In this ranking, we profile the top 30 most affordable online master’s in permaculture and sustainable design.

According to Oregon State University, permaculture is a method of landscape planning and development that can be applied to anything from a rooftop garden or home-based farm to an entire city. Permaculture, often referred to as sustainable design, is an ethically-based approach to create sustainability for humans and institutions. The discipline incorporates agricultural and horticultural studies, as well as animal husbandry, ecology, planning, and technology. We searched reputable sources to find affordable options in online master’s in permaculture programs. Our findings are as follows.

Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture or Sustainable Design Programs Methodology

We reviewed close to 70 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online master’s in permaculture, online master’s in sustainable design, online master’s in sustainability, or closely related programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: national or regional accreditation, institution rankings with at least one reputable publication like U.S. News and World Report, and affordable graduate tuition and fees less than $23,000 per year. We then listed our results by raw affordability.

Below are the findings for the top 30 most affordable online master’s in permaculture programs of 2020.

#30 – Pennsylvania State University

Online Master’s in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems

University Park, Pennsylvania

Website

Pennsylvania State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
No graduate entrance exams needed for Penn State’s online master’s in permaculture – renewable energy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,578

Penn State University World Campus has an online master’s in sustainable design focusing on green design and sustainable policy. The curriculum has an interdisciplinary structure that stretches across eight academic departments and gives students the opportunity to choose from in-demand concentration areas including bioenergy, solar energy, wind energy, and project management. The degree is technical in nature and features courses such as ethical dimensions of renewable energy and sustainability systems, foundations in sustainability systems, renewable energy and nonmarket enterprise, and technology for sustainability systems. Students from all academic and professional backgrounds are welcome to apply, provided they have an accredited bachelor’s degree. No prerequisite courses are required and no test scores are required.

#29 – Thomas Jefferson University

Online Master’s in Sustainable Design

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Website

Thomas Jefferson University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
For a master’s in sustainability online degree program check out Thomas Jefferson University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,600

Through its College of Architecture and the Built Environment, Thomas Jefferson University’s online master’s in sustainable design is a trans-disciplinary degree featuring an integrated curriculum balancing practitioner-based skills with advanced design and theoretical concepts that are needed to produce 21st century market solutions in sustainable design. The online iteration of the degree is designed to be completed part-time allowing working individuals to balance out their studies and personal obligations. Despite the part-time enrollment, students can graduate in only 24 months and earn the same degree as their on-campus counterparts. And because Thomas Jefferson is ranked among the nation’s best colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report (#153 nationally), students can expect to earn a respected degree with a large alumni base.

#28 – Prescott College

Online Master’s in Resilient and Sustainable Communities

Prescott, Arizona

Website

Prescott College - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
36 credits for the online master’s in permaculture – sustainable design at Prescott College.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,566

Prescott College offers a master’s in sustainability online, focusing on resilient and sustainable communities. The degree teaches students innovative ideas on how to construct new ways to effectively govern communities in terms of energy, infrastructure, transportation, housing, food supply, and more. As climate change continues to impact the world at the local level, traditional approaches are losing their effectiveness. The 36-credit degree features courses such as economics of sustainable organizations and communities, land use planning and policy, organizational transformation and sustainable leadership, and social equity and community engagement. Prescott College is ranked #87 in regional universities West according to U.S. News and World Report.

#27 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online Master’s in Business with a Concentration in Sustainability & Environmental Compliance

Manchester, New Hampshire

Website

Southern New Hampshire University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
For business buffs, Southern New Hampshire University offers a fully online MBA in sustainability and environmental compliance.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810

Southern New Hampshire University offers a master’s in sustainable design online as a concentration option within its broader MBA curriculum. Students who complete the degree are conferred an MBA with a concentration in sustainability and environmental compliance. Featured courses include accounting and financial analysis, economics for business, government impact on business, human behavior in organizations, and operations management and technology. In addition to the above fundamental business courses, students learn the knowledge and skills required to develop and integrate sustainable practices within a business environment. As climate change and the human impact on the environment increase, new socially responsible business practices and policies are needed.

