Best 20 Masters in Sustainability Programs in 2021 - Best Value Schools

Best 20 Masters in Sustainability Programs in 2021

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

A passion for the environment and building a better, greener future is what drives people toward a career in sustainability. Research and analytical skills are crucial to advancing this rapidly developing field, meaning a solid education is the foundation to success no matter the career path. Environmentally-focused careers are projected to grow exponentially by 2026.

What Does A Career In Sustainability Look Like?

Sustainability covers a wide range of potential career paths. Some individuals become lifelong researchers unlocking the science behind climate change, renewable energy, or food and water security. Some become entrepreneurs or corporate leaders steering businesses toward clean and responsible operations. Still others become community advocates, educators, and politicians, influencing environmental policy and greener living in their communities. 

What Coursework Does A Masters In Sustainability Cover?

The types of degrees available are as varied as the careers in this field, though most contain an environmental science component. “Green MBA” programs combine environmental sustainability studies with business administration courses. Environmental management degrees may combine coursework from public policy, business, civil engineering, and economics for those looking to influence greener urban planning. Research degrees prepare students to become scientists or educators in the field, and often lead into PhD programs.

Interested in earning a sustainability degree online? Use our Degree Finder tool to find the program you need!

What Are The Best Masters In Sustainability Programs?

We assembled a list of 20 schools from across the United States that offer a master’s program in sustainability. Then we ranked each school in terms of affordability, program length, and overall graduate student enrollment. Check out our list below!

Best 20 Masters in Sustainability Programs

1. University of South Florida – Tampa, FL – 85 Points

The University of South Florida offers a robust Master of Arts in Global Sustainability program. Students may choose from 9 different concentrations, covering subjects such as climate change, food security, public policy, and business. All programs are available on-campus, and 7 are also available online or in hybrid formats. 

  • In-State Tuition: $3,920 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $7,932 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

2. Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, GA – 72 Points

The Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) program at Georgia Tech features a multidisciplinary curriculum to give students a well-rounded background in sustainability. Topics covered include environmental engineering, economics, city planning, industrial engineering, and public policy. This program may be completed in 1 year in full-time or 2 years at part-time enrollment. 

  • In-State Tuition: $5,129 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $15,685 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

3. Colorado State University – Fort Collins, CO – 62 Points

Colorado State University offers several master’s programs under its Ecosystem Science & Sustainability Division. The Professional Science Master’s degree features three tracks: Carbon Management, Watershed Science, and Sustainable Food Systems. They also offer a Master of Science in Watershed Science as well as a Master of Science in Ecosystem Sustainability. 

  • In-State Tuition: $6,453 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $14,089 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

4. Montclair State University – Montclair, NJ – 61 Points

The Sustainability Science program at Montclair State University awards a Master of Science in Sustainability Science, with the option for concentration in Sustainability Leadership. Undergraduate students can combine their bachelor and masters studies to graduate within 5 years. The school also offers several graduate certificates in the field.

  • In-State Tuition: $8,760 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $8,760 per semester
  • Length: 32 credit hours

4. University at Buffalo – Buffalo, NY – 61 Points

The University at Buffalo features a Master of Arts in Sustainability Leadership. This degree prepares students for positions as leaders in academics, research, or administrative positions. Coursework covers subjects such as environmental systems, society, economics, and leadership. This degree can be earned within 3 semesters. 

  • In-State Tuition: $7,119 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $13,014 per semester
  • Length: 31 credit hours

6. City College of New York – New York, NY – 60 Points

City College of New York offers a Masters program in Sustainability in the Urban Environment. This program focuses on architectural engineering, environmental science, and social science so that graduates can design new buildings and infrastructure in a climate-conscious, environmentally responsible way. Classes are held mostly in the evening to accommodate working students. 

  • In-State Tuition: $5,545 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $12,900 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

7. University of Oklahoma – Norman, OK – 58 Points

The Department of Geology and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Oklahoma features both a Master of Arts and Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Sustainability. The MA program is suitable for students who wish to advance their profession with techniques and concepts in the field. The MS program is designed for those who wish for a more advanced education with the aim to become researchers or educators.

  • In-State Tuition: $6,946 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $16,831 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

8. Lenoir-Rhyne University – Hickory, NC – 54 Points

Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Studies combines environmentalism and social justice topics for students pursuing careers in community and organizational leadership. Classes are available on-campus, online, in the evening, and through distance-learning via the Asheville campus. 

  • In-State Tuition: $7,800 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $7,800 per semester
  • Length: 33 credit hours

9. University of New Hampshire – Durham, NH – 51 Points

University of New Hampshire offers a Master of Science in Natural Resources with a specialization option in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability. Ideal students for this program include those wishing to pursue careers as conservationists, policy analysts, and natural resource managers. 

  • In-State Tuition: $7,085 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $13,905 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

10. Texas State University – San Marcos, TX – 50 Points 

The Sustainability Studies program at Texas State University features both a Master of Arts and Master of Science as degree options. Furthermore, each program may be taken with or without a thesis option. The M.A. program is meant for students pursuing careers in humanities, communication, urban planning and related fields. The M.S. program is for students interested in natural and social sciences, policy-making, and related fields.

