Unlocking A Greener Future – MBA & Masters Programs In Sustainability



In a world grappling with environmental challenges, the importance of sustainability has risen to the forefront of business discussions. To meet the demands of a rapidly changing landscape, business schools are incorporating sustainability principles into their programs. 

INSEAD announced this month that its renewed MBA curriculum will embed sustainability into all 14 of its core courses. It’s also introducing a new capstone project that integrates sustainability considerations across all management areas. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is partnering with its new Doerr School of Sustainability to fight climate change through entrepreneurship. At Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, 90 of the 216 full-time equivalent faculty self identify as being affiliated with the business of sustainability.

Sustainability courses and initiatives have exploded at business schools over the last several years, in recognition that the next generation of business leaders must possess a deep understanding of sustainable practices to navigate the complex challenges and opportunities ahead. 

But beyond courses and electives, there are a growing number of business schools offering dedicated Masters, MBAs, Executives MBAs, and certificates for those who want to create a distinct professional pathway towards a more sustainable future.

Here are 12 sustainability-focused programs from business schools around the world. 


American University’s Kogod School of Business

American University Kogod School of Business (USA) – MS in Sustainability Management 

For the 2023-24 academic year, Kogod has redesigned its flagship MS in sustainability management program with a brand new curriculum, new online modality, and expanded faculty expertise. The school’s fastest-growing degree program used input from students, employers, experts in sustainability, and faculty, to build a new curriculum that offers greater flexibility and includes new courses on ESG investment, sustainability analytics, sustainable entrepreneurship, and sustainable finance.

The STEM-designated program offers the ability to specialize around skills that leverage the business school’s sustainability expertise and the university’s highly-ranked strengths in public policy, international relations, environmental science, and law. A highlight is an international capstone project in applied sustainability management that allows students to learn about best practices in sustainability across different industries and cultures. The new online modality will enable students to complete their studies entirely online in as few as 12 months as full-time students. “The program mostly consists of condensed evening courses, to give the necessary flexibility to working students who may need to adjust the pace of their studies to accommodate work and life demands,” says Program Director David Bartlett.


The University of Sussex Business School

The University of Sussex Business School (UK) – MSc Sustainable Finance and Accounting 

Green financing is necessary for a sustainable transformation, and following the money might show that a green-washed business is perhaps not as eco-friendly after all. With its Sustainable Finance and Accounting MSc program, The University of Sussex Business School focuses on green finance, accounting and policymaking too, preparing students with the skills and knowledge necessary to make a positive impact on business finance.

The program finishes with a final research project, where participants independently pull on the resources and teaching from the masters, leaving graduates well-equipped to pursue careers in areas such as sustainable finance, corporate social responsibility, environmental accounting, and investment management.

The University of Mannheim Business School

The University of Mannheim Business School

The University of Mannheim Business School (Germany) – Masters in Sustainability and Impact Management

Designed for working professionals, and aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills to make a positive effect on society; to think, as entrepreneurs and companies, of the mark they leave on individuals, communities and the environment around them.  

 Offered on a part-time basis, students can maintain their current work whilst attending a campus for just 30 days over the 2-year program, taking the rest online. This doesn’t compromise hands-on practice and access, as students get involved with the Impact Master Project – a collaboration with a partner company to have a real effect on the world, even before graduating. 

The program is more than just theoretical discussions and lectures, it emphasizes the everyday implementation of sustainable strategies. By joining, students can learn the knowledge and methods needed to make a business change and contribute to the solution of environmental challenges.

University of Miami's Herbert Business School

University of Miami’s Herbert Business School

University of Miami Herbert Business School (USA) – Master of Science in Sustainable Business 

The STEM-designated program develops analytical and quantitative skills to lead sustainable business practices. A singular Capstone Project enables students to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, either through an internship, an entrepreneurial start-up, or a sustainability consulting assignment for a specific area of business.

 Having a career and having a purpose can go hand in hand, and the key to the program is through an interdisciplinary method. The program’s team and faculty combine business, science, technology, theory, and practice, positioning graduates as a force for good within a company.

When we think of sustainability and business, often get too caught up in ESG targets and carbon footprints, but their versatile understanding in the courses underscores a much more wide-encompassing approach.  

NEOMA Business School

Neoma Business School (France) – MSc Sustainability Transformations 

Launching in 2023, Neoma Business School’s MSc Sustainability Transformations covers a diverse range of topics, including energy procurement, socially responsible human resource management and green marketing to name just three. 

 What sets this Master’s course apart is its practical focus on taking a business and making sustainability a KPI. The curriculum has been designed to provide students with experience and tools that can be applied in real-world situations, and the varied curricula allow this to happen in all sectors of business, from marketing to operations.  

For Neoma, the key agent of change is the individual; the program is built on the idea that although organizations have the power to effect change, it is the people who make up these organizations who will determine whether or not these changes are successful. The program emphasizes the importance of individual action and provides students with the tools they need to drive change within their organizations.

