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Local:$ 30.8 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 49.7 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 15, 2024
184 place StudyQA ranking:3422 Duration:2 years

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The MA in sustainability is a research-oriented degree that culminates with research writing (either a thesis or capstone in the form of a publishable, scientific paper). The program focuses on knowledge generation and designing new ways to address sustainability challenges and prepares students for designing and conducting transdisciplinary research. Although the graduate degree programs emphasize the integration of a broad range of expertise in student training, this master's degree program is best suited to students inclined toward social sciences, humanities, planning or related fields and who are interested in a career in research or academia. Students learn how different disciplines view and approach the challenges of sustainability in theory, research and practice. They develop the academic and technical skills as well as the ethical insights that will help them understand, research and provide solutions to complex sustainability challenges at the local, regional, national and global levels. Students can also apply to participate in the Master's International Peace Corps Program or the USAID Global Development Research Program, which works in conjunction with this program.

All sustainability graduate students will possess:

  • an understanding of the need for a transdisciplinary approach to solving sustainability challenges
  • the ability to communicate their work to professionals in other disciplines and to policymakers and the general public
  • the breadth of vision to recognize the interconnectedness of social, economic, environmental and technical systems
  • the critical-thinking skills to approach sustainability challenges from a systems perspective
  • the skills needed to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams
  • the technical skills to formulate and solve problems at the appropriate scale

37 credit hours and a thesis, or 
37 credit hours including a capstone course (SOS 596)

Each student will formulate a plan of study in consultation with their supervisory committee. The master's degree program is divided into the following:

Core: (19 credit hours)

  • SOS 510 Perspectives on Sustainability (3)
  • SOS 520 Research Design and Methods for Sustainability (3)
  • SOS 525 Social-Ecological-Technical Systems: Domains and Interfaces (3)
  • SOS 579 Proposal Writing (3)
  • SOS 581 Synthesis for Sustainability Research (3)
  • SOS 589 SOS Community of Graduate Student Scholars (1)*

Electives: (15 credit hours)

  • Methods and Methodology Electives (6)
  • Normative Dimensions of Sustainability Electives (3)
  • General (6) electives including but not limited to the following prefixes:

Culminating Experience: (6 credit hours)

  • SOS 596 Capstone (Scientific Paper) (6) or SOS 599 Thesis (6)

*taken over four semesters, for four credit hours total

Students who are also part of the Master's International Peace Corps Program must complete a Peace Corps assignment abroad, and it is expected that their thesis or capstone scientific paper will be drawn from their experience in the Peace Corps. Students in the program will earn six credit hours toward the master's program requirements.

The taught-course element of the program will be evaluated through course-specific examinations, research papers or applied projects and will be considered to have been successfully completed if the student obtains a GPA of 3.25 or higher. Division of Graduate Education policies and procedures for fulfillment of degree requirements must also be met.

Applicants must submit an online graduate admission application.

An applicant whose native language is not English (regardless of current residency) must provide proof of English proficiency.

The school encourages applicants with diverse educational backgrounds and experience that are relevant to the school's core objectives. In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Division of Graduate Education, the school requires:

  1. a 3.25 GPA in the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate course work
  2. a statement of intent*
  3. GRE scores
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. resume or curriculum vitae

*The statement of intent should not exceed 600 words and should:

  • Describe how the applicant's background will contribute to success in the program.
  • Describe how completion of the degree will support long-term career goals.
  • Elaborate on key research questions the applicant wishes to address or problems to solve as part of the plan of study.
  • Identify potential faculty advisors.

Students interested in applying to participate in the Master's International Peace Corps Program will be able to do so after they've been admitted to the master's degree program.


  • Teaching or Research Assistantships
  • Global Education
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