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.
What Are The Best Online Sustainability Degree Programs?
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia prides itself on a Christ-centered education. Founded in 1971 under the name Lynchburg Baptist College, Liberty took its current name in 1985. The university offers more than 400 online programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration- Green and Sustainable Management.
The online sustainability degree focuses on environmental issues and sustainable ecosystems, creating solutions to complex issues. Upon graduation, students qualify for jobs in construction management and parks and recreation, and as consultants and sustainability analysts.
The online sustainability bachelor’s degree holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs. Most students complete the 120-credit program in 3.5 years. Learners may earn credits for work and life experience. The distance learning program holds classes in eight-week segments.
Keeping with its Christian mission, general education courses include classes in the old and new testaments, theology survey, and Christian life and biblical worldview. Major coursework includes accounting, corporate finance, micro and macroeconomics, and organizational ethics. The online sustainable business degree examines environment and sustainability, energy resources and efficiencies, environmental science and policy, and geographic information systems.
Applicants to the online sustainability degree program must submit high school transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students who do not meet the GPA requirement may seek conditional acceptance. Students may transfer up to 75% of the credits needed for graduation. Students take courses online and complete work without coming to campus.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges confers accreditation to Liberty University.
Oregon State University
|Corvallis, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Oregon State University’s history started in 1856 when a small institution opened in Corvallis, Oregon area under the name Corvallis Academy. Now named Oregon State, the university offers more than 55 online programs, including a bachelor of science in sustainability.
The university makes the online sustainability degree available as part of a dual-degree program. Students select a major and complete that 180-credit program before enrolling in the 32-credit online sustainability bachelor's degree. Oregon State also offers a sustainability minor. Students take courses on a quarterly basis.
After completing the major degree, learners study sustainable communities, sustainability assessments, and the economic, social, and ecological dimensions of sustainability. Coursework examines environmental economics and policy. Learners graduate with the skills to explore climate change, water issues, traditional energy reliance, and social and environmentally efficient products and services.
The online sustainability bachelor's degree concludes with a research project, a special topics course, or an internship. Potential sustainability careers include gas management, marketing, performance assessments, strategic planning, and supply chain management.
The online sustainability degree follows a distance learning format, providing flexibility for students who can’t attend classes on-campus. Learners complete coursework remotely as they balance work, life, family, and education. Applicants must submit SAT and ACT scores. The university prefers candidates with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and accepts transfer credits. Students must complete at least 45 credits at Oregon State.
Oregon State University holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
|Amherst, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst's rich history dates back to 1863. The school launched with four faculty members and four wooden buildings. Today, the university sits on 1,450 acres in western Massachusetts, offering more than 235 degree programs, including a bachelor of arts in sustainability studies.
The online sustainability degree prepares students to become environmental leaders in food and farming or sustainable entrepreneurship. Graduates may open a sustainability business or launch initiatives.
The university designed its online sustainability bachelor's degree for adult students. Each learner must possess at least 12 transfer credits, though those with 30 transferable credits give candidates a better chance of admission. Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students with a previous bachelor’s degree may not apply to the university's online sustainability degree program.
Coursework may include urban or sustainable agriculture, community food systems, environmental law, global food systems, integrated pest management, practical beekeeping, introduction to botany, and pasture management.
The university’s online program provides students with the flexibility to complete coursework at their own pace. Through distance learning, students complete coursework at their convenience without having to travel to campus. Online courses follow the same academic calendar as on-campus courses, with 14-week spring and fall semesters.
Students must earn 120 credits and may transfer in up to 75 credits. With transfer credits, the average learner graduates in four to five semesters. Students may also receive transfer credits by writing essays detailing work and life experiences.
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Bellevue University opened in 1966 in Bellevue, Nebraska with a focus on adult education. The university now offers more than 80 degrees, including a bachelor of science in sustainability management.
The online sustainability degree appeals to students who want to lead and manage sustainability projects through environmental protection. Classwork focuses on water and energy resources, land management, biofuels and bioenergy, urban development, and solar and wind technologies. Learners with science, environmental, and engineering interests make excellent program candidates.
