Business Administration

Green MBAs: Business Schools with a Focus on Sustainability

Green MBAs: Business Schools with a Focus on Sustainability
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Nedda Gilbert profile
Nedda Gilbert February 6, 2015

If you are interested in business and sustainable development, there are many graduate programs that combine both fields. Read on to learn about environmental studies and the MBA.

MBA/Business Programs You Should Consider

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Once considered passing fads, environmental and social stewardship are now incorporated into the learning environment at most business schools — via dedicated coursework as well as case studies.

Historically, the business world has been slow to integrate social and environmental issues into its practices. In the last several years, however, companies and their MBA counterparts have realized the importance of addressing sustainability in their operations and coursework.

In particular, the business community has begun to focus on fields such as renewable energy, carbon emissions, and sustainable development. The need to protect dwindling resources has compelled programs and companies to integrate environmental concerns into their visions. For example, many business schools are now offering programs that focus on energy and the environment. These are often referred to as green MBA programs.

For those students with a social-impact consciousness, this course of study can satisfy the desire to do good while still yielding healthy earnings.

Top Green MBA Programs

At the venerable Harvard Business School, MBAs can join a program called the Business and Environmental Initiative. It features coursework dedicated to examining today’s environmental challenges and creating compelling business solutions. The school also boasts 400 Green Business alumni association members.

At Babson College, a leader in entrepreneurial studies, MBAs learn from an Entrepreneurial Thought and Action methodology, which places value on purpose as much as it does on profit. Students study social, economic, and environmental issues in the context of entrepreneurial and socially responsible solutions.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School fo Business features a dedicated Ethic and Social Responsibility track with an emphasis on energy and environmental policy.

Standout offerings can also be found at Clark University. Here, aspiring MBAs build expertise in sustainability with classes such as Green Operations Management, Sustainability Marketing, and Leading Change.

At Pepperdine University, MBAs can earn a certificate in Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible (SEER) business strategy.

You can use Noodle to search for MBA programs in entrepreneurship, but other top programs with a specific eco-friendly focus include:

Duke University Fuqua School of Business
Columbia Business School
University of Michigan Ross School of Business
NYU Stern School of Business
The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Claremont Graduate University Drucker School of Management
Brandeis International Business School
University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business
University of Virginia Darden School of Business
University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Business
Portland State School of Business Administration

Career Opportunities

Students interested in green MBAs can explore the following fields. Net Careers lists some advice and specific job postings for relevant MBA careers.

Corporate Impact

One way you can apply your love for the environment and for business strategy is to work in a company’s corporate impact department. This field takes social and environmental concerns and integrates them into a company’s practices and vision. For example, you could work to improve the supply chain or develop an ethical sourcing strategy. Most large corporations, such as Walmart, Disney, or Sony, have teams dedicated to the implementation of such initiatives.

The Energy Industry

Large energy companies, such as Exxon, Shell, or GE, are often seeking professionals who understand the energy space and can manage their portfolios or provide insight into the field. Similarly, car companies employ specialists in (bio)fuel or environmental impact to advise them on their business strategy.

Other businesses, either established or new, are seeking to create and implement clean energy solutions. Each of these companies needs people to manage their operations, finances, and initiatives.

Environment and Natural Resources

Corporations, nonprofits, research institutes, and government agencies alike are seeking professionals with a knowledge of economics and the environment to ensure that natural resources are conserved for future generations. Job duties can range from incorporating green practices in the workplace to engaging other companies in sustainability partnerships.

Impact Investment

The finance sector is exploring more investment opportunities that promise to make an environmental impact. Jobs in impact investment field can range from advising a bank on how to invest its assets responsibly to participating in energy ventures at the World Bank or IFC.

Find MBA programs specializing in investment.

Nonprofit and Public Sector

Many NGOs and government agencies, with the aim of facilitating a more sustainable future, are looking for qualified individuals who can lead, manage, invest, and finance their operations.

Find MBA programs in non-profit management and in public administration.

Green Campuses

Happily, the greening of the MBA has gone beyond the classroom. Environmentally-conscious ideas and practices flourish on many business school campuses. From how they design and fuel buildings to how they recycle water, many business schools now pride themselves on not just teaching the green, but living it as well. Perhaps the most ambitious efforts can be found at the Stanford Graduate School of Business — “sustainable Stanford” — which has made conserving resources and finding alternative energy sources its mission, in an effort to inspire others to do the same.

MBAs are now poised, and even being encouraged, to make a difference. For those who want to lead companies in socially and environmentally responsible businesses, the eco-path of the MBA may just be the right fit for you.


Career Development. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

Explore Careers. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from Net Impact.

Questions or feedback? Email

About the Author

Ms. Nedda Gilbert is a seasoned clinical social worker, author, and educational consultant with 25 years of experience helping college-bound and graduate students find their ideal schools. She is a prolific author, including The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and Essays that Made a Difference. Ms. Gilbert has been a guest writer for Forbes and a sought-after keynote speaker on college admissions. Previously, she played a crucial role at the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company and was Chairman of the Board of Graduate Philadelphia. Ms. Gilbert holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University and is a certified interdisciplinary collaborative family law professional in New Jersey.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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