Overview and Requirements

The Sustainability Science MS is an intensive 1-year professional degree program.  Students complete a minimum of 33 credits, 4 of which are from an 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

Most students choose to complete their degree requirements as an intensive 1-year program.  Students also have the option of pursuing the program on a part-time basis and completing coursework over 3 to 4 semesters. This allows students the ability to develop additional expertise or balance their studies with outside commitments.

Program Structure
The program is structured around four areas: Core Knowledge (14 credits), Electives (6 credits), Specialization (9 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)
Students take 3 courses to fulfill the Core Knowledge requirements. This includes an introductory course, Perspectives on Sustainability, and two 1-credit seminars of the student’s choice. Perspectives is taken in the Fall and provides a foundational introduction to the science, methods, history, philosophy, and future of sustainability. Seminars are offered in both Fall and Spring. They cover current research in this field. Students generally take one seminar per semester.

Electives (6 credits: 2 courses)
Students are required to take one course in each of the three foundational area of sustainability: 1) Environment, 2) Economy, and 3) Society. A plethora of courses are offered within each category, so students are able to select classes that are most relevant to their specific focus. Electives, build a deeper understanding of interconnected social-ecological systems.

Specialization (9 credits: 3 courses)
To develop a professional-level of expertise, students develop a Specialization within one of four concentration areas:  

  1. Urban Sustainability
  2. Renewable Energy and Efficient Design 
  3. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  4. Water Sustainability and Climate Change
  5. 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. To continue interdisciplinary development, students also take at least one course in a different concentration area.

Practicum (4 credits: 1 course)
Finally, the capstone to the program is a 4-credit, 150-hour 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.

Roadmap to Graduation

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 "Study Here" for more information and PDFs. 

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