Should I Earn a Business Sustainability Degree?

Business Sustainability Degree Overview

student writing in notebook
Getty Images/Hero Images

What Is Business Sustainability?

Business sustainability is focused on the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. Businesses with this goal should be profitable while being socially and environmentally responsible. Day-to-day operations are conducted in a way that creates minimum impact on the environment. Business sustainability is becoming increasingly popular as companies strive to be more environmentally conscious.

What Is a Business Sustainability Degree?

A business sustainability degree is a type of post-secondary degree. It is awarded to individuals who have completed an academic program with a focus on business sustainability or the environment as it relates to business. These programs can be found at colleges, universities, or business schools. Both online and campus-based options are available.

Business sustainability degrees may also be known as green business degrees, environmental business degrees, or eco-business degrees. Some schools also offer dual degree programs that allow students to major in business and environmental studies simultaneously.

Common Degree Options

The most common degree options in the business sustainability field include:

  • Associate's Degree - An associate's degree program with a specialization in business sustainability consists of general education courses combined with a few specialized courses in sustainability and environmental studies. This option offers minimal training and can usually be completed in two years.
  • Bachelor's Degree - A bachelor's degree program in business sustainability also consists of general education courses and specialized courses in business sustainability. Although curriculum can vary, students can expect to take courses in environmental ethics, environmental law, ecology, global sustainability, and related topics. A bachelor's degree program can be completed in three to four years.
  • Master's Degree - A master's degree or MBA degree program in business sustainability combines a core business education with courses focused on business sustainability, environmental law, environmental risk assessments, clean energy, ecology, and other topics directly related to the triple bottom line. Master's programs take two years to complete on average.
  • Doctorate Degree. Although not as common as the less advanced degrees, there are a few doctorate programs in business sustainability. These programs are generally research-based and best suited for individuals who want to teach at the post-secondary level or work in academic research. Degree completion times vary depending on the program.​

What Can I Do With a Business Sustainability Degree

Because every business has some impact on the environment and the planet, there is no limit to the number of companies that need employees who are environmentally savvy. An individual who is not only well versed in modern business strategy but also aware of environmental laws and cutting-edge sustainability practices could be invaluable to the right corporation.

With a business sustainability degree, you could work in a management capacity for a variety of industries, including the agriculture, construction, manufacturing, transportation, waste management, and energy industries.

You could work as a consultant or be employed in the corporate sustainability or social responsibility departments of large companies. With your general business education, you may even be able to work in areas of marketing, advertising, or public relations.

New environmental standards and laws will also help to create a demand for professionals who are knowledgeable about clear air laws, waste management, sustainable production, environmentally friendly supply chains and transportation, and related topics. Individuals with a bachelor's degree or master's degree will have the most opportunities among companies who are looking for compliance managers and advisors.

Learn More about Business Sustainability

Read more about sustainability and business sustainability degrees with the following resources.

  • Sustainability - The Guide to Sustainability provides a wide range of information on sustainability, the environment, and the process of going green. You can read articles on the site and participate in discussions in the community forum.
  • American Sustainable Business Council - The American Sustainable Business Council is an advocate for a sustainable economy and sustainable businesses. They offer a variety of resources on their website as well as suggestions on how to get involved in the movement.
  • IISD - The International Institute for Sustainable Development is an international public policy research institute focused on sustainable development. Their site offers a range of publications in addition to audio and video resources.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Schweitzer, Karen. "Should I Earn a Business Sustainability Degree?" ThoughtCo, Nov. 23, 2016, Schweitzer, Karen. (2016, November 23). Should I Earn a Business Sustainability Degree? Retrieved from Schweitzer, Karen. "Should I Earn a Business Sustainability Degree?" ThoughtCo. (accessed December 11, 2017).