

Cost: $10,000.00

18

Moraine Park Technical College

Moraine Park Technical College has a Water Quality Technology program offered as an Associate of Applied Science degree. This course of study is delivered entirely online. Water quality is one of the scariest environmental issues humanity faces. Water technology assesses recreational waste and potable water for contaminants. Moraine Park’s environmental sustainability associates program prepares students to test, analyze, and improve water quality procedures at water treatment facilities. To apply there is a non-refundable $30 application fee; a placement test may be required if applicants do not have a 3.0 GPA or higher on official high school or college transcripts. Upon completion of this course of study graduates will qualify to work as Water quality technicians earning an income of $40,000- $50,000 annually. The entire program is designed to give students the skills to examine and analyze current systems while focusing on improvement. 

Degree Type: AAS in Water Quality Technology 

Cost: $10,000.00

19

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

Minnesota West Community and Technical College offer a fully online AAS in Energy Technical Specialist. This 60 credit hour program consists of 15 general education courses and 35 credits in core courses pertaining to renewable and traditional energy fields, in addition to selecting 10 credits in a specialization. Specializations include Wind Energy, Ethanol, Biodiesel, Fossil Fuels, or Nuclear Power Generation. This degree is offered collectively from multiple colleges in the Minnesota State College and University system. Through its online format, students will take courses from not only Minnesota West but partnering institutions. Graduates will be prepared to work as technicians in energy technology, making on average between $20-$30 per hour according to Payscale.com. The benefits of this program include flexibility; students can learn on their terms while working full-time. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Technical Specialist

Cost: $11,000.00

20

Century College

Century College has an Energy Technical Specialist in Associate of Applied Science program for individuals interested in Solar Power. This is a hybrid program for students in Minnesota, classes are delivered in a mix of day, evening, and online formats. Century College is an affordable choice for students interested in renewable energy associate degrees. The programming total is 60 credits, with completion time being two years. Graduates of this program are often transferred to four-year colleges to pursue advanced degrees in renewable energy. Some pursue careers as Solar Assessors, Solar Installer, or Installation Supervisors. Completion of this program will prepare students for all aspects of solar energy, as the demand for renewable energy increases so does the demand for skilled professionals in the field. Solar energy requires an in-depth understanding of how to interpret engineer drawings, construction fundamentals, basic and digital electronics, and advanced photovoltaic systems, which are all key concepts of this program. 

Degree Type: AAS in Energy Technical Specialist, Solar Power Track

Cost: $11,000.00

21

Ocean County College

Ocean County College offers an Associate in Science in Environmental Studies program that is available entirely online. Green technology associates programs all start at one integral concept, understanding and monitoring our natural environment. Graduates of this Environmental Studies program will learn how to monitor the humanities’ impact on the environment as well as solving environmental issues within our society and on earth. Upon graduation students will qualify to transfer to four-year Bachelor in Science programs in environmental studies or Sciences. Although it is possible for graduates to begin their careers in the environmental sector with this degree. Students are not only required to take a significant number of general education courses but focus on a course in the field, mastering skills to be applied in environmental education centers, public relations firms, testing labs, environmental research organizations, and other sectors of sustainability.  

Degree Type: AS in Environmental Studies 

Cost: $12,000.00

22

Southern Arkansas University Tech

Southern Arkansas University Tech offers an Associate in Professional Studies in Environmental Management, that is only available online. Begin your career in sustainability from a management position, as the need for environmental professionals increases, with an APS degree graduates can get in front of the competition with a supervisory role. The Environmental Manager program prepares graduates for employment opportunities in water and solid waste Industrial and Municipal facilities. Although advertised as a fully online program there is a required 15 credit residency that requires students to be on campus. Pursuing an environmental sustainability associate degree that can be transferred to a BS program is ideal for students interested in matriculating to an advanced degree. As a professional studies program, 36 credits will be general education courses, while 27 credits are necessary for your focus areas for completion, for a total of 63 credits.

Degree Type: APS in Environmental Management

Cost: $13,000.00

23

SUNY Delhi

State University of New York at Delhi offers an Integrated Energy Systems Associate of Applied Science degree. This is not usually an online program, though SUNY Delhi is offering this course online to protect professors, students, and the community as we try to understand the new normal of this time. This program focuses on the current energy systems and new renewable energy systems and how to merge the two. This is an important aspect of renewable energy, so as not to create more waste for the earth, it’s imperative to put in use the old technology alongside the new. Graduates of this program will be able to thrive in the alternative and renewable energy sector as electrical technicians. This course of study covers metering and residential energy technologies like solar arrays, wind turbines, generators, and energy storage systems. What is exciting about this temporarily hybrid program is you will have the best of both worlds, of traditional and online learning. SUNY Delhi boost and Electrical Technologie Center equipped with labs designed to deliver hands-on learning opportunities while still pursuing the degree. 

