What is a Master’s in Sustainability?

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A Master's in Sustainability prepares a person for a number of different careers in the areas of environmental science and conservation. People may focus on environmental policy, natural resource management or the intersection of sustainability and business among other disciplines. Sustainability looks at how needs can continue to be met while keeping the environment in balance and making sure resources for future needs are not depleted.

An Interdisciplinary Degree

As a field of study, sustainability is relatively new. In the past, other disciplines might have included a sustainability component, but there would not have been a specific degree path. By its very nature, sustainability is something that happens in the context of another discipline and the approach to sustainability will vary based on this. People pursuing a Master's in Sustainability may have a variety of undergraduate degrees and backgrounds, and some may even have a master's degree in another subject such as science or engineering.

Degree Focus

A person might seek a Master's in Sustainability because of an interest in developing policy, to help businesses remain environmentally friendly, to advocate for the environment in some capacity or to better understand how to manage natural resources on public or private land to name just a few focuses. Coursework in sustainability might include looking at research design and methods, environmental law and policy and resource management among others. Depending on a person's area of interest, there might also be courses in management, science or other areas. A person may want to pursue the study of sustainability on a local level or might want to delve into sustainability on a global scale.

Sustainability Research

A master's degree in sustainability will generally require a thesis, and there are many areas of research a person might pursue. These include topics related to climate change, the design of green buildings, developing a more sustainable economy, sustainable technology, carbon footprints, energy, recycling and more. Some people may want to continue pursuing the research they began at the master's level in a doctoral program.

Careers in Sustainability

As the impact of climate change is increasingly felt, the field of sustainability may grow and change to encompass more problem-solving around these areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that there is no single career path or focus in sustainability, and jobs in sustainability could range from people who have job titles such as director of corporate responsibility to people whose work on sustainability as just one part of their job description. This could include someone whose responsibility is developing a recycling program for the workplace or otherwise raising awareness about more sustainable practices at work.

Related Resource: 30 Best Master's in Civil or Environmental Engineering Online Degrees

As a new and dynamic field, it is likely that the opportunity to study sustainability and the career and research opportunities available will continue to expand. Businesses, nonprofits, international organizations and government agencies may all need to add more sustainability professionals to their staff. A Master's in Sustainability will prepare a person to deal with a number of challenges that lie ahead in the 21st century.