MBA in Sustainability

The demand for products and services in alignment with socially-minded and green business practices is growing. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the social impact and ecological consequences of daily life, the demand for commerce that is not only financially lucrative but also enriching for society and protective of the environment increases as well. When tools such as the EPA’sEnforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) and the Dow-Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) are just a click away, businesses become accountable to socially- and environmentally-minded consumers looking to buy from and invest in companies with integrity.

Sustainable organizational practices are needed to support businesses in creating and maintaining a “triple bottom line” with regards to people, planet, and profit.
Professionals with an MBA in sustainability can provide leadership to organizations looking to maximize revenues from their products and services without compromising communities or the earth. Sustainable leaders trained in business administration understand the components of a successful enterprise and the ways in which they can be managed with dignity for human capital, responsibility towards the environment, and accountability to stakeholders and communities.

MBA programs that offer a specialization in sustainability prepare graduates to lead efforts in maximizing efficiency and profit while maintaining high standards of integrity in matters of energy, ecological impact, and resource management. MBA professionals are trained in how to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint, manage human resources equitably, and make meaningful contributions to domestic and international communities.

Professionals with an MBA in sustainability can become entrepreneurs in green business ventures or work as managers and consultants in both the private and public sectors, guiding established organizations with compliance efforts. U.S. laws hold businesses to set standards with regards to their impact on the environment and use of natural resources, their treatment of employees, and their effect on local communities. International businesses and multinational corporations are subject to agreements made between nations in treaties and guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

MBA programs in sustainability are available completely online, enabling working professionals to complete the degree without relocating. This article highlights notable institutions offering an online MBA in sustainability and three accomplished faculty members within them.

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Professors to Know from Schools with Online MBA Programs in Sustainability

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    Kathleen Garland, PhD University of Houston-Clear Lake

    Dr. Kathleen Garland teaches the foundations of environmental management, techniques of environmental assessment, and introduction to pollution control technology in the sustainability concentration at UHCL. She holds a PhD in geology from Penn State University and is a board member of the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals. Among Dr. Garland's research interests is the integration of environmental science and environmental policy. Her professional experience includes working as an environmental project manager for the State of New Mexico and as a development geologist for Chevron.

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    Christopher Wedding, PhD University of Carolina-Chapel Hill

    Dr. Christopher Wedding has 19 years of professional experience in domestic and international business settings. He earned his PhD and MS degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill. As a professor of the practice of strategy and entrepreneurship, his work is focused on green real estate and clean energy. Dr. Wedding has earned awards from the Academy of Management and the U.S. Green Building Council. Professor Wedding is also the CEO of IronOak Energy, a global clean energy firm.

Featured Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

1Northeastern University, D'Amore-McKim School of BusinessView Full Profile

The experiential nature of this online MBA program focuses on application of academic theory to professional, real-world contexts. This 50-credit program consists of 13 core courses and five electives in sustainability. Core classes range from accounting and finance to management, marketing, and ethics. Courses included in the sustainability concentration include economics, leadership, the business of the environment, and the supply chain. Online course content is interactive and incorporates the use of multimedia learning tools. Domestic and international residency course options are available. The value placed on professional experience is high in this program and GRE/GMAT scores are not required for admission.

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Tuition: $1,560 per credit
Time to Completion: 24 months
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

SNHU's MBA in sustainability and environmental compliance prepares students to address present and future environmental issues in business. This online MBA in green business practices concentrates on the challenges related to energy and ecology and their effect on society and the environment. The specialization in sustainability offers course work in environmental issues, energy and society, and environment compliance/sustainability. Students learn the tools for working with large and small businesses, as well as about renewable energy and sustainability trade associations, ecological advocacy organizations, and municipal and ecological regulatory agencies. Students learn at their own pace in a flexible online format. GMAT/GRE test scores are not required for admission to this program.

