The Sustainability Science MS is an intensive 1-year professional degree program. Students complete a minimum of 33 credits, 4 of which are from the Practicum (internship). Our program is grounded in the philosophy that solving societal challenges requires a new generation of leaders who have an understanding of integrated sustainable thinking, rigorous interdisciplinary academic training and practical career-based experience. As such, the program is tailored to meet these challenges and prepare our students to be highly competitive in the market place.
Students graduate with:
1. A systems thinking approach to understanding the interrelated scientific, social, economic, and political underpinnings of sustainability challenges.
2. Critical thinking and communications skills.
3. Real-world pragmatic training and field experiences.
4. A network of peers and colleagues who are committed to each others’ success.
Full Time or Part Time?
Most students choose to complete their degree requirements as an intensive 1-year program of two semesters plus a summer.
A typical path to complete the program in one year is:
Fall: 5 classes + 1 seminar
Spring: 4 classes + 1 seminar
Graduation in September
Students also have the option of pursuing the program on a part-time basis and completing coursework over two or more years. This allows students the ability to develop additional expertise, or balance their studies with outside commitments. A typical path to completing the program in two years is:
Fall: 3 classes
Spring: 2 classes + 1 seminar
Fall: 2 classes + 1 seminar
Spring: 2 classes
Graduation in May
93% of MS3 graduates pursued the degree on a full-time basis.
* Data from MS3 alumni survey, Sept 2018.
The program is structured around four areas: Core Knowledge (14 credits), Specialization (9 credits), Electives (6 credits), and Practicum (4 credits). This framework grounds students in a common understanding of sustainability while allowing them maximum flexibility in honing expertise in their concentration of choice. This provides a clear roadmap to graduation while allowing students to focus on courses that best fit their academic interests and career aspirations.
Core Knowledge (14 Credits: 4 Courses, 2 Seminars)
All MS3 students take an introductory course in the Fall called Perspectives on Sustainability. This course provides a foundational introduction to the science, methods, history, philosophy, and future of sustainability. The other three "core knowledge" courses can be taken in any semester and round out the "core breadth" element of the program. One course is chosen from each of three categories: Ecological Systems, Urban & Social Systems, and Policy & Economics. The final element of the Core Knowledge requirement is two 1-credit seminars - typically one taken in the fall and one in the spring. The seminars cover current research in the field. One that is typically offered in the fall semester is "Sustainability Science Perspectives in the Field" and involves seven field trips to observe sustainability in practice at different sites in the Pioneer Valley.
Specialization (9 credits: 3 courses)
To develop a professional-level of expertise, students develop a Specialization by taking three courses within one of five concentration areas:
- Urban Sustainability
- Renewable Energy and Efficient Design
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
- Water Sustainability and Climate Change
- Environmental Quality
These concentrations frame a student’s intellectual development within a disciplinary context, while allowing students the flexibility to select courses that are individually relevant.
Electives (6 credits: 2 courses)
To continue interdisciplinary development, students take at least one course - the "breadth elective" - in a different concentration than their own. The second "free" elective course can be selected from any category in the Course List.
Practicum (4 credits: 1 course)
Finally, the capstone to the program is a 4-credit, 150-hour Practicum (internship) that applies classroom learning within a real-world, professional setting. Students can complete their Practicum with a wide array of organizations such as NGOs, businesses, government, and higher education institutions. See the alumni page for an example of some of the practicums our graduates have undertaken.
Upon completion of the program, students earn a Master of Science degree and are ready to enter the workforce and apply their knowledge, skills, and practical experience to start solving the world’s sustainability challenges.
See the "Advising Materials" tab under "Academics" for more information and PDFs.
Here is what the Roadmap to Graduation looks like. Students use this to track their progress through the program and ensure they are meeting all the requirements to graduate.
Ready to choose your concentration? Click here >