MS in Sustainability

As communities and organizations of all sizes and types recognize the importance of prioritizing sustainability policy and planning initiatives, the demand for a workforce with graduate level training in this field continues to increase. Students in the MS Sustainability program (STEM designated) will develop knowledge and skills needed to cultivate more inclusive, caring, just, and sustainable communities for all beings, now and into the future.

To achieve this goal, the program emphasizes integrated and collaborative problem-solving approaches that acknowledge the inherent relationality, interconnectedness, and complexity of social, ecological, and economic systems. In practice, this means students learn to identify and negotiate a plurality of sustainability values; craft future visions and scenarios that account for this diversity; and develop just transition strategies that support the implementation of equitable sustainability measures. Within this overarching framework of competencies, students are encouraged to develop expertise in themes such as biodiversity, coasts and oceans, climate change, energy, environment, food, health, resilience, and water.

As a graduate of this program, you will be prepared to nurture long-term relationships with communities of place, to foster adaptive governance arrangements that anticipate and respond to the diverse and changing needs of complex socio-ecological systems, and to facilitate transformations that enhance the health and wellbeing of just and sustainable communities around the world.  

The program is generally offered as a full-time course of study but can be completed part-time if preferred.

Program Requirements and Policies

  • The MS in Sustainability requires the completion of 36 credits:  11 courses plus an internship or capstone experience. To learn about internship experiences from our students, click here.
  • In addition to required and elected UEP courses, MS Sustainability students may select relevant electives from other Tufts departments and schools such as the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the School of Engineering, and the Boston-area consortium universities.
  • To receive credit for a course toward their MS, graduate students must attain a grade of B- or better.

Course Requirements

The MS Sustainability program requires students to complete the following five core courses: 

  1. Socio-Ecological Systems Thinking for Sustainability – Introduces students to policy and planning systems and their complex interactions and encourages reflection on consequences for overall system performance, ethics, and social justice. The course introduces techniques such as life cycle assessment and their application in decision-making contexts. Using exercises and case studies, the course will help students develop skills in identifying and understanding basic system features.
  2. Economics for Policy and Planning (UEP 251 or equivalent) – Introduces economic concepts and tools of analysis relevant to sustainable public policy and planning. Microeconomic and macroeconomic approaches to understanding economic behavior and to generating solutions to economic problems are explored. Applications include policies related to the environment, transportation, cost-benefit analysis, income inequality, and community development.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning (UEP 254 or equivalent) – This course presents basic concepts of statistical analysis and research and develops related skills that are indispensable to agency directors, policymakers, and advocates alike. Students learn to select among available data sources, measures and indicators, and statistical techniques to best answer questions of interest.
  4. Introduction to GIS (UEP 232) – Broad foundation of GIS theory capabilities, technology, and applications. Topics include GIS data structure and management, geodesy and map projections, and various techniques for raster and vector spatial data analysis. Laboratory exercises concentrate on applying concepts presented in the lectures using ArcGIS.
  5. Field Projects (UEP 255) – Practical planning and research experience in a community or governmental setting. Students are exposed to the realities of sustainable planning practice by working in teams for actual clients. Focuses on the interplay of expertise, social and political values, and professional relationships. 

A sixth core course must be chosen from the following four options:

  • Environmental Data Analysis and Visualization (ENV 2017) – Provides skills in data management, study design, statistical analysis, and data visualization that are critical for those working in environmental fields through hands-on experience working with environmental datasets. Topics covered include best practices in data access and storage, data analysis and interpretation, and data visualization for relevant stakeholders. 
  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (UEP 230) – This course teaches techniques of negotiation and mediation that can be applied to a broad range of conflict situations from interpersonal differences to organizational conflicts. Combines experiential practice in basic and advanced influence methods with theoretical and applied aspects of conflict resolution.
  • Program Evaluation (UEP 256) – An introduction to the purposes for and the types and techniques of program evaluation. We study the evaluation process, including the design and implementation of evaluations and the dissemination of results. We also focus on the development of relevant data collection, analysis, and report writing skills. Emphasis is placed on learning to match individual programs with particular models of evaluation.
  • Sustainability Metrics and Decision Tools (UEP 267) – Governments, companies, institutions, and non-government organizations are making both internal and public commitments to greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability. Whether driven by regulatory or voluntary efforts, operationalizing these commitments effectively and consistently can be challenging. This course examines how sustainability targets are established, metrics are identified and tracked, and progress is reported and communicated in order to continue to inform decision-making for sustainable management.

A sustainability internship: 

  • Must meet all the requirements of the regular UEP internship.
  • In addition, students must prepare a detailed assessment (approximately 20-25 pages) of the sustainability challenge or challenges observed and/or engaged with during their  internships.
  • Examples of past internships can be found here.


Five additional elective courses are selected in consultation with an advisor, focused on theoretical foundations, policy, and planning for sustainability. To see some of the electives offered, click on the links below:

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
School of Engineering
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Leadership Program

Quantitative Prerequisite

Students admitted to UEP degree programs are required to show evidence of basic algebra and graphing skills prior to registering for the department's quantitative courses (UEP 251 and UEP 254). This prerequisite must be fulfilled in one of the following four ways:

  1. Score 153 or above on the quantitative section of the GRE within the five years prior to entry into the UEP program.
  2. Pass a college algebra or equivalent course (with a B- or higher) within the five years prior to entry into the UEP program.
    • The course must be at the college algebra level or above (calculus, etc.) and focused on algebra concepts. An introduction to statistics or similar ‘quantitative-leaning’ course without without significant algebra or calculus coverage in the syllabus will not count. If you are unsure, please email 
  3. Pass a UEP math screening exam with a score of 80% or above (this exam must be taken in person at UEP).
  4. Complete the non-credit semester-long math preparation course offered by UEP during the fall semester.

Students must fulfill the prerequisite before matriculation or have an approved plan submitted to the academic advisor and department chair to complete the prerequisite by the end of the first semester. Please contact the UEP office if you have questions.