The Best Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability Programs
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The field of sustainability spans many industries, including business, engineering, science, and government policy. Whatever your career interest, they are likely considering how to make their field more sustainable. A sustainability degree online prepares you to improve processes that help the environment and society, while also teaching you economics, analysis, problem-solving, and how to apply classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. Accordingly, careers in sustainability are projected to grow at above-average rates over the next decade.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of environmental scientists and specialists to grow 11%, and employment of environmental engineers to grow 12%. If you're interested in careers that improve environmental quality, check out our guide to bachelor's degrees in this dynamic field.
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What are the Best Online Sustainability Programs? Here are our top 10:
|1||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|2||Oregon State University||Corvallis, OR|
|3||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|4||University of Wisconsin-River Falls||River Falls, WI|
|5||University of Wisconsin-Superior||Superior, WI|
|6||University of Massachusetts Amherst||Amherst, MA|
|7||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|8||Roosevelt University||Chicago, IL|
|9||University of Wisconsin-Parkside||Kenosha, WI|
|10||St. Petersburg College||Clearwater, FL|
Related Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Sustainability Programs
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Sustainability?
An online bachelor's degree in sustainability is usually 120 credits of coursework, which involves a combination of general education and major courses. While programs differ, students often complete courses in economics, ecology, and math before moving into courses focused on sustainability. Students in these courses analyze problems through the lens of a triple bottom line: strong profits, a strong environment, and strong communities.
- Environmental Science: Often one of the first courses required in a sustainability program, this course tackles several core subjects like basic ecological ideas, and how humans affect the environment. The curriculum explores how sustainable practices offset human impact on the environment. This course is relevant to all practitioners, from engineers to consultants.
- Systems Thinking: Sustainability graduates are often in demand because of their grasp of systems thinking. In other words, they understand the links and interactions that comprise systems. In these online sustainability online degree programs, students use systems thinking to analyze problems and apply sustainability practices to business and scientific issues.
- Economics of Sustainability: Students complete basic economics or algebra courses before moving into the economics of sustainability, which covers macroeconomics, microeconomics, and the application of these principles to environmental goods and services. Contemporary economic issues are also analyzed using systems thinking. This course is essential for sustainability managers and consultants to show the economic benefits of incorporating sustainability.
- Environmental Policy: This course explores the history, role of government, and influencers of environmental policy. Students also learn about the issues facing sustainable policy initiatives and the processes to implement those new initiatives.
- Sustainability Capstone: Often completed in the final year or semester of the program, the sustainability capstone is an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned to a real-world scenarios, often by working directly with an organization to help them solve a sustainability problem. This course is particularly useful for future consultants and managers with similar duties in their careers.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Sustainability Degrees
It is important that students ensure any college or university they attend is accredited, including those offering online programs. The Department of Education (ED) recognizes seven regional accrediting agencies, and these agencies ensure that colleges meet certain standards. The ED also recognizes national accrediting agencies, and these generally oversee career schools, training colleges, and other specialized institutions across the country. While nationally accredited schools may be less expensive, it is usually easier to transfer credits earned at a regionally-accredited college. Graduate programs often require students to have earned a bachelor's degree at a regionally-accredited institution, as well.
In addition to the ED, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also recognizes accrediting agencies. The ED and CHEA monitor accrediting agencies to prevent anyone from declaring themselves an accrediting agency. If a college is not accredited by a recognized regional or national accrediting agency, they cannot offer federally-funded aid to students. Even though it is not required, many accrediting agencies also apply for CHEA evaluation. The EDs website provides a list of accredited colleges and universities, and students should ensure their prospective institution is listed.
Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Sustainability Graduates
With an increased interest in sustainability across industries, graduates with sustainability online bachelor's degrees are prepared for careers related to the environment, engineering, or business. Businesses are increasingly interested in their social responsibility -- and the improved profits that sustainability can bring -- leading them to work with consultants and managers that specialize in sustainability. Some companies even appoint top executives who are singularly focused on a corporate sustainability strategy. A degree in sustainability can also lead to influencing public policy, designing solar energy systems, and improving public health.
Chief Sustainability Officers
These top executives enact and oversee corporate sustainability strategy, which includes addressing issues like energy use, waste elimination, and building design at a specific business or corporation. According to ONET Online, other job titles include Director of Sustainability, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sustainability.
Median Annual Salary - $79,929
Environmental Scientist and Specialist
Environmental scientists and specialists work in a variety of areas, including advising policymakers, working with industries to reduce waste, or studying the effect of certain chemicals on the ecosystem. This occupation is expected to grow at a rate of 11% -- faster than average -- between 2014 and 2024.
Median Annual Salary - $68,910
More commonly known as supply chain coordinators, logisticians analyze and coordinate a supply chain. They manage a product from distribution through delivery to the consumer. For sustainability graduates, a career in sustainable supply chain management may be desirable, as logisticians are needed in every industry. Half of all logisticians are employed in manufacturing or the federal government.
Median Annual Salary - $63,379
Similar to management analysts, these consultants advise businesses and companies on improving their sustainability practices in order to make the corporation more environmentally efficient and profitable. Sustainability consultants often work for private firms, and one in five are self-employed. Consultants and analysts travel frequently to meet with clients.
Median Annual Salary - $61,924
For those wanting to develop solutions to environmental problems -- including efforts to improve recycling, public health, and air pollution -- a career as an environmental engineer could be a good fit. Similar occupations include energy analysts, solar systems designers, and wind turbine technicians.
Median Annual Salary - $58,334
BACHELOR'S IN SUSTAINABILITY SALARY
Almost all positions in sustainability require a bachelor's degree. The number of jobs in this field is constantly growing; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the employment of environmental engineers is expected to grow 12% over the next decade. While salaries vary, almost all are above the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2016 median wage for all occupations of $37,040 per year.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Sustainability Program
Students pursuing an online sustainability degree have several options for financing their education, including federal financial aid and work study, scholarships, grants, and loans. All students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid and work study programs. The FAFSA may also be required by some universities for scholarship consideration. Some sustainability programs also offer program-specific grants, which have been donated by businesses and individuals with a commitment to the field. Additionally, students should investigate other “green scholarships”, which are generally reserved for students majoring in the natural sciences, environmental studies, or sustainability.
AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.