Follow us!
Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville Facebook Page Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville Twitter Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville Linked-In



Everything you need to apply for admission is right here.


Sustainability Studies

Master of Science in Sustainability Studies

Innovative curriculum designed around you to meet the needs of the world around us.

The Master of Science in Sustainability Studies program at Lenoir-Rhyne University helps to develop leaders in the field who will tackle future challenges in the world around us as they relate to sustainability. In doing so, we seek to develop advocates for change. What makes our program unique? Read on.

  • Innovative program designed with you in mind. We use your experience and interests to shape our curriculum.
  • Non-cohort based course delivery, meaning a flexible schedule at your own pace.
  • Traditional and career track admission, giving students more than one way to be admitted.
  • Involved and engaging faculty with extensive experience in the field of sustainability.

Lenoir-Rhyne’s MSSS program is focused on preparing professionals in a variety of fields to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations, and contribute to a society in which people and all living beings have the potential to flourish now and into the future. Faculty and students engage in research, dialogue, and community projects to help restore and sustain the global ecosystem, foster healthy living, reduce society’s impact on the environment, and work toward more resilient and regenerative communities.


Graduate students will develop critical core knowledge of science, business, economics, social justice and public policy within the sustainability field that is combined with community planning, visioning, research and project implementation.  Some topics include systems thinking, green building, community planning, climate change, clean renewable energy, environmental justice, biodiversity, human flourishing, ecological economics, collaboration, and sustainable behavior. The curriculum also includes an experiential component in which the graduate student designs and completes a capstone experience with a community partner that seeks to advance relevant sustainability knowledge and contribute to a more sustainable future.


The MSSS program is delivered in a way that honors and supports the following principles of education, learning, community development, and environmental stewardship:

  • The Asheville area and the Western North Carolina region are partners in Lenoir-Rhyne’s graduate education programs.  As a result we extend the classroom into the community through collaborative networks and community commitments.  Examples include regular class visitors from the community (sustainability officers, elected officials, business owners and managers, non-profit program managers, scientists, etc.), class projects in the community, and a capstone course that involves working with a community partner on an issue, idea or challenge related to sustainability.  
  • The MSSS program is interdisciplinary and incorporates a systems approach to problem solving.
  • Intellectual, ethical and practical concerns of students serve as the framework for the structure of the program.  
  • Learning in this program is based on an integrative link between theory and practice.  Because “sustainability” is a developing topic and requires a dynamic and evolving approach in both content and practice, the MSSS program is constantly evolving and adapting to new understandings.  This includes regular updates to the curriculum and emerging methods that can move us toward sustainability.  

Curriculum Snapshot

Take the program at your own pace, whether that is part time or full tilt. Here are some highlights of what you need to know:

  • 33 hours total
  • Focus areas include: Sustainability, Business, Public Policy, and Research
  • Elective options in topics of interest to you
  • Flexible format for classes being either fully online, hybrid (partially online, partially in class), in the evening, or on weekends


Tell me more

Request information from one of our admissions staff »

The low-down on applying

Application requirements, and all you need to know to apply »

Curriculum Overview

Required Courses (9 Credits)
SUS 501    Visions of Sustainable Communities (3 credits)
SUS 560    Sustainability Capstone (3)

One of the following Research & Applied Statistics Courses:
EDU 505    Research Methodology & Practicum (3 credits)
MAT 540    Statistical Modeling for Sustainability (3)
POL 512    Methods of Policy Research (3)

Business Sustainability (6 Credits)
BUS 535    Sustainability Management & Decision Making (3 credits)
ECO 530    Economics of Sustainability (3)

Sustainability Science (6 Credits)

SUS 520    Science for Sustainability (3 credits)
SUS 523    Sustainable Energy and Material Use (3)

Public Policy (6 Credits)
POL: 519  Public Policy Processes (3 credits)
POL: 525  Environmental Policy (3)

Electives (6 Credits) 

SUS 526    Natural Resources, Processes and Management (3 credits)
SUS 529    Industrial Ecology and Design for Sustainability (3)
SUS 582    Science Communication (3) 
SUS 585    Collaboration Skills (3 1-credit classes)
BUS 514    Organizational Behavior (3)

**Additional elective courses are always being developed

Course descriptions can be found here.




Asheville Center for Graduate Studies

Mission Statement
The Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville provides excellent graduate education that develops innovative leaders prepared to serve the current and future needs of Western North Carolina and beyond.

Everything you need to apply for admission is right here.