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Sustainability Studies

Students on paddle boats on the San Marcos River.

With occupations changing to include environmentally-conscious knowledge, “green” vocations are in higher demand. The need for environmental protection services is creating excellent job opportunities for those with advanced degrees. The graduate degrees in sustainability studies prepare committed leaders to address emerging sustainability issues.

The program, the first of its kind at a Texas public university, offers a unique interdisciplinary opportunity to develop knowledge about sustainability applicable to a changing world.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Graduate Advisor
Dr. David Dietrich
Undergraduate Academic Center (UAC), Room 449A

Advisor Support
Lindy Warner
Undergraduate Academic Center (UAC), Room 449B

“In the sustainability studies program, I worked with colleagues and professors who challenged and ultimately strengthened my abilities. The skills I have developed will aid in my professional career goals, along with my personal growth. The program’s structure reinforced interpersonal relationships between students and faculty, and turned colleagues into friends through our similar goals and passions.”

— Ashley Pritchard, M.S. ’17, Environmental Investigator II, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Course Work

Students completing the program will have the technical skills to formulate and solve problems at the appropriate scale, as well as the breadth of vision to recognize the interconnectedness and complexity of human-environment systems. The M.A. in sustainability studies is designed for students inclined toward the humanities, arts, communication, urban or regional planning, or related fields. The M.S. in sustainability studies is designed for students inclined toward social sciences, natural sciences, economics, policy, ethics, or related fields. The program is tailored to accommodate both full-time and part-time graduate students.

Degree Hours Thesis Option Minor Option
M.S. 36–38 Thesis No minor
M.S. 36–38 Non-Thesis No minor
M.A. 36–37 Thesis No minor
M.A. 36–37 Non-Thesis No minor
Undergraduate Academic Center building

This innovative program builds interdisciplinary knowledge to support a sustainable world. It enables students to successfully respond to the sustainability challenges facing society in the 21st century.

Program Mission

The mission of the Sustainability Studies program is to educate from a global and interdisciplinary perspective on issues related to the environment and sustainability. The program trains students to:

  • apply critical thinking and methodological skills
  • engage in awareness of environmental and social ethics
  • understand sustainability issues from scientific, social, and policy perspectives

Graduates of the program will then be prepared to lead in the sustainability sectors of government, education, nonprofit, research, and industry, successfully responding to the sustainability challenges facing Texas, the nation, and the world.

Visit program website ›

Program Faculty

Core faculty involved in the program are housed in the colleges of Applied Arts, Liberal Arts, and Science and Engineering and represent a diversity of disciplines including agriculture, biology, family and consumer sciences, geography, philosophy, political science, and sociology. Faculty members include researchers engaged in projects spanning many sustainability-related fields, award-winning teachers, and leaders in professional societies within their disciplines.

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

Students in the sustainability studies program will graduate with methodological, statistical, and critical thinking skills, giving them a competitive edge in the emerging sustainability market. Students wishing to continue their studies will be prepared for admission to doctoral programs while others will be ready to fill important positions in local, state, or federal government, regulatory agencies, nongovernmental organizations, consulting firms, and other relevant industries.

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall - Priority January 15 January 15
Fall - Standard June 15 June 1
Spring October 15 October 1
Summer I May 15 March 15
Summer II May 15 No Admission

Application Deadline
This program has a flexible deadline, which means applications received after the posted deadline may be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, with no guarantees for admission consideration.

Funding Information
Applications must be complete by the priority deadline to be considered for certain types of funding.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a rolling basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee(s)

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.0 GPA in your last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)

  Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted.

GRE Scores

  • GRE not required


  • resume/CV
  • statement of purpose (approximately two pages, double-spaced with your full name and contact information) regarding your interest in pursuing the M.A. or M.S. degree and describing your personal and career goals. Include your academic interests and the relationship of this graduate degree to your life/personal goals. Also, discuss why you are interested in the particular graduate program and explain your career goals after earning the degree. The Graduate Admissions Committee evaluates the following:
    • Do you demonstrate a familiarity with the field?
    • Does your statement indicate your strengths (background, experience, training, and education)?
    • Do you indicate why our program will hone your skills?
    • Does the statement show excellence or promise in writing skills? 
  • three letters of recommendation from professionals competent to assess your interest in pursuing a career in this field of study. Two of the three letters must be from someone who can assess your academic accomplishments and/or potential in the program.

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  Review important information about official test scores.