Green Lifestyle What is a Sustainable MBA

Published on November 10th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor


What is a Sustainable MBA?

A Masters in Business Administration is a higher education degree focused on all aspects of business. Most schools across the US have a MBA program, and increasingly more are offering Sustainable MBA classes and programs to move beyond business as usual.

What is a MBA? What is a Sustainable MBA (or a Green MBA)?

Wikipedia explains the basics of a MBA:

“The MBA degree originated in the United States in the late 19th century when the country industrialized and companies sought scientific approaches to management. The core courses in an MBA program cover various areas of business such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources and operations in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy. Most programs also include elective courses.”

Most MBA programs offer courses in marketing, finances, international business and more, and there is no doubt that these topics are important and relevant for aspiring or existing business owners. However, it’s become increasingly clear that business leaders and entrepreneurs can benefit by learning about topics like corporate responsibility, social enterprise and generally doing business better.

sustainable MBA

Most business schools offer sustainability electives in MBA programs, which are great to introduce some students to green business. But because the classes are elective, most of the students will not learn the valuable information from these classes about the triple bottom line, corporate social responsibility, B Corporations, or other key tenants of green business. The good news is that business schools are responding to student demand and adding more sustainability courses.

There are also many schools offer a separate Sustainable MBA program, so that the entire business education will focus on the changing nature of business within the rapidly changing framework of global sustainability. Presidio Graduate School, one of the highest rated in the country, explains why a sustainable MBA is important: “Today’s business professionals must not only lead successful organizations but understand the many complex and interdependent issues that define sustainability, from climate change and cleantech to stakeholder engagement and social responsibility. Our MBA degree connects rigorous management theory and practice with ecological and social awareness, systems thinking and sustainable leadership.”

Why Choose a Green Business Degree?

Green business is booming! Triple Pundit reports that, “93 percent of global consumers want to see more of the brands they use support worthy social and/or environmental issues, and three out of four teenagers say they want to buy more sustainable products.” Consumers around the world are making more sustainable purchases, and Nielsen research shows that a majority of consumers are willing to spend more money on brands they know to be more sustainable and socially responsible. There is a very clear need for companies to start offering better, more sustainable products, and brands that made social and environmental responsibly a core tenant inspire brand loyalty and are seen more favorably by consumers.

However, Bloomberg reports that not all companies are ready to jump on the Sustainable MBA program. Hiring for MBAs is slightly more limited than hiring for a traditional MBA; one student felt that while a traditional MBA offers a clear path to a finance or management career, a Sustainable MBA is not as well mapped, and one needs to find their own path. While the numbers show that Sustainable MBAs might not be as quick to be hired, there are multiple career choices for them, and in the next few years, the demand for Sustainable MBAs is expected to grow.

So what can you do with a sustainable MBA? Well, you could start your own green franchise, start your own business as an eco-entrepreneur, or follow one of these varied career paths presented by GreenBiz.

The Best Sustainable MBA Programs in the US

Each year Net Impact, a nonprofit group that brings together business students on college campuses, rates the best schools for social impact and environmental responsibility in their report, Business as UNusual. Here is the list of the top 15 green MBAs for 2014:

  1. Presidio Graduate School
  2. Yale University, Yale School of Management
  3. Pinchot, Bainbridge Graduate Institute
  4. University of Michigan Ross School of Business
  5. Colorado State University College of Business
  6. Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
  7. University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business
  8. HULT International Business School, San Francisco
  9. Marlboro College
  10. Mills College, Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business
  11. Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management
  12. Stanford University, Stanford Graduate School of Business
  13. University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business
  14. Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management
  15. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management


Green business meeting image and city cartoon image from Shutterstock

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