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Best Online Sustainability Degrees

Best Online Sustainability Degrees

A sustainability degree is good for the planet. Choosing the right program is good for you. Learn more about the best online bachelor’s in sustainability and discover where this degree can lead you.

Sustainability ensures the world is inhabitable for years to come. Before you can work in the field, though, you need a degree that gives you a sustainable future and allows you to make sure the Earth has one as well. If you’re looking for a flexible class schedule, a reasonable price, and stellar student support services, a degree from one of the best online sustainability programs might be right for you.

Since not all online sustainability degrees are created equal, this guide tells you about the best online undergraduate sustainability programs in terms of price, quality of education, and online support resources. These three schools stand above the rest but be sure to check back for the full rankings later this year.

Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Sustainability for 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • River Falls, WI
    Public $

    The University of Wisconsin — River Falls offers an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students interested in sustainability management and who have already completed some college credits. The curriculum consists of 21 classes, including a capstone project course where students can apply what they’ve learned to real-world problems. Students can take classes at their own pace and during the spring, fall, or summer terms.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Management (degree completion program)

    • Credits: 63
    • Length: About 2 years
    • Cost: $450/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: HLC
  • Corvallis, OR
    Public $$

    The Bachelor of Science in Sustainability from Oregon State University is not designed to be a standalone degree. Instead, the degree is designed to complement all OSU degree programs and previously earned bachelor’s degrees. Classes are delivered online to make learning as convenient as possible, although students may also have to complete an in-person internship. There are four program start dates, so students can enroll any time that’s ideal for them.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Sustainability

    • Credits: 32 or 45+
    • Length: About 2 years
    • Cost: $350/credit
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Syracuse, NY
    Public $

    There are several reasons why students interested in sustainability management should consider the Bachelor of Science program from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. It’s fully online and asynchronous, making it convenient to take classes at any time while keeping up with family and/or professional obligations. The curriculum is designed for transfer students who have an associate degree (or equivalent). Students can learn at their own pace, taking as much or as little time as necessary to graduate.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Management (degree completion program)

    • Credits: 42
    • Length: 2 years
    • Cost: $295/credit (in-state); $788/credit (out-of-state)
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Superior, WI
    Public $
  • South Bend, IN
    Public $
  • Kenosha, WI
    Public $
  • Boca Raton, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$$

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers both an Online Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and an Online Bachelor of Science in Sustainability. The two programs are similar with the Bachelor of Science requiring more labs and science-based courses and the Bachelor of Arts covering the relationship between individuals, society, and sustainability more. No matter which degree you choose, courses are taught in fully virtual classrooms, though the Bachelor of Science may have occasional in-person meetings for labs. Online classes are synchronous, so you must attend at a certain time and participate in class discussions. The program includes a mixture of foundational courses and electives, but there isn’t an option for specialization, which makes the program more general and provides a broad overview of the field

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability or Bachelor of Science in Sustainability
  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $580 per credit
  • Mode: Fully online for the Bachelor of Arts | Hybrid for the Bachelor of Science
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin’s online Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Management program is known nationwide as a leader in combining sustainability and business. Because the program’s focus is on sustainable management, applicants should be interested in how environmental studies interact with the world of business. They need some interest in working in a business setting as opposed to a lab or academic one. The program’s courses reflect this emphasis with topics ranging from environmental marketing to sustainable supply chain management. By the end of the program, you’ll be ready to become a leader in implementing and creating sustainable business practices. The program does not offer specialization options. All classes are offered online, though, so you can complete your degree without going to campus.

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Management
  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $450 per credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Oregon State University

Oregon State University offers a robust Bachelor of Science in Sustainability. This interdisciplinary program includes courses in environmental science, ecology, global business, politics, and economics. While broad, the curriculum relies more heavily on ecology and the science of sustainability, especially when compared to other programs that are more business-centric. Through online coursework, labs, and class discussions, you’ll engage in issues like access to clean water and slowing down climate change. All classes are offered online in a synchronous format, so students must attend at specific times. While the program is almost completely online, there are occasional meetings on campus, making the program optimal for those living within a reasonable driving distance of Corvallis, OR.

