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Sustainability Degree and Certificate Programs Part 1: The Green MBA

With the influx of “green” degree programs popping up at universities around the world, my clients who are considering going back to school often ask me what type of degree is best. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to education and training in the sustainability realm, some options are better than others depending on your individual experience level and professional goals. In this five-post series I will review some of the most popular types of sustainability degree and certificate programs to help you choose the one that fits you best. Let’s start with the Sustainable MBA:

The Sustainable MBA

A sustainable or ‘green’ Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is much like a traditional MBA but with a special focus on social and environmental issues. Students in sustainable MBA programs still study traditional business subjects like economics and finance, but their curriculums emphasize triple bottom line and often include dedicated modules on green business issues. There are three general types of sustainable MBA programs:

Who it’s for:

Like a traditional MBA, admission into a green MBA program is highly competitive, usually requiring at least three to five years of professional experience, high GMAT scores, and relevant prerequisite courses. Also like a traditional MBA, an MBA in sustainability can be an excellent choice for rising executives, career changers and aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to lead in their fields. 

Example Programs:

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series on Master’s Degrees in sustainability.

This article originally appeared on Acre

Shannon Houde

About the Author

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Read more about Shannon's credentials →


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  1. Ralph Meima


    3:04 PM

    Hello Shannon

    Very interesting article; one of the few I have seen so far that presents a balanced and comprehensive view of the “greening” of the MBA space. I run a sustainability-based MBA program (your first category) in the US Northeast – the first one in this region based on the West Coast model pioneered by Bainbridge Graduate Institute in 2002.

    Being based in Vermont*, we’re close to and strongly influenced by the responsible food/wellness/ag/bioenergy movement among entrepreneurs these days, and see more of it emerging down the road. This seems to be one set of industries that is quickly being populated by graduates of sustainable MBA programs, and part of the magic lies in the professional contacts that students make in these programs (the more dedicated, the better). Many of our students are into food/wellness/ag/bioenergy, and I was out at BGI in March and noticed the same trend.

    For example, several of our recent grads’ start-ups:
    Kevin Lehman, MBA’11: 3Revolutions (VT),
    Kathleen Draper, MBA’11: Finger Lakes Biochar (NY),
    Ryan Finch, MBA’12: Raleigh City Farm (NC),

    I look forward to the next article in your series.

    Best regards,
    Ralph Meima
    Director, Marlboro MBA in Managing for Sustainability

    * By the way, Vermont just came in first in the 2012 Locavore Index ( Lots happening around here!

  2. Bernard the Green Jobs Guru


    1:50 PM

    Hi Shannon,
    I’d like to republish your article on our website, with proper credits. It would go on our Green Education page.

    • Shannon Houde
      Shannon Houde


      8:42 PM

      Yes sure Bernard. Please let me know when it is up. Many thanks. Shannon


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