10 Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Sustainability in 2023

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Most Master’s in Sustainability programs equip students with the necessary skills they need to develop solutions and sustainability initiatives that aid the stabilization of the climate and allow sustainable systems to be put in place. It often involves a variety of specialties, ranging from environmental science and natural resource management to environmental law, renewable energy, energy and environmental management, and environmental justice.

A key area in the fields of environmental science and conservation, sustainability is a relatively new concept, but it has been rapidly growing in the past few years. Students who want to be change-makers and problem-solvers in the face of the devastating effects of climate change may want to consider earning an online master’s in sustainability.

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Earning a Master’s in Sustainability degree can advance students’ careers and boost their earning potential. The Labor Statistics Bureau says environmental scientists and specialists have a median annual salary of $76,530. If you are passionate about social and environmental progress, this degree is an important step in that direction!


Sustainability is more than just a buzzword or a talking point; it is a set of principles that determine not just present-day efficiency and the impact of policy and organizations but the welfare of future generations. One can say that a lot hangs on the work done by experts in the field, which emphasizes the importance of the best preparation they can get in order to leave a meaningful impact in the area of environmental sciences.

We can help you with that choice! We have put together a list of the best graduate schools that offer online Sustainability master’s programs. Each program was picked based on the following criteria:

  • Offers their program coursework primarily or entirely online, either in self-paced or cohort-based formats,
  • Features a curriculum that develops a comprehensive understanding of the underlying principles and concepts of sustainability, as well as crucial skills in data gathering and research, communication, and advocacy & engagement,
  • Prepares students for the doctorate level while qualifying them for high-level professional work,
  • Taught by faculty who are experts in the field and continually keep the program up-to-date,
  • Features competitive and affordable tuition rates, as well as options for financial aid,
  • Holds the appropriate accreditation credentials.

Visit our Methodology page for further details.

Best Online Master’s in Sustainability Graduate Programs

Harvard University Extension School

Harvard University Extension School

Cambridge, MA

Master’s in Sustainability

Founded in 1910, Harvard University Extension School has since made quality education more accessible to adult learners. It is one of Harvard University’s 12-degree granting institutions that offer world-class education. The extension school serves students who seek part-time online courses and programs to enhance their credentials and advance their careers.

  • The Master’s in Sustainability program offered by Harvard University Extension School is designed for graduate students who want to develop specialized knowledge integral to overcoming environmental challenges and implementing sustainable practices.
  • Students are expected to build the expertise to take on critical roles, allowing them to cultivate an understanding of numerous elements that support sustainable development, including science, policies, financial models, and technologies.
  • This sustainability degree program is composed of 12 core courses that utilize the convenience of online learning and immersive learning in person.

Standout Features of Harvard University Extension School’s Online Master’s in Sustainability Program:

While the curriculum is overwhelmingly available online, students will need to complete one course in person at Harvard. It can either be at an accelerated or standard pace. Online students will also need to complete a capstone project or thesis.

Did You Know?

Harvard University Extension School is known for its high-impact learning. It allows students to delve into the latest research, trends, and practices. On average, the school maintains a class size of approximately 30 students to encourage an intimate, welcoming, and stimulating online learning environment.

Arizona State University


Tempe, AZ

Master of Sustainability Leadership

Arizona State University offers online academic programs designed for busy working professionals, making undergraduate and graduate education more accessible. Currently, it is home to 41,159 undergraduate students and 13,194 graduate students.

  • ASU offers an online Master of Sustainability Leadership program to help students prepare to take on advanced social and environmental sustainability.
  • Graduate students can expect to acquire organizational skills that focus on sustainability strategy and communication.
  • The sustainability leadership degree teaches students to apply solution-based tools for institutional development.

Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online Master of Sustainability Leadership Program:

Students in the sustainability leadership online program have the opportunity to customize their learning track by choosing electives related to their specific interests and career goals. They can expect elective topics such as green energy, law, and urban planning, among others.

Did You Know?

The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Arizona State University to offer online degree programs and courses. The university also gained the acclaim of prestigious ranking organizations for its renowned faculty and exceptional student experience. These organizations include the National Science Foundation, Times Higher Education, and the US News & World Report.