Program Highlights:

  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainability
  • Credits: 32 or 45+
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $346 per credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU)

What You’ll Learn in Your Online Sustainability Degree Program

As a sustainability major, you’ll likely take a combination of general education courses, lower-level sustainability courses, and higher-level sustainability courses. General education courses are set by the institution and include college writing and introduction to biology. Some schools allow you to replace these courses with AP or transfer credits. 

Because sustainability is such an interdisciplinary field, major requirements often vary among programs. Most schools offer courses in environmental science and sustainable business practices. What differs is usually how many science-based or business-based courses are required. Before applying, study the curriculum and ensure it leans more toward your disciplinary preferences.

Main Topics You’ll Cover

  • Environmental science
  • Sustainable business and management practices
  • Ecology 
  • Environmental policy
  • Economics and the environment

Lower Division Curriculum (Years 1 and 2)

Lower division courses are the foundational courses taken in years one and two. They provide an overview of important sustainability topics, such as environmental management or ecology. These courses explore a variety of topics within the field and can help you better choose a specialization or your electives in years three and four. These courses sometimes include online or in-person labs.

Common Courses

  • Environmental Science: This introductory course provides the scientific background needed to succeed in the field. Along with learning the core concepts of environmental science, students usually apply these concepts in organized labs. 
  • Environmental Sustainability: This broad overview course serves as the foundation for the entire field. It dives deep into the ethical, practical, and real-world implications of what it means to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
  • Introduction to Environmental Policy: This course reviews how the worlds of sustainability and law overlap. It serves as a primer for operating ethically and following the law as a sustainability professional. 
  • Supply Chain Management: While this course might seem odd for a sustainability degree, almost every degree includes it as a foundational course. Many sustainability graduates work in supply chain and operations, so this course provides a primer on the core concepts of this field.
  • Business and Sustainability: This foundational course gives a broad overview of how sustainability interacts with different areas of business. Students learn about the economic impacts of environmental policies and how to effectively integrate sustainability practices into corporate environments.

Upper Division Curriculum (Years 3 and 4)

Years three and four dive deep into your specific environmental passions through upper-division courses that allow you to explore key concepts in more depth. Most programs allow you to choose electives or a specialization, like sustainable business or environmental advocacy. During the last two years of the program, for example, a student interested in environmental law could take more policy classes while a student who wanted to become an environmental engineer could take more science and engineering courses.

Common Courses

  • Economics of Environmental Sustainability: This class is a deep dive into the financial side of sustainability and builds off the lower-division business and sustainability courses. It equips students for balancing economic and environmental needs in the workplace.
  • Supply Chain Management and Sustainability: After learning the foundations of logistics and supply chain management, students get more into how this field interacts with sustainability. This course explores how to make logistics more environmentally friendly. 
  • Resource Management: This course provides a comprehensive look at how to manage both renewable and nonrenewable resources. Students also learn how businesses and governments transition to using renewable resources. 
  • Marketing for a Sustainable World: This course explores communicating and marketing in a more environmentally friendly way. It builds off lower-division business and sustainability courses and provides deeper knowledge on how to communicate about the field. 
  • Environmental Law: This course provides in-depth knowledge about the laws and regulations surrounding sustainability. Students study specific cases and policies and learn about advocacy movements for better environmental policies.

Admissions: Getting into a Top Online Sustainability Degree Program

Getting into a top online sustainability degree can seem daunting at first, but it’s manageable if you understand what admissions committees are looking for. Usually, a sustainability degree doesn’t have extra admissions requirements, so its admissions process is like that for most undergraduate degrees. For all the programs in this guide, for instance, applicants apply to the university and select sustainability as a major on the application form. No additional documents or requirements beyond the initial application process are required. 

The initial application process still requires time and energy. Universities typically look at:

  • GPA
  • ACT or SAT score
  • Transcript of courses taken
  • Answers to essay and short answer questions
  • Extracurriculars and volunteer experience

While there isn’t a separate application for sustainability bachelor’s programs, having an environmental science course on your transcript or listing extracurriculars related to the field can help. If you were the president of your school’s sustainability club or picked up trash on the beach every Saturday, for example, add that to your application. Discussing your passion for sustainability in your essays can also make you a more attractive candidate. 

It’s also important to note that a good GPA or essay answer differs from school to school. At Oregon State University and Arizona State University, for example, successful applicants need at least a high school GPA of 3.00. At both schools, however, it’s also more difficult to get in as an out-of-state student, which is often the case at public universities.

