Earning a Master’s in Sustainability Online

Become Team
Become Team
Updated November 17, 2021

LearnHowToBecome.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover your program in minutes

Should I Pursue a Master's in Sustainability Online?

The sustainability field is relatively new and growing in popularity. Sustainability degrees come in a variety of different fields including environmental science, public policy, business, engineering, and technology. Sustainability degrees blend concepts of science, economics, and social sciences to develop efficient business practices and lessen negative environmental impacts. Professionals in this industry have a desire to enact meaningful change and a passion for advocating for the environment. Many sustainability positions only require a bachelor's degree; however, earning an online sustainability master's degree opens the door to better wages and career opportunities.

Whether you prefer an online or traditional program, you can choose from a variety of sustainability degrees. A few of the most common are the environmental engineering science master's degree, sustainability and environmental policy master's degree, and the sustainability leadership and management master's degree. Earning a master's in sustainability online offers convenience and flexibility. Online programs use the same curriculum as traditional programs so you receive the same education without having to commute to campus.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Sustainability Graduates

Master's in Sustainability Salary

An online sustainability master's or an online master's in sustainable development are applicable for jobs across a variety of industries. A few of the top-paying industries are customer service management, engineering, consulting, education, architecture, and software. Average salaries in these industries range from $50,398 in customer service management to $71,216 in engineering. Your industry-related experience also impacts your earning potential. In general, the less experience you possess the less you earn. As you gain more experience and become a seasoned industry professional, you may see wages plateau. To enhance your earning potential or career opportunities, consider certification in your field or a doctorate.

Top-Paying Industries for Master's Degree in Sustainability Holders

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Customer Service Management Solutions $50,398
Architectural Services $50,868
Education $51,546
Consulting $58,353
Environment, Conservation, or Wildlife Organization $60,000
Software Services $62,500
Engineering Services $71,216

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for a Master's Degree in Sustainability

Source: PayScale

Master's in Sustainability Careers

A master's in sustainability opens up a variety of career opportunities in several industries, whether students pursue a master's in sustainable agriculture online or a master's in sustainable design online. A few common positions include a sustainability consultant, energy manager, program director, or energy engineer. In general, working in sustainability requires a strong desire to initiate positive changes for the environment and society through conscientious business or policy decisions. Successful sustainability professionals also possess strong leadership skills and the ability to convince business leaders to implement sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability Consultant

Annual Median Salary: $62,126

A sustainability consultant helps organizations develop environmentally friendly business practices. Some key tasks include conducting energy audits and examining components of a supply chain to find ways to cut waste. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that this position requires a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a science-related field; however, you may need a master's degree to advance in your career.

Program Director, Nonprofit

Annual Median Salary: $53,911

A program director focuses on obtaining funding and ensuring efficient spending. Key tasks include preparing budgets, evaluating program policies, supervising management, and overseeing the hiring and firing process. A master's degree is not necessarily required, but sometimes preferred.

Sustainability Manager

Annual Median Salary: $70,861

The sustainability manager spearheads an organization's efforts to create and implement sustainability initiatives. They analyze an organization's energy consumption and processes to identify improvement areas. Managers also track the progress of their initiatives and make corrections as needed. Typically considered upper management, this position may require a master's degree, though requirements vary depending on the employer and industry.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $56,818

An environmental health and safety coordinator strives to create and enforce workplace safety. This is a key factor in sustainability initiatives because a safe workplace generally results in higher efficiency and less waste. EHS coordinators work closely with human resources and leadership teams to enact their initiatives throughout an organization's day-to-day operations. This role typically requires only a bachelor's degree; however, a master's may be preferred, especially for advancement opportunities.

Energy Manager

Annual Median Salary: $76,383

An energy manager evaluates an organization's energy use and develops programs to create more efficient processes to reduce energy consumption. This individual also tracks a company's progress by preparing energy reports and suggesting corrective actions. A master's degree is not typically required for this position, but many positions require industry experience. A master's degree could replace or reduce work experience requirements depending on the industry.

Source: PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Sustainability Program?

A master's degree in sustainability usually takes 1-2 years to complete. The concept of sustainability covers a broad range of topics and industries so specific degree programs may vary depending on the industry focus. For example, degrees may cover sustainability topics in engineering, environmental policy, or business management. Before researching programs, determine your desired career path to ensure you choose the right program.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Sustainability

Foundations of Sustainability

Courses teach students the basic concepts of sustainability and the industry's current theories and practices. Topics cover sustainability challenges, including laws and regulations across a variety of industries, such as government, business, and conservation. Students also learn how to research market trends and opportunities for sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability Leadership

Courses prepare students to lead and create effective change. Students can expect to review case studies and practice concepts through exercises covering a variety of situations involving sustainability in the business, government, or conservation sectors. In general, courses allow students to consider a scenario, create a solution, and successfully negotiate with government officials or business leaders to implement their plan.

Policy, Law, and the Ethics of Sustainability

Courses provide an overview of current policies and laws to protect the environment and enforce sustainable business practices. Topics also include understanding carbon footprint and how it is measured. Students examine the role of government agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, in preservation and policy development.

The Natural Environment

Courses teach students about the basic concepts of the environment including weather, climate, energy, ecosystems, and how humans impact natural systems. Students learn about pollution, toxicity, and natural capital. Courses teach students the importance of evaluating business practices to determine how they impact the environment and identify sustainability solutions without negatively impacting profitability.

Economics of Sustainability

Courses explore basic economic topics including globalization versus localization, micro and macro concepts, and trade theories. These courses help students understand the implications of sustainability in key economic areas and how to see sustainability as natural capital that nations should preserve and grow.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Sustainability Prepares For

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations allow members to network and stay current on the latest industry research, trends, and technology advancements. Many professional organizations also offer educational resources and opportunities for certification or licensing, which can give a competitive advantage on the job market. You typically don't need certification to work in sustainability, but some employers prefer it. Certification prepares you for career advancement opportunities.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer

Latest Posts

LearnHowToBecome.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

View the most relevant programs for your interests and compare them by tuition, acceptance rate, and other factors important to you.