Montclair State University

Montclair State University

Montclair, NJ

MS in Sustainability Science, Sustainability Leadership

Founded in 1908, Montclair State University is home to 21,000 students and 1,800 professors. Currently, it offers at least 300 programs across 10 colleges and schools at all levels. With a student ratio of 17 to 1, classes are small enough to provide students with personalized attention and guidance from professors and staff.

  • Students who wish to develop strategic management and sustainability leadership skills may want to consider earning the online Master of Science in Sustainability Science with a concentration in Sustainability Leadership (Professional Science Master’s).
  • This online graduate degree is taught by an accomplished faculty with strong academic backgrounds and valuable experience in relevant industries.
  • The 32-credit hour program includes courses such as Methods in Environmental Research, Environmental Economics, Energy and the Environment, Urban Contamination, and more.  

Standout Features of Montclair State University’s Online Master of Science in Sustainability Science, Sustainability Leadership Program:

Students in this program who started the degree in the fall will be able to complete the program in as little as one year, with an accelerated option that can be discussed with the graduate program coordinator.  

Did You Know?

Diversity is at the heart of Montclair State University. In fact, more than 50% of its students identify as underrepresented minorities, making the university one of New Jersey’s two Hispanic-serving institutions. The diverse student population thrives in the supportive, welcoming environment of the university. It was also recognized as one of the most inclusive and best-value universities, ranking high in social mobility.

University of Wisconsin Extended Campus

University of Wisconsin Extended Campus

Madison, WI

Master of Science in Sustainable Management

The University of Wisconsin Extended Campus is home to collaborative individuals with diverse professional backgrounds. It is committed to providing quality education, motivated by the value of lifelong learning. Its online degree programs are specially designed for non-traditional working adults who wish to pursue their personal and professional goals.

  • The University of Wisconsin Extended Campus’ online Master of Science in Sustainable Management focuses on the social, economic, and environmental concepts that are applicable across a multitude of sectors and industries.
  • Students will be able to explore the relationship of humans with the natural environment along with public policy and the role of government and business in sustainability.
  • Elective courses can be chosen by students, allowing them to align their studies with specific career goals. This includes supply chain management, environmental and sustainability management, sustainable water management, climate change, waste management and resource recovery, and corporate social responsibility.

Standout Features of the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus’ Online Master of Science in Sustainable Management Program:

Scholarships are offered in the fall and spring semesters. Since 2011, the UW Sustainable Management has awarded nearly $1.3 million to students to help fund their graduate education and advance principles of sustainability across the world.

Did You Know?

The UW Extended Campus teamed up with all of the University of Wisconsin’s campuses to develop and deliver online programs focusing on in-demand skills and needs across a variety of disciplines, including general education, healthcare, business, management, and technology. It embodies the “Wisconsin Idea” by extending high-quality continuing and lifelong learning to the immediate community and beyond.

Ohio University

Ohio University - Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service

Athens, OH

Master of Sustainability, Security, and Resilience

As the oldest public university in the state, Ohio University houses more than 28,000 students on-campus and online. To date, the university offers more than 250 academic programs, from accounting to world religions. It also hosts 27 research-focused centers and institutes.

  • Ohio University offers a Master of Sustainability, Security, and Resilience program that is fully available online and designed for working professionals.
  • The five-semester program has an asynchronous format that can be completed at their own pace.
  • Students who wish to earn this master’s degree will need to complete a total of 30 credit hours with a curriculum that is the same as the on-campus program.  

Standout Features of Ohio University’s Online Master of Sustainability, Security, and Resilience Program:

There are three stackable certificates that students of this online master’s program can earn along the way. This includes the Community Risk and Resilience Graduate Certificate, Planning Resilient Systems Graduate Certificate, and Environmental Change Management and Leadership Graduate Certificate.

Did You Know?

In the past four years, Ohio University’s tuition and fees did not increase, which is a huge help to college students who want to fund their education. As part of its commitment to making higher education more accessible and affordable to students, a total of $12 million scholarship funding was awarded to first-year students in Fall 2019. Since 1946, the university has seen 202 Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients.

