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Creating a Green World with a Business Sustainability Degree

Learn how to succeed in business and change the world for the better with a sustainability degree.


With corporate-related environmental and financial catastrophes dominating the news media in recent months, the idea of sustainable and responsible business practices is more relevant than ever. Bit by bit, companies are hiring corporate responsibility specialists and other employees well versed in green business. Enter the sustainability degree.

Besides improving public opinion of a company, sustainable strategies can save money. Business graduates with a sustainability degree are poised to be on the forefront of an exciting green business movement that promises to change the way our corporations do business—for the better of the world and its population.

Sustainable Business and Sustainability Degree Facts

What exactly is sustainability when it comes to business? This emerging field of management isn't just about putting recycle bins and energy-efficient lighting in the workplace—rather, it's a holistic approach to managing a business that incorporates socially and environmentally responsible practices while also benefiting a company's bottom line:

  • Sustainable business practices reduce energy and resource costs and promote innovation.
  • A focus on sustainability fosters a more progressive and global approach to business strategy, and encourages businesses to stay up on worldwide social and environmental trends.
  • Sustainable and socially responsible practices increase employee engagement and customer loyalty, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.*
  • 93% of CEOs surveyed in a recent study by the UN Global Compact and Accenture say that "sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies."**
  • Sustainability degree programs are on the rise, and the percentage of business schools requiring a course on business and society issues has doubled since 2001 (research by Beyond Grey Pinstripes).

What Does a Sustainability Degree Entail?

A sustainability degree is an innovative and increasingly marketable option with a uniquely focused curriculum. Topics of study may include:

  • Ethics
  • Social justice
  • Environmental and fiscal responsibility
  • Energy policies
  • Sustainable enterprise
  • Mainstream business subjects
  • Networking

At the undergraduate level, there are a handful of bachelor's and associate's degree programs in sustainability listed by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Several more schools offer certifications, minors or concentrations in related topics such as corporate social responsibility or sustainable entrepreneurship. A wide variety of sustainability degree options are available at the graduate level, from MBAs concentrating on sustainable business to advanced certificates in sustainability management, some of which are offered online. Green MBA degrees include courses in advanced topics such as:

  • Sustainable Business Strategy
  • Renewable Energy
  • Natural and Organic Resources
  • Leadership for Sustainable Management
  • Values and Business Ethics
  • Environmental Economics & Policy
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Sustainability Job Market

Among the jobs available to sustainability degree grads are positions in green business consulting firms, research institutes and government organizations as well as private corporations, many of whom are making room for experts in sustainable business practices. Graduates of sustainability degree programs are also marketable in a wide range of other positions, from resource management to energy to logistics.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to incorporate green practices throughout the business world so that they're no longer the Next Big Thing, but simply the norm.

*Evans, Julian, "Good Intentions," Wall Street Journal
**Cohen, Elaine, "Will Green MBAs Save the Planet?" CSRWire.com