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Degrees in Sustainability Science and Practice

The Sustainability Science and Practice Program is intended for students from a broad range of undergraduate majors – from computer science to sociology, and from Earth systems to public policy. We are a coterminal masters program only, meaning that you must be a current Stanford undergraduate to apply.

Choose an MS or MA

Students may take either an MS or an MA, based on their balance of natural science and engineering (MS) vs social science (MA) units and influenced by their undergraduate degree (BA/BS) or meeting of pre-requisites for the master’s. 


Students should have:

  • An interest in sustainability challenges
  • GPA of 3.4 or higher in their undergraduate work
  • Completed 120 units towards their undergraduate degree


The MS/MA should be accessible to all backgrounds, assuming accomplishment of these pre-requisites:

Required Courses 

SUST 210 Pursuing Sustainability: Managing Complex Social Environmental Systems 3
SUST 220 Case Studies in Leading Change for Sustainability 3
SUST 230 Innovating Large Scale Sustainable Transformations 3-4
SUST 240 Sustainability Science and Practice Practicum 3-4
EARTHSYS 111 Biology and Global Change 4
EARTHSYS 112 Human Society and Environmental Change 4

ETHICSOC 234R, or Earthsys 136/236 or alternative*
* The ethics requirement may be fulfilled prior to or during the master's program. If taken during the master's program, the ethics course can be treated as a master's program elective and counted toward the 45 units required for degree completion.

Minimum 1, Maximum 2 of the following:
EARTHSYS 289A FEED Lab: Food System Design & Innovation 3-4
ME 206A & ME 206B Design for Extreme Affordability 8
ME 377 Design Thinking Studio 4
FEMGEN 344F Beyond Pink and Blue: Gender in Tech (approved for the 2018-19 academic year)
MS&E 177 Creativity Rules: Inventing the Future (approved for the 2018-19 academic year; limited enrollment -check course description for details)
ENGR 231 Transformative Design (approved for the 2018-19 academic year)

Minimum 1, Maximum 2 of the following:
PSYCH 215 Mind, Culture, and Society 3
PSYCH 216 Public Policy and Social Psychology: Implications and Applications 4
PSYCH 238 Wise Interventions(approved for the 2018-19 academic year, as PSYCH 216 will not be offered)
PSYCH 265 Social Psychology and Social Change 3

One of the following:
LAW 7508 Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change 4
SUST 261 Art and Science of Decision Making 3-4
ENVRES 240 Environmental Decision-Making and Risk Perception 3
GSBGEN 367 Problem Solving for Social Change 3 (Limited Enrollment- Check course description notes for details)


Remaining units to meet the 45 unit minimum must be designated as 'arts' or 'science' units. Course coding can be viewed here: Master Course List

There are more than 100 suggested electives across multiple disciplines. The exact course list will be based on individual student interests and agreed on by them, their faculty advisor, and the program director.


How to Apply

1) Review eligibility - see above

2) Prepare the required materials:

  • Transcript: submit an unoffical transcript that includes the current quarter. Do not request an official transcript.
  • Statement of purpose: this should be approximately 1 - 1.5 pages long. Applicants should address why they wish to enter the program, what they hope to accomplish during and afterwards.
  • Letters of recommendation: we require a minimum of two, and a maximum of three. Two must be from Stanford faculty who are on academic council, one of whom must have agreed to be the faculty/academic advisor for the program. Please allow enough time for recommenders to submit their letters, as the reviewing committee will be looking for both to be present during the review meeting.
  • Course proposal form: this must be signed by the proposed faculty/academic advisor. We recommend, but do not require, having it reviewed in advance by the Program and Executive Education Manager.
  • Resume.

Please note that we do not require GRE scores.

3) Submit the online application by the deadline. Applications close at 11.59pm on the 7th Tueday of each quarter. For the 2018/2019 academic year, applications are due as follows:

  • Autumn quarter: Novermber 6, 2018
  • Winter quarter: February 19, 2019 
  • Spring quarter: May 14, 2019

4) Decisions and acceptances:

All applications are reviewed after the submission deadline. We expect to notify applicants either way via email within approximately 5 business days. If an offer of admission is extended, students will have one week to accept or decline that offer. Instructions for this will be in the offer email.

Please also see our Bulletin posting.