The online sustainable business degree’s hands-on and applied learning techniques provide insight into environmental science, energy and green technologies, and natural resource conservation trends. Graduates qualify for positions as conservation or environmental scientists and geoscientists, and for farming, fishing, and forestry professions.
Students must complete 127 credits to graduate with the online sustainability bachelor's degree. Learners complete 36 general education credits, 51 elective credits, and 40 major credits. Major courses include current trends in energy technology, green project management, cost of sustainability, and foundations for professional success. Bellevue designed its online sustainability degree program for professionals seeking to enhance their education and careers by analyzing, designing, and managing sustainable projects.
Candidates need one year of work experience in science or engineering technology or two college-level natural science courses. The program director may admit students who do not meet the requirements. Applicants must submit high school or GED transcripts.
Bellevue University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
|Kenosha, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
In 1965, the Wisconsin legislature voted to merge two different two-year colleges and create the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The university, part of the University of Wisconsin system, calls the village of Somers home and offers a bachelor of science in sustainable management.
Students take 21 courses for 63 credits in this degree-completion program for working adults. The online sustainability degree appeals to learners with real-world experience seeking skills in business, environmental science, resource management, and sustainable development. Course topics include sustainability economics, information systems, environmental science and policy, and systems thinking. Graduates qualify for a range of positions in energy-use reduction, resource conservation, recycling, pollution prevention, and waste elimination.
Classwork includes climate change and sustainability, marketing, organizational behavior, operations management, and environmental and sustainable policy. Learners study systems thinking, ecology for sustainable management, the environment and society, and international development and sustainability. Coursework concludes with a capstone project, in which students work with an organization on a sustainability issue. The degree does not require electives.
Applicants must possess an associate degree or 60 transferable credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA. This online sustainability degree program requires college coursework in math, introductory biology, statistics, and speech/introduction to communication. The online degree provides flexibility for working professionals balancing work and life commitments. Students do not log in to courses at a specific time but must meet classwork deadlines. The program does not require learners to come to campus.
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
|River Falls, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls traces its roots to 1874, when it opened as the state’s fourth Normal school. The university, a part of the University of Wisconsin system, now offers more than 70 areas of study, including a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Management.
This online sustainability degree appeals to learners who are interested in business, natural sciences, social systems, and a healthy environment. Coursework equips learners with technical, environmental, and business knowledge, taking into account people, planet, and profit. The program requires 123 total credits for graduation. Graduates qualify for jobs as global supply managers, sustainability program coordinators, sustainable logistics consultants, and sustainability specialists.
The program’s distance learning format appeals to working adult students who desire a college degree but face time pressures. The program does not require learners to come to campus. University of Wisconsin-River Falls designed its program for students with an associate degree or 60 transferable credits from another institution. Once accepted into this program, students take 63 credits.
Core coursework includes triple bottom line accounting, technical writing, global environmental chemistry, environment and society, and energy for sustainable management. The online sustainability bachelor's degree examines sustainability economics and organizational finance, natural resource management, and global environmental chemistry.
Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 GPA and have completed college courses in algebra, chemistry, and statistics, plus introductory courses in biology and communications.
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
|Menomonie, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Starting in 1891, James Huff Stout funded several educational institutions in Wisconsin. The University Wisconsin-Stout blossomed from those early efforts. A part of the University of Wisconsin system, this Menomonie-based polytechnic institution offers 50 undergraduate degrees, including a bachelor of science in sustainable management.
The university designed its online sustainability degree for students seeking careers in sustainability initiatives, environmental conservation, and preservation. Graduates may take on management and leadership roles in sustainability organizations. The hands-on, problem-solving coursework provides skills in profit creation, environmental preservation, and community improvement. Learners qualify for jobs as facilities, product, or plant managers, or human resource directors.
The online sustainable business degree requires 63 credits to graduate. As a degree-completion program, students transfer credits from another institution. Learners must take at least 32 credits at Wisconsin Stout. Applicants should submit high school and college transcripts, and the university seeks students with a minimum 2.0 GPA from their most recently attended institution.
