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Sustainability Master’s Degree Program

Learn to evaluate and design viable solutions to help build a more sustainable future

  • Online Courses

    11 out of 12 total courses

  • On-Campus Experience

    1 weekend or 3-week summer course

  • Tuition

    $3,340 per course

  • Next Start Term

    Fall 2024

Program Overview

More organizations around the globe — corporate, nonprofit, governmental, and consulting — are committing to climate action. And they are seeking practitioners with the specialized knowledge needed to overcome environmental challenges and implement more sustainable practices.

In our Sustainability Graduate Program, you’ll build the expertise you need to take on such critical roles. Through engaging coursework and either a thesis or capstone, you’ll:

  • Learn to develop innovative, practical, and equitable solutions to the challenges posed by climate change and environmental harm.
  • Cultivate an understanding of the science, policies, technologies, and financial models that support sustainable development.
  • Gain confidence in your analytical research and build leadership skills that serve you in a corporate or grassroots context.

Program Benefits

  • Map with a flag.

    Customizable path, stackable certificates, and experiential learning

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Entrepreneurial opportunities through the Harvard Innovation Labs

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Personalized academic and career advising

  • Texbook.

    Optional faculty research and internship opportunities

  • Three hands together.

    Student community through the Harvard Extension Student Environmental Club

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Harvard Alumni Association membership upon graduation

Customizable Course Curriculum

The 12-course Sustainability Graduate Program is designed to help you develop practical skills that you can apply immediately in your career. You’ll experience the convenience of online learning and the immersive benefits of learning in person.

Our core courses focus on learning research methodologies and building sustainability-specific skill sets around development, design, and management, for example.

Our comprehensive selection of electives enables you to tailor your program to your personal or industry-specific interests such as natural disasters, water usage and conservation, and energy projects. Your thesis or capstone project will give you the opportunity to apply these skills to a real-world problem.

11 Online Courses

  • Primarily asynchronous
  • In the fall, spring, January, and summer

On-Campus Experience

You’ll complete 1 course in person at Harvard, at either an accelerated or standard pace:

  • An online course with an intensive weekend on campus in fall or spring (capstone track only)
  • 3 weeks in a summer or January session

Capstone or Thesis Track

  • Thesis: features a 9-month independent research project with a faculty advisor
  • Capstone: includes crafting a consulting or independent research project in a classroom community


The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program.

First, you’ll register for and complete 2 required courses, earning at least a B in each. These foundational courses are investments in your studies and count toward your degree, helping ensure success in the program.

As an alternative, you may choose to earn the following credentials as part of your admissions path: MITx MicroMasters® Program Pathway.

Next Start Term: Fall 2024

Course registration is open July 22–August 29.

To get started, explore degree requirements, confirm your initial eligibility, and learn more about our unique “earn your way in” admissions process.

Earn a Stackable Certificate

As you work your way toward your master’s degree, you can take courses that also count — or “stack” — toward a graduate or microcertificate. It’s a cost-effective, time-saving opportunity to build specialized skills and earn more professional credentials.

For each certificate, you can choose courses that best fit your goals.

Stackable graduate certificates include:

Stackable microcertificates include:

A Faculty of Sustainability Experts

Studying at Harvard Extension School means learning from the world’s best. Our instructors are renowned experts in renewable energy, sustainable communities, economics, decarbonization, and more. They bring a genuine passion for teaching, with students giving our faculty an average rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our Community at a Glance

Our students in the Sustainability Master’s Degree Program are established professionals looking to deepen their expertise and advance their careers. Half (50%) have professional experience in the field and all work across a variety of industries—including non-profit management, consumer goods, communications, pharmaceuticals, and utilities.

Download: Sustainability Master's Degree Fact Sheet

  • 37

    Average age

  • 1

    Course Taken Each Semester

  • 77%

    Work Full Time

  • 98%

    Would Recommend the Program

  • 48%

    Professional Experience in the Field

  • Most

    Pursued for Career Change

Student takes notes during an outdoor walk with other students

Career Opportunities & Alumni Outcomes

Graduates of our Sustainability Master’s Program work in the fields of transportation, hospitality, renewables, public policy, biotechnology, civil engineering, venture capital, and more.

