Online Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Growing Resilient Communities

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Next Start Dates

June 1, 2020
August 17, 2020
October 19, 2020

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Master's in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Our communities are facing complex problems — we need skilled and qualified systematic thinkers to solve them. Become the change the world needs.

Learn to care for people and the environment while you grow your career.

Combining science with organizational and communication skills, the Unity College Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability will give you the training and credentials you need to advance in your career path.

  • A concentration in Sustainability Science
  • 100% online. Sustainability Science students who take a full course load can complete the degree requirements in as few as 12 months!
  • World-class faculty experienced in online teaching.
  • Small class sizes allow for personalized attention. That’s something you won’t find at larger, online universities!
  • Affordable and flexible. Take the classes whenever works for you. We offer five start dates per year!
  • Unlike similar programs, no GRE is required.

Sustainability science is a problem-based, solution-oriented framework for creating a resilient civilization. The framework combines technical sustainability with skills based in the social sciences and humanities to create effective change agents who can work within the context of political, economic, and cultural concerns. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change is emphasized along with biodiversity conservation, resource conservation, and mitigation of pollution. Students within this track should expect to explore, debate, and research possible solutions to climate change from a variety of viewpoints.

Who should pursue a Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability?

The Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability is aimed at:

  • new graduates
  • career changers
  • …and those interested in pursuing sustainability roles within their current organizations.

It is a great choice for graduate students who have a degree but want to complement their current skill set with training in business, management, and communications, as well as professionals who already have a job in the environmental field or at a business and want more experience in the tenets of sustainability.

Government workers who want more experience and knowledge about sustainability, and current sustainability coordinators seeking to upgrade their skills en route to a promotion, will also find this degree instrumental.

Job Outcomes

Graduates of the Master’s in Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Unity College can become:

Executive Director

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 3.9%

Median Salary:



Sustainability Specialist

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 8.8%

Median Salary:



Program Director

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 8%

Median Salary:



Community Planner

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 12.8%

Median Salary:



Source: Burning Glass Technologies. “Labor Insight™ Real-Time Labor Market Information Tool.” Updated March 11, 2020.

Degree requirements:

30 credits earned
3.00 minimum cumulative graduate-level grade-point average

Professional Skills Core

PROF 505 Strategic Management of Innovation

Course Description:

The course is designed to help students understand the strategic, organizational and human issues that can either help or hinder you (and the organizations, both private and public, you work for) in efforts to develop and implement science-based solutions to environmental and natural resource challenges. It combines the study of those principles needed to manage scientific innovation with an emphasis on how environmental innovation fits within an organization’s strategy and business model, and why they matter, and how one creates an innovative learning organization, drives change within an organization, and drives the adoption of the innovations the organization creates.

PROF 510 Communication for Environmental Professionals

Course Description
This course will provide students the opportunity to develop vital professional skills in oral and written communication while preparing them to communicate clearly about science, policy, and technology issues with demographically diverse and geographically dispersed audiences. Content will address mass media and public understanding of science; organizational communication issues such as structure and communication networks; rhetoric, advocacy, and strategic message development; the role of public opinion and public policy; innovation and decision making; crisis communication and conflict management; emerging communication technologies; and inter-organizational and cross-disciplinary communication.

PROF 515 Ethical Practice and Policy

Course Description
This course will investigate some of the ethical dimensions of a life in professional science, examining dimensions of environmental and natural resource science and policy in the context of globalization, global change, and climate change. Students critically evaluate the ethical dimensions of common scientific practice and policy issues related to sustainability and natural resources.

Environmental Science and Sustainability Core

SUST 505 Thinking in Systems

Course Description
Ecological, economic, and social systems have complex interactions which can make management inherently difficult. Students will examine examples of these systems from both a top-down and bottom-up perspective. From a top-down perspective, students will use statistical tools to mine information about systems, as understanding system patterns and measures can help managers anticipate how systems will change under natural or artificially applied modifications. In some cases, modifying these interactions (due to variation in environment or natural or applied pressures) can produce unexpected results. Therefore, students will also examine systems from a bottom-up perspective, using quantitative tools to model systems and examine their responses under changing conditions.


SUST 510 Climate Dynamics

Course Description
Climate change is the defining environmental issue of the 21 st century. Sustainability scientists and natural resource managers should be able to follow the emerging science and communicate it to a wide variety of audiences. This course begins with the science of climate and climate change and the anthropogenic contributions to that change. The course then examines the technical and economic challenges society faces with regard to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and strategies to increase the resilience of natural and human communities. Throughout the course, we will examine the historical and emerging responses to aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

SBUS 515 Ecological Economics

Course Description
Economic systems influence how society understands its relationship to the environment. From the neo-classical synthesis to socialism, none of our contemporary economic systems seems to provide the social and environmental resilience that sustainability theory demands. The interdisciplinary field of ecological economics attempts to overcome the deficiencies in traditional economic theory, first by recognizing the physical limits in which any economic system operates and then by including normative values into a holistic economic system. Students will learn the basic principles of ecological economics, evaluate the framework, and learn to apply its principles to sustainability work.


SUST 515 Leading Sustainable Change

Course Description
The community dimension of sustainability science sets it apart from historical scientific problem solving. Truly sustainable solutions need to meet economic and cultural acceptability to be implemented politically, and the process of seeking solutions can change community perceptions. Through techniques for understanding the nature of stakeholders and the use of social marketing, sustainability professionals can strongly influence perceptions and behavior. In this course, students will practice research-based stakeholder analysis and social marketing.


SUST 520 Community Planning for Resiliency

Course Description
It is increasingly essential that we couple our greenhouse gas reduction actions with preparations for climate extremes and other changes, both expected and unexpected. As the footprint of human society continues to grow, managing the built environment for resilience becomes one of the primary leverage points for mitigation of sustainability problems, and an important focus of adaptation. From buildings to transportation networks to the relationship between urban communities and their rural resource bases, a strategically developed built environment dramatically reduces the carbon footprint, protects open space, and fosters social cohesion. We will enlist successful frameworks used in community design and green building as we explore ways in which communities can anticipate and adapt to the consequences of climate change while contributing to global mitigation efforts.

Additional requirements

PROF 590 Capstone I

Course Description
This course guides students through the creation of a capstone project. Students from all degree tracks solve real-world problems through application of the variety of skills and knowledge acquired during their master’s experience. Students work to develop projects that demonstrate transdisciplinary thinking, analyze complex systems, and develop and communicate solutions to posed problems.

PROF 690 Capstone II

Course Description
This course is the culminating experience in obtaining the M.S of Professional Science degree at Unity College. Students will work to solve real-world problems through application of the variety of skills and knowledge acquired during their master’s experience. Collaborators work to demonstrate transdisciplinary thinking, analyze complex systems, and develop and communicate solutions to posed problems. Students will work with mentors to conduct research projects in their fields of interest.

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Research and Capstone Projects

Student research lies at the heart of our degree programs.