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
Tuition: $627 per credit-hour; $1,881 per three-credit class
Time to Completion: Minimum 15 months
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
3University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School View Full Profile

UNC's online MBA focuses on strategic leadership and foundational skills while allowing students to specialize in one of eight concentrations. The online MBA in sustainable enterprise prepares professionals to maintain the "triple bottom line" in business, balancing between profit, society, and the environment. The principles of sustainable enterprise and the global context of business are the focus of this track.

The program consists of 66 credits delivered in a multimedia format by a diverse group of distinguished professors with a wide variety of professional and academic experience. Students have 24/7 lifelong access to course materials from a mobile app compatible with any mobile device. No GMAT/GRE scores are required from candidates with seven or more years of full-time professional experience. Waivers may be granted to qualified applicants with less than seven years of experience, but whose academic and professional work clearly demonstrate the quantitative and analytical skills necessary for success in the program.

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Tuition: $1,728.46 per credit-hour
Time to Completion: 18-36 months
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Saint Mary's accelerated online MBA program offers a sustainability and environmental management emphasis with coursework focused on eco-friendly business practices. Topics include corporate social responsibility, sustainable marketing and law, and ethics in environmental management. Students can further tailor their learning through customizing the 25 lecture series towards sustainability and by applying principles of sustainable business to the capstone project.

Saint Mary's 30-credit online MBA program is geared toward students who are committed to ethics and integrity in business as it is founded upon the Lasallian principles of respect, equality, and inclusion. The accelerated pace is ideal for experienced professionals who want to quickly obtain the skills to further their careers. All online MBA students at Saint Mary's receive an iPad loaded with mobile learning apps to access coursework, materials and learning tools anytime, anywhere.

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuition $650 per credit-hour
Time to Completion: 18 months or less
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
5 University of Colorado–Denver

The University of Colorado–Denver's online MBA in managing for sustainability provides students with skills to apply sustainable management practices to all facets of business. The program is geared towards individuals aspiring to enter the field of sustainability as a consultant or entrepreneur or those seeking to understand how issues of sustainability relate to their current role and business focus.

Students in this specialization of the professional MBA program take 30 credits of MBA core courses, three credit-hours in international business, and 12 credits-hours in sustainability. Sustainable management topics include corporate social responsibility, green marketing strategy, social entrepreneurship, and business ethics, among others. The 48-credit program can be taken completely online and may be combined with internships and field projects to gain hands-on experience applying learning to authentic business contexts. Dual degree options are available to combine MBA and MS degrees in fields such as medicine, architecture, urban planning, and banking. GMAT is required for admission; however, work experience is not.

Location: Denver, Colorado
Tuition: $795 per credit
Time to Completion: 11 months for accelerated on-campus program; 16 months to five years for part-time online/hybrid programs
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

UHCL offers an accelerated online MBA in an eight-week format ideal for working professionals in addition to its hybrid and traditional program offerings. In the sustainability concentration, students seeking to enhance or begin careers in environmental compliance or consultancy examine sustainable economies from the point of view of the diverse stakeholders involved. Coursework is focused on the legal, economic, and strategic issues vital to conducting environmentally friendly business that offers social and environmental benefits along with economic gain. Please note that GRE/GMAT testing is required only for applicants with less than a 3.0 on the last 60 hours of their undergraduate coursework.

Location: Houston, Texas
Tuition: $1,739 per three-credit class
Time to Completion: 14 months (accelerated)
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Designed for the working professional, the online MBA at Wilmington University emphasizes the complex relationships successful organizations navigate in diverse domestic settings and the international community. Students work at their own pace through the 36-credit program in an accelerated seven-week course format.

The program requires 21 credits of MBA common core classes and 15 credits in a chosen specialization. Students in the environmental sustainability concentration focus on competencies related to ecological sustainability and environmental ethics. Courses include project management with sustainable green technologies, global marketing strategy, and organizational behavior and ethical leadership. No GMAT/GRE is required for admission.

Location: New Castle, Delaware
Time to Completion: Time to Completion:
Accreditation: International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)