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Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

Best Online MBA in Sustainability Programs

If you have a head for business and a passion for the environment, you may want to pursue graduate studies in the business of sustainability. Read on to find some of the best online MBA sustainability programs, and what studying in them might look like for you.

The recent Inflation Reduction Act and the growing awareness regarding the importance of protecting the environment, especially among younger consumers, have pushed businesses to become increasingly more environmentally sustainable. But how are businesses achieving this? Well, that’s where your online MBA in sustainability becomes vital.

Online MBA sustainability courses are where traditional business and management meet environmental science and business ethics. If you want to help businesses adopt and maintain practices that are environmentally healthy, as well as profitable, this may be the program for you. Studying sustainability in your MBA online may seem challenging, but an accredited online program offers an MBA with flexibility to best suit your needs, even if you have professional or familial responsibilities. It may even save you money.

Read on to learn what your online sustainability MBA might look like, how much it might cost, and how your career can benefit from your degree.

Spotlight on 3 Top Online MBA Programs in Sustainability for 2023

When you’re looking for an online sustainability MBA, you’ll have plenty of schools to choose from. You might wonder if you should focus on schools with a stellar business reputation, or a focus on environmental science. Then there are tuition costs and class format to consider…all of which is a lot to take in. While there are many great options out there, we’ve selected some exceptional schools with online MBA programs in sustainability to help you with your search:

  • University of Massachusetts – Boston

    For the rigor and reputation of an accredited state research university with the flexibility and value of an online MBA program, consider the online MBA with a specialization in Environmental Management and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts – Boston. This program is offered online or on campus. The online program features asynchronous classes to allow for maximum flexibility.

    In this program, you will learn your core MBA courses, and the fundamentals of environmental management, which includes knowing how climate change is impacting and will continue to impact the business world. In addition, you can complete an internship or relevant work experience or conduct an independent research survey for credit. In-state tuition is available for Massachusetts residents, and all students are eligible for financial aid.

  • Antioch University

    A progressive university with extensive online course offerings, Antioch University offers an online MBA with a concentration in Sustainable Business through their AU Online degree program. With a focus on triple bottom line (TBL) strategies and the legalities and ethics of sustainable business practices, this program offers a foundation in business and management while exploring environmental science and its impact on business strategy.

    You’ll have the opportunity to explore facets of sustainable business ranging from social justice in business practices to environmental law. Coursework is entirely online, saving the cost and stress that comes with relocation. The program offers tuition rates below $700 per credit hour and financial aid opportunities for all students, including grants and loan opportunities, making it a relatively affordable option to earn your degree.

  • Bard College

    While Bard College is best known as a highly competitive liberal arts college, they also offer a low-residency hybrid MBA in Sustainability, where online classes are supplemented with 3-or-4-day on-campus retreats throughout your studies. This program is particularly especially highly regarded if you’re aiming to work in nonprofit management after graduation, although you will be learning skills that will be applicable across the business world.

    Bard’s online sustainability MBA prides itself on highly experiential learning, with each student undertaking a personal capstone project. You will also be taking career-focused courses, with a particular emphasis on the practical applications of environmental consulting. As an accredited private institution, you will pay the same rate of tuition regardless of residency status, and financial aid is available for all students.

Cost of an Online MBA in Sustainability

An MBA can be one of the most expensive degrees around–including an MBA in sustainability. Thankfully, by earning your MBA in sustainability online, you’ll already be saving on costs associated with relocation and living on campus, while having more flexibility to work a job while you study.

There are many ways to fund your degree through loans, scholarships, and financial aid from your chosen school. Be sure to fill out your FAFSA to see your eligibility for financial aid, work-study, and government loans. You should also explore private scholarships and funding from your school.

Finally, not all programs cost the same amount do your research about tuition costs, like the tuition for these online sustainability MBAs:

How Much Your Online MBA in Sustainability Could Cost

School NameNo. of CreditsCost per CreditTotal Tuition
University of Massachusetts – Boston28$806.92
Antioch University33$614$20,262
Bard College60$1,373.47$82,408
Northeastern University50$900$45,000
UCLA Anderson School of Management80$1,740$139,200

What to Expect in Your MBA in Sustainability Program Online

When you begin your online sustainability MBA, you’ll be learning foundational aspects of business and management which are components of any MBA program. However, you’ll also be learning the basics of environmental science, particularly as regards climate change, and how it affects the development and maintenance of sustainable business practice. Depending on your program, you may be able to complete individual research in the form of a capstone project or take on an internship in a sustainable business for course credit.

Generally, the sustainability aspect of your MBA will require a large amount of course time, leaving very little room for electives, if any. However, some programs may offer you the chance to supplement your required courses with relevant electives if you prefer. 