#26 – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Online Master’s in Aviation and Aerospace Sustainability

Daytona Beach, Florida

Website

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Embry-Riddle’s online sustainability degree emphasizes aviation and aerospace design.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,618

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University provides working professionals with a master’s in sustainability online within the context of the aviation industry. Growing the aviation industry has become a more nuanced and complex issue, with its history of poor environmental performance. As climate change mitigation increases in salience, new and innovative aerospace solutions are needed to keep the industry moving forward without further harming the environment. Students take advanced graduate level courses such as aviation and aerospace sustainable organizations, aviation and aerospace workforce development and diversity, aviation and aerospace sustainable techniques, and sustainability associated legal topics in aviation and aerospace. The 36-credit program is designed for mid-career professionals seeking a graduate degree to further their career opportunities.

#25 – Lipscomb University

Online Master’s in Sustainability

Nashville, Tennessee

Website

Lipscomb University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Affordability! Master’s in permaculture online sustainability degrees – Lipscomb University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,766

Lipscomb University’s online master’s in sustainable design is built upon the foundational principles of natural sciences, environmental science, business, and social sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree gives students a comprehensive look at sustainability in its different contexts as they relate to and impact one another. Students can tailor the degree by choosing a concentration area such as urban resilience, building and energy systems, renewable energy and efficiency, food systems, and water. Interested parties should include transcripts showing degree conferral, writing sample or test scores (GRE/GMAT/MCAT/LSAT), two letters of recommendation, and interview. In addition to the master of science, students may also pursue a dual MS and MBA degree.

#24 – University of Saint Francis

Online Master’s in Business and Sustainability

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Website

University of Saint Francis - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Study business and sustainability online at University of Saint Francis.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,470

The University of Saint Francis offers a master’s in sustainability online as part of its master’s in business program. Students learn core business functions within the context of sustainability through courses such as foundations of sustainability, integrated remote sensing, and renewable energy innovations. In addition to classes taught by expert faculty members, students can complete the program in as little as 12 months through full-time enrollment (two classes per term) or 24 months on a part-time basis (one class per term). The University of Saint Francis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and ranks #66 in regional universities Midwest and #42 in best value schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#23 – Franklin Pierce University

Online Master’s in Business – Energy and Sustainability

Rindge, New Hampshire

Website

Franklin Pierce University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Franklin Pierce University’s online masters in sustainability – ranked and accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,200

Franklin Pierce University offers a master’s in sustainability online as part of its MBA curriculum that prepares students with the business, leadership, and sustainability principles needed to make an impact in any organization. Interested applicants should possess a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.8 GPA. In addition, applicants must submit official transcripts, updated resume, essay, and proof of competency in accounting, statistics, and computer skills. Courses may include building a sustainable enterprise, legal and ethical issues in organizations, operations management for leaders, and quantitative and research techniques for leaders. Franklin Pierce ranks in multiple U.S. News and World Report categories including #129 in regional universities North and #124 in social mobility.

#22 – Antioch University

Online Master’s in Urban Sustainability

Culver City, California

Website

Antioch University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Urban sustainability! Antioch University offers online master’s in permaculture programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,716

Antioch University Los Angeles provides students with online master’s in sustainable design, featuring online courses and intermittent residency requirements and fieldwork. This takes just two years to complete; students engage in four residency requirements while taking courses during the first year of the program. This blend provides practical application of content learned in class and gives students much-needed hands-on experience in preparation for their future career opportunities. In addition to fieldwork, students take courses such as adaptive leadership for sustainable change, funding your mission with grant writing, ecosystems thinking, and sustainable urban economies. Students with a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree are welcome to apply.

#21 – University of Washington

Online Master’s in Construction, Energy, and Sustainable Infrastructure

Seattle, Washington

Website

University of Washington - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Infrastructure and sustainable design! Online permaculture programs at University of Washington.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,590

The University of Washington’s master’s in sustainable design online is designed for engineering professionals seeking a career emphasis in sustainable infrastructure and construction and features two degrees: construction engineering or energy infrastructure and management. Both degrees are delivered entirely online, making it an excellent option for working professionals seeking a rigorous and flexible degree from one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. The program can be completed in just 2-3 years. The University of Washington ranks in multiple U.S. News and World Report categories such as #27 in best engineering schools, #62 in national universities, and #22 in top public schools.

