Environmental MBA Degree

Why an MBA in Environmental Management?

An environmental Management MBA provides a firm foundation in business administration, while also incorporating sustainability concepts. This degree educates students about the ways in which business operations may affect the environment, environmental laws, and how operations can be improved to minimize those effects. It includes a strong background in core courses such as operations management, business law and ethics, and marketing management. It also includes courses on financial accounting and financial management to educate students about how the environmental aspects of business can affect the bottom line.

Keep in mind that relevant degree programs may not all bear the same name. Some schools, such as Yale University, offer a joint MBA and Master of Environmental Management (MEM) that combines environmental studies with the study of management. Other schools offer “Green MBA” programs, an MBA in sustainable business, or MBAs with concentrations in sustainable business or corporate responsibility. These programs may or may not emphasize management specifically.

Regardless of the exact degree name, for new graduates looking to enter the workforce, an MBA in environmental management not only demonstrates a solid foundation in business, but also shows an interest in fresh ideas. Continuing education in the field is also beneficial for moving up within a company, or moving over to a “greener” career track. Environmental Management MBA holders will also be at the forefront of helping to create new, sustainable business models.

Environmental Management MBA Programs

While there are different specialties within MBAs (such as accounting or marketing), the content of MBA program specialties is fairly consistent across institutions. That means your choice of school will depend on reputation, cost, and location.

At a minimum you'll want to choose a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a nonprofit accrediting agency for business and accounting programs of all levels. An AACSB-accredited schools provide a professionally agreed-upon quality of education many prospective employers will require.

Likewise, students will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to be accepted into a Environmental Management MBA program. While experience in business or environmental studies isn't usually required, taking business and sustainability courses as an undergraduate can increase your chances of admission.

School Spotlights

Duke University in Durham, NC

Master of Environmental Management/Master of Business Administration (MEM/MBA)

Program Focus:

Environmental Management and Business

Study Options:


School Website:


Program Overview:

This degree compresses coursework for two degrees into a three-year program. As with sustainability, Duke's collaborative program is highly interdisciplinary; students learn from faculty in the schools of business, environment, engineering, public policy, and law.

Students can choose from a variety of concentrations. Available concentrations in the Nicholas School of the Environment include Energy & Environment, Environmental Economics and Policy, Ecosystem Science and Conservation, and Global Environmental Change. Fuqua School of Business concentrations include Energy & Environment, Finance, Strategy, Decision Sciences, Social Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Operations Management, Marketing, Financial Analysis, and Management.

Course Requirements:

Students complete 65 credits at the Fuqua School of Business and 36 credits under the Nicholas School of the Environment. A Master's Project is required.

Admission Requirements:

Since the Duke MEM/MBA is a joint degree program, the university suggests applying to both programs at once. That way you'll have access to the resources offered by both schools right away. You can also get a combined tuition rate with this approach.

You'll also need to provide official GRE or GMAT scores. Either one is accepted by both schools for this joint degree program.


The anticipated costs of daytime MBA programs are $60,356, including books and miscellaneous fees. However, students who start at both the Fuqua and Nicholas colleges simultaneously pay a blended rate. Students who begin at one college and add the joint program will receive tuition adjustments. Contact the Fuqua School of Business for more information.

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

MBA in Environmental and Risk Management

Program Focus:

Environmental Sustainability, Corporate Sustainability, Risk Management, Health Care Cost Benefit Analysis

Study Options:


School Website:


Program Overview:

The Wharton School of Business program focuses on business-related risks to the environment, to worker health and safety, and to neighboring communities, such as risks posed by chemicals, energy sources, and technologies.

Course Requirements:

There are two mandatory short courses. A course on Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation instructs students in the basics of environmental issues, and how to incorporate sustainable practices into a thriving business model. A second short course on Risk and Crisis Management teaches covers how to anticipate and minimize a company's risk, and how companies can adapt to changing industry conditions. Students choose four of seven electives, including an optional Advanced Study Project that must be approved by the program director.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate program in an accredited U.S. college, or its equivalent in another country. Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE test results.

If you don't have an undergraduate or Master's degree in an English-speaking country, or from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you'll also need to send TOEFL results. You can request a waiver of the TOEFL exam through a letter, with documentation that your education was in English.


Anticipated costs are $100,454, including fees.

Is an MBA in Environmental Management Right for You?

While an MBA can jump-start or enhance your career, it does require a significant investment of time and money. An MBA can take one to three years to complete. You may also want to look into the availability of financial aid.

If you hesitate to commit to an MBA, there are other alternatives. An increasing number of schools offer graduate certificates in environmental management, sustainability, sustainable business, or corporate social responsibility. There are a total of 23 schools offer graduate certificates in sustainable business, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Most graduate programs take one year to complete.

Online MBA in Environmental Management

An online MBA is a more convenient and flexible option than a traditional MBA. An online MBA means your choice of schools isn't limited by location, and you can save time and money by studying from home. Some programs may be entirely self-paced, while others require at least some scheduled sessions.

School Spotlight

Ashford University

Based in Clinton, Iowa, Ashford offers several online degree programs, including an MBA in Environmental Management that integrates environmental perspectives into business strategy. Students earn the specialization in environmental management by completing three specialized courses, in addition to the core MBA courses.


While there are different specialties within MBAs (such as accounting or marketing), the content of MBA program specialties is fairly consistent across institutions. Coursework in Environmental Management MBA Programs generally includes environmental risk management, environmental law, environmental policy, operations management, and environmental economics. Some programs include marketing, finance, accounting, and risk management more broadly.


MBA holders with specialties in environmental management can find employment in a growing number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Since sustainability must be integrated at all organizational levels, candidates find jobs in a wide range of departments, including finance, marketing, and operations, as well as corporate citizenship departments in some larger companies.

Many graduates will find work in compliance departments, where they'll ensure that business practices legally fall within government regulations, and align with the organization's own environmental goals.

Operations management is another common area of work. Operations managers implement and oversee environmental performance plans. It's an exciting time do so. The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to objects embedded with data-transmitting sensors, is transforming business operations and energy management at the same time. The big data collected can be analyzed via cloud-based platforms. When applied to “smart” commercial buildings and industrial facilities, IoT turns energy conservation into actionable insights that affect the bottom line, and that can give companies a competitive advantage. Frost & Sullivan projects that there will be 50 billion smart devices globally by 2020. Environmental MBA holders may have the opportunity to oversee IoT implementations at their own companies, playing a key role in the next iteration of business operations and industrial energy efficiency.

There's a growing interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR). An increasing number of companies have dedicated CSR staff, or even departments. These investigate the environmental impact of existing business operations and the long-term sustainability of raw materials and other resources. They devise alternative corporate structures, operational methods, and resources to improve environmental performance and ensure a company's long-term viability and growth from an environmental and energy-related perspective.

Some graduates will find work in finance departments, where they will evaluate and report on the relationships between financial performance and their company's environmental initiatives.


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