MBA in Sustainability | TopMBA

Sustainability issues have been the focal point of environmental discussions for quite some time. As people become more conscientious of climate struggles and the role of business, more and more students are choosing to undertake an MBA with a concentration in sustainability - often called "green MBAs".

Green MBAs are unique as there is a specific focus on the intersection of sustainability and business success and ethics, using the trialled and tested conventional MBA framework to help advance sustainability principles.

When looking into roles at corporations that make sustainability a key part of its modus operandi, degrees in sustainability will feel particularly beneficial.

As the level of students choosing MBAs in Sustainability, many have argued any MBA program should include some sustainability coursework too.

With an MBA in Sustainability, graduates can go on to a variety of different careers, such as sustainable accounting, CSR positions in private industry, or a range of jobs in nonprofits or social enterprises.

What is an MBA in Sustainability

An MBA in Sustainability helps students land sustainability roles in areas like strategic functions or corporate sustainability responsibility (CSR) departments.

What You Need to Study an MBA in Sustainability

Each sustainability-tailored MBA program will have different requirements. Generally, most b-schools will require the following:

  • Three to five years of professional experience (although this can vary)
  • An undergraduate degree
  • A good GMAT/GRE score
  • Employers’ recommendation

A passion for environmental issues will be a plus, so make sure to emphasize that in your application.

MBA in Sustainability – Course Content

Common courses found in a sustainability MBA include:

  • Corporate Sustainability Responsibility (CSR)
  • Sustainable Business
  • Sustainable Venturing
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Climate Change
  • Managing Sustainable Operations
  • Sustainability Systems
  • Sustainable Investing

Business schools all around the world offer sustainability tracks on their MBA programs, and some also offer sustainability perks outside of the classroom from specialized research centers to sustainability clubs.

Haas School of Business

Haas’ Center for Responsible Business organizes numerous sustainability-oriented events, providing resources like scholarships and fellowships for MBAs with a CSR mindset. Similarly, the Social Finance elective approaches business topics with a sustainability lens.

IE Business School

Located in the Spanish capital Madrid, IE Business School pushes to incorporate innovation throughout the school’s ethos. The school offers a number of appropriate sustainability courses, and also holds an annual “Social Responsibility Forum” that explores CSR-related issues.

Michigan Ross School of Business

In 1996, the Ross Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise was founded, and is described as a thought leader in the space. If interested in focusing your studies around sustainability at Ross, students can undertake a dual-degree MBA/Master of Science in partnerships with the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

RSM’s core curriculum of the MBA program offers courses including “Business, Society, and Sustainable Development,” which places a strong focus on CSR and sustainability. The school produces a range of research in the sustainability field, but more importantly, RSM incorporated the UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education into the MBA programs’ curriculum.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise – which launched in 2003 – publishes relevant sustainability and CSR research. If they so wish, MBA students can choose a concentration in “Sustainable Global Enterprise,” as well as a company project focusing on CSR topics.

Saïd Business School

The Univerisity of Oxford's Saïd Business School's MBA program’s curriculum allows students to choose elective options like “Social Enterprise Design,” and “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” Similarly, the school’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship provides students looking to create social change through innovation with the relevant resources.

University of Exeter Business School

Exeter’s MBA curriculum is one of only a few UK programs which focus on sustainability and CSR-related themes. The school’s Sustainability and Circular Economy research cluster publishes a variety of topics, including low-carbon transitions, agricultural systems, and climate change.

Harvard Business School

HBS was in fact one of the business schools to build research in the CSR space through its Social Enterprise Initiative. Many of the MBA program’s core curriculum classes also integrate CSR case studies.

Top Careers to Pursue with an MBA in Sustainability

Some popular careers for sustainability MBAs include:

  • Sustainability Manager
  • Manager Sustainability Development
  • Global Sustainability Services Network Manager
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Sustainability Director


Here are some of the top-tier sustainability positions with the highest average salaries you could land after your MBA, according to PayScale:

  • Sustainability Director: US$103,001
  • Sustainability Manager: US$73,547
  • Sustainability Consultant: US$66,727