#20 – Georgia Institute of Technology

Online Master’s in Sustainability Energy and Environmental Management

Atlanta, Georgia

Website

Georgia Institute of Technology - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Georgia Tech offers an online master’s in sustainability!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,798

Georgia Tech offers a master’s in sustainability online, focusing on management practices within the context of sustainability. The program is delivered through the institution’s School of Public Policy within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and features coursework across several disciplines such as public policy, industrial and systems engineering, economics, and more. The multidisciplinary coursework gives students a comprehensive view of the components that impact sustainability and environmental management. As one of the most prestigious universities in the country, Georgia Tech ranks #29 in national universities, #4 in most innovative schools, and #5 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#19 – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Online Master’s in Natural Resources

Blacksburg, Virginia

Website

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
For those interested in affordable online master’s in permaculture programs, Virginia Tech has options!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,510

Virginia Tech’s master’s in sustainable design online is delivered entirely online except for one 10-day international trip that takes the place of a traditional capstone project. In addition, students have the opportunity to network in person during the trip as well as electronically while engaging in coursework. Most graduates of the program say there were able to network more through the online program than a traditional one, which helped them expand their personal and professional networks. Students take a wide variety of courses covering several subjects such as communication and influence, environmental decision making for the Anthropocene, and food policy and sustainability.

#18 – Johnson & Wales University

Online Master’s in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development

Providence, Rhode Island

Website

Johnson & Wales University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Earn an online master’s in sustainable design from Johnson & Wales University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,350

Johnson and Wales University’s online master’s in sustainable design focuses on sustainable economic development and tourism designed to minimize the negative impact to the surrounding ecosystems and topography. Students learn from industry leaders and receive the same degree as their on-campus counterparts with no indication on the transcript the degree is online. Each course is eight weeks, which allows students to graduate in less than two years meaning they can benefit from their degree in a very short amount of time. Courses cover several subjects such as global tourism marketing and branding, international sustainable tourism policy analysis and development, and tourism economics.

#17 – University of Vermont

Online Master’s in Leadership for Sustainability

Burlington, Vermont

Website

University of Vermont - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked and accredited! University of Vermont’s online master’s in permaculture type programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,272

The University of Vermont offers an online master’s in permaculture through the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. The program is grounded in the philosophy that the outer world reflects the change that is cultivated from within. This pedagogical belief drives the curriculum and coursework. Coursework includes ecological economics theory, poetry off the page, the art of leadership, and storytelling and communicating for change. In addition to online coursework, students have the opportunity to visit the Bay Area of California for a week-long intensive residential program. The program consists of 30 total credits, which can be completed in two years.

#16 – University of Arizona

Online Master’s in Innovation, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship

Tucson, Arizona

Website

University of Arizona - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Innovation and sustainability! University of Arizona has options for those seeking affordable online master’s in permaculture degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,044

The University of Arizona’s master’s in sustainability online blends business and innovation with responsible design and sustainability practices. In today’s economic environment, it is important that change, growth, and innovation do not come at the expense of the earth’s resources. This degree teaches students that business innovation and environmental sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive – they can co-exist. The degree is offered through UA’s College of Engineering and necessitates applicants possess an undergraduate degree in an engineering or science major. The University of Arizona is a respected R1 research institution and ranks in dozens of categories by U.S. News and World Report.

