Work and the Office

Published on July 25th, 2009 | by Guest Contributor


Green MBA Programs Grow Up

A need for green jobs has recently put into focus the need for advanced qualifications in sustainability and green business.

While the corporate world focuses on devising strategies to address the business of sustainability, business schools across the country are incorporating this relatively new field of study into their curriculum. This is in response to student demand and dynamic industry trends that are focused on green business and leadership.

Green MBAs focus on green business and leadership

Green MBAs focus on green business and leadership

Wall Street jobs, the once sought-after destination for MBA graduates, is facing a gradual decline as students increasingly opt for course of graduate study that emphasize leadership in sustainability. Until recently, most green MBA programs were fledgling or experimental programs. However, an increasing number of schools are now adding more courses and opportunities related to the emerging needs of the green economy.

What can you expect from a green MBA program?

Students graduating from green MBA programs are expected to receive a solid grounding in environmental issues, along with traditional business training that prepares them to be leaders in the green corporate world.

In the words of Green Biz, progressive MBA programs such as San Francisco’s Presidio School of Management, the Dominican University in San Rafael, CA and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington prepare students for

“the reality of tomorrow’s markets by equipping them with the social, environmental and economic perspectives required for business success in a competitive and fast changing world.”

The course of study does not necessarily require or limit green MBA students to “green jobs” only. Rather, they achieve a well rounded set of skills that prepares them to be leaders in any business environment.

“There is an opportunity to become a change agent in an organization,” says Bryan Garcia, program director at the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY), which offers a three-year joint degree program that combines an MBA with a master’s in forestry or environmental studies. “A graduate may take a job with a title like investment banker, but they’re able to apply their knowledge of environmental sustainability to business in the firm.”

Do green MBA students get green jobs?

Many graduates pursue non-green jobs as there are are relatively very few green jobs publicly advertised on the market, as yet. However, indicators suggest that green MBA graduates are naturally attracted to utilizing their skills in the green sector, and will pursue these positions before others.

According to a report from Net Impact, a global non-profit network of MBA students who are leaders in social entrepreneurship and sustainability, the number of publicly advertised jobs in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) jobs has gone up by 37 percent since 2004. This reflects a genuine need in the market for managers and senior executives knowledgeable about the environment, who can lead green initiatives and create new profit centers.

How do you find a Green MBA program?

The most obvious way to research green MBA programs is to look at traditional programs to see which of them have been most successful in implementing sustainability courses into their curriculum. For example, Stanford University, which has historically been one of the best MBA programs in the country, is also high on the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes, a biennial survey and alternative ranking of business schools that spotlights innovative full-time MBA programs.

The survey ranks the top 100 schools in terms of student exposure and opportunity, course content and faculty research in environmental stewardship. You can download the 2007-2008 report here.

You can also research one of the more recently established programs that was specifically established as a green MBA program.

Here is a list of programs to get you started:

  1. Green MBA at Dominican University of California
  2. Presidio School of Management
  3. Bainbridge Graduate Institute
  4. Online Green MBA, Anaheim Universityy
  5. Marylhurst University’s Online MBA in Sustainable Business
  6. Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill – Center for Sustainable Enterprise

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