University of North Carolina Greensboro

University of North Carolina Greensboro

Greensboro, NC

Master of Science in Sustainability and Environment

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public research university in the city of Greensboro, North Carolina. A part of the University of North Carolina System, it was initially established as the State Normal and Industrial School, a women’s college, in 1891. It was eventually renamed to UNC Greensboro in 1963 when it became a coeducational institution. Currently, UNC Greensboro has a student population of over 19,000, and is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”.

  • UNC Greensboro’s Master of Science in Sustainability and Environment is designed for students pursuing careers related to sustainability in a wide range of fields and industries.
  • The program is also designed to develop student’s Critical Thinking, Communication, Systems Thinking, and Data Analysis skills.  
  • The program focuses on the key content areas of the environment, the economy, aesthetics, and the interconnectedness of social equity. The program also features a high degree of customizability, through a wide range of electives that can align with students’ interests or professional needs.
  • Students have the choice of completing the program with either a capstone, a thesis, or an internship.

Standout Features of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Master of Science in Sustainability and the Environment Program:

This program has affiliations with or accreditations from the Association for Environmental Studies & Sciences, the National Council for Science and the Environment, and more. 

Did You Know?

UNC Greensboro also offers 6 certificates that can be completed in tandem with the master’s degree or by themselves. These certificates include Sustainability, Conservation, Urban and Economic Development, Global and Regional Studies Geography, Climate Justice, and Environmental Humanities.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies

Baltimore, MD

Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy

Johns Hopkins University, a private research university, was established in 1876. It has over 30,000 students and is an Association of American Universities founding member.

  • Johns Hopkins University has a Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy program designed to address the projected demand for advocate-experts and industry leaders posed by global-scale rapid growth in the sustainable/renewable energy sector.
  • The program consists of 10 courses for a total of 40 credit hours. With a part-time enrollment, it can be completed in 21 months. The program also features two in-person residency experiences.
  • The program features a curriculum that covers the key areas of environmental management, economics, environmental policy, and finance set against the context of the sustainable energy market. 

Standout Features of Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy Program:

Johns Hopkins’ world-class education and tradition of excellence in research is reflected in this program, which is designed to be a rigorous degree program that develops students’ skills in quantitative and qualitative analysis, as well as delving into advanced financial and economic concepts relevant to the future of sustainable energy. The program also lets students engage in research that generates data-informed policy insights and proposals, as well as innovations in the energy industry.

Did You Know?

Johns Hopkins University was the first institution in the country to be established based on the European research institution model, which has research at its core. Johns Hopkins University also continues to lead all other institutions in the country in terms of annual research expenditure.

Black Hills State University

Black Hills State University

Spearfish, SD

Master of Science in Sustainability

Black Hills State University is a public university located in the city of Spearfish, South Dakota. Its origins date back to 1883 when it was established as the Dakota Territorial Normal School. The school started adopting four-year programs in 1924 and eventually became a state university in 1989. Black Hills State University currently has around 3,500 students.

  • Black Hills State University offers a web-based MS in Sustainability, an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for ever-increasingly important sustainability careers in the fields of government, industry, and academia.  
  • The program is aimed at developing students’ understanding of the complex interrelationship of natural systems, environmental factors, economy, law, policy, and socio-political forces.  
  • The program curriculum includes courses on Environmental Economics, Environmental Law and Policy, Quantitative Methods, and more. The program concludes with a capstone that consists of a real-world project that serves as an application of their learnings throughout the course.

Standout Features of Black Hills State University’s Online Master of Science in Sustainability degree Program:

Compared to other universities, Black Hills State University is relatively smaller in size, so students can expect a more tight-knit and collaborative community. Black Hills University is also committed to generating original and meaningful research as well as promoting excellence in public engagement, qualities that are highly crucial in the field of sustainability.

Did You Know?

Black Hills State University holds a number of institutional and programmatic accreditation credentials, including the Higher Learning Commission, AACSB, CAEP, NASM, and SHAPE America. Black Hills State is an excellent college for outdoor adventurers.

University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky - Online

Lexington, KY

Masters in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies

The University of Kentucky is a public, land-grant, research university located in the city of Lexington, Kentucky. It was founded as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky in 1865, and at present has the highest enrollment in the state, with a student population of over 32,000, enrolled in its 16 colleges. The University of Kentucky is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.  

