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

Sustainable Marketing

Focus on market research and strategies as you examine the role of sustainability in community development.

Food Systems Management

Environmental Law

Whether dealing with major issues in water use and pollution, air permits, hazardous waste disposal, or environmental litigation and toxic torts, sustainability-minded business managers must possess a solid understanding of rules and regulations.

I really appreciated the degree in sustainable business. My background is business, I really wanted to pursue an MBA. To do it in the context of sustainability was really important to me, it's a cutting edge program.
Sheryl Shea, 2015 MBA in Sustainable Business Graduate
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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

Foundations of Business

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.

Organizational Behavior

During this orientation course, students refresh their knowledge of key business subjects while being introduced to new academic concepts and graduate-level expectations. This course introduces both the theory and practical application of organizational behavior, the study of how individuals and groups impact behavior within an organization. Topics include decision making, motivation theories, individual and group behaviors, leadership, power and organizational politics, and organizational culture. 4 crs.

Managerial Economics

This course is designed to help graduate students develop an understanding of the basic concepts of economics. The focus will be on having students apply foundational concepts of microeconomics, including scarcity, ownership and markets to their personal decision making and professional life. In addition, students will learn the macroeconomics concepts of GDP, unemployment, inflation and interest rates, and how to research these variables and use forecasts to understand the application to their personal and professional life. Finally, students will learn some of the basic concepts of global economics, including international trade and exchange rates. 4 crs.

Managerial Accounting

In this course students learn accounting concepts from a decision maker’s perspective. Following an overview of the accounting cycle, financial statements, and financial reporting, special attention will be given to accounting information used to assist management in business operations. 4 crs.

Financial Management

This course is designed to help students understand financial theory and its important applications. With a focus on concepts including the time value of money, risk and return, valuation, investment principles, and the role of financial markets, and through real-world examples and practical exercises, students learn concepts and terms used by financial analysts and strategists. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: MBA 521

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.

Sustainable Marketing

This course will provide learners with an opportunity to discover, use, and apply powerful marketing management constructs into a reflective framework integrating the organizational, societal, environmental and global aspects of sustainability. Learners will be challenged to develop marketing plans and strategies that effectively consider address and reconcile the multiple and often conflicting dimensions of sustainable business management. Particularly, emphasis will be placed upon marketing research and the student’s ability to effectively research, analyze and take advantage of market opportunities within the realm of triple-bottom-line principles. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: none.

Research Methods for Sustainable Business

Effective sustainable business management requires students to acquire strong research skills and become familiar with quantitative research methods and the interpretation of the resultant data. Such skills will serve as a foundation for the capstone project students will develop in the program’s final two courses. Students will be expected to grasp and make critical use of both quantitative and qualitative data to research, analyze, and decide on critical questions related to sustainable business management. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: All core and concentration courses.

Business Modeling and Decision Making

The ability to achieve successful business results depends on sound decision-making processes. This course introduces students to business model generation for developing a sustainable enterprise. Topics include emerging and alternative business models, backcasting and forecasting, design thinking, and the effective communication of data. Particular emphasis is placed upon gaining a deeper understanding on the forces resulting from the constructs associated with the triple-bottom line and beyond. Students will develop the initial draft of their capstone papers. 4 crs.

Prerequisites: SUS 525.

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.

Environmental Law

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.

Sustainable Capstone Courses

Integrated 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.