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As environmental concerns and sustainable practices take center stage, these online bachelor’s in sustainability degree programs prepare students with the necessary skill set to drive positive change in various industries. Graduates qualify for impactful roles such as:

  • Environmental Engineers with a median annual salary of $96,820
  • Environmental Specialists with a median annual salary of $76,530
  • Urban and Regional Planners with a median annual salary of $78,500

Typically completed in three to four years, these programs delve into diverse areas like renewable energy, resource management, and policy advocacy. While tuition can vary, the average cost for an undergraduate degree in sustainability was $19,374 at public universities and $45,920 at private colleges for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Choose your area of study

Pursuing a general bachelor’s degree in sustainability is an excellent way to gain a comprehensive education. Still, many students prefer to choose an area of study or specialization to align their studies with their career goals.

For instance, Environmental Science suits those interested in scientific research, while Sustainable Business Management caters to future eco-conscious entrepreneurs. Policy and Advocacy attract those who drive legislative change, while Urban Planning appeals to those who shape sustainable landscapes.

The importance of specialization will vary among instructions; some integrate them significantly, while others may offer relevant coursework to help support your goals. Research thoroughly, evaluating each program’s offerings and their relevance to your aspirations.

Research schools and programs

When researching schools for your desired specialization or relevant coursework in sustainability, start by compiling a list of accredited institutions known for their reputation in the field. Explore their program details, course offerings, and faculty profiles to gauge career alignment and quality.

Evaluate tuition costs, financial aid, and scholarship options. Some schools offer attractive financial aid packages that further incentivize students to enroll in their programs. In contrast, others may require students to rely more heavily on their finances or pursue loan options to finance their education.

By comprehensively assessing these elements, you’ll make an informed decision that matches your specialization and ensures a well-rounded education and a solid foundation for your future career.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you have researched and compiled a short list of schools you plan on applying to, you should begin preparing for any necessary standardized tests and applications.

While test requirements may vary, you can prepare for these by reviewing study materials and taking practice exams. These resources are often available online. For some students, an ACT or SAT test prep course is helpful.

Simultaneously, write an engaging personal statement showcasing your enthusiasm and alignment with the program’s values. Gather other materials for your application, such as transcripts and letters of recommendation.

As programs can be competitive, applying to various schools is crucial to increase your chances of acceptance into a program aligned with your professional aspirations. Taking a strategic approach to your applications will maximize your prospects for a successful journey toward achieving your goals.

Select your program

After receiving your acceptance letters, assess each program’s alignment with your career goals, the curriculum depth, and the faculty who teach there. Then, compare financial aid packages and consider location, flexibility, and the networking opportunities available to the program’s students.

The program you enroll in can significantly impact your future job prospects and how you appear to prospective employers, so it’s crucial to make this decision wisely.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

You may already know your institution’s financial aid packages and scholarship opportunities. Still, exploring additional scholarship and grant options beyond school-provided aid is essential.

Research external organizations, foundations, and professional associations offering funding related to sustainability or your chosen specialization. Submitting the FAFSA is crucial, as it helps unlock federal financial aid opportunities. By conducting this extra research, you can mitigate the financial burden and make your education more affordable.

Best 50 Accredited Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Sustainability Programs Badge

Florida International University

Oregon State University

Bellevue University

University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Wisconsin-River Falls

University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign

Liberty University

Roosevelt University

Arizona State University

University of Florida

Penn State World Campus

Maryville University

Bismarck State College

Franklin University

St. Petersburg College

Unity Environmental University

Everglades University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best online bachelor’s in sustainability programs in the U.S. All programs are offered by nonprofit, accredited institutions. The list includes public and private institutions known for high standards of academic quality.

Each program was evaluated on factors, including tuition costs, faculty, student resources, reputation, admission, retention, and graduation rates. Based on this, we gave each program an Intelligent Score ranging from 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

We also compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability Program?

By earning your bachelor’s in sustainability online, you’ll discover the intricate web of environmental, social, and economic challenges shaping our world in an entirely remote learning environment. Each program is designed to help eco-conscious learners uncover sustainable practices, delve into renewable energy systems, and grasp the policy frameworks driving change. Over four years, you’ll cultivate critical thinking, data analysis, and collaborative skills while engaging with thought-provoking coursework and real-world case studies.