  • In-State Tuition: $5,225 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $10,133 per semester
  • Length: 38 credit hours

11. Sam Houston State University – Huntsville, TX – 48 Points

Sam Houston State University offers a Master of Agriculture in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Environment (SAFE). This cultivation-centric program teaches sustainable farming and husbandry practices with the aim to build healthier public communities. This degree may be earned on-campus or online.

  • In-State Tuition: $5,219 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $10,199 per semester
  • Length: 36 credit hours

12. Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff, AZ – 47 Points

The Division of Sustainability at Northern Arizona University features two master’s programs. A Master of Science in Environmental Science & Policy covers research into natural resources from a natural science and policy perspective. The Professional Science Masters in Climate Science & Solutions combines professional and organizational training with climate science foundations for business and organization careers.

  • In-State Tuition: $5,240 per semester
  • Out-Of-Tuition: $12,854 per semester 
  • Length: 36 credit hours

12. Iowa State University – Ames, IA – 47 Points

Iowa State University awards a Master of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Students will learn the physical, social, and economic impacts of agricultural sustainability as well as fostering moral, ethical leadership in the industry. The school also offers a double degree program combining the M.S. with a Master of Community and Regional Planning. 

  • In-State Tuition: $5,495 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $12,976 per semester
  • Length: 36 credit hours

14. University of Wisconsin: Green Bay – Green Bay, WI – 45 Points

The Master of Science in Sustainable Leadership from the University of Wisconsin teaches future business and organization leaders how to harmonize economic, social, and environmental systems. Students will learn how to engage with local, national, and global sustainability efforts. Students may take courses online and still access on-campus opportunities for research.

  • In-State Tuition: $8,880 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $8,880 per semester
  • Length: 34 credit hours

15. Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, IL – 41 Points

The Illinois Institute of Technology offers a Master of Engineering in Energy Systems, Energy Generation, and Sustainability. This program covers how to generate, convert, and store energy with a focus on renewable energy technologies and the fundamentals of sustainable energy. Graduates are prepared for careers in energy engineering, such as senior engineers or program managers.

  • In-State Tuition: $19,368 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $19,368 per semester
  • Length: 30 credit hours

15. Stanford University – Stanford, CA – 41 Points

Stanford University features a coterminal Master of Arts or Master of Science in Sustainability Science and Practice (SUST). This single year program features a multidisciplinary curriculum in environmental and cultural sciences, engineering, and humanities. Each student will participate in a 120 hour practicum in leadership solving a real-world challenge with an organization outside the university. 

  • In-State Tuition: $9,052 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $9,052 per semester
  • Length: 45 credit hours

17. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor, MI – 28 Points

The School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan offers six Master of Science degrees. The featured fields of study are: Behavior, Education, and Communication; Environmental Justice; Environmental Policy and Planning; Conservation Ecology; Environmental Informatics; Sustainability & Development; Sustainable Systems. Each program includes field-based studies and professional training. 

  • In-State Tuition: $12,011 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $23,778 per semester
  • Length: 42 credit hours

18. Chatham University – Pittsburgh, PA – 26 Points

Chatham University awards a Master of Sustainability (MSUS) degree. This leadership-focused program offers four specialization tracks: business and innovation; ecology and resource management; urban and energy systems; and a self-customizable option. The school also offers a dual degree option combining the MSUS with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). 

  • In-State Tuition: $11,844 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $11,844 per semester
  • Length: 42 credit hours

18. Tufts University – Medford, MA – 26 Points

Tufts University awards a Master of Science in Sustainability through its Urban Environment Policy and Planning department. Core courses in this program include policy and planning economics, GIS theory, quantitative reasoning, and field projects. Field projects cover crucial challenges such as housing, water and food security, energy conservation, and community development. 

  • In-State Tuition: $21,588 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $21,588 per semester
  • Length: 36 credit hours

20. Hawai’i Pacific University – Honolulu, HI – 23 Points

The Master of Arts in Sustainability at Hawai’i Pacific University features collaborative efforts between students and local investors to develop forward-thinking community development projects. Graduates of this 21 month program go on to work in fields such as conservation, public health, and green energy.

  • In-State Tuition: $13,500 per semester
  • Out-Of-State Tuition: $13,500 per semester
  • Length: 36 credit hours

Masters in Sustainability Ranking Methodology

We ranked a list of 20 schools offering masters degrees in sustainability based on tuition cost, program length, and total graduate student enrollment. Tuition estimates and program length were gathered directly from each school’s website. Costs of attendance were based per semester. Where schools only listed a per-credit rate, we used an average of 12 credits per semester to estimate the cost. These estimates did not include variable factors such as housing or personal expenses. Total graduate enrollment was obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics. 

We sorted each school by lowest tuition, lowest program length, and highest graduate enrollment, then assigned points in each category to arrive at a total. The breakdown of points distribution is: 40% tuition, 40% program length, 20% enrollment. The maximum total points possible was 100 points. 

If you are an employee of a school featured above and would like to report an error in our data, please contact us as soon as possible so we can make corrections.

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