#15 – Montclair State University

Online Master’s in Sustainability Science and Leadership

Montclair, New Jersey

Website

Montclair State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Part-time and full-time options! Montclair State University! A great place for online master’s in sustainability programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,837

Montclair State University’s master’s in sustainable design online prepares graduates for leadership positions in government, non-profit, and private enterprises seeking candidates whom are able to integrate solutions to complex sustainability issues. Interested applicants will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The curriculum is 32 credits with courses offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Students can complete the degree as part of an accelerated 1-year program or on part-time basis that takes 2-3 years. Students can expect a quality education from Montclair, which ranks #79 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#14 – Washington State University

Online Master’s in Agriculture

Pullman, Washington

Website

Washington State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Agriculture and permaculture! WSU offers an affordable online master’s in permaculture/agriculture.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,802

Washington State University offers an online master’s in permaculture focusing on agricultural science that seeks to improve the food supply. Taught by renowned faculty from the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, this 30-credit program includes a thesis and non-thesis option. In addition to the general track, students can choose from concentrations in food science and management and plant health management. Applicants should have a background in a related area such as biology, plant science, entomology, horticulture, or food science. Students without a related background will be required to take 6-9 semester hours of coursework at the beginning of the degree program.

#13 – University of Florida

Online Master’s in Sustainable Design

Gainesville, Florida

Website

University of Florida - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked with U.S. News! Affordable online master’s in permaculture programs at University of Florida.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,737

Similar to an online master’s in permaculture, the University of Florida offers an online master’s in sustainable design through its College of Design, Construction & Planning that prepares students for top careers in sustainability through its coursework taught by world renowned faculty in architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, and more. Students are taught in an interdisciplinary environment allowing them to form a comprehensive lens when it comes to sustainability issues that are often taught through a narrow view that can create occupational blind spots. Students learn both theoretical and practitioner-based skills needed to excel on the job. And taking courses from the 34th ranked institution according to U.S News, students get an outstanding education.

#12 – Colorado State University

Online Master’s in Wildlife Biology

Fort Collins, Colorado

Website

Colorado State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Top-ranked online permaculture programs! Colorado State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,495

Students seeking a master’s in sustainable design online will find Colorado State’s online master’s in wildlife biology a plausible degree pathway, as its core functions are to teach students to conserve both wildlife and the surrounding environment. Students learn skills and knowledge allowing them to become subject matter experts in conservation and preservation through coursework such as adaptive fish and wildlife management, conservation genetics of wild populations, fish and wildlife population dynamics, and science of managing human-wildlife conflicts. Graduates go on to fruitful careers as conservation biologists, environmental consultants, natural resource managers, and much more. The degree is designed for working professionals with a background in a natural resources area.

#11 – The Ohio State University

Online Master’s in Agriculture Communication, Leadership, and Education

Columbus, Ohio

Website

Ohio State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
No GRE or GMAT for the online master’s in permaculture or sustainability programs at The Ohio State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,425

Similar to a master’s in sustainable design online, The Ohio State University provides early and mid-career professionals with the tools and skills needed to create, integrate, and evaluate agricultural communication and education programs in organizations and communities. Students accepted into the program take courses such as documenting change through evaluation and accountability, leadership and administration in agricultural extension education, and strategic and program planning. Students need an undergraduate degree with a minimum of a 30 GPA to apply. The Graduate School no longer requires GRE or GMAT test scores to apply. As the 54th ranked national university according to U.S News and World Report, students will earn a well-respected degree along with thousands of other alumni across the country.

#10 – Arizona State University

Online Master’s in Sustainability Leadership

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Arizona State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked and accredited! Arizona State University – Offering online master’s in permaculture and sustainable design programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,134

Arizona State University’s online master’s in sustainable design prepares students to lead organizations with their sustainability efforts. Students learn how to integrate sustainable solutions into both existing and new structures engaging with a curriculum built on four foundational themes including sustainability leadership, sustainability and strategy, communications and change management, and the global context of sustainability. Accepted students are required to complete 35 credits (18 classes) such as communications and sustainability, foundations of sustainability, global context, and strategic sustainability. Students will find the curriculum engaging and cutting-edge. Arizona State University ranks #1 in innovative schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#9 – University of Wisconsin

Online Master’s in Sustainable Systems Engineering

Madison, Wisconsin

Website

University of Wisconsin - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked with U.S. News! Online master’s in permaculture and related programs at University of Wisconsin.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,010

Ranked #46 in national universities and #13 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Wisconsin at Madison offers a master’s in sustainable design online that prepares students for sustainability careers in engineering by engaging with coursework that delves into energy policy, sustainable engineering, and the economics of sustainability. Coursework includes core competencies of sustainability, distributed renewable energy system design, electromechanical energy conversion, and wind energy development and design. Potential applicants must possess a bachelor’s of science degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Additionally, students must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. The GMAT or GRE are not required to apply.

