Apr 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Sustainability (M.S.)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges & Schools

Program Overview

Sustainability is an interdisciplinary field of study, and the disciplines provide resources for sustainability pedagogy and research. Sustainability is often described as having three pillars: environmental sustainability, social sustainability, and economic sustainability. USD’s faculty has expertise in all three areas including environmental sustainability expertise through departments of biology and chemistry; social sustainability expertise through departments of political science, sociology, anthropology and philosophy; and economic sustainability through the Beacom School of Business. USD is the second university in the U.S. to offer sustainability degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. levels. Sustainability prepares you for careers in the areas of sustainable practices, natural resource management, renewable energy, community planning, non-governmental organizations focused on sustainable development and education.  Learn more at usd.edu/sustainability.

DELIVERY: On campus

Master of Science, Sustainability Plan A (thesis): Total 30 credit hours

Master of Science, Sustainability Plan B (non-thesis): Total 32 credit hours


Students will select elective courses from existing graduate-level courses with approval from the student’s advisor and the Graduate Program Director. At least 50% of the total credits must be at the 700-level or above.

Accelerated Master’s Program: B.A. or B.S. with M.S.

Up to 12 graduate credits applied toward the B.A. or B.S. in sustainability may be used toward the M.S. in sustainability. 

The following restrictions apply:

  1. Dual-listed courses taken at the 500-level can be applied to both the B.A./B.S. and M.S. degrees.  Dual-listed courses must be taken at the 500-level.
  2. The student must apply to, and be admitted to, the accelerated program prior to taking courses to be credited toward the accelerated program.
  3. No courses taken prior to admission to the accelerated program may be counted toward an accelerated graduate degree.
  4. Courses that are “double counted” must be approved by the program coordinator for inclusion in the program of study prior to taking the courses or the credits will not be applied toward the accelerated graduate degree.
  5. Only courses taken from USD are eligible for dual credit.

Concurrent Graduate Degrees

Students can undertake concurrent graduate degrees at the University of South Dakota. Up to 12 graduate credits may be shared between two graduate programs, with the approval of Graduate Program Directors/Coordinators and the student’s advisors. In order to undertake concurrent graduate degrees a student must separately apply to, and be admitted to, both programs.   

Concurrent graduate degrees may be particularly valuable for students in an interdisciplinary program like sustainability, and the sustainability program supports this option. Several degree combinations have been pre-approved by the participating programs in order to facilitate students wishing to undertake these degrees concurrently. Students interested in pursuing other concurrent degree combinations should discuss them with the Graduate Program Director and their advisor.   

The pre-approved concurrent degree combinations are: 


Application Requirements

  1. Completed application
  2. $35 application fee
  3. Official transcripts*
  4. Letters of recommendation*
  5. Admission test scores*
  6. Statement of purpose
  7. Resume/CV*

*Requirements for admission vary by program and may require different documentation and have different deadlines. For specific program requirements and submission deadline, visit: catalog.usd.edu.

State Authorization - It Matters Where You Live

If your learning placement course (internship, externship, clinical, rotation, practicum, independent study, study away, etc.) or your online course will be taken outside South Dakota, please reference USD’s State Authorization webpage.

State Authorization


Sustainability Program
605-677-6122 | sustainability@usd.eduusd.edu/sustainability

Graduate Admissions
605-658-6140 | gradadmissions@usd.edu  | usd.edu/grad

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges & Schools