As a bonus, pursuing your bachelor’s in sustainability online often means you’ll have more flexibility to balance your studies with other commitments — like a full-time job or caretaking. Unlike traditional programs, these curriculums are designed to be completed entirely online, eliminating the need for in-person workshops or residencies. For those ready to drive positive change and lead the charge toward a greener, more equitable future, a bachelor’s in sustainability can be what you need to begin.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in sustainability program

  • Environmental Ethics and Policy: Frequently a primary core requirement, this course explores the ethical considerations and policy frameworks that underpin sustainability decisions. Students delve into the intricate balance between human needs and ecological preservation, gaining a deep understanding of the moral dimensions and legal regulations shaping environmental practices.
  • Renewable Energy Systems: Another common core requirement, this course focuses on renewable energy systems such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Students learn to analyze these systems’ feasibility, efficiency, and environmental impacts to drive the transition toward cleaner energy alternatives.
  • Sustainability Resource Management: A critical component of sustainability, courses in resource management examine how we can sustainably manage the use of natural resources, from water and forests to minerals and biodiversity. Students gain insights into strategies for responsible extraction, conservation, and restoration, ensuring the long-term viability of ecosystems and supporting sustainable development.
  • Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation: As climate change becomes an increasingly prevalent concern, many modern curriculums offer courses in this discipline. In these courses, students explore the science behind climate change, its impacts, and potential mitigation strategies. Learners can expect discussions about adaptation measures to address the effects of a changing climate on communities and ecosystems while acquiring tools to develop and implement resilient solutions to minimize the consequences of global warming.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability?

A bachelor’s degree in sustainability positions individuals to take on some of the most urgent challenges related to the environment and climate change and their impacts on society and economics. This interdisciplinary degree combines science, management practices, data and policy analysis, and communication.

Graduates of sustainability bachelor’s programs can pursue various career paths. One option is to work with governmental and nonprofit agencies to study and develop policies related to environmental safety and climate change mitigation. Other graduates may enter the corporate world and help companies implement sustainable practices in their operations and investments.

Many entry- and mid-level jobs are available to graduates with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability. For those who want to work in management or executive positions, an MBA in sustainability can help students gain the additional skills and experience necessary for high-level roles.

Career outlook

  • Environmental scientists and specialists — Use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health, with tasks including cleaning up polluted areas, advising policymakers, or working with industry to reduce waste.
    • Median annual salary: $78,980
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New jobs projected: 6,900 per year
  • Conservation scientists and foresters — Manage the land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.
    • Median annual salary: $68,750
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New jobs projected: 3,000 per year
  • Sustainability analysts and consultants — Work with companies in-house or on a contractual basis to identify areas where sustainability practices can be improved or implemented.
    • Median annual salary: $99,410
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 10%
    • New jobs projected: 92,900 per year

Online Bachelor’s in Sustainability Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in sustainability degree program?

To apply for an online bachelor’s in sustainability program, visit the program’s website and complete the online application form. Ensure you have your high school transcripts, standardized test scores, and a statement of purpose highlighting your interest in sustainability.

Connect with an admissions counselor for personalized guidance through the process, as they can clarify specific requirements, such as recommendation letters or work experience, tailored to your situation. Engaging with an admissions counselor ensures that you submit a robust application that aligns with program expectations, setting you on a successful path toward a professional future in sustainability.

How much does an online bachelor’s in sustainability degree cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the cost of an online bachelor’s degree in sustainability varies, with the average 2020-2021 academic year tuition being $25,910.

It’s essential to consider additional expenses like textbooks, software, and technology fees when budgeting for your pursuit of higher education. However, online programs often offer flexibility, allowing you to save on commuting and housing costs associated with in-person programs. Researching scholarships, grants, and financial aid options can help offset costs.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in sustainability degree?

Earning an online bachelor’s in sustainability takes three to four years of full-time enrollment, equivalent to on-campus programs. However, online options offer greater flexibility, allowing you to balance your studies with other commitments. If you enroll part-time, it may take you longer to complete your degree.

In addition, program length is influenced by the total required credits and your chosen course load per term. Many undergraduate degree programs require the completion of 120 to 150 credits to graduate, and, generally, the more credits required, the longer it will take to complete. While online programs offer the convenience of self-paced learning, ensuring that you maintain steady progress will help you achieve your degree within your anticipated timeframe.

Is an online degree in sustainability worth it?

As the emphasis on sustainability grows throughout government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, the demand for individuals who can study, develop, and implement sustainability practices is increasing, too. Analysis shows that the number of “green jobs” grew 8% from 2018 to 2023, but that more skilled workers are needed to fill these roles.

From a financial perspective, this degree has a strong return on investment. Environmental scientists earn a median annual wage of $78,980, with top earners earning over $133,000. For those working in corporate sustainability positions, the median yearly wage is $99,410.

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