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4 of the Best Sustainability Masters Programs Right Here in the U.S.

For those interested in conservation efforts, environmental activism, green careers, or sustainability programs, the United States may not seem like an obvious destination.

After all, in recent years, our government has exited, then rejoined, the Paris Climate Agreement. We saw budgets slashed for eco-focused initiatives, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And despite wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, there is still an immense population of climate change deniers.

That’s why we need more climate change experts in the U.S. to champion innovative ideas and strategies, run sustainable businesses, and teach the next generation of environmentalists.

Luckily, the United States boasts some of the most competitive environmental degrees in the world. In particular, the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard offer four of the country’s top sustainability master’s programs.

You may be asking yourself, "Is a master's in sustainability worth it?" We think so, and our alumni do, too. But before we go any further—see which master’s degree in sustainability aligns with your passions!

Find your sustainability focus>>

Sustainable business and the #1 ranked green MBA

These days, the average consumer cares about sustainability. They buy from socially responsible brands. Whether it’s renewable and solar energy, electric cars, sustainable sourcing—it’s not just what consumers are getting any longer, but how they get it and what it means for the world around them.

The sustainability industry is still in its infancy, but we’re already in the midst of a massive shift in how we do business. This is why one of the best degrees to get for the future is an MBA in Sustainability. The Bard MBA in Sustainability positions you to make an impact, change the game, and reap the rewards.

The coursework in our sustainability MBA prepares students for leadership positions in a variety of business environments and provides them with in-depth knowledge of foundational business skills—all through the lens of sustainable development.

The concept-driven curriculum at Bard teaches students the core business skills they need while exploring new ways of managing and leading organizations to pursue an integrated bottom line—examining the economic, social, and environmental impacts of their decisions.

And, perhaps most importantly, students gain the skills to make the business case for sustainability.

MBA Focus Areas

The Bard MBA also offers two focus areas: impact finance and circular value chain management

Impact finance trains an entirely new breed of investment professionals, moving dollars from negative investments that undermine communities and the natural world into positive investments that regenerate the future. This type of investment professional is prepared to meet the demands of a new generation of investors who seek positive social and environmental outcomes from their investments.


Bard’s second focus area, circular value chain management, prepares students for a role they’ll create themselves: the Chief Circularity Officer, or CCO. This specialization integrates supply chain management with a deep understanding of circular economy strategy.


Consider getting an environmental policy degree at Bard

Bard offers two M.S. programs, among other options, such as dual degrees and a Peace Corps program. For us, policy reform comes down to this: getting rid of the bad and putting in place good laws and regulations that drive sustainable outcomes.

It’s much easier said than done, which is why Bard offers a Master's in Environmental Policy.

An environmental policy master’s degree takes the core disciplines of environmental science, policy, law, and economics; it encourages students to think across these disciplines to understand the complexities of today’s environmental issues and challenges. This innovative program of study is a holistic approach that highlights the connections between the social world and the physical sciences. If you're interested in environmental justice, international development, or even just how to work for the UN, your journey starts with an environmental policy degree.

Meet a Bard-alum and environmental policy expert

Rachel Savain majored in French at Williams College, but she was passionate about solving pollution problems in developing countries. She wanted to learn how to fight for the environment. That’s why she enrolled in Bard’s M.S. in Environmental Policy.

In her first year, she learned the core skills she needed: environmental science, law, policy, and economics. Those skills ensured that she understood the incentives policies create and whether the policies she’d propose made sense. She also learned how to build coalitions to drive change. In her second year, she traveled to Haiti to do an extended internship with a Dutch NGO that was building a landfill outside the capital of Port Au Prince. She went on to base her M.S. capstone project on the internship, and the company ended up hiring her after she graduated (this happens to a lot of our grads after their internships in sustainability end).

Learn more about Bard's sustainability master's programs, request more  information today!A climate policy program that creates climate change experts

Bard's second M.S. offering is a climate science degree that covers the interaction between climate systems, ecosystems, and agricultural systems. Additionally, students are trained to be future policy leaders, who will guide efforts in greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation. The Master's in Climate Science and Policy will give you insight into the policies and laws creating climate destabilization, as well as the changes that could drive climate solutions.

Purposeful, relevant, and mission-oriented, climate science jobs are exceedingly fulfilling. And they’re becoming even more important as the climate crisis continues. You’ll need to have a grounding in climate science and policy to change the rules around climate.

If you’re interested in curbing fossil fuel emissions, exploring the power sector, sea level rise projections, climate analysis tools, and the science behind extreme weather, all while advocating for policies to slow climate change, Bard’s M.S. in Climate Science and Policy is right up your alley.

Download our guide to getting an environmental masters degree, and experience the degree for yourself.


Teaching about environmental issues with an M.Ed. in Environmental Education

Whether it’s increasing polarization between news sources, climate deniers, more screen time (less time in nature), debunked myths (that just keep resurfacing), or the fact that taking care of our planet has become politicized, there has never been a greater need for sustainability education.

Those are a few of the reasons why Bard created a Master's in Environmental Education. This is a degree that prepares educators to build out the in-school, after-school, summer, farm, NGO, science center, and museum education and programming needed to engage today’s youth.

What is environmental education?

Environmental education is the process of exploring environmental issues, engaging in problem-solving, and taking action to improve the environment. This type of education can be for all ages and through a range of program deliveries, styles, and curriculums. Overall, environmental education provides a deeper level of understanding of the core ideas of ecology and outdoor education.

What can you do with a master’s in education?

Bard’s program supports graduates in moving beyond the role of a front-line environmental educator. With your environmental education degree, you could rise to the challenge of leadership positions in environmental organizations. You could design curriculums, build programming, raise money, and scale opportunities to reach more people.

Bard gives students the opportunities and elements they need to succeed in this niche industry: integrated experience-based learning, hands-on experience, and capstone projects that encourage close collaboration between students and faculty.

Read more in-depth about Bard’s M.Ed. in Environmental Education.

Learn why Bard has the best sustainability masters programs

All four of Bard’s sustainability programs are top-rated green degrees—and our MBA in Sustainability has been rated #1 three years in a row. If you're interested in learning more about us, our sustainability scholarships, or adjacent climate activism opportunities—the Climate Corps Fellowship, for example—you can always...

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About the Author

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle

Katie Boyle is the Enrollment and Marketing Director for the Bard MBA in Sustainability program and Bard Center for Environmental Policy. In this role, she oversees the marketing and brand management for The Impact Report podcast. She also manages recruiting, admissions, and enrollment for both programs as well marketing and advertising campaigns.