Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

Learn how good environmental policy can also make for good business with an online MBA in sustainability. This guide walks you through standout programs, typical coursework, admissions requirements, and FAQs relating to this degree.

Do you cringe when you see a gas-guzzling vehicle drive by? Does excessive packaging seem wasteful and expensive to you? Do you find yourself squinting at long lists of chemicals with unpronounceable names on your food packaging? 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.

Deciding to obtain a master’s degree 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 more. Before you make a decision, it’s important that you have all the information you need. This guide was created to answer these questions so you can find a program and school that fits you.

Your choice to look into 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 2021

Finding the right college to pursue your MBA in sustainable development online can be stressful. You’ll need to consider the cost, availability, coursework, and quality of the programs. Here’s help to get you started. Below we’ve listed three of the top online MBA in sustainability programs that are accredited, affordable, and highly rated. Take a look. 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 in 2021.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)offers an online MBA with a concentration in sustainability for anyone looking to make a difference. The 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 SNHU curriculum was revised at the beginning of 2021. Now, students in the MBA program earn industry-recognized business credentials throughout the program and can add these 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

The online MBA in Sustainability Management and Analytics at Concordia University in Wisconsin provides you with the skills and knowledge to create sustainability initiatives that are also financially successful. You’ll learn to improve processes, reduce resource waste, and create programs to keep companies environmentally friendly. Coursework covers micro 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 an adult learner or nontraditional student, check out new scholarship options that can help keep costs in check.

University of Saint Francis

The University of Saint Francis offers an online MBA with a concentration in sustainability. The program is centered around eco-friendly business driven by ethics and environmental law. Students learn to design and apply sustainability programs to different businesses and become advocates for the environment. Each student is assigned a success coach and also is offered free online mentoring.

The program is made up of 27 credits of core classes and nine credits (three courses) in the sustainability concentration. If you’re studying full-time, you can complete the program in as little as a year by taking two courses at a time or in two years of part-time study.

To be admitted into the University of Saint Francis, applicants submit their resume stating all of their prior work experience, a statement of purpose, and transcripts from their bachelor’s degree.

What to Expect from an Online MBA in Sustainability Program

An online MBA in sustainability covers a lot of subjects. But what exactly are they? You’ll learn about 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 to give you a well-rounded education.

Almost every program requires either a thesis or a capstone. The topics for these can be anything from a small business start-up, creating a career strategy, or getting experience through internships and consulting. Before picking a program, be sure you understand all the requirements to complete the degree.

When completing an online MBA in sustainability, all of your classes and assignments will be available over the internet. Lectures may be through 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 narrows down the many overlapping definitions of sustainability and how it relates to business. It covers sustainability strategies and how they are utilized 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 finances in both the short and long term. Students will learn ways to offset environmental footprints and how to reduce costs.

  • Corporate Environmental Strategy and Management

    This course delves into the analysis of energy 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 is in charge of 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

An environmental health and safety director is in charge of 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 is responsible for overseeing projects that involve wind energy, wave energy, solar energy, and 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

Master’s degrees are not cheap, so it’s important to understand just how much an online MBA in sustainability will actually cost. Before you apply, be sure to check out the financial aid options and make a plan. Options to consider include government grants and work-study programs; plus, some employers offer tuition assistance programs. You’ll also learn about scholarships and fellowships, so don’t jump into student loans before you look at your other options.

How Much Your Online MBA in Sustainability Might Cost

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

Southern New Hampshire University

Accelerated

30

$627

$19,000

Concordia University

36

$760

$27,360

University of Saint Francis

36

$525

$18,900

FAQs About Online Sustainability MBA Degrees

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

While many requirements overlap between schools, each program will have slightly different admission requirements. Some schools require a minimum GPA, however you may still be able to enroll on probation if you don’t have the GPA needed. When researching schools, make sure you check each program carefully. However, there are a few general requirements that graduate programs usually ask for, which are listed 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?

The answer is yes, there are good programs that don’t require the GMAT, but other excellent programs do require it. When researching the universities you’re interested in, be sure to check the website or contact them 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. If you study part-time, you’ll most likely spend three to five years completing the program. That said, 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 more and more degrees being offered online. The spotlighted schools mentioned above offer their 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. However environmental management degrees are more locally focused, such as for specific beaches, lakes, or forests, whereas sustainability focuses on more global efforts. Plus, an MBA in sustainability online usually combines the sciences, while a master’s in environmental management may instead 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 problems.