5 Graduate Degrees for a Sustainable Future

  • 5 Graduate Degrees for a Sustainable Future

    It’s no secret that sustainability is a hot topic right now, as society pivots to recognize that so much of our world is changing – environmentally, economically and socially. Governments, private companies, and many institutions are rushing to include sustainability efforts in their long term plans, whether for altruistic reasons, or because it’s good business (or both!). In fact, in 2015 the United Nations outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals that it hopes to achieve, through the participation of all countries, by 2030. The concept of sustainability isn’t a passing fad – it’s only ramping up in importance. 

    If you care about building a more sustainable future and you’re seeking a career that has a ton of potential career growth, a graduate degree in a sustainability-focused field might be right for you. And don’t assume that only STEM majors or those who excel in earth science need apply! People invested in sustainable futures are needed in a ton of disciplines across many sectors. To illustrate the range of available graduate programs related to sustainability, let’s take a look at five degrees and some recent job placements of their alumni: 

    Master of Science in Energy Policy and Climate – John Hopkins University 

    If you’re interested in climate change and the mounting necessity of renewable energy sources, an M.S. in Energy Policy and Climate might be right for you. This program marries science with foundations in law and policy to create well-rounded individuals who are focused on managing a society that is both energy-dependent and sustainably-focused. You can concentrate on the policies, finances, or laws surrounding climate change, and the current iteration of the program offers in-field study trips in Australia, Nepal, and California. An M.S. in Energy Policy and Climate could yield a career in the private or public sector, whether at a non-profit, NGO, corporation or academic research institution. 

    Recent Alumni Careers: Corporate Sustainability Director, Energy Specialist and candidates have gone on to work at Citizens Climate Lobby, Natural Resources Defense Council, and more. 

    Master of Business Administration in Sustainability – Bard College 

    Bard’s MBA program in Sustainability doesn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s providing a top notch Master’s Degree of Business Administration, while embedding into the curriculum a baseline of consideration towards environmental and social impact. A Nielsen study found that 66% of consumers would spend more on a product if it came from a sustainable brand – the future of business could end up being deeply intertwined with sustainability. If you’re interested in business but want to pursue it through the lens of a mission-driven foundation, check out an MBA with a concentration in sustainability. 

    Recent Alumni Careers: Management Consultant, Sustainability Director, Supply Chain Consultant, CEO of a startup focused on sustainability.

    M.S. in Sustainable Design at Thomas Jefferson University 

    Sustainable Design is focused on adaptive, thoughtful approaches to designing communities and physical structures with climate change in mind. It requires the imagination of an artist with a STEM-based approach to constructing resilient landscapes that work within a sustainable future. Graduates with an M.S. in Sustainable Design can go on to have careers in the arts, architecture, affordable housing, civic organizations, and at private corporations. And check out Jefferson’s green building certificate program that focuses on regenerative design of “living buildings.” With an M.S. in Sustainable Design, the job opportunities can feel limitless when you consider how much of our world will be physically changing in the decades to come. 

    Recent Alumni Careers:  Sustainability Program Manager, Geodesign Specialist, Non-profit leader, Energy Consultant. 

    Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning at University of Michigan 

    To build a more sustainable future, we need people who can make the strategic plans that will get us there. An M.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning helps candidates focus on the large-scale shifts that need to happen in order to build a more sustainable future, which could range from how to implement new renewable sources of energy on a nation-wide scale, to conducting environmental research, to helping advocate for a city to receive a clean water supply. Creativity, passion and a strategic mind will serve you well in obtaining an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning. 

    Recent Alumni Careers: Policy Analyst, Program Manager, Government Leader, Academic Researcher, Climate Change Specialist, Environmental Consultant 

    Master of Environmental Management at Duke University

    At Duke, a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) teaches analysis and management of natural environments, allowing you to specialize in both environment and management concentrations. The concentrations are designed to give you in-depth knowledge of a primary topical area – anything from coastal environmental management to water resource management  – and then develop skillsets related to the professional practices in those areas. Think of it as a mix of environmental science and the real-world applications of how decisions are made regarding our ecosystems. 

    Recent Alumni Careers: Sustainability Consultant, ESG Investing Associate, Owner of a Microgreens company, VP of Operations and Sustainability at a fashion company 

    For those interested in a green or sustainable careertrack, we hope this overview of potential graduate degrees highlights the possibilities outside of becoming a scientist. People are needed in every sector – architecture, business, government, and more – and all sorts of skillsets are required to make a sustainable future happen. With industries pivoting towards sustainability, comes new opportunities for innovation and job opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist. You could even create your own role in our sustainable future – and a graduate degree can help make that dream a reality! 

    Check out graduateguide.com for helpful articles and advice on how to get into the right graduate program for you. 

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