A so-called “green degree” can range from a science such as biology, geology, hydrology or agricultural science, to policy oriented studies in public administration and the legal constructs for putting sustainable practices requirements in place. Sustainability has today become a factor in business planning, architectural design, construction practices as well as the efforts that have long been underway for environmental protection. The most popular college degrees in the field and the areas of study with the most job opportunities attached to them are generally a mixture of scientific and non-scientific study. And at the moment, perhaps the largest number of employment opportunities in the sustainable sector, so to speak, is jobs in installation of new energy systems, efficient HVAC systems and in the manufacture of environmentally responsible products. Our brief review of the degrees associated with environmental practices includes educational options at all levels.
Environmental Management can be a bachelor’s degree or a master’s program or both, if a student decides to major in the field and move on to graduate studies. Some graduate programs in Environmental Management include engineering courses and training in certain software applications in order to develop the skills for a role in the corporate environment. A Bachelor’s in Environmental Management lays the groundwork for overall environmental policy development, but there are also degrees in wildlife management or forestry conservation that rightfully qualify as environmental management degrees and that can lead to good career opportunities.
Environmental Science might be a degree in healthcare studies focused on epidemiology, a biomedical degree that leads to research on disease control, or a degree in hydrology for working with water management, clean water compliance and water pollution control. There are other degrees in the field of geology associated with environmental science and the degree in environmental engineering that focuses on sustainable architecture and protecting development sites.
Human Ecology is a terrific name for an inexact but compelling brand of science devoted to the intersection of sustainable practices and human activity. The undergraduate degree in Human Ecology at Cornell offers areas of concentration in nutrition, human development, fibers science & apparel, policy analysis & management, design & environmental management, or some combination of these areas. It may be the ultimate interdisciplinary degree but it gives a creative undergraduate the ability to shape an entire field of study.
Sustainable Practices is one degree that is available as an associate’s, usually in environmental technology and usually designed for transfer to a full undergraduate program. There are undergraduate and graduate programs in this area: the Master’s in Sustainable Business Practices is designed for a direct consulting role in folding sustainability into business planning. There are also MBA options for sustainable practices and in most cases; the undergraduate degree in sustainable practices is also a bachelor’s in business with focus on sustainability.
Sustainable Energy may be the most mature sustainability business area outside of agriculture. There are training programs at community colleges for solar and wind energy technicians, offering installation design and training courses. There are electrical engineering degrees available with a focus on renewable technologies, and there are many masters’ level programs in sustainable energy planning and policy as well as the advanced engineering degrees. The opportunities with wind technology remain limited because of the political commotion the turbines generate, at least in the United States.
Submitted by guest blogger; Bob Hartzell writes on jobs and education for several education websites including Masters Degree Guide, addressing the issues confronted by would-be college students and professionals returning to school trying to develop career options. He has been writing about undergraduate & graduate options for five years. He recently compiled a list of top mba programs for students interested in pursuing a sustainable business career.