Earning a graduate degree in sustainability or environmental management prepares students to research, analyze, and propose potential solutions to environmental challenges that pose risk to future generations and existing ecosystems. Students who pursue a path within the natural sciences will focus on managing natural resources and protecting them against contaminants and destruction. Students who choose to enter into the more industrial side of sustainability work will learn how to develop policies and practices through engineering and economics that will ultimately conserve resources.
Why a Master’s Degree?
The field of sustainability is still relatively new, but since its conception it has garnered global attention as an integral aspect of humanity’s and earth’s welfare. With a three-pronged, forward-thinking approach that applies to Earth’s global society, economy, and environment, sustainability is anticipated to be a major component of public and private organizational models in the years to come. In the professional sphere, the demand for sustainability experts is anticipated to grow as natural resources become more strained; and as a field of research, sustainability is a frontier waiting to be explored.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Each graduate school has a unique admissions process. For example, the more competitive graduate schools require higher GPAs and exam scores, while some online masters degree programs in sustainability offer open enrollment. Here are some of the basic requirements to expect in a master’s degree program:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college
- Desired GPA as evidenced by transcripts from each school attended
- Desired GRE or GMAT test scores, taken within the last five years
- Supplemental documents, such as a resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose
Inside a Sustainability Master’s Degree Program
It can take anywhere from 30 to 50 credits to earn a master’s degree, and the program generally requires two to three years of study. The time it takes to complete a master’s degree is longer for part-time students, but students who hope to earn an online masters degree in sustainability can participate in programs designed specifically for working professionals, allowing them to graduate within a more traditional timeframe. The coursework encompassed in a sustainability graduate program covers the full spectrum of sustainability and its impact on the world. Examples of course topics include, but are not limited to, cultural and historical foundations of sustainability, ecosystems, sustainable business principles, public policy and ethics of sustainability, and geopolitical systems.
Students may also choose a specific area of study within the field of sustainability to focus their degree studies on. Common concentrations in sustainability include corporate social responsibility, supply chain management, sustainable water management, and waste management recovery. Other areas of focus include renewable energy, human rights, public policy, and agriculture. Again, because sustainability is such a broad subject, there are many variations between degree programs. While some universities offer a wide range of study with many niche concentrations, others focus on a few aspects of sustainability, the most common of which are sustainable business management and environmental conservation.
Students earning a sustainability masters degree online can participate in expedited programs that require year-round study of condensed courses. Online classes are delivered in many different formats, including video lectures, online quizzes, and class discussions on online forums. Students can use instant messaging or e-mail to connect with fellow students and instructors, and may be required to travel to campuses for on-site testing or to participate in projects or lectures. In order to receive a master’s degree, most programs require students to research, write, and defend an original thesis as well.
What’s Next for Sustainability Master’s Degree Holders?
Students looking to enter the workforce upon graduation have a number of jobs available to them. Specific wages will vary depending on whether or not a student takes a position in corporations, non-profits, or political organizations, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that sustainability employees make anywhere from over $50,000 to $100,000.
Students desiring to obtain additional degrees after graduating from an undergraduate degree program have many options available to them. To see which options are available, please look into all the online degrees in sustainability. Some schools even go so far as to offer a PhD in sustainability. Whatever your educational goals, you’re sure to find a program that works for you in this subject area.