Master of Arts in Sustainable Development (Online with Brief Residencies in Vermont and Abroad)


2 locations available

Program Description

Learn how to design innovative solutions to today’s complex problems.

In recent decades, economic disparity and environmental destruction have become ever more pronounced. Learn how current systems have led to today’s growing inequality, poverty, and unsustainable use of natural resources and discover innovative solutions being developed all over the world. You’ll also get the skills to create change to help societies and ecologies thrive.

What you’ll learn

Lasting change requires participation from all interested parties. Learn the tools of participatory inquiry and design to develop collaborative solutions that benefit multiple stakeholders.

Get conceptual and practical tools to understand and directly engage with the complexity of today’s systemic problems.

Identify gaps in current sustainable development policy and how innovative eco-social design can be applied in these areas.

Get a global, comparative perspective on sustainable development and regeneration across different geographical, ecological, socioeconomic, cultural, and political contexts.

Develop practical skills in project design and implementation, project management and evaluation, and leadership and innovation.

Apply and integrate systems-thinking and design in the areas of sustainable development and eco-social regeneration, wherever you are based.

How it works

This flexible degree combines face-to-face and online learning to allow you to stay in your job while completing a master’s degree. During short residencies in Brattleboro, Vermont, and Oaxaca, Mexico, you’ll witness a diverse array of ongoing sustainable development projects that highlight innovation and creativity. During the online portions of the program, you’ll apply your learning in your own job or community.


With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice. In addition to core courses, a broad range of elective choices let you focus on courses that will help you meet your career goals.

In this part-time program, you’ll earn 36 credits over two years.

Year 1, term 1 – two-week residency in Vermont and online (7 credits)

  • Theory and Practice of Social Change (3 credits)
  • Human Flourishing in the Anthropocene: From Development to Regeneration (3 credits)
  • Foundations in Regenerative Leadership (1 credit)

Year 1, term 2 – online (5 credits)

  • Economics for Sustainable Development and Regeneration (3 credits)
  • Regenerative Design (2 credits)

Year 1, term 3 – two-week residency Oaxaca and online (7 credits)

  • Development and Resistance in Latin America (2 credits)
  • Communication, Media, and Art for Social Transformation (2 credits)
  • Science and Appropriate Technology: Oaxaca (1 credit)
  • Food sovereignty and Agroecology (1 credit)
  • Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities (1 credit)

Year 2, term 1 – one-week residency in Vermont and online (6 credits)

  • Understanding and Designing Social-Ecological Change (3 credits)
  • Science and Appropriate Technology: Vermont (1 credit)
  • Choice of either an elective from the MA in Peace and Justice Leadership or the Washington, DC, Field School (2 credits)

Year 2, term 2 – online (6–8 credits)

  • Learning in Place: Land and Ecology (2 credits)
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (2 credits)
  • Learning in Place: Society and Culture (2 credits)
  • Optional Washington, DC, Field School course (2 credits)
    • Advanced Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning
    • Advanced Policy Advocacy Theory and Practice

Year 2, term 3 – online and seminar in Vermont (5 credits)

  • Participative Action-Research Capstone Preparation (3 credits)
  • Capstone Paper (1 credit)
  • Capstone Presentation and Seminar (1 credit)


Get hands-on training in different learning contexts.


Vermont is at the forefront of sustainability and regeneration. New England is a hotbed of innovation, including transition towns, permaculture (in various forms), community-owned forests (indigenous and beyond), co-housing, cooperatives, local food industries, local artisanal companies, eco-architecture, green energy, and environmental and social justice organizations. SIT’s southern Vermont campus is in a strategic position for you to see this innovation firsthand.


Oaxaca is a thriving hub of ecological and social innovation. You’ll engage with social movements and indigenous communities and learn directly from individuals who are creatively responding to challenges.

Washington, DC (Optional)

Those of you wishing to specialize in monitoring and evaluation and policy and advocacy can get firsthand experience in these tools and processes through an optional field course at SIT’s Washington, DC Field School.

Your Community

A priority of the program is to allow you to immediately apply what you learn in your workplace, community, and/or organization. This gives you guided, hands-on practice that deepens your learning.

Admissions Criteria

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.

To be considered for admission to the MA in Sustainable Development program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • US bachelor’s degree or an equivalent that demonstrates academic ability
  • Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
  • Intercultural and professional experience
  • Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning

English Language Ability

Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS practice tests online.)

  • Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
    • 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
    • 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
    • 100 on the internet-based iBT.
  • Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher.
  • Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.

These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.

SIT Graduate Institute’s Selection Process
Our admissions staff work one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: applicants are encouraged to talk with SIT faculty and staff and hear from current students and alumni. As applicants become familiar with the attributes of a SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — they determine for themselves in what ways SIT can help them meet their educational and career objectives.

Alumni Careers

Students in this program go on to work in the field in a variety of areas including study abroad offices, NGOs, nonprofits, and government agencies. Find out some of the career paths that may be open to you.

Graduates from this degree can expect to find employment in the fields of:

  • Community capacity building
  • Economic development
  • Human rights
  • Education
  • Food security
  • Health
  • Gender equity
  • Nonprofit and NGO leadership and management
  • International relations
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Policy and research
  • Environmental resource management and advocacy
  • Socially engaged cultural institutions

In addition, this program will provide you with tools, skills, and networks that are important for starting your own socially and ecologically engaged entrepreneurial enterprise.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainab ... Read More

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainable development, and TESOL. Since 1964, SIT has been preparing professionals to be successful in intercultural and international environments. Read less
Brattleboro , Washington , Oaxaca , Johannesburg + 3 More Less