Online MBA in Sustainable Business

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A degree beyond the bottom line

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More and more, business leaders recognize the need to make decisions that are mindful of the people and resources around them. The Marylhurst University online MBA in Sustainable Business looks at advanced business principles and practices through an ethical lens to mold holistic managers who can balance profitability with social and environmental responsibility.

Delivered by world-class faculty, our online MBA provides real-world skills and knowledge that can be applied in the workplace during the program. Find creative ways to minimize waste and reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Use innovative software to gauge the environmental impact of products through lifecycle analysis. Discover strategies for working with others who may not value the environmental impact of their decisions. Our program is designed to give you the tools you need to become an agent for change in today’s business world. One of the nation’s original green MBA programs, our online MBA in Sustainable Business lets you focus your education through elective coursework.

Choose from elective coursework in:

renewable energy

Renewable Energy

Consider the advantages, challenges and operational costs associated with sustainable energy sources, and study leadership strategies within the energy production industry.

Green Development

Green Development

Focus on urban planning and socio-economic challenges as you examine the role of sustainability in community development.

Food Systems Management

Food Systems Management

Investigate the impact of industrial food production and consider various models for sustainable food service, production and distribution.

All MBA students complete a capstone project, which includes a detailed sustainability plan for a real project. So our students graduate as managers who able to do as well as think through complex issues.
Paul Ventura, Chair, Department of Sustainable Business
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Why choose Marylhurst University?

For more than 120 years, Marylhurst University (located in Portland, Oregon) has empowered students of all ages to change the world through education and mentorship. As a regionally accredited university, our dedication to the holistic improvement of our students led us to integrate the liberal arts into every degree program we offer. Also present in every Marylhurst program is a commitment to social responsibility and diversity in all its forms.

Since the mid-1990s, Marylhurst has offered online degree programs to accommodate working professionals in Oregon and beyond – serving students in more than 30 states and 10 countries. We believe online learners have as much right to small classes and high-level engagement as campus-based students. We believe in providing educational opportunities in which you can balance a job and personal life with academic responsibilities to earn a first-rate education.

I can't speak highly enough about all the teachers. They allowed us as students to push the envelope a little bit. If we wanted to look a little deeper into a subject, they weren’t afraid of going out and finding the answers and letting us flex those intellectual muscles. So, even though there was a set program for us to go through, it allowed the flexibility to go just a little bit deeper.
David Hulegaard, Online MBA in Sustainable Business (2014)

Industry outlook

Today’s green economy employs approximately 3.1 million people in the United States.*

A 2013 study showed sustainability has grown increasingly important to the business community, as evidenced by more companies adopting the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic success as their barometer. In 2011, a mere 20 percent of companies on the S&P 500 Index published corporate sustainability reports. By 2014, that number had climbed to 72 percent,** illustrating just how quickly the nature of business is changing.


green industry outlook

Linking sustainable practices with profitability

Many companies embrace social and environmental consciousness as moral responsibilities, although there is also research linking sustainable practices with profitability. One recent study showed an increase in profit margin among companies that adopted a more sustainable business model.*** For reasons that are both ethical and economical, sustainability is becoming a focal point that the modern business community cannot afford to overlook.


green industry outlook

Careers in sustainable business

Alumni of the Marylhurst MBA in Sustainable Business work in a variety of areas, including business, education, publishing and government. It is worth noting that, according to the Economic Policy Institute “…the greener the industry, the higher the job growth rate over the last decade.”* Our green MBA provides a sustainability perspective that can be a valuable asset for a number of careers, including:

  • Information technology
  • Finance management
  • Civil engineering
  • Sustainability coordination within organizations
  • Natural resource management
  • Energy management and sustainability
  • City planning
  • Entrepreneurial and small business development
  • Environmental analysis
  • Industrial production
  • Restaurant management
  • Architecture and real-estate development
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Marketing director
  • Global sustainability management
  • Urban planning



Composed of twelve 5-week courses and one 10-week course, the Marylhurst online MBA in Sustainable Business offers you distinct elective coursework to choose from, each of which includes a look at the pertinent laws and regulatory landscape. Some of the nation’s top sustainable MBA programs only provide a green focus within certain dedicated courses. Here at Marylhurst, every green MBA course examines subject matter with an emphasis on sustainability. For example, the accounting class speaks to environmental cost and triple bottom line accounting. The economics class addresses the concept of natural capital – the valuation of our natural resources. Our green MBA is truly a complete exploration of sustainable business.

