MS in Sustainability

As communities and organizations of all sizes and types recognize the importance of prioritizing sustainability planning and initiatives, the demand for a workforce with graduate level training in this field continues to increase. As a student in the MS in Sustainability program, you'll develop knowledge and skills essential to create and support socio-ecological systems that address the needs of the present while ensuring that future generations can flourish. The program emphasizes equitable sustainability solutions and problem solving, allowing you to enhance and apply your knowledge of natural and built systems to support just and sustainable communities.

Program Requirements and Policies

  • The MS in Sustainability requires the completion of 36 credits (11 courses total) plus an internship or capstone experience.
  • In addition to our course offerings, MS students may select courses from other Tufts departments and schools, and 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

Five required 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 from the following options:

  • Program Evaluation (UEP 256)
  • Sustainability Metrics and Decision Tools (UEP 267)
  • Environmental Data Analysis and Visualization (ENV 2017)

Five additional elective courses are selected in consultation with an advisor, focused on theoretical foundations, policy, and planning for sustainability. 

A Sustainability internship: 

  • Must meet all the requirements of the regular UEP internship.
  • In addition, prepare a detailed assessment of the sustainability challenge or challenges you observed and/or engaged with during your internship. Using a combination of your observations and insights and drawing deeply from the literature:
    • Explain the nature of the sustainability problem or problems.
    • Discuss system(s) in which the problem is embedded and describe leverage points and opportunities for intervention.
    • Describe how the organization identified possible solutions and developed a strategic plan.
    • Describe extant strategies.
    • Describe the sustainability vision and goals.
    • Discuss sustainability competence within or available from outside.
    • Discuss future sustainability challenges facing the organization.
    • This assessment will take the form of a carefully referenced professional report of approximately 25 pages (double spaced) that may include diagrams, maps, photographs, etc.

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 three 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
  3. Pass a UEP math screening exam with a score of 80% or above (this exam must be taken in person at UEP)

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.