Program Characteristics

+ Why should I choose this program?

This program stands out in bringing the unparalleled expertise of the Earth Institute’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory into the classroom. The Observatory is the world’s leader in Earth observation and a pioneer in the use of technology —  underwater vehicles, aircraft, drones, and satellites — in collecting real-time data worldwide. Students with technical backgrounds, who want to advance their careers in the field of sustainability, will learn the use of cutting edge scientific methods and tools that they can use to help organizations address their environmental impacts and risks.

+ How long does it take to complete the program?

Students may complete the program in as few as three semesters, or as long as four years. The program offers both a full-time and a part-time option, as well as the flexibility to switch from one to the other each semester. Full-time students typically take four courses per semester; part-time students must take at least one course each semester.

+ Is a thesis required?

No, the program does not require a thesis. Instead of a thesis, students must take the Capstone Workshop in Sustainability Science, a course that calls on students to integrate and apply their knowledge in addressing a real-world sustainability issue.

+ How do I choose between the M.S. in Sustainability Science and the M.S. in Sustainability Management?

The M.S. in Sustainability Science is best suited for prospective students with undergraduate degrees in engineering, math, science, and related fields, who want to pursue technical sustainability careers. These careers focus on the analysis of environmental risks and impacts, the prevention of pollution, and remediation. Sustainability Science graduates could attain management positions in which they oversee science and other technical staff. Some typical job titles of Sustainability Science graduates may include: Director, Division of Environmental Science and Assessment; Environmental Program Manager of Environmental Technologies; Supervisor, Environmental Monitoring; Environmental Engineer; and Environmental Compliance Specialist.
The M.S. in Sustainability Management prepares students for management careers that are based on strategic, financial, and policy analyses. The curriculum emphasizes general and financial management, economics, quantitative analysis, policy, which students learn in understanding and managing the physical dimensions of sustainability (e.g. energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental infrastructure. Some typical job titles of Sustainability Management graduates may include: Global Director of Product Sustainability; Director of Facilities and Sustainability; Senior Manager, Sustainability & Legal Compliance; Manager, Environment, Policy & Social Initiatives; Energy & Sustainability Project Manager.
The graduates of both programs could end up working side by side, but on different aspects of integrating environmental concerns in the operations of organizations.

Science, Math Background Part-Time Option Evening Classes Total courses Maximum Non-Science Courses (Mgmt., Econ., Policy) Maximum Science Courses


+ How do I apply?

For complete details on how to complete and application to the program, please visit the How to Apply section of our website. If you have begun a program application, but have any questions about using the online application system, submitting application components, or checking to see if a component of your application has been received, please contact the School of Professional Studies Office of Admissions at apply@sps.columbia.edu or by phone at 212-854-9666.

+ What are the prerequisites for admission?

An undergraduate degree is the only formal prerequisite for admission to the program. A substantive background in engineering, math, or science is important too. In addition, we consider grade point average, work experience, familiarity with sustainability, clarity of professional goals, especially as they relate to the program, and recommendation letters.

+ Do I have to take the GRE? 

Official scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test are not required but may be submitted in support of your application. GRE school report code: 3602.

+ Do I have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language?) 

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by submitting official scores from either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The requirement is only waived if:

♣ The applicant has completed all coursework for and earned their undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in a country where English is the sole official language. Please note that graduate level work does not exempt applicants from meeting this requirement.

♣ The applicant has completed at least two years at an undergraduate U.S. institution or at an institution in a country where English is the sole official language and earned the undergraduate (or bachelor’s) degree at that institution.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit unofficial documents through the online application system at the time of application. Candidates offered admission will later be required to supply official scores sent directly from either TOEFL or IELTS prior to enrollment for verification before the admission offer is considered official. Please use school code 2594 to report TOEFL scores. Applicants taking the TOEFL must have a score of at least 100 on the Internet-based version (600 paper-based). Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of 7.0 or higher. Applicants receiving scores below the posted minimums may be advised to apply directly to the American Language Program.

+ How do I submit my transcripts?

If your transcripts are from an institution in the U.S. or Canada, we strongly recommend submitting unofficial documents through the online application system at the time of application. Candidates offered admission will later be required to supply official documents prior to enrollment for verification before the offer is considered official. For those applicants who are offered admission, official transcripts must arrive in envelopes sealed by the issuing institutions certifying conferral of a bachelor’s degree. Copies, opened or unsealed envelopes, unofficial printouts, or facsimiles will not be accepted. Many schools take a number of weeks to fulfill transcript requests; please plan accordingly. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to withdraw any offer of admission already made if there is a discrepancy between the self-reported transcript and the official transcript. Official transcripts should be sent to the mailing address below.

Office of Admissions
School of Professional Studies
203 Lewisohn Hall 970 Broadway, Mail Code 4119
New York , NY 10027-6902

If your post-secondary credentials are from an institution outside the U.S. or Canada, the Office of Admission requires you to submit all post-secondary credentials (undergraduate and graduate) to World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third party verification agency for a course-by-course evaluation. WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all post-secondary credentials. Please select the WES basic course-by-course evaluation (with GPA and course-levels) and request to have WES send your evaluation to Columbia University School of Professional Studies. The school can be found by searching Columbia University and then selecting School of Continuing Education (now School of Professional Studies). The evaluation provided to the School of Professional Studies becomes an official academic record and sole property of the School of Professional Studies upon its receipt. WES evaluations will be reviewed by the School of Professional Studies administrators and the determination of degree equivalency to U.S. degrees is at the discretion of the School of Professional Studies. WES evaluations can take up to six weeks to process. Please plan accordingly when applying for admission.

+ Does the M.S. degree lead to a Ph.D.?

No, the M.S. in Sustainability Science is designed as a terminal, pre-professional degree. The program is designed for students seeking to further their careers as sustainability professionals or transitioning into the sustainability field. The program is not designed to prepare students to enroll in a Ph.D. in a related field.

Financial Aid

+ How much does the program cost and do you offer financial aid?

Please see the Tuition & Financing section of our website for the answers to these questions.