Sustainable Core Courses

Graduate Business Foundations

This course is intended to prepare students to be successful in an MBA program by introducing them to the following topics: writing and communication, accounting, economics, finance, math and graphing, statistics and Microsoft Office. Students without an undergraduate business degree, and students without professional work experience in a business-related field, will find this course particularly useful as they prepare for their MBA coursework. 5 crs.

Prerequisites: Cross-listed as BUS 492 for undergraduate credit. Graded Pass/No Pass only.

Principles of Sustainability

In this course, students will gain a basic understanding of fundamental psychological, cultural, environmental and sustainability issues and challenges affecting business and global society in the twenty-first century. Particular attention will be placed upon gaining an understanding of theoretical perspectives that impact effective sustainable business management, with special emphasis upon systems thinking. Learners will reflect upon the interconnectedness and dynamics of historical, social, ecological, governmental, economic, financial and ethical constructs associated with sustainability. Learners will also gain an opportunity to discover various sustainability frameworks and compare multiple global approaches to sustainable business management to gain a solid understanding of strategies leading to the effective integration of social, ecological and economic realities. 4 crs.

Strategic Leadership in Sustainable Management

This course allows learners to analyze fundamental principles and practices associated with leadership and strategic management from traditional and evolutionary sustainable business management perspectives. The course also invites students to research, discover, compare and contrast global cultural perspectives and strategic approaches to sustainable business management. Strong emphasis is also placed upon the discovery of emerging technological, economic and socio-cultural trends and the analysis of the impact that such trends can have upon the strategic definition and implementation of sustainable business strategies. The ethical implications of management are also highlighted along with the personal development of leadership competencies. 4 crs.

Resource Economics

In this course, learners will be exposed to fundamental theoretical constructs associated with natural resource economics, an evolving transdisciplinary field within the science of economics that focuses upon the interdependence between human societies, their economies and the natural ecosystems supporting them. As a school of thought, Resource economics encompasses multiple disciplines related to natural and social sciences, with particular focus upon traditional sustainability models (e.g., minerals extraction, forestry) and the economic dimensions of natural resources (e.g., air, water) whose pollution and depletion have important global and societal impacts. Students will reflect upon processes and strategies leading to successful economic growth within the ecological constraints of the earth’s natural resources. The policy-making, legal, ethical and managerial aspects of resource economic will also be addresses. 4 crs.

Managerial and Environmental Accounting

A primary purpose of this course is to provide learners with a strong understanding of the notion of “cost.” Traditional accounting defines the construct in multiple ways (e.g., hard, soft or hidden costs) within an organizational framework. However, managerial accounting of sustainable business necessitates an understanding of additional dimensions such as environmental costs, and proper identification and measurement of such costs, and ultimately, their effective integration into relevant analytical and financial models. In addition, students will also reflect upon the strategies and processes supporting effective transition from traditional accounting principles to effective triple-bottom-line accounting. Building proficiencies with quantitative and modeling tools will also represent a critical course learning outcome. 4 crs.

Finance and Sustainability

Capitalizing upon the accounting principles learned in the Managerial and Environmental Accounting course, this course will provide students with an opportunity to learn important sustainable finance concepts within organizational, national and international amplitude. In addition to traditional financial management constructs (e.g., assets, liabilities, liquidity, management and other ratios), the course will place particular emphasis upon the macroeconomics (e.g., fiscal and monetary policy) and international (e.g., spot and forward exchange markets) dimensions of finance. Consistent with the program’s emphasis on advanced quantitative, modeling and decision-making skills, great emphasis will be placed upon financial planning, forecasting and analysis in a TBL perspective. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: SUS 515 recommended, especially for students with no background in accounting or finance.

Renewable Energy Electives

Environmental Law – Renewable Energy

Environmental law permeates all facets of sustainable business management. Whether dealing with major issues in water use and pollution, air permits, hazardous waste disposal, Clean Air Act regulations and requirements, real estate construction and transaction issues or environmental litigation and toxic torts, sustainability-minded business managers must possess a solid understanding of vital rules and regulations associated with environmental law. Of particular importance is comprehension of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and of the related and constantly evolving legal issues affecting sustainable business practices. In this course, students will have an opportunity to explore the relationships between public policy and legislation and how law both constrains and fosters opportunities for the development of sustainable energy from wind, solar, geothermal and other sources. 4 crs.

