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Study sustainability abroad

An in-depth guide to studying sustainability as an international student.

Sustainability degrees abroad

Now, more than ever, countries around the world must protect and preserve their natural environments and resources. As a sustainability student, you’ll consider the threats faced by our planet and explore potential solutions and strategies for a more sustainable future.

Sustainability is a subject that involves branches of science, geography, economics, and anthropology. You’ll be tasked with applying the theoretical principles and practices of sustainability to real-life scenarios and challenges. You’ll evaluate government policies and the economic, human, and environmental consequences of any proposed plans.

By studying abroad, you’ll see how issues of sustainability vary across the globe. You’ll encounter new environments, landscapes, and ecosystems that will broaden your horizons and give you a global perspective of the field. You’ll be part of projects that make a real difference to local communities, including those relating to clean water, renewable energy, and waste management.

Sustainability program structure

The majority of sustainability programs are offered as either a BA or a BSc. These courses cover similar ground, but a BSc will involve more independent research and scientific analysis. Bachelor’s programs are usually studied over three or four years, depending on the university. Most undergraduate sustainability courses around the world will be accredited by a professional body, like the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment (IEAMA).

In the US, a sustainability major will last for a minimum of four years. In line with the liberal arts model, you’ll first complete two years of general education studies before specializing in sustainability-specific modules in your final two years.

Most universities will strongly encourage you to participate in a placement year or a year abroad. These experiences will support you to grow both professionally and personally.

After finishing your bachelor’s degree, you can go on to study a postgraduate qualification. A master’s in sustainability usually takes one or two years of work. Following this, a PhD takes an average of five years to complete.

Teaching will mainly be made up of lectures, seminars, workshops, hands-on laboratories, field trips, and tutorials. This mixture will provide you will a sound theoretical and practical comprehension of the field. Assessment typically takes the form of exams, coursework, presentations, and practical projects.

What’s covered in sustainability programs will vary slightly from one university to another. You’ll have plenty of elective modules to choose from, but you’ll probably study these core topic areas too:

  • Sustainable practices and principles
  • Sustainable futures
  • Studying the environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Environmental policy, politics, and governance
  • Ecology and ecosystems
  • Managing biodiversity
  • Climate change

Alternative biodiversity & conservation degrees

How to study sustainability abroad

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Sustainability study abroad programs

Sustainability undergraduate programs

Bachelor's in sustainability

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    Interdisciplinary Studies - Environmental Sustainability - BA Long Island University Post, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    35,736 USD
    Start date
    January, September
    Show program overview about
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    Business (Sustainability) Polytechnic Campus - BA Arizona State University, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    30,634 USD
    Start date
    January, May, August
    Show program overview about
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    Natural Resource & Environmental Economics: Eco-Business & Sustainability - BSc University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    27,000 USD
    Start date
    January, June, August
    Show program overview about
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    Environmental & Sustainability Studies (Environment) - BA University of Kentucky, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    29,050 USD
    Start date
    January, August
    Show program overview about
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    Environmental & Sustainability Studies - BA/BSc University of Utah, USA

    Program type
    Bachelor's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    23,082 USD
    Start date
    January, May, August
    Show program overview about
See all bachelor's degrees in sustainability

Sustainability graduate programs

Master's in sustainability

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    Global Sustainability Science - MSc Arizona State University, USA

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    24,318 USD
    Start date
    August
    Show program overview about
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    Environmental Change and Global Sustainability - MSc University of Helsinki, Finland

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    13,000 EUR
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about
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    Science for Sustainable Development - MSc Linköping University, Sweden

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    19,000 USD
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about
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    International Business and Environmental Sustainability - MA (Hons) University of Dundee, UK

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    4 years
    Tuition fees per year
    16,450 GBP
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about
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    Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development - MDisRes University of Newcastle, Australia

    Program type
    Master's
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    33,135 AUD
    Start date
    February, July, September
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See all master's degrees in sustainability

Doctorate in sustainability

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    Professional Doctorate in Education with special focus on sustainability, equality and diversity - PhD London South Bank University, UK

    Program type
    Doctorate
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    6,890 GBP
    Start date
    September
    Show program overview about
See all doctorates in sustainability

Diploma in sustainability

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    Business Administration: Green Business Management and Sustainability - GDip Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

    Program type
    Postgraduate diploma
    Duration
    2 years
    Tuition fees per year
    12,853 CAD
    Start date
    September, January, May
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See all postgraduate diplomas in sustainability

Certificate in sustainability

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    Environmental Management and Sustainability - PGCert University of Newcastle, Australia

    Program type
    Postgraduate certificate
    Duration
    6 months
    Tuition fees per year
    18,845 AUD
    Start date
    February, July, September
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See all postgraduate certificates in sustainability

Future sustainability careers

Governments, organizations, and businesses are always looking for ways to reduce their negative impact on the environment and improve sustainability. As such, your skills, knowledge, and expertise will be in high demand across both public and private sectors. Here are some of the most common career paths pursued by sustainability graduates:

  • Sustainability consultant
  • Sustainability specialist
  • Climate change analyst
  • Energy consultant
  • Corporate social responsibility manager
  • Lecturer
  • Researcher
  • International aid/development worker

If you’re struggling to work out what your dream role is, it’s a good idea to undertake some work experience or an internship. Not only will you narrow down your interests and strengths, but you’ll also make useful professional connections and take your employability to the next level.