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Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

Learn how good environmental policy makes good business sense when you earn an online MBA in sustainability. Explore standout programs, typical coursework, admissions requirements, and FAQs relating to this innovative degree program.

Author: Kyra Sutherland

Editor: Staff Editor

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A joyful man with arms spread wide, standing in a lush bamboo forest, looking up towards the light filtering through the tall, dense green bamboo stalks, contemplating the best online MBA in sustainability programs for 2021.

Do you cringe when you see a gas-guzzling vehicle drive by? Does excessive packaging seem wasteful and expensive to you? If these are the kinds of things you question, then an online MBA in sustainability could be a great next step in your education and your career.

Choosing a master’s degree in sustainability is no small feat. You’ll have lots of questions that need to be answered, such as how much it will cost, how long it will take, what you will learn, and what kinds of jobs you’ll qualify for. This guide was created to answer these questions so you can find a program and school that fits you.

Your choice to investigate an online MBA in sustainability rather than a traditional on-campus program probably means you’re looking for flexibility without compromising the quality of your education. Pursuing your degree online gives you the convenience you need to advance your current career or start a completely new one.

An online MBA in sustainable business covers topics such as renewable energy, safety training, environmental health, eco-friendly policies, and environmental law. With these skills, opportunities will open to further your career in this rapidly growing field, allowing you to step into leadership positions and shape a career that fits your vision of the world you want to live in.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to find the best online MBA in sustainability for you.

B-School Spotlights: Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs for 2023

You’ll need to consider the cost, availability, coursework, and quality of the programs when seeking your master’s in sustainability programs. Below, we’ve listed two of the top online MBA in sustainability programs that are accredited, affordable, and highly rated. Learn about the ins and outs of the programs, and be sure to check back for our full list of rankings, which will arrive later this year.

Southern New Hampshire University

Logo of Southern New Hampshire University featuring stylized text in dark green with a golden leaf graphic above the 'h' in "Southern," symbolizing its commitment to sustainability programs.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)offers an online MBA with a concentration in sustainability for students looking to lead the way in environmental compliance and helping organizations meet sustainability goals. The program’s courses cover energy-related challenges and opportunities, practical solutions to create eco-friendly strategies, and ever-changing environmental laws. An online MBA in sustainable business is perfect for students looking to be accepted into large or small environmental firms to work as environmental specialists or in the renewable energy trade.

The groundbreaking SNHU curriculum enables MBA students the opportunity to earn industry-recognized business credentials throughout the program that they can add to their resumes, even before graduation.

To be admitted, students apply online and provide undergraduate transcripts showing a 2.75 GPA. Students with at least a 2.0 GPA may be accepted on a probationary period.

Concordia University

Logo of Concordia University Wisconsin featuring a stylized lantern icon alongside the university name in blue and gold on a green background, ranked among the Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs for 2021.

The online MBA in sustainability at Concordia University in Wisconsin provides you with the skills and knowledge to create sustainability initiatives that align with the business goals of your organization. You’ll learn to improve processes, reduce resource waste, and create programs to keep companies environmentally compliant and innovative. Coursework covers microeconomics and macroeconomics, environmental chemistry, environmental toxicity, statistical analysis, environmental law, and more.

To be admitted, students must submit a one-page essay on why they want to pursue the degree, their transcripts from their bachelor’s degree, a resume that includes all relevant job experience, and two professional signed letters of recommendation. If you’re a nontraditional student, the school has scholarship options that can help keep costs in check.

What to Expect from an Online MBA in Sustainability Program

An online MBA in sustainability covers a wide variety of topics, including strategies and policies for renewable energy, the assessment of resource waste, the prevention of workplace hazards and accidents, and the economic advantages of sustainability. You’ll study both theory and practical issues designed to give you a well-rounded education.

Almost every MBA program requires a thesis, capstone, or project. Exact requirements will differ depending on the program, but they may include in-depth case studies, study abroad, business creation, or gaining experience through internships and consulting. Before picking a program, be sure you understand all the requirements to complete the degree and that they align with your goals.

When you enroll in an online MBA in sustainability, all your classes and assignments will be available over the internet. Lectures may be attended via video calls or recordings, assignments are submitted online, and students email or message their professors. Some classes involve a live lecture at a specific time, while others have lectures prerecorded for students to view at their leisure. Below are a few of the courses you might take in an MBA in sustainable development online.

Common Courses

  • Sustainability Systems

    This course explores the overlapping definitions of sustainability and how the concept can be applied in business and organizational settings. It covers sustainability strategies and how they are used in business practices and programs, whether through existing efforts or new ones.

  • Managing Sustainable Operations

    This course discusses the business perspective of renewable energy, including the trade-offs between sustainability and profitability in the short and long term. Students learn how to offset environmental footprints and reduce costs.

