10 of the best business schools for sustainability | TopMBA.com

10 of the best business schools for sustainability

By Niamh O

Updated November 1, 2022 Updated November 1, 2022

Business schools across the globe are incorporating sustainability and social impact measures into their mission, including the ramping up of specialised teaching on their MBA programmes.  

MBAs with a specialisation in sustainability use the trialled and tested framework of a conventional MBA with added focus on environmental and social impact in relation to business management, success and ethics.   

As we head further into the climate crisis, businesses are putting more emphasis on corporate responsibility and looking for employees who can help to find creative and innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. 

Here's how some of the world’s top business schools are preparing graduates to be ethical, sustainable leaders. 

Berkeley Haas School of Business 

Berkeley Haas

Berkeley College ranks first in the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability 2023, one of 700 institutions assessed. Haas School of Business, which provides the college’s management education, is no exception when it comes to innovation in environmental and social impact.  

MBA students can choose an MBA certificate in sustainability with a focus on empowering climate conscious leaders. For an additional nine credits, students are provided with the foundational skills to evaluate operational and strategic decisions through a sustainability lens.  

The school’s Sustainable Investment Fund is the first and largest student-run socially responsible investment fund within a leading business school. MBA students gain experience in delivering strong financial returns with positive social impact and through the fund, have more than doubled the original investment to over US$3 million.

Rotman School of Management 

University of Toronto

Located in the University of Toronto, which ranks second in the QS Sustainability Rankings 2023, Roman School of Management offers a variety of ways to develop leadership skills in corporate sustainability and social impact.  

Modules on the MBA programme include leading social innovation, social entrepreneurship and sustainable finance.  

There’s even an MBA major in social impact and sustainability, where students can study environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in business and understand corporate social responsibility strategies.  

University of Exeter Business School

The Exeter MBA can be studied full-time in over 12 months, or as an executive part-time option over 24-36 months. For the first two semesters, students focus on learning how to create a future for all, advancing their knowledge in tackling global challenges, exploring circular economy frameworks and engaging in a community project to make real impactful change in real time.  

Stuart Robinson, programme director of The Exeter MBA said: “The creation of sustainable practice is now in the mainstream of industrial, societal, and technological progress globally, so we are delighted to be recognised as an MBA that offers students the skills and knowledge to take this forward in their careers.” 

MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT Sloan

Students interested in social and environmental impact could look into MIT Sloan’s sustainability certificate. The certificate offers over 60 modules to choose from and is open to master’s students as an add-on to existing degree programmes. 

Modules include carbon management, start-up sustainable tech, urban energy systems and policy and socially responsible real estate development, to name a few.  

The certificate also involves working in MIT Sloan’s Sustainable Business Laboratory, where students work in teams to find solutions to problems faced by real firms attempting to advance sustainability strategies. Coursework includes a sustainability capstone class during your final term, along with a variety of sustainability electives. 

 

University of Hong Kong Business School 

University of Hong Kong

Ranked joint 34th in the QS Sustainability Rankings 2023, the University of Hong Kong scores highly in the sustainable research indicator. As well as a plethora of impactful work – including sustainable food, using data to protect wildlife and action-focused equitable quality education for all – UHK offers a master’s degree in sustainability leadership and governance.  

MBA students at UHK Business School can tailor their programme to help them become sustainably conscious leaders. Elective modules are available in corporate governance and social responsibility, ECG, sustainable finance and impact investing, and crisis management in a global business environment.  

The Fuqua School of Business

Fuqua School of Business

Fuqua’s Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) – an experiential learning programme – offers students the opportunity to work on sustainability issues for client companies and non-profits. 

The business school also boasts an award-winning research and education centre, the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), which helps organisations and leaders with the necessary business skills to promote and achieve social change. 

CASE sponsors i3, a professional online training programme for direct impact investing. Similarly, the centre funds fellowships that allow students to trial social impact careers through internships without financial struggles. 

Australian Graduate School of Management 

Part of the University of New South Wales – which ranks joint fifth in the QS Sustainability Rankings 2023 – the Australian Graduate School of Management offers online MBA programmes with specialisations in change and social impact, among others.  

The MBAX is ranked 10th in the QS Online MBA Rankings 2022 and provides students with a flexible, part-time way to study social economy and how business, social enterprise, government and organisations can work together to create positive social change.  

Students on the full-time MBA programme can also choose from seven electives on sustainability and social impact including leading change for sustainability and collaboration for social impact. The school also specialises in research on water, climate, environment and sustainability.  

See why AGSM think responsible management is so important.

IE Business School

IE Business School

Located in the Spanish capital of Madrid, IE Business School incorporates sustainable and social innovation throughout its ethos. The school offers a certificate in sustainability and environmental management, as well as dual degrees with the International MBA programme including international development. 

Students on the full-time International MBA programme can choose elective modules like government and sustainability and spend part of the course in the social impact lab, turning a challenge into a business solution or start up in just five weeks.  

IE University even states that 261 student-led sustainability activities were hosted across the institution in 2022. 

See how this Spanish university is taking steps to be more sustainable

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Johnson’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) publishes relevant sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) research. It comes as no surprise that Cornell University scores highly in the QS Sustainability Rankings 2023 ‘sustainable research’ indicator. The university also ranks joint 30th overall. 

Two-year MBA students can choose to study sustainable global enterprise, as well as engage in a company project focusing on CSR topics. 

Students enrolled in the SGE immersion work in multidisciplinary teams on consulting-type assignments with real firms that are focused on strategic initiatives exploring new business opportunities related to sustainability. 

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Roterdam School of Management, Erasmus

As well as an MSc in Global Business and Sustainability and an MSc in Sustainable Finance, the RSM MBA programme offers elective modules 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 incorporates the UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education into their MBA curriculum too. 

This article was originally published in July 2019 . It was last updated in November 2022

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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