  • The University of Kentucky’s Masters in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies program prepares students for a range of careers in corporate, government, and non-government settings through an interdisciplinary program.
  • The program consists of a total of 30 credit hours, with core courses delivered entirely online.
  • GRE or GMAT scores are also not required for admission into the program.
  • The program’s curriculum combines a cutting-edge knowledge of environmental and sustainability issues with skills development in problem-solving and oral & written communication.

Standout Features of the University of Kentucky’s Masters in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program:

As a flagship institution, enrolling in The University of Kentucky opens the door to a highly diverse and collaborative learning environment for students. The program also makes use of a wide range of learning modalities and emphasizes project-based, experiential learning that students can readily adopt to their respective communities and settings.

Did You Know?

The University of Kentucky is the location of one of the country’s major historical milestones in its fight for racial equality and ending segregation. Lyman T. Johnson’s legal challenge against the university paved the way for African-American students to enroll in graduate and professional programs. Desegregation at the undergraduate level followed in 1954.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona - Online

Tucson, AZ

Master of Engineering in Innovation, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship

The University of Arizona is a public, land-grant, research university located in Tucson, Arizona. It was the first university in the state, then the Territory of Arizona, after its founding in 1885 by the Arizona Territorial Legislature. It was admitted into the Association of American Universities in 1924. At present, the University of Arizona has around over 49,000 students enrolled in its 19 different colleges and schools.

  • The University of Arizona offers a Master of Engineering program with an option in Innovation, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship (ME-ISE), a program that is geared toward bridging the gap between innovative ideas and sustainable economic development strategies.  
  • The program is designed as a synthesis of knowledge from the business and engineering fields.
  • The sustainability master’s degree contains a total of 30 credit hours, with 12 units of courses on business and management, and 18 units of courses that cover materials science and engineering.  
  • Being a Master of Engineering program, this will be a good fit for those who have an undergraduate degree related to science and/or engineering. 

Standout Features of the University of Arizona’s Master of Engineering in Innovation, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship Program:

Compared to other master’s in sustainability degree programs, this program is a Master of Engineering degree program, which determines its approach and overall program design, i.e. its emphasis on real, sustainable technologies and processes. While other programs may be oriented more toward policy and management, this online education is designed to address the technological aspect that serves as the backbone and foundation of the field of sustainability.

Did You Know?

The University of Arizona almost didn’t come into existence in its early days. The prevailing political and popular sentiments in Tucson at the time favored other projects over establishing a university, and it was through the efforts of a handful of characters, including legislator Selim Franklin, Jacob Mansfeld, one of the early regents, and the 40-acre land donation made by E.B. Gifford, Ben C. Parker, and William S. Read.  

Online Master's in Sustainability - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common admission requirements for admission to an online Sustainability master’s program?

Many graduate programs require interested students to earn a bachelor’s degree. While a background in sustainability is not a necessity, graduate students should be interested in increasing their knowledge of sustainability practices. Other online sustainability master’s programs ask students to have at least three years of professional experience and any number of academic credentials.

Other admission requirements may include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and more.

There are numerous career options for those with an online master’s degree in sustainability across a variety of industries. They often take on sustainability leadership roles and green jobs, often with a global perspective. One of the most common career tracks is that of the environmental scientist and sustainability manager. Other career paths include environmental consultants, environmental policy analysts, sustainability directors, and directors of strategic initiatives, among others.

Summary Points

  • A Master’s in Sustainability degree program is designed to address the current and anticipated issues and impacts that arise out of the interactions and dynamics between human activities and the natural world. These programs are also aimed at addressing issues in the use of natural resources, climate change natural resource management, ensuring a sustainable future, and advocating for environmental justice, facilitating policy change, working with communities, and more.
  • A Master’s in Sustainability prepares students for careers in corporate/industry, government and non-government/non-profit organizations. These programs are designed to develop students’ sustainable leadership skills in advocating for environmental policy, as well as research and communications skills that are key to generating data-driven policy insights.
  • Some programs are designed as Master of Science in sustainability degrees, while some are offered as Master’ of Engineering programs. The program design also determines the overall approach to the issue of sustainability.

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor