Sustainability MPA

Addressing climate change has become a top priority for governments, NGOs, nonprofits, and businesses across the world.

That’s both a strategic challenge and an opportunity, with many organizations hiring new sustainability leads and building out their teams.

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies is equipping professionals to lead this change with a new online Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Sustainability.

“By going online, we’re able to expand the reach of our programs and serve both early career professionals and career-changers,” said Patricia Szasz, dean of academic innovation. “The world urgently needs people who can lead on sustainability. We want to equip people to step right into middle management, on a trajectory to senior management.”

The program aligns with the competencies most in demand from employers. It combines the core skills of an MPA—like project/program management, strategy, and finance—with training in environmental science, policy, and risk assessment.

Students will have access to a strong network of employers and alumni from the Institute’s current Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Social Change and Environmental Policy and Management programs. 

“Sustainability issues span borders,” said Program Director Mahabat Baimyrzaeva. “The Middlebury Institute has been a champion in addressing issues like these by bridging global and local concerns, academia, and practice, and crossing disciplinary and cultural boundaries. The Institute has built a deep expertise and global network of impactful alumni in international security, development, environment, and intercultural communication that position us to offer a unique program.”

The Sustainability Field Is Exploding

For civil servants, the passage of landmark legislation like the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is just the start.

Now comes the implementation.

“Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an urgent management challenge for both public and private sectors,” said Lyuba Zarsky, professor in the Environmental Policy and Management program. “Virtually every business, city, and government agency is designing and implementing decarbonization strategies to hit the Paris Agreement net-zero target. That means the demand for sustainability professionals is exploding.” 

As local communities face seawater rise, wildfires, and flooding, the government has a critical role in setting policies and making public investment. Businesses are also under pressure as they figure out how to mitigate risk and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

“Sustainability is a complex global challenge requiring collective public action,” said Scott Pulizzi, chair of the MPA, International Policy and Development, and International Trade programs. “We need people who can engage across cultures and think creatively about how governments and businesses can leverage their respective roles to shape a healthier planet.”

For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appears to be on the verge of making climate risk disclosure mandatory for public corporations. That brings these issues to a new level of transparency and urgency, driving demand for experts working at the intersection of policy and economics.

“Virtually every business, city, and government agency is designing and implementing decarbonization strategies to hit the Paris Agreement net-zero target. That means the demand for sustainability professionals is exploding.” 
— Lyuba Zarsky, Environmental Policy and Management

Overview of the Online MPA in Sustainability

The Institute’s new 10-course, 30-credit program offers asynchronous courses, so students can continue working while they learn. Faculty with years of industry experience will mentor students throughout the program, providing deep learning experiences tailored to meet the needs of working professionals.

“Students come to the Middlebury Institute because they want to change the world,” said Pulizzi. “In our MPA program, you learn how to map relationships and stakeholders, identify hidden variables, and manage for long-term outcomes. This new degree helps you apply these skills specifically to addressing the complex environmental and social challenges posed by climate change.”

The curriculum covers science, policy analysis, risk assessment, strategy, project/program management, research, analysis, and finance. Through real-world, hands-on projects, students will hone their leadership, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Students will graduate prepared for roles in national, state, and local government, NGOs, nonprofits, and the private sector, such as the following:

  • Sustainability Manager
  • Resilience Manager
  • Operations Infrastructure and Sustainability Manager
  • Sustainability and Environmental Project Manager
  • Sustainability Project/Program Manager 
  • Sustainability Consultant/Analyst/Researcher
  • Director, Manager in Public Services 

Demand is high for professionals with this kind of training in energy, transportation, housing, education, land management, public health, public utilities, urban planning, food systems, and more. Over the long term, graduates could grow into positions as chief sustainability officers or senior VPs of sustainability.

Applications are open now for the Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Sustainability, with classes kicking off in spring 2024.

For More Information

Online MPA in Sustainability