#8 – Claremont Lincoln University

Online Master’s in Sustainability Leadership

Claremont, California

Website

Claremont Lincoln University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
A streamlined admission process! Study sustainability design online at Claremont Lincoln University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,000

Claremont Lincoln University’s master’s in sustainability online examines the decision-making and strategic thinking of how sustainability practices and policy impact society, communities, and organizations. The admission process at Claremont Lincoln is streamlined to be completed in only 15 minutes. Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a current resume or CV. Once uploaded, the committee will provide an admission decision within just 24 hours. No test scores are required to apply. The program is delivered entirely online and can be completed in just 12 months. Courses include data analysis and decision making, economics and sustainability, environmental policy and law, and sustainable leadership and ethics.

#7 – Concordia University

Online Master’s in Sustainability Management and Analytics

Mequon, Wisconsin

Website

Concordia University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Offering affordable online master’s in sustainability programs – Concordia University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,848

Concordia University’s master’s in sustainability online is part of the institution’s MBA program. This program prepares students to integrate and innovate ecological and sustainable solutions and take the LEED Green Associate Exam. Admission requirements include transcripts, one-page essay, resume, two letters of recommendation, and a conferred bachelor’s degree. Courses may include ethics and organizational leadership, issues in human resource management, management science and analytics, and sustainable business practices. Students seeking a rigorous graduate degree taught by well-qualified faculty will find the degree meets their standards. Concordia University is ranked #281 in national universities and #254 in social mobility by U.S. News and World Report.

#6 – Iowa State University

Online Master’s in Agricultural Education

Ames, Iowa

Website

Iowa State University - Most Affordable Online Master's in Permaculture
Highly affordable options for online master’s in permaculture degree programs – Iowa State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,504

Similar to an online master’s in permaculture, Iowa State University offers an online master’s in agricultural education that prepares students to teach agricultural topics as an educator, communication specialist, and extension professional. The coursework is delivered all online and offers 13 elective credits, which gives students the educational latitude to choose courses that fit their interests. Featured classes include foundations of agricultural education, instructional methods, learning theory, and program planning. And because Iowa State University is ranked among the nation’s best institution’s by U.S. News and World Report (#121 national universities and #55 top public schools), students can expect to earn a quality degree from a respected institution.

#5 – Murray State University

Online Master’s in Agriculture

Murray, Kentucky

Website

Murray State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked with U.S. News! Affordable online master’s in sustainability programs at Murray State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,114

Murray State University offers an online master’s in permaculture with a focus on agriculture through its Hutson Schools of Agriculture. Students can choose from several different concentrations including agricultural economics, agricultural education, sustainable agriculture, and veterinary hospital management. The sustainability track includes courses such as advanced precision agriculture, advanced soil fertility, graduate cooperative education, and principles of agro-ecology. The program has no admission deadline, so students are welcome to apply at any time, with application decisions taking several weeks to process. Students do not need to submit test scores as part of the application. Murray State University is a well-respected institution, ranked #24 in regional universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

#4 – Wilmington University

Online Master’s in Business with Emphasis in Environmental Sustainability

New Castle, Delaware

Website

Wilmington University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Fully online MBA with emphasis in sustainability! Wilmington University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,636

Wilmington University offers a master’s in sustainable design online through its MBA degree program. Students should have a foundation in business courses through undergraduate education classes and may take them at Wilmington University or another institution. These courses include economics, accounting, and finance. Students choosing the environmental sustainability concentration will take economic and financial analysis of environmental issues, environmental regulations and ethical issues, project management and sustainable green technologies, and strategic planning for sustainable organizations. The 30-credit program is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education and is delivered entirely online for maximum flexibility for individuals not able to attend traditional classes.