Some alumni continue their educational journeys and pursue further studies in other nationally ranked degree programs, including those at the University of Birmingham, New York University, University of Edinburgh, Georgetown University, Bar-llan University, University of Zurich, Tufts University, Cornell University, and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Our alumni hold such titles as:

  • Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability (Fortune 100 Corporation)
  • Advocate for Clean Energy Transmission (US Government Agency)
  • Consultant of Climate & Sustainability (International NGO)
  • International Climate Researcher (International Consulting Firm)
  • Program Director of Land Management (US-based NGO)
  • Communications Director of Energy and Environment (International News Agency)
  • CEO/Founder of Sustainable Investments Start-up
  • Owner of Real Estate Development Firm

Our alumni work at a variety of leading organizations, including:

  • Aetna
  • Bank of America
  • FedEx
  • GE
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Trip Advisor
  • United Nations

Career Advising and Mentorship

Whatever your career goals, we’re here to support you. Harvard’s Mignone Center for Career Success offers career advising, employment opportunities, Harvard alumni mentor connections, and career fairs like the online All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair.

Your Harvard University Degree

Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will earn the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Sustainability.

Expand Your Connections: the Harvard Alumni Network

As a graduate, you’ll become a member of the worldwide Harvard Alumni Association (400,000+ members) and Harvard Extension Alumni Association (29,000+ members).

Olya Kushnir.
The flexibility of my education allowed me to adapt and explore different areas of concern, deepening my understanding of systemic problems and their interconnectedness. ... [My capstone project] focused on advancing an equitable and resilient transition to renewable energy in Ukraine.
Olya Kushnir
Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in the field of Sustainability, '23
Community Development
New York City; Ivano Frankivska Oblast, Ukraine

Tuition & Financial Aid

Affordability is core to our mission. When compared to our continuing education peers, it’s a fraction of the cost.

Our Tuition (2024–25 rate) $3,340 per course
Average Tuition of Peer Institutions $4,330 per course
Average Total Cost $40,080

After admission, you may qualify for financial aid. Typically, eligible students receive grant funds to cover a portion of tuition costs each term, in addition to federal financial aid options.

Learn more about the cost of attendance.

Program Information Session (On Demand)

Hear from staff, students, and alumni in our informational webinar about the Sustainability and Global Development Practice programs.

Watch Webinar


How Long Does It Take to Complete the Sustainability Graduate Program?

Program length is ordinarily anywhere between 2 and 5 years. It depends on your preferred pace and the number of courses you want to take each semester.

For an accelerated journey, we offer year round study, where you can take courses in fall, January, spring, and summer.

While we don’t require you to register for a certain number of courses each semester, you cannot take longer than 5 years to complete the degree.

What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Sustainability?

With a master’s degree in sustainability, you’ll gain the knowledge and flexibility to advance your career while positively impacting the environment.

You might choose to help your organization reduce its carbon footprint, design environmentally friendly products, reduce wasteful packaging, or develop a more sustainable supply chain. You could also help ensure ethical corporate governance or align your organization’s business practices with the interests of stakeholders and customers. For more details, read our blog post What You Can Do with a Master’s in Sustainability.

If you’re interested in working on sustainability at a global level, a focused program on global development practice may be beneficial. Read our blog post Sustainability vs. Global Development Practice — Which One is Right for You?

Is a Degree in Sustainability Useful?

A graduate degree in sustainability allows you to pursue your passion while bringing about positive change. Careers in sustainability are rarely linear, meaning you can create your own path.

You may want to bring sustainability to a specific industry you know well, such as fashion or finance. Or, you could apply your unique skills — such as urban planning, eliminating packaging waste, or food sustainability — to one of many industries.

Is a Career in Sustainability a Smart Choice?

As the fight against climate change grows more urgent, governments, nonprofits, and businesses increasingly need employees with green skills. In fact, the number of jobs in sustainability is quickly outpacing the supply of individuals with the relevant qualifications.

Adding a master’s in sustainability to your resume may give you a competitive advantage in this job market — while helping you play a vital role in keeping our planet healthy.