As an online student, you will be taking classes, either synchronous or asynchronous, via video, and may also be able to connect with professors and fellow students through virtual office hours or study groups. While your MBA will likely be fully or almost fully online, you may also work in-person at relevant work experience or travel to campus for a seminar or conference.

Common Online MBA Courses

  • Environmental Law in Business

    One important aspect of sustainability in business is being aware of environmental laws and using your legal knowledge to adopt the best sustainable practices. In this class, you’ll learn the basics of environmental law, how if differ in different states and nations, and how it applies to your business.

  • Sustainable Business Strategies

    Looking to take a business plan and transform it into a more environmentally-conscious, sustainable one? This class will show you how to do so. You’ll learn the basics of developing sustainable strategies across different industries, and how to implement them in ways that benefit your company.

  • Principles of Climate Change and Environmental Science

    While not a traditional MBA subject, in an online MBA in sustainability, you’ll be likely to get a full grounding in environmental science, and, how climate change impacts human life, business, and commerce. This course will give you a grounding in the science of sustainability to apply to business practices.

  • Personal Leadership Development

    Sustainability is a relatively new concern in the world of business, and as such, it will need leaders at the helm. This course will show you different strategies for both taking on a leadership role in business yourself, and for developing a broader, top-down culture of leadership among various teams within a company or organization.

  • Supply Chains and Operations

    Sustainable business operations don’t exist only in one place. In manufacturing, shipping, and other forms of business, understanding the impact of your broader supply chain is crucial for developing a sustainable strategy. As such, this course will teach you the fundamentals of supply chains and logistical operations within a business, and how to maintain them.

FAQs About Online MBA Programs

  • What’s the difference between an online MBA and traditional MBA program?

    An online MBA from an accredited school is, first and foremost, an MBA. It is a “real” MBA, and will be recognized by your future employers that way.

    However, your experience in earning an online MBA may be very different from an on-campus program. Unlike an on-campus MBA, you’ll be taking your classes from home, via your computer, rather than in a traditional classroom. There may also be differences in class projects, assessments, and how you interact with professors, although you will leave equipped with the same breadth of knowledge.

  • Can I work full-time while pursuing an online MBA?

    Despite the potential challenges of balancing work with study, it’s entirely possible to work full-time while pursuing your online MBA in sustainability. In fact, the flexibility of an online program (especially if they offer part-time or asynchronous classes) makes it easier to work full-time than if you were in a traditional on-campus program. You may also find it easier to keep an existing job without having to relocate to campus.

  • What are the admissions requirements for an online MBA?

    The admissions requirements for your online sustainability program will vary depending on the school you wish to attend. However, you can expect to be asked for some or all of the following:

    • College transcripts, potentially with a GPA requirement
    • GMAT or GRE scores
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Work experience (typically between 5-10 years)
    • Letters of recommendation from academic, personal, or professional references
  • How long does it take to earn an MBA in Sustainability?

    Your online MBA in sustainability will generally take you between one and two years to complete if you study full-time, and longer if you choose to study part-time. Online programs are often more flexible in program length than on-campus programs. Some schools, like Bard College’s MBA in Sustainability, have both full-time and part-time options, with a full-time option for students hoping to finish quickly, and a part-time option for students who want the flexibility to study while attending to other responsibilities, like work or family life.

  • Can I earn my MBA 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

    You generally will be able to complete your MBA in sustainability entirely online. While some programs may have limited or optional campus visits or optional summer programs that require relocation, there are also many which offer fully online learning throughout the course. You may also complete an internship or research project that requires an in-person aspect, although this may not be on your school’s campus.

What You Can Do with an Online MBA in Sustainability

As a unique degree fusing business with environmental science, an online MBA in sustainability can lead to many different career paths, and with climate change in the global spotlight, there is high demand for the skills you’ll build. Both the private sector and the world of nonprofits will have opportunities once you’ve finished your degree, and you’ll be able to choose from purely business-focused jobs, environmentally-focused jobs, and jobs that are a balance of the two.

Here are just a few careers to consider once you’ve completed your MBA in sustainability:

Public Relations and Fundraising Manager

With more and more climate nonprofits looking to expand their mission, your skills could be applied in fundraising and public relations management. This would mean you can apply your business and management skills to raise money for familiar environmental causes.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Environmental Specialist

An environmental specialist uses their knowledge of environmental science in an applied way to drive policies within an organization. For companies looking to adopt more sustainable business practices, your MBA in sustainability will make you a great candidate for a leading environmental role in a corporate setting.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Financial Manager

Financial managers track and analyze a company’s finances to help ensure that their business is on the right track. For businesses with a sustainable or “green” focus, an MBA with a specialization in sustainability would be an ideal person to understand their overall mission while possessing the skills to manage finances.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022