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Sustainable Communities—MS

Get The Career You Want

We prepare you for diverse professional careers. With an MS in Sustainable Communities, you’ll be able to work in both the private and public sectors promoting environmental protection, social responsibility, and profitability. 
Sustainability-related jobs are found in some of the fastest-growing fields in the 21st-century economy. Some of these positions involve technical skills in retrofitting buildings and installing renewable energy infrastructure. Many jobs in sustainability, especially at the management and leadership level, require both applied tools for research, investigation, and inquiry and a holistic understanding of the root causes and potential pathways to address the most pressing sustainability problems. There is a need for leaders who are skilled analysts, consultants, educators, planners, and policymakers. Many of these jobs did not exist several years ago, and this economic sector is expected to continue to grow, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Study Sustainable Communities at Michigan Tech

  • Join a global community of professionals and scholars engaged in research that drives solutions to address pressing societal, environmental, and resource sustainability challenges.
  • Develop hands-on skills. Students engage in community projects and gain knowledge and skills in policy analyses, law, community engagement, social data analysis, as well as methodological training in cultural and industrial heritage, built environments, social justice, and comparative perspectives on sustainability.
  • Train for careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
    Image of solar array in L'Anse
    In the Sustainable Communities program you can work on alternative energy solutions, such as pumped hydroelectric storage, wind, solar, and biomass.

Pursue Projects That Interest You

Pursue transdisciplinary, innovative, and independent projects that address sustainability issues:  social and economic development; built environments and infrastructures; food, energy, and water systems;  and community-scale sustainability transitions. Pursue work to create a sustainable and just world. If you want, you can pursue projects locally in the Keweenaw Peninsula, a region with a unique industrial history where communities today struggle with the social and material consequences of industrial decline. Student projects explore sustainable and equitable futures using creative methodologies and technologies.
The Sustainable Communities Graduate Program combines courses across multiple departments and programs on campus and culminates with a report or project. You will develop an original project in consultation with a faculty committee, secure financial support, and define rigorous data collection and analytical schemes.
Michigan Tech and the Social Sciences Department are committed to sustainability. Our faculty serve national and international leadership roles in funded research projects, globally recognized professional organizations, and impactful scholarship and outreach teams. Our department faculty, staff, and students work with the government, industry partners, and local organizations to address critical questions.

Image of sustainable communites student working at a local farmers market
Study food networks and sustainable agriculture while visiting local farmer's markets.

Gain Skills and Partner With Diverse Teams of Stakeholders Working Toward Sustainability Goals

You’ll learn how to work with local stakeholders on the front lines of solving sustainability challenges. As a Sustainable Communities Master's student, you will join a community of sustainability leaders and researchers with expertise in:

  • climate change policy and commitments
  • community-based and participatory research methodologies
  • energy conservation and renewable energy policy
  • environmental and rural sociology theory and methods
  • environmental change and life course epidemiology
  • faith-based development practices and policies
  • human rights
  • public policy
  • renewable energy policy
  • resource economics
  • sense of place social movements and social change
  • urban environments and population health
  • watershed change and water quality

Receive Funding and Work With Partners

Financing is critical, and support opportunities are a priority for Sustainable Communities master's students like you. Most master’s students in our program fund their education with various sources, including work study, graduate research, student loans, fellowships, and grants. You can also work with faculty on funded research projects. In some cases, Masters's students can receive up to two years of tuition waivers. 
Michigan Tech partners with government and industry sponsors like the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Amtrak, National Museum Wales, and the European Union, offering real-world problems in need of solutions. Get involved in the critical business of proposal writing, sponsor negotiations, and budget generation, as well as provide sources of financial support.

Image of students, many sitting cross-legged on the ground, discussing social issues in a local park
When you study for a master's in sustainable communities at Michigan Tech, the local community is part of the classroom and lab.

What Jobs Can I Get With an MS in Sustainable Communities?

Your future career options are limitless with an MS in Sustainable Communities. Here are just some of the more popular jobs graduates go into.

Average Salary and Projected Growth for Popular Jobs
Jobs Average Salary 2020

Projected Job Growth,


Social and Community Service Manager $74,000 15%
Administrative Services and Facilities $99,290 9%
Urban and Regional Planner

$78,500 7%
Sustainability Director $134,500 6%

Admissions Requirements

Program Requirements

MS Course Requirements

Progressing Through the Program

Once admitted to the program, students will be expected to meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 30 credits of coursework. Plan your Masters curriculum
  • Identify a research supervisor by the end of the second semester in residence. Students will construct an advisory committee with their research supervisor, including at least one faculty member from outside the Department.
  • MS students draft a research proposal as part of their Research Design course; then  write a thesis and pass a thesis defense for graduation.

The MS Program applications for the next fall semester are open and will close on January 15 at 5:00 p.m. EST.