  • Corporate Environmental Strategy and Management

    Students in this course delve into energy analysis and how it can lead to competitive advantages. Discussions, case studies, and lectures on management, legal policies, and constantly changing environmental requirements are the foundations of the course.

  • Climate Change Law and Opportunity

    This course explores policies related to climate change and how individual business practices are affected. Students study how current ecological policies and strategies affect companies, organizations, and laws in the long run as well as how businesses can further impact the climate.

  • Theory and Practice of Sustainability Investing

    This course covers the economic inequalities of community conflicts, climate change, water scarcity, resource depletion, and more. This course is designed to establish how finance can be used to address sustainability challenges and issues.

What You Can Do with an MBA in Sustainability

The career opportunities for someone with an online MBA in sustainable business are expansive. Whether you’re interested in marketing, education, or research and development, there will be jobs for you. Companies from fossil fuel industries to car manufacturers need environmental consultants and managers to design eco-friendly programs. Companies also need help keeping up with the ever-changing environmental laws and adapting their business to comply with those laws. To give you a few examples, we’ve listed five careers someone with an online MBA in sustainability might be interested in.

Chief Sustainability Officer

A chief sustainability officer takes the lead in creating environmentally friendly products, monitoring environmental concerns, consulting with large businesses, and educating employees about waste, recycling, emissions, and climate change.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$42,810

$71,360

$124,760

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Environmental Health and Safety Director

Environmental health and safety directors are responsible ensuring the safety of all employees. They develop workforce safety training, evaluate workplace hazards, investigate all workplace accidents, and enact preventative measures.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$43,630

$74,100

$111,130

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Renewable Energy Project Manager

A renewable energy project manager oversees projects that involve wind, wave, and solar energy, as well as other renewable resources. They research renewable energy usage and resources so the company can become more efficient and comply with all environmental laws.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$66,050

$129,100

$208,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Senior Environmental Consultant

A senior environmental consultant mainly assists companies in complying with environmental laws and regulations. They conduct assessments, evaluate project bids, assess proposed sites for projects, and oversee projects until completion.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$42,810

$71,360

$124,760

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Environmental Compliance Manager

An environmental compliance manager is responsible for designing and implementing eco-friendly policies and ensuring compliance with those policies. They investigate and create risk assessments for workplace accidents and environmental hazards within and around the workplace.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$38,920

$69,050

$109,950

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online MBA Degrees in Sustainability

When you pursue an online MBA in sustainability, it’s crucial to evaluate the actual cost of the degree. Before you apply to a program, thoroughly explore financial aid options, and create a plan. Don’t be discouraged by the published price of your program. Research government grants, work-study programs, employer tuition assistance, scholarships, and fellowships can be pursued. Because these options don’t have to be repaid, you should explore them before resorting to student loans.

How Much Your Online MBA in Sustainability Might Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

30

$627

$19,000

36

$760

$27,360

36

$525

$18,900

FAQs About Online Sustainability MBA Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online MBA in sustainability?

Each graduate program has its own unique admission requirements, although there may be some commonalities across different schools. Meeting the minimum GPA requirement is usually mandatory, but even if you fall short, you could still be considered for enrollment on probation. It is important to carefully review the specific requirements of each program while researching schools. However, there are some general requirements in most graduate programs, which are summarized below.

  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Signed letters of recommendation
  • Letter of intent/entrance essay
  • Minimum GPA

Are there quality online MBA in sustainability programs that don’t require the GMAT?

Plenty of good sustainability MBA programs exists that don’t require the GMAT, but some excellent programs do require it. When researching the universities you’re interested in, be sure to check the website or contact the school directly so you’re clear on this requirement.

How long will it take to finish my MBA in sustainability online?

A typical online MBA in sustainable business takes about two years of full-time study to complete. If you study part-time, you’ll most likely spend three to five years completing the program. Some schools, such as Southern New Hampshire University, offer accelerated online MBAs in sustainability that can be completed in one year.

Can I earn my MBA in sustainability 100% online or do I need to go to campus?

While some MBA programs can only be completed on campus, you’ll find a healthy number of degrees offered online. The schools we’ve spotlighted offer their MBA courses completely online. However, be sure to check each school individually, as some offer hybrid classes that do require on-campus visits, and other schools that offer all online classes require a visit to the school at the beginning of each semester.

What’s the difference between an MBA in sustainability and a master’s in environmental management?

Both the MBA in sustainability and the master’s in environmental management were created out of a necessity to address the environmental impacts of business, with environmental management coming first. Environmental management degrees tend to be regionally focused, such as for specific beaches, lakes, or forests. Sustainability programs focus on wider global efforts. An MBA in sustainability online usually combines the sciences, while a master’s in environmental management may cover them individually. To choose between these degrees, you’ll want to consider what level of environmental sustainability management you’re interested in and whether you want to work on local problems or global issues and solutions.