Saint Louis University

The M.S. in Sustainability is a 30-credit-hour degree program that students can pursue on a full- or part-time basis. Students can choose to take all 30 hours as coursework, complete an applied research capstone project, or write a traditional academic thesis.

Coursework-only option: 15 required hours + 15 elective hours = 30 credit hours
Capstone option: 15 required hours + 12 elective hours + 3 capstone research hours = 30 credit hours
Thesis option: 15 required hours + 9 elective hours + 6 thesis research hours = 30 credit hours

Elective Courses vs. Capstone or Thesis

Beginning in the 2015-16 academic year, the capstone research project and thesis will be optional for all students, including those previously enrolled.

Students can customize the M.S. in Sustainability based on their academic interests and professional goals. Those pursuing applied sustainability careers outside of academia may complete the degree by taking 30 credit hours of coursework only. Students with a specific area of interest can take 3 hours of SUS 5960 – Capstone to complete an applied research capstone project. Those who wish to continue their studies in a doctoral program or pursue a research-oriented career can complete a formal master's thesis by taking 6 hours of SUS 5990 – Thesis Research.

The capstone and thesis allow students to display their mastery of a specific topic related to the broader subject of sustainability, and each serves as a summative expression of the student's educational experience. The capstone combines research and an applied project to help students build professional skills in their field of interest, while the thesis involves more intensive research and prepares students for further study in a Ph.D. program or a research-oriented career. With advisor support, thesis students work independently on projects of their own design that are well-grounded in the academic literature. Students interested in the thesis option must obtain approval from their mentor and the Director of the Center for Sustainability before registering for 5990 - Thesis Research. 

Required Courses (15 credit hours)

Most courses are offered during the late afternoon and evening, and students typically complete the M.S. in Sustainability program within two years. Please note that required courses are offered only once per calendar year, in either the spring or fall semester.

See course descriptions here.

Required courses Schedule
SUS 5010 – Sustainability Foundations (3) Every fall
UPD 5100 – Research Methods (3) Every fall
SUS 5040 – Sustainable Business Practices (3) Every fall
SUS 5020 – Environmental Aspects of Sustainability (3) Every spring
SUS 5030 – Sustainability in Society and Cultures (3) Every spring


Students may take any course offered through the Center for Sustainability as an elective. Center courses are designated by the following course codes: Sustainability (SUS), Urban Planning and Development (UPD), and Geographic Information Science (GIS). Since sustainability is a broad, multidisciplinary field of study, students also may search the university's online course catalog for sustainability-related courses offered through other departments.

The following is a preapproved list of electives offered by other departments that sustainability students may take without additional approval. To take courses outside of this suggested list, students must get their mentor's approval. Note that not all electives in the catalog are offered each semester or every year, and students should check Banner Self-Service for course scheduling and availability.

BIOL 5480 – Conservation Biology (3)
DIET 5030 – Sustainable Food Systems (3)
IB 6000 – Global Business Environment (3)

ITM 6050 – Project Management (3)
LAW 7720 – Environmental Law (3)
POLS 5620 – Global Diplomacy (3)
MGT 6030 – Legal, Ethical, and Professional Environment of Business (3)
SOC 5540 – Environmental Impact of the City (3)
SOC 5640 – Demography: Measuring and Modeling Population Processes (3)
SWRK 5798 –  Introduction to Non-Profit Organization Management (3)