Sustainability Degree and Certificate Programs Part 1: The Green MBA

By Shannon Houde, founder of Walk of Life Consulting.

With the influx of "green" degree programs popping up at universities around the world, my clients who are considering going back to school often ask me what type of degree is best. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to education and training in the sustainability realm, some options are better than others depending on your individual experience level and professional goals. In this five-post series I will review some of the most popular types of sustainability degree and certificate programs to help you choose the one that fits you best. Let’s start with the Sustainable MBA:

The Sustainable MBA

A sustainable or "green" Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is much like a traditional MBA but with a special focus on social and environmental issues. Students in sustainable MBA programs still study traditional business subjects like economics and finance, but their curriculums emphasize triple bottom line and often include dedicated modules on green business issues. There are three general types of sustainable MBA programs:

  • Dedicated programs - These are MBAs offered by business schools with an exclusive focus on sustainability (ex: Presidio Graduate School in California).
  • Specialized tracks - Some schools offer an optional specialization, certificate, or additional degree in sustainability in conjunction with a general MBA. (ex: the University of Michigan’s joint MBA/MS in Global Sustainable Enterprise).
  • Traditional MBAs with a "green tint" - An increasingly popular approach to the sustainable MBA is for business schools to adapt their traditional MBA to emphasize social and environmental sustainability as a core part of its curriculum. (ex: Stanford Graduate School of Business).

Who it’s for:

Like a traditional MBA, admission into a green MBA program is highly competitive, usually requiring at least three to five years of professional experience, high GMAT scores, and relevant prerequisite courses. Also like a traditional MBA, an MBA in sustainability can be an excellent choice for rising executives, career changers and aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to lead in their fields.

Example Programs:

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series on Master’s Degrees in sustainability.


About Shannon
Shannon Houde, MBA, is founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career coaching business focused solely on the environmental, sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) fields.