POLIMI Graduate School of Management

POLIMI Graduate School of Management (Italy) – Masters in Sustainability Management

The leading Italian business school is home to two different master’s programs that take a holistic and all-inclusive approach to sustainable business leadership. Both the International Masters in Sustainability Management and Corporate Social Responsibility and the International Masters in Environmental Sustainability and Circular Economy, focusing on the competitive advantage that sustainability can play for businesses that are successful in implementing it at every level of their business strategy. 

 POLIMI Graduate School of Management is the only business school in Europe to have a B Corp Certification, emphasizing its dedication to better social and environmental practices. This is a status that very few business schools, and indeed businesses overall, have been able to achieve worldwide, further underlying the competitive advantage sustainability and ESG has to the business school’s DNA. 

University of Bradford School of Management

University of Bradford School of Management (UK) – MBA in Innovation, Enterprise and Circular Economy 

Innovation and sustainability are two critical aspects of modern business, and the MBA in Innovation, Enterprise and Circular Economy offered by the University of Bradford School of Management provides an exclusive opportunity for individuals to become experts in these fields. Bradford’s MBA is intended to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement sustainable business practices and circular economy models.

 A circular economy is a new economic model that aims to create a closed-loop system where waste is eliminated, and resources are used sustainably and efficiently. These principles are integrated into every aspect of the program, including the curriculum, teaching methods, and assessment. This is unique compared to a normal MBA, which may touch on sustainability as an optional elective but doesn’t provide a comprehensive approach to sustainable business efforts. A regular MBA may place more emphasis on quantitative and financial analysis, for example, without the same emphasis on soft skills.

Nyenrode Business School in the Netherlands

Nyenrode Business University (Netherlands) – Executive MBA in Business and Sustainable Transitions

Sustainability is no longer just an ethical consideration, but a crucial aspect of any future-proof strategy, and this is what Nyenrode’s Modular Executive MBA in Business and Sustainable Transitions is built on. Sometimes, sustainability isn’t something you can add to your business, but something that requires total operational change. 

 The EMBA takes a hands-on approach, concentrating on creating sustainable value through strong and progressive leadership that is perfected through practice. The modular EMBA is tailored to the backgrounds of the participants, making it incredibly inclusive, relevant and impactful for those involved. 

Haas School of Business campus. Photo Copyright Noah Berger / 2021.

University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business (USA) – Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business 

In 2021, the University of California’s Berkeley Haas Business School launched a certificate program, the Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, that adds to their MBA with the skills and knowledge specifically intended for sustainability leaders. The program looks to teach designing new models and policies to address the world’s sustainability challenges. 

 Not only do students have the opportunity to take on sustainability-centered modules, such as courses on Energy and Environmental Markets, but after the MBA there’s a whole other certificate. Climate change is one of the most popular majors in their MBA, but more recently Berkley Hass also appointed a campus sustainability director, Danner Doud-Martin, to make sustainable progress present across the school.

Durham Business School (UK) – Masters in Energy Engineering Management 

The program is specifically designed to prepare graduates to tackle the challenges of the Net-Zero transition by providing very high-level exposure. The course is a joint venture between the business school and Durham University’s Department of Engineering, resulting in unique modules rarely found elsewhere, including teaching on ‘Decarbonisation of Heating and Cooling’ and ‘Future Vehicles’.

 Students receive foundation training in engineering principles, as well as an understanding of the commercial factors that are critical for implementing sustainable energy solutions. Moreover, the program includes a business and engineering project, which provides students with a chance to apply their knowledge and develop practical solutions to real-world problems.

Asia School of Business (Malaysia) – Sustainability and Climate Risk Certificate

Offered by one of Asia’s leading business schools, the program is for business executives who need to be able to underscore climate change-related risk, and how to mitigate it. The SCR program is specifically designed for professionals involved in corporate sustainability, risk management, finance, or strategy, as well as board members and executives interested in understanding how sustainability and climate risks can affect their organizations.

 ASB is a collaboration between MIT Sloan School of Management and Bank Negara Malaysia, the county’s central bank, providing a unique partnership in the world. Participants can reach MIT-level teaching, with an Asian business focus. One of the key aspects that set the certificate apart is the concentration on practical tools and frameworks. The program equips participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage sustainability and climate risks in their organizations.

Aalto Executive Education

Aalto University Executive Education (Finland) – Executive MBA in Sustainability

For existing Senior Executives who are passionate about leading their organizations towards sustainable growth, Aalto University Executive Education’s EMBA has a distinct focus on producing long-term sustainable business growth, and with modules in Helsinki and Taipei no less. This international program thus opens the door for much higher-level networking with professionals that have similar business goals also. 

 Over two years, participants go through six modules that cover various aspects of sustainable business including strategy and finance. The program is designed to help executives develop the skills and knowledge needed to lead sustainable organizations in the rapidly changing business landscape. And on top of this, participants have access to Aalto’s study tours, a five-day study period in an institution abroad.  This exposure continues to help participants to develop a global perspective on sustainability issues, which is essential for today’s business leaders.

To see how other leading business schools are integrating sustainability into their courses, don’t miss: How Chat-GPT4 Ranks The Best Business Schools For Sustainability


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