An individual interested in a sustainability degree will be happy to know there are several degree levels from which to choose. Sustainability, which is a relatively new discipline, also offers many job opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are various occupations in the area of sustainability in the fields of science, engineering, management and business operations to name a few. Here is some information on degree levels in the field of sustainability.
According to EnvironmentalScience.org, there are more than 33 schools in the U.S. that offer two-year associate degree programs with a focus on sustainability. Of this number, 15 offer sustainability as a major, and 18 offer it as a minor. In addition to general education courses, students in an associate degree program may take courses like environmental conservation, energy and the environment, physical geography, chemistry and society, environmental geology, principles of ecology and environmental ethics. Individuals who already have an associate degree may pursue an undergraduate certificate in sustainability. Many colleges also offer online degrees in sustainability, which allow students to earn their degrees while continuing to work
Based on information provided by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), there are about 421 colleges in the U.S. that offer bachelor’s degree programs with a focus on sustainability. Of this number, at least 98 of these schools offer either a major or a specific concentration in sustainability. These may be Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs, which generally take four years to complete.
Examples of bachelor’s degree programs may be a BS in environmental management or a BS in sustainable business. Course topics may include social dimensions of sustainability, environmental economics and policy, sustainable communities and sustainability assessment. Internships may also be part of the curriculum so students can obtain hands-on training before actually going out in the field and working in this area.
See our ranking of 20 Affordable Colleges Offering Degrees Online for Sustainability Jobs.
There are many sustainability degrees at the graduate level for students interested in obtaining the maximum education possible in this field. More than 463 colleges in the U.S. offer master’s degree programs with a sustainability focus and more than 103 U.S. colleges offer doctoral degrees with a sustainability focus, according to the AASHE. A few of them offer the choice of sustainability as either a concentration or a major. Graduate certificates and undergraduate certificates that are sustainability focused are available at more than 130 colleges and schools.
Master degree programs typically require students have a bachelor’s degree at the time they enroll. The student can complete the master’s degree program in two to three years with full-time study. Course topics in a master’s degree program might include natural environment; policy, law and the ethics of sustainability; applied research; economics for the sustainable development, and statistical methods in sustainability. Depending on the career goals, some student may combine sustainability degrees with engineering or science tracks.
Sustainability degrees are becoming increasingly popular with the large emphasis on green living and making the environment sustainable and green. The potential for good employment growth is also there with sustainability jobs. As the desire to make our environment as healthy as possible continues to be vital, sustainability will continue to be a growing and very important field.