Program Requirements

The Master of Science in Sustainability Science degree requires students to complete a minimum of 33 credits. The program is structured around four areas, providing a clear roadmap to graduation: 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 flexibility to hone expertise in their concentration of choice, and choose courses to best fit their academic interests and career aspirations.

See the Advising Materials page for the approved MS3 Course List.

Core Knowledge (14 Credits: 4 Courses, 2 Seminars)
All MS3 students take an introductory course in the Fall called Perspectives on Sustainability (ECO 606). 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:  

  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.

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 practicum and alumni & outcomes pages to learn more about some of the practicum experiences our students 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.

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. Students also have the option of pursuing the program on a part-time basis and completing coursework over three or more semesters. This allows students the ability to develop additional expertise, or balance their studies with outside commitments.

See the "Advising Materials" page for an approved Courselist and other materials.

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