Operations Management

Strategic effectiveness requires two fundamentals aspects: strategy design and strategy implementation. Capitalizing upon the learning gained in the Strategic Leadership in Sustainable Management course, students will turn their attention to the effective execution of strategy by discovering, researching and discussing the multiple dimensions of operational management in the energy production/utilities industry. In addition to learning traditional operational constructs such as operational strategy, process and supply chain management, production and inventory management, and Total Quality Management (TQM), students will discover crucial principles, tools and techniques associated with growing fields such as business re-engineering, green management and industrial ecology. They will also gain exposure to specific industry concepts, tools, techniques and constructs. Particular emphasis will be placed upon case studies related to the comparative assessment of best practices in sustainable energy operations management around the globe. 4 crs.

Alternative and Renewable Energies

This course provides an overview of traditional and alternative energy sources, with particular emphasis on renewable energies, with the intent of providing students with a strong understanding of the technologies associated with renewable and sustainable sources energy, such as hydropower, solar, wind, hydrogen, geothermal and oceanic forces, biomass, etc. Course content also addresses operational issues associated with production, storage, transportation, distribution and industrial or consumer use of energy. Particular importance is attached to the trade-offs resulting from use and promotion of various forms energy in terms of their technological merits and economic viability. Learners are also invited to think in terms of energy consumption, efficiency, and conservation rather than sole reliance upon renewable energies. 4 crs.

Green Development Electives

Environmental Law – Green Development

Environmental law permeates all facets of sustainable business management. Whether dealing with major issues in water use and pollution, air permits, hazardous waste disposal, Clean Air Act regulations and requirements, real estate construction and transaction issues, sustainability-minded business managers must possess a solid understanding of vital rules and regulations associated with environmental law. Of particular importance is comprehension of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and of the related and constantly evolving legal issues affecting sustainable business practices. In this course, learners will also have an opportunity to reflect on and discuss the legal ramifications associated with critical business issues involved in urban planning, LEED Certification, grant and tax incentives for sustainable businesses, and sustainable community development. 4 crs.

Urban Planning Fundamentals

This course provides learners with an understanding of the various political, regulatory, economic, and social forces that influence urban planning and development. Particular emphasis is placed upon the comparison of multiple urban planning theories, principles and practices. Environmental and sustainability issues related to planning are considered and analyzed in terms of systems and trade-offs between social, environmental and economic impacts. Research, analysis and comparison of various international approaches to sustainable urban planning constitute another fundamental aspect of this course. 4 crs.

Sustainable Community Development

Capitalizing upon previous learning in urban planning fundamentals, this course addresses important issues pertaining to sustainable urban development practices aiming at building and fostering sustainable communities. The course investigates how multiple demographic, socio-cultural, political, economic, technological and environmental forces intertwine to shape community development practices regionally, nationally and internationally. Multiple models associated with various environments, resources and constraints are presented and contrasted. Ultimately, the course invites learners to reflect upon strategies leading to the creation of socially, culturally, economically and environmentally viable communities growing and a sustainable and responsible manner. 4 crs.

Food Systems Management Electives

Food Systems and Sustainability

This course allows students to acquire an understanding of the effects and consequences that an industrial approach to food production and consumption has had on individuals, societies, and the natural environment. The course invites learners to reflect upon the pros and cons of various practices associated with traditional and organic farming and ranching as well as other forms of food production and distribution. The course also contrasts food demand and supply in various parts of the world, as well as the social and environmental consequences of these economic constructs. 4 crs.

Food Systems Policy and Law

Policy and law permeate all facets of sustainable business management. Whether dealing with major issues in water and land use, waste disposal, or environmental litigation and toxic torts, sustainability-minded business managers must possess a solid understanding of vital rules and regulations associated with law and policy. In this course, students will have an opportunity to reflect on and discuss the legal ramifications associated with critical business issues such as product liability, food safety, vendor relations, relations with governmental and non-governmental agencies, worker health and safety, labeling and certification, and incentives for organic food production and distribution. 4 crs.

Food Supply Chain Management

As a follow-up to SUS 571, this course examines where and how interventions can be made in the current food system in the interest of ensuring the individual and environmental health of food. Students will learn how to conduct a life-cycle analysis of food from production to post-consumption. Students will be able to identify points in the life cycle where actions can be taken to assure food safety and security, equitable access, and sustainability. The course will also explore alternative business models such as cooperatives and benefit corporations along with career development opportunities in food systems management. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: SUS 571 or department chair permission.

Sustainable Capstone Courses

Integrative Capstone Project

In the final capstone course, students establish a link between their studies, their interests, and the business world at large. The course results in reflective work that expresses the highest standard of graduate research combined with a practical business project. The capstone project allows students to demonstrate a functional and integrative knowledge of the multiple dimensions associated with sustainable business management in the form of a capstone project paper submitted and shared with their classmates. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: SUS 530.