#3 – Black Hills State University

Online Master’s in Sustainability

Spearfish, South Dakota

Website

Black Hills State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Ranked by U.S. News! Affordable options for online master’s in sustainability programs – Black Hills State University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,116

Black Hills State University offers an innovative and interdisciplinary online master’s in sustainable design that is delivered entirely over the Internet with no residency requirement. Students learn sustainability practices along with other factors that impact sustainability such as socio-political forces, economic structures, public policy, and legal frameworks. This comprehensive curriculum gives students a global context for sustainability and helps them understand salient issues with a big picture understanding. This emerging area of study features coursework such as communication and change, environmental law and policy, fundamentals of sustainability, and human dimensions of sustainability. Black Hills State has an excellent reputation and ranks #117 in regional universities Midwest by U.S. News.

#2 – University of Alabama

Online Master’s in Sustainable Smart Cities

Birmingham, Alabama

Website

University of Alabama - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
For those interested in online master’s in permaculture programs, University of Alabama offers related degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,100

The University of Alabama Birmingham offers a cutting edge degree in sustainable smart cities, which is similar to an online master’s in permaculture. This unique degree focuses on making cities sustainable in terms of economic growth, innovation, education, and culture within the context of environmental friendliness and sustainability. In addition to resources at the University of Alabama Birmingham, the institution has partnered with Staffordshire University for its expertise in sustainable technology. Course and content may include big data and smart cities, low carbon and renewable energy systems, managing natural resources and sustainable smart cities, and smart technologies for cities and buildings.

#1 – University of Colorado

Online Master’s in Managing Sustainability

Denver, Colorado

Website

University of Colorado - Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Permaculture (Sustainable Design) 2020
Highly affordable options for those seeking online master’s in permaculture programs! University of Colorado!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,017

The University of Colorado Denver offers the #1 ranked online master’s in permaculture through its master’s in management and science degree program. The online degree includes a specialty in managing for sustainability that prepares graduate to be leaders in the area of sustainability. This burgeoning career field is being embraced by organizations that are prioritizing green practices into their strategies and policies. Courses may include business ethics and corporate social responsibility, global climate change, marketing and sustainability, and supply chain management. The entire degree can be completed online for maximum flexibility. Graduates earn the same degree as their on-campus peers. The institution ranks #254 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with an online master’s in permaculture or sustainable design degree?

There are several career pathways for individuals with an online master’s in permaculture ranging from environmental engineer, sustainability specialist, renewable energy analyst, LEED analyst, and much more. Because sustainability is more salient than ever, firms and organizations are seeking to hire individuals with knowledge and expertise in the field. In addition, sustainability is a very diverse field and encompasses careers that do not directly mention sustainability in the job description or functions. For example, business managers, compliance officers, and accountants can all be asked to engage regularly in sustainability work.

In recent years, major corporations including Apple, Nike, and Walmart have prioritized sustainable business practices in the areas of energy reduction, pollution prevention and mitigation, recycling, and design.

When speaking of top, c-suite-level jobs, Harvard Business Review published an article discussing the trend of firms creating positions for a Chief Sustainability Officer who could help firm understand and deal with climate change, resource constraints, and rising commodity prices.

According to leading employment research done by O*Net, “sustainability specialist” is considered a new and emerging occupation with projected new openings of more than 100,000 jobs between 2016-2026. In addition, the average pay for a sustainability specialist is expected to be approximately $70,000.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in permaculture or sustainable design degree?

Earning a degree in permaculture at the master’s level can take anywhere from 1-5 years depending on the program and individual timeline of the student.

There are several variables that impact the time it takes to complete an online master’s degree – especially one as technical as permaculture and sustainability. Programs that are engineering or natural science-based generally require the student to have a strong background consisting of a related undergraduate degree or at minimum a group of foundational courses. For example, some programs require students to have degrees in biology, zoology, environmental science, and related fields. Some programs will accept students provided they have completed courses in biology, cell biology, chemistry, and the like. Students without these requirements will have to spend considerable time taking these courses to qualify. It should be noted that some programs add these courses into the curriculum for those with no background in sustainability.