The online sustainability bachelor's degree comprises 21 classes. Coursework includes environmental science and sustainability, triple bottom line accounting for managers, and economics in society and sustainability. Classes cover natural resource management, marketing for a sustainable world, and sustainable organization finance.
The online sustainability degree program follows a distance-learning format, giving busy adults the chance to complete a college degree while balancing work and life commitments. Learners do not attend classes on-campus but complete work remotely at their convenience.
The University Wisconsin-Stout holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Wisconsin-Superior
|Superior, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
In 1893, the Wisconsin legislature established the Superior Normal School. The school changed its name to the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1964, and it now offers the bachelor of science in sustainable management.
The online sustainability degree focuses on how business, natural, and social systems interact. The interdisciplinary program covers environmental studies, triple bottom line accounting, natural resource management, and information systems. Graduates obtain skills to assist organizations in sustainable practices development.
Students take 21 courses for 63 credits with no electives, plus a capstone project in the final semester. As a degree-completion program, students transfer credits from another higher education institution. These learners submit transcripts from all previously attended institutions demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA.
University of Wisconsin-Superior designed its online sustainable business degree for working adults seeking who need distance-learning flexibility. These students may complete coursework remotely to better balance work and life demands. The program, housed in the economics department, provides a broad overview of sustainability issues confronting today’s society. The online sustainable business degree provides students with the skills to analyze sustainability issues and offer solutions in a business-based environment.
Coursework includes environment and society, international management for a sustainable world, and logistics, supply chain management, and sustainability. Classes examine environmental and sustainable policy, natural resource management, global environmental chemistry, and technical writing for sustainable management.
The Wisconsin-Superior sustainable management degree holds accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
|Prescott, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Located in Prescott, Arizona, Prescott College seeks to produce graduates who can meet the challenges of a changing world. The college offers a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sustainability.
The degree appeals to students with a passion for the environment. Learners may choose from a range of specializations in environmental education or policy, agro-ecology, and natural history. This allows students to create a degree that meets their career and educational interests. Coursework equips learners with skills in biological and earth sciences, field research methods, natural resources holistic management, environmental policymaking, and communication.
Classes result in strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, ecological literacy, and research and analytics techniques. Students qualify for a range of careers in conservation biology, forest service, environmental management, or regional planning. Prescott College requires students to attend an on-campus orientation. Learners also work with mentors and in their community.
Applicants submit a two- to three-page, academic-focused essay, plus high school transcripts. The college offers rolling admissions and does not charge an application fee. Candidates may receive credit for life experiences through a prior learning assessment. The college allows transfer credits with a minimum "C" grade. Students must complete at least two terms at Prescott College.
The 120-credit program requires students to complete 60 credits in environmental studies. Graduates may qualify for a tuition-free, accelerated master's degree in environmental studies and sustainability.
The Higher Learning Commission confers accreditation to Prescott College.
St. Petersburg College
|St. Petersburg, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
In 1927, Florida's first two-year college opened in St. Petersburg. In 2001, the college became St. Petersburg College, offering four-year degrees, including a Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainability Management.
The online sustainability degree provides instruction in technology, people, economics, and natural and energy resources. These skills provide a broad understanding of sustainability business concepts. Coursework helps learners improve leadership skills and green practices knowledge and prepares students for sustainability management careers.
Graduates qualify for careers in manufacturing and construction, military and government, transportation, service industries, international business, and private or nonprofit corporations.
The online sustainable business degree holds classes in eight-week, fast-track sessions. Students may attend courses on a full- or part-time basis, investing 10 to 15 hours per week in out-of-class work. Students in the online sustainability degree must maintain a minimum "C" grade in most courses. They complete a capstone project and must attend an on-campus orientation and final presentation.
Major core courses include legal aspects of sustainability, financial management, business communication, and applied organizational behavior. Classes examine sustainability enterprise planning, business strategies, and budget management triple bottom line analysis. St. Petersburg College offers a recommended pathway for course competition.
Applicants to the online sustainability bachelor's degree must possess 60 transfer credits from a regionally accredited institution, demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA.
St. Petersburg College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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
- Sustainability Consultant
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
- Environmental Engineers
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.
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