The MBA in Sustainability degree equips business professionals to help companies and organizations achieve profitability while maintaining environmental responsibility.
With increasing government regulation, environmental responsibility is no longer an option. Corporations can no longer increase profits by polluting and destroying the environment. They must employ sustainable strategies, and that means hiring MBAs with specialized training in sustainability.
Students graduating with this degree learn how to keep business competitive and profitable via sustainable strategies. The MBA in Sustainability program, also known as the “Green MBA,” prepares students for management positions, emphasizing strong knowledge of core business skills through the lens of sustainability.
Jobs in sustainability have varying responsibilities across different companies. Some sustainability professionals have a specific title underscoring sustainability, such as sustainability manager, environmental vice president, or director of corporate responsibility. Some sustainability professionals work for consulting firms.
Other business professionals have sustainability responsibilities in addition to their main job duties. Many general managers and operations managers, for instance, ensure companies implement sustainability strategies in daily operations, including the production process.
Degree programs in sustainability focus on the vital skills managers need to ensure business success without sacrificing environmental responsibility. The typical MBA in Sustainability program teaches students how to earn profits through methods that reduce harm to the environment and society.
An MBA in Sustainability degree program therefore emphasizes the Triple Bottom Line (abbreviated TBL or 3BL): Profit, People, and Planet.
MBA in Sustainability degree ranking guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, faculty strength, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Sustainability MBA Degree Programs
1. University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
(Chapel Hill, NC)
The University of North Carolina, a public research university, is consistently among the nation’s highest ranked universities. The Carnegie Foundation recognizes University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a research university with very high research activity. The university has a longstanding reputation for its focus on sustainability.
The Kenan-Flagler Business School offers an online MBA with a Sustainable Enterprise concentration. With over 15 years of experience in sustainability research and education, the Kenan-Flagler Business School describes its sustainable enterprise program as a “triple bottom line” — financial profitability, ecological integrity, and social equity.” UNC’s Business School has received AACSB accreditation.
The school provides MBA@UNC Global Immersions four times per year in order for students to travel to major business centers globally. Students are required to attend two immersions before completing the MBA program but may attend as many as they desire. In addition to the geographical and cultural adventure, the immersions allow students, professors and business leaders to collaborate in experiential learning activities and establish personal and professional relationships which can reap long-term benefits.
In addition to earning the required credits in the core MBA program, students in the Sustainable Enterprise concentration must take 7.5 credits in electives from the concentration. Concentration electives include courses such as:
- Innovations in Green Building
- Sustainable Operations
- Strategies in Sustainable Enterprise
- Systems Thinking for Sustainable Enterprise
- The Energy Value Chain
- New Urbanism, Smart Growth & Sustainable Community Development
Students may also complete a sustainability-focused STAR project or Independent Study to satisfy elective credits. Beyond the classes in sustainable enterprise, students at UNC Kenan-Flagler may also take courses toward the concentration outside the business school in areas such as environmental studies, international studies, city and regional planning, public policy, and social work.
Located in the heart of Boston, Northeastern University is a large private nonprofit research university with a global perspective. The Carnegie Foundation recognizes Northeastern University as a research university with high research activity. The university has received recognition for its experiential learning via its co-op programs.
The D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern offers an online MBA with a specialization in sustainability degree. Northeastern University has received AACSB accreditation. The 18-course, 50-credit online program has fifteen core courses and five courses in areas of specialization. The school provides nine starting dates, available throughout the year, with each course lasting three to five weeks.
The online MBA provides students with a strong foundation in operating businesses in a global marketplace. The sustainability MBA features five interdisciplinary courses which help students envision services, products, and strategic goals from a sustainability view and the policies and processes required to be more sustainable. Each course focuses on leadership, strategy, economics, innovation, and the supply chain of sustainability. The online MBA with a sustainability specialization covers issues such as energy, environment, and the health of living things as well as public institutions, government, markets, businesses and personal attitudes and behaviors to support sustainability.
3. Green Mountain College
Green Mountain College, a private environmental liberal arts college, offers a set of core courses in natural and environmental sciences, philosophy, history and writing known as the Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA) curriculum. The college has taught sustainability for more than fifteen years. Due to the overall focus of the college, sustainability is included throughout the entire MBA curriculum.
In general, Green Mountain faculty represent leading academicians in the “green” field and bring expertise in areas such as sustainable marketing, environmental law, and environmental technologies.
The college names a scholar in residence for the Sustainable MBA program each year as part of the brief on-campus residencies for graduate students which occurs in mid-September of each academic year.
The college’s online Sustainable MBA program features a total of 37 credits. Courses last six weeks with a week’s break between each course. Most students in the online MBA program spend about 21 hours weekly on coursework and complete the program in two years. If the need arises, students in the Sustainable MBA degree program may take a temporary break from the program.
Marylhurst University is a private Catholic liberal arts university in Marylhurst, Oregon, close to Portland. The Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary established the university. The school transitioned to a liberal arts institution separate from the religious order in 1959.