Paying for Your Online Sustainability Degree: Costs and Financial Aid

Not only do you want an online sustainability degree with a solid curriculum, you want it to be sustainable for your wallet as well. The online sustainability programs in this guide have tuition costs that range from $390 per credit to $580 per credit, and going to school online or attending a public school in your state often brings down the cost. For a better idea of how the type of school can impact tuition costs, check out the prices of five popular online sustainability programs listed in the table below:

School NameSchool TypeTotal CreditsIn-StateOut-of-State
Liberty UniversityPrivate not-for-profit120$390/credit$390/credit
Arizona State UniversityPublic120$580 credit$580/credit
Oregon State UniversityPublic120$346/credit$346/credit
University of WisconsinPublic120$450/credit$450/credit
University of PhoenixPrivate for-profit120$398/credit$398/credit

Most schools offer financial aid, and students can receive government aid, both state and Federal, as well as funding through private organizations. When looking at programs, check out the school’s main financial aid page in addition to tuition and other fees, before determining fit. For example, Arizona State University and Oregon State University both provide a variety of scholarships and offer the same rate of tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students.

FAQs About Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability Online

  • Are online sustainability degree programs offered 100% online?

    There are two main types of sustainability degrees: those that are more policy-based and those grounded in environmental science. Policy-based programs, like the sustainable management degree at the University of Wisconsin, are commonly fully online. More science-based programs, like the Bachelor of Science in Sustainability at Oregon State University, are often hybrid since students must go to campus for labs but take coursework online.

  • What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability?

    The world of sustainability is quickly growing. In fact, the 2022 Global Green Skills Report states that available sustainability roles have grown 8% annually over the past five years. As the effects of climate change are felt worldwide, qualified professionals are needed to address these problems and create a better future. This means the demand for sustainability experts will most likely continue to grow.

    Since climate change impacts almost every industry, that also means there’s a variety of careers available to graduates. The University of Wisconsin reports that students with sustainability degrees can enter the following five careers, among many others:

    • Sustainability Director
    • Production and Operation Supervisor
    • Sustainability Coordinator
    • Environmental Manager
    • Science Teacher
  • Is earning a sustainability degree worth it?

    The sustainability field is growing at a rate of 8% per year with predictions of even faster growth in the future. According to the 2022 Global Green Skills Report, green talent in the workforce worldwide rose 38.5% in 2021 and millions of new jobs are expected to be created globally in the next decade. With a degree in sustainability, you can not only help meet this need, but you’ll also have job security and salary growth for years to come.

  • What accreditation should I look for in a sustainability degree program?

    There is currently no programmatic accreditation for sustainability programs. Instead, look for programs at universities with institutional accreditation. Institutional accreditation can be from a regional or national accrediting body, though regional accreditation is more desirable. Regional accreditation can come through the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission, New England Commission on Higher Education, Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree in sustainability?

    Usually, a bachelor’s degree in sustainability takes four years to complete as a full-time student with no transferable college credits. Part-time students will take longer, while transfer students or those with AP or college credits may complete their degrees faster.

  • Do sustainability degrees have any specialization options?

    While sustainability is mostly an interdisciplinary field, there are options for specialization. Arizona State University, for example, provides the opportunity to specialize in the science or social aspects of sustainability. Other universities, like the University of Wisconsin, don’t provide specialization but do have a wide range of courses for customizing a degree. Depending on what focus you choose, there may be different degree requirements, such as more labs or completing research projects.

Employment Outlook with a Sustainability Degree

Sustainability is a quickly growing field with a variety of different job titles, median salaries, and opportunities. Because the field is so interdisciplinary, graduates end up in a wide variety of industries, and their salaries and job growth rates vary more than those for graduates of other programs.

To give you an idea of how much you can expect to earn with an online bachelor’s degree in sustainability, five careers in sustainability along with the corresponding median salaries and expected job growth rates are listed in the table below.

CareerMedian Annual Earnings (2021)Job Growth (2020-2030)
Sustainability Directors$76,5305%
General and Operations Managers$115,5206.23%
Environmental Scientists$76,5305%
Environmental Engineers$96,8204%
Science Teachers$61,8205%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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