Some programs offer an accelerated option that can be completed in 12-18 months. These programs are typically designed for mid-career sustainability professionals with at least 5-10 years of experience. Non-accelerated programs take 2-3 years to complete and can even be done on a part-time basis taking one course at a time.

How much money can I make with an online master’s in permaculture or sustainable design degree?

With sustainable principles and skills in high demand, it is not surprising that jobs in sustainability pay well. The pay varies depending on the type of sustainable occupation, which generally fall into categories including management, science, and engineering.

According to our research using data from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and occupational remuneration data firm PayScale, Sustainability managers earn an average annual salary of $72,706. This annual salary is nearly double the median pay of all occupations of $38,640.

Individuals working as science-based sustainability professionals also earn excellent wages. Science related sustainability occupations may include atmospheric scientists, conservation scientists, biochemists, materials scientists, and much more. These individuals work to develop and integrate technical solutions to mitigate waste and cut costs. According to BLS data, atmospheric scientists earn the highest annual salary of $90,000 compared to other occupations in this grouping. Material scientists and biochemists/biophysicists also earn excellent wages ($85,000 and $79,000 respectively).

Similar to science-based sustainability careers, sustainable engineers study and develop technical solutions to increase sustainability. 2018 data from the BLS indicates the median annual salary for environmental engineers is $87,620 with those working for the federal government earning the highest pay at $105,410.

What are the admission requirements for online master’s in permaculture or sustainable design programs?

Admission requirements for online master’s degrees in permaculture or sustainable design vary by program. Most sustainability programs fall into one of three categories: management, natural sciences, and engineering. In addition, programmatic and institutional ranking impact admission as does work experience requirements.

In terms of general application requirements, all programs are going to require a conferred bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Higher ranked programs will require the degree come from a regionally accredited institution rather than a nationally accredited one. In addition, GPA requirements range from 2.25 to 3.0. Tier one programs will require test standardized test scores such as the GRE or GMAT.

Management-based sustainability programs are often offered as a specialty option within an MBA degree. These programs will require applicants have a strong foundation in business fundamentals such as accounting, finance, management, and economics. Students who matriculate then learn how these disciplines function within the context of sustainability practices. Students should possess an undergraduate degree in business or a related discipline such as finance, economics, marketing, or management. Those with non-business bachelor’s degrees will be required to take undergraduate courses in these areas.

Engineering and natural science sustainability programs also require a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as engineering, biology, environmental science, materials science, chemistry, and the like. At a minimum, some programs will list specific prerequisite courses should the applicant have an unrelated bachelor’s degree.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a master’s in permaculture, sustainability, or sustainable design?

Sustainability-related occupations have gained a lot of traction within the past decade. A recent survey by McKinsey Global Institute indicated nearly half of the executives surveyed indicated sustainability practices as important to their overall business and mission. Reflective of this survey, several major corporations like Apple, Nike, and Walmart have created top-level executive positions dedicated to  sustainability. In fact, the number of organizations with full-time sustainability officers has quadrupled between 1995 and 2008 and is expected to keep growing at a similar rate.

According to data retrieved from the O*Net database of occupational statistics, sustainability specialists careers are expected to have an additional 100,000 jobs created from 2016 – 2026. This high rate of growth indicates high demand in the field to the point where O*Net has named sustainable occupations a “Bright Outlook” career path.

The demand is driven by organizations making sustainability practices a priority in their overall functions and practices. As climate change and pollution continue to harm the environment, it is no longer acceptable for organizations to sacrifice responsible practices for the sake of profit. Moreover, increased government guidelines and policy will also force firms to alter their practices and move towards sustainable business practices. Individuals with master’s degrees in sustainability should expect their services to be in high demand.

BCO Staff
January 2020

Related:

 

This concludes our list of top 30 affordable online master’s in permaculture (sustainable design) programs of 2020.