Marylhurst offers a 100 percent online MBA in Sustainable Business degree which, according to Marylhurst University, focuses on “the triple bottom line –- people, planet and profit.” The MBA in Sustainable Business provides four areas of study concentrations:
- Food Systems Management
- Green Development
- Green Information Technology
- Renewable Energy
The online program offers a five-week class accelerated format which allows students to complete the program in as little as 18 months.
The program requires earning a total of 48 credits, including credits from core business courses and concentration courses. Students also develop a capstone project to apply their MBA learning in a real-world way.
(New Castle, DE)
Wilmington University is a private, nonprofit research institution in New Castle, Delaware. The Carnegie Foundation includes Wilmington University in its list of Doctoral/Research Universities.
The university consists of seven colleges: Education, Business, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Health Professions, Arts & Sciences, Technology and Online & Experiential Learning.
Wilmington University offers an online MBA with an Environmental Sustainability concentration. The 36-credit program in sustainability features seven core courses and five concentration courses including:
- Principles of Environmental Sustainability
- Economic and Financial Analysis of Environmental Issues
- Management Using Sustainable Green Technologies
- Environmental Regulations and Ethical Issues
- Strategic Planning for Sustainable Organizations
The MBA with Environmental Sustainability degree program integrates accounting, business strategy, economics, finance, leadership, management, and quantitative method into all its courses.
6. Franklin Pierce University
Franklin Pierce is a private, nonprofit university focused on the liberal arts. The university encompasses the College at Rindge and the College of Graduate & Professional Studies, offering small classes and personal attention for learning. The university offers a 100 percent online MBA degree in Energy & Sustainability Studies.
The MBA in Energy & Sustainability Studies curriculum focuses on developing skills in business operations, marketing, finance, and resource/energy reserve management. The program covers non-renewable and renewable energy as well as water, raw materials, and food sources. The program also covers conservation and exploitation issues.
The program consists of 39 credits. With four new start terms per year, the normal pace of study means completing the program in 18-24 months but, on an accelerated pace, students can complete the program in 12 months.
Students can obtain a graduate certificate in Energy & Sustainability Studies through taking these courses:
- Seminar in Leadership
- Financial Management
- The Future of Energy
- Business and Society
- Building a Sustainable Enterprise
- Energy Economics
7. City University of Seattle
City University of Seattle, also known as CityU, is a private, non-profit institution in Seattle. The university offers various online MBA program through its School of Management. The online Master of Business Administration with a Sustainable Business emphasis requires 48 credit hours, 36 in core business courses and 12 in the specialization area of sustainability. Other focus areas include accounting, change leadership, entrepreneurship, finance, global management, human resource management, marketing, and project management.
Students can take the Master of Business Administration program 100 percent online or in mixed-mode, i.e. part online and part classroom. These courses include topics such as Environmental and Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and Business Opportunity. With the addition of one more course — The Responsibilities of Global Citizenship – students earn a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business in addition to the MBA degree.
8. University of Saint Francis
(Fort Wayne, IN)
The University of St. Francis, a liberal arts university, upholds Catholic and Franciscan values. The university has a long commitment of concern for the environment. The university offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as graduate and undergraduate certificates.
The university’s Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership offers a Master of Business Administration in Sustainability online degree. The program blends the best of the university’s Master of Business Administration with its Master in Environmental Health programs.
Students can complete the program in 18 – 24 months, depending on a full-time or part-time pace of study.
9. Edgewood College
Edgewood College is a Catholic (Dominican) liberal arts college located in Madison, Wisconsin. The school’s business program has received accreditation from the AACSB.
The college offers an online Master of Business Administration with a Sustainability Leadership concentration, one of six concentration areas. The MBA program consists of various types of courses such as: foundation courses (such as Macro-economics), interdisciplinary courses (in study areas of ethics and change), core courses (such as Strategic Marketing and Executive Communications), integrating core courses (such as Strategic Management and International Economics), and electives and concentrations.
Students seeking to earn the concentration must take a minimum of five courses for a total of 15 pre-approved elective credits. Concentration courses include Sustainable Development Leadership, Ecological Sustainability and Social and Economic Sustainability.
The college offers an optional international experience as part of the MBA program.
It typically takes approximately three years to complete the online MBA program, studying part-time.
10. DeVry University, Keller Graduate School of Management
(Downers Grove, IL)
DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management is a part of DeVry Education Group, a for-profit higher educational business. DeVry Education Group has more than 60,000 students across 90 North American campuses and over the Internet worldwide.
The Keller Graduate School of Management features an online MBA with a Sustainability Management concentration. Keller offers eighteen additional MBA concentrations.
The MBA program demands a total of 48 credit hours and a minimum of 14 courses: five core program courses (and 15 credit hours) such as Leadership and Organizational Behavior, five program specific courses (and 15 credit hours) such as Legal, Political and Ethical Dimensions of Business, six credit hours of electives and four of these five courses (and 12 credit hours) for the Sustainability Management concentration:
- Organizational Sustainability
- Sustainability Operations
- Business and Environmental Sustainability
- Sustainability Marketing
- Sustainability Project Management