Degree Type: AAS in Integrated Energy Systems

Cost: $15,000.00

24

University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Amherst, MA

This Associate’s in Science degree program offers a sustainable food and farming track given through the University of Massachusetts. It is delivered 100% online. Environmental sustainability associates degrees begin with agriculture. The course of study is for students who are curious about the world of sustainable agriculture. As an online program students will get to choose their interests. Whether production and marketing, agricultural education, and/or public policy, advocacy, and community development. or all of the above, students will get to curate their unique focus. To gain acceptance into this program students must have a high school GPA of 2.0. This may be bypassed with official college transcripts if applicants completed more than 24 credits at another school. Transfer students may transfer up to 30 credits toward their 60 credit AS degree. Online programs dealing with such a topic can seem overwhelming, yet after looking at the impressive online faculty page it seems any student dedicated to learning and having an impact in this industry will be in good hands. 

Degree Type: AS in Sustainable Food and Farming

Cost: $21,000.00

25

New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich, RI

New England Institute of Technology offers an Associate in Science in Electrical Technology with Renewable Energy. The program title is a mouth full, which is accurate when describing this course of study. Although not a traditionally online program, due to Covid-19, this program is offered online. Yet it would behoove those enrolling in this course to be living in Rhode Island when considering this program. Renewable Energy and with an emphasis on Electrical technology at NEIT prepares students to enter the energy industry as entry-level workers. Applying theory and real-life practice is the strategy for faculty as well as learning how to troubleshoot. Students with an AS can go on to apprenticeships or advance degree programs to continue advancing in the field of study. This program prepares you to take the NABCEP entry-level certification exam. Choosing the New England Institute of technology means choosing excellence, this 116 credit course is rigorous and academically challenging. 

Degree Type: AS in Electrical Technology with Renewable Energy

Cost: $31,000.00

What Can I Do with an Associate’s in Sustainability? 

Many students are wondering how to start a career in sustainability. Sustainability initiatives are being released daily all over the world as consumers young and old demand a solution to climate change. The environmentalist lead green movement has forced legislation to roll out up and down the economy. From schools to corporations to churches the word is out, go green, or go home. This leaves a myriad of opportunities for qualified professionals to take advantage of entry-level jobs in sustainability. The best job for people with sustainability associates degrees is a career in green technology. Solar Power installer, Wind Technology Technicians, Water quality technicians, all positions that can be obtained with an Associates degree. Careers in green technology can seem overwhelming, so first assess your skill sets and determine if a high tech career is for you. Solar Photovoltaic technology and wind technology are in high demand as well as innovative minds to help assess, design, and install renewable energy options in places like corporate buildings and urban landscapes. 

What are Some Jobs in Green Technology?

Jobs in Green Technology are endless as companies discover that there is not only an environmental benefit but green technology is also cost-effective. Green technologies jobs are important to help mitigate the effects of human activity on the environment. As manufacturing companies innovate the way their products work there is now an overwhelming need for green technical specialists to support the consumers as they wade into the green eco-friendly waters. Solar Energy specialist, clean energy analyst, solar panel installer, field energy sales consultant are a few green energy technology jobs. As with most products, there is a need for knowledgeable individuals to present and market new technology to consumers, green technology sales jobs are just as important as the hand on skills of the technician. Green technology job opportunities are endless, solar, wind and electric technology is surfaces every day, there are also needs for solar engineers, designers, and software developers. Green technology job training is beginning to reflect the evolution we are seeing in green technology jobs, most programs are encouraging a hands-on learning method so as students can continue to question current processes so as to make them better. 

How Much Can I Make with an Associate’s in Sustainability?

There are so many benefits to getting an online associate in sustainability, in the above we have listed 25 schools with online options for obtaining associates in a wide range of subsets all pertaining to green renewable energy, environment, and green technology. The big question on most minds is how to make money while trying to save the environment. While this list doesn’t provide salaries for all the positions available we will look at a range or median salary for Energy Analyst. Sustainability job salary average $56,000 according to Payscale. The demand for this position will only increase as environmental sustainability initiatives continue to affect the long term affordability of a company. 

Related: 

25 Best Online Graduate Certificates in Sustainability Studies

25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability Studies

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