With ongoing crises in global warming and environmental degradation, the need for people with advanced training in sustainability is on the rise.

MostAffordable online masters in sustainability

Are you passionate about the environment? Do you want to integrate your passion with a career that creates lasting difference? Do you envision yourself in leadership positions or working with a dynamic team?

Then an online graduate degree in sustainability may be the next best step for you!

What kind of online Master’s in Sustainability degree should you get?

Without a doubt, these programs will give you strong footing in the areas of conservation and sustainability.

However, each program is different in its emphasis. For example, while UNC Chapel Hill offers a Master of Business Administration degree, wherein you can specialize in sustainable entreprises, Western Kentucky University takes a more social justice oriented approach. That program offers an MA in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities.

Find the program that best supports your vocational vision and ambitions. And know that all of these programs can be fully completed online. Distance education is a great way to flexibly and affordably advance your career. So be sure to check out College Choice’s Most Affordable Online Colleges and Universities for a Master’s Degree.

How much money do people make with an online Master’s in Sustainability?

If you’ve thought about getting your master’s in sustainability, now is a great time. The earth needs your passion and vision!

Not only will you find a rewarding career in conservation, but you’ll be paid well too. Environmental Scientists make, on average, nearly $70,000 a year. But with added experience and a graduate degree, that number leaps way up. PayScale reports that Sustainability Directors can make up to $175,000 a year.

What can you do with an online Master’s in Sustainability?

An advanced degree in sustainability will open up numerous doors for you. Whether you want to work with small non-profits or with large environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, one of these degrees will help you get there.

Additionally, many of these programs realize the importance of interdisciplinary study. You can earn a MBA, and therefore gain crucial business skills that will lead to careers as:

  • Chief Sustainability Executives
  • Environmental Engineers
  • Environmental Development Manager
  • Conservation Consultant
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Managers

What are the requirements for an online Master’s in Sustainability degree?

These two-year master’s degrees require between 25 and 36 completed credit-hours. Typically, you’ll spend the first term or year taking core classes. These will cover topics such as global sustainability, corporate responsibility, and social policy.

Then, as you advance further through the degree you will take classes that align with your interests and career goals. This could be electives in business, system degradation, or something in between.

At the end of coursework you may be required to present a thesis or capstone project. We’ve been sure to note which programs make such requirements.

What are the most affordable online Master’s in Sustainability degrees?

These five programs are not just the most affordable, but some of the best ranked too. In fact, two of the five degrees are housed within Public Ivy universities!

To find the most affordable Master’s in Sustainability programs we first looked at every program across the country that offers the degree online. From there we looked at tuition rates, financial resources, and scholarship opportunities to bring you the five most affordable online programs in the nation.

Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.


University of Wisconsin at Madison

Average Net Price: $8,171

School Website


The University of Wisconsin in Madison is the flagship university within the broader UW System. It is a Public Ivy, meaning it offers a level of academic excellence on par with its private Ivy League counterparts. UW Madison is comprised of 20 schools and colleges and is home to nearly 30,000 students.


The University of Wisconsin’s ecampus offers an MS in Sustainable Management degree online. This is the perfect program for those who want to become leaders in environmental conservation. You will learn the ins and outs of sustainability issues and graduate prepared for entry into high-level leadership positions. In addition to the common core, you can specialize in one of four areas:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainable Water Management
  • Waste Management and Resource Recovery


The Carnegie Foundation classifies UW Madison as being among the most active research universities in the nation. The university is also nationally and globally ranked by an array of sources and in a range of categories. In addition to its academic accolades, UW Madison is also known for its commitments to sustainability.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Average Net Price: $10,077

School Website


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is not only an affordable way to earn a graduate degree, it’s a prestigious choice too! UNC Chapel Hill is a public school, a Public Ivy, and a flagship university. It has nearly 30,000 students enrolled in one of its nearly 250 academic programs.


For those who want a green business degree, UNC Chapel Hill has the program for you. It offers an online MBA specializing in Sustainable Enterprise. You will take classes in global issues and developing economies as well as innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. Graduates have gone on to become:

  • Environmental Engineers
  • Green Architects
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Managers
  • Sustainability Consultants


A known leader in sustainability, UNC Chapel Hill is a markedly green campus. It requires all of its new construction to meet LEED standards. And it is one of only a few campuses that can boast an “A” grade on the Sustainable Endowment Institute College Sustainability Report Card.


Western Kentucky University

Average Net Price: $11,409

School Website


Western Kentucky University is a public school. It is located in Bowling Green and serves more than 20,000 students. WKU is organized into more than a half dozen schools and colleges. And though it was first founded as a teacher’s school, today it offers nearly 100 degree academic and professional degree programs.


WKU offers an MA in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities degree. This program is ideal for those who want to study and practice social justice and environmental policy. Less business-oriented than the other programs, this degree is interdisciplinary and focused on the systemic problems in environmental degradation. You’ll take classes such as:

  • Community-Building for Sustainability
  • Perspectives on Social Justice
  • Social Policy and Social Justice
  • Sustainability Symposium


WKU is well ranked among its region and is known for its commitments to social mobility, community service, and sustainability. Forbes includes the university on its list of “America’s Best Colleges,” and its online degrees are frequently ranked among the best.


Arizona State University

Average Net Price: $13,007

School Website


Arizona State University is a massive research institution located in and around Phoenix. It is one of the country’s largest universities and is home to one of the biggest and best virtual universities. More than 72,000 attend ASU.


ASU has a number of graduate sustainability programs, but only its Master of Sustainability Leadership degree can be earned fully online. This program will fully equip you to promote environmental responsibility. You will gain not just insight into strategic sustainability practices, but you’ll also develop leadership skills. Classes include:

  • Global Context I and II
  • Strategic Sustainability
  • Sustainability Leadership

    Communications and Sustainability


Consistently called one of America’s “Most Innovative Universities,” ASU is no stranger to accolades, recognitions, and awards. It is nationally and globally ranked, and it is the first school in the nation to introduce a School of Sustainability.


Wilmington University

Average Net Price: $14,471

School Website


Wilmington University is a private school located in New Castle, DE. Around 20,000 students attend Wilmington and are enrolled in one of the university’s 100 academic programs. Wilmington is organized into more than half a dozen schools and colleges through which it offers a range of academic and professional opportunities.


Wilmington’s College of Business offers an MBA degree in which you can specialize in Environmental Sustainability. For those seeking a broad-based program that introduces business and finance fundamentals, Wilmington’s program may be the best fit for you. For example, in addition to classes on sustainability you will also take:

  • Managerial Accounting
  • Quantitative Business Analysis
  • Organizational Behavior and Ethical Leadership
  • Economic and Financial Environment of Business


Though a large university, Wilmington is known for its liberal arts focus and tradition. For that reason, among others, Wilmington’s programs in the arts, social sciences, and humanities are some of its strongest and most popular. The environmental science department, for example, is one of Wilmington’s most renowned.