A Guide to Green Mountain College’s
4 Premier Online Graduate Programs


Green Mountain College:
First in Sustainability

Green Mountain College is the most highly awarded college in the nation for sustainability. We have been recognized as the nation’s top baccalaureate institution for sustainability by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The AASHE also awarded GMC the #1 spot in sustainability-based curriculum.

For more than 20 years, GMC has been focused on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. We use sustainability as the organizing principle for our undergraduate and graduate program curricula and operations, and we’re dedicated to preparing our students to transform society and the world by preparing them to work in careers that strive to enact positive change.

Here at Green Mountain College, we believe in authentic sustainability, which means not only do we teach a sustainability-focused curriculum, we strive to live sustainability every day.

We know for certain that students with a passion for sustainability can contribute to meaningful and positive change both in school and in their future careers. Our graduates do well by doing good.


Download the Guide to Green Mountain College's 4 Premier Online Graduate  Programs


A man looking at the Sun

Introducing GMC’s 4 Online Graduate Programs

“Green” isn’t a word we throw around casually. We practice what we teach.

Green Mountain College was the first college to offer online graduate academic programs focused on sustainability in business, environmental studies, food systems, and resilient & sustainable communities.

Green Mountain College faculty members are experienced online educators, and possess a unique combination of real world experience and academic achievement that fosters a deep, enriching learning experience. The professional networks they foster provide you with pathways to new relationships and fresh opportunities.

When you earn an advanced degree from GMC, you graduate from a nationally renowned sustainability focused institution and join a wide network of accomplished colleagues.

We’re pleased to offer these four online graduate degrees:

Sustainable MBA
MS in Sustainable Food Systems
MS in Environmental Studies
MS in Resilient & Sustainable Communities

Understanding Our Applied Learning Approach to Graduate Studies

One of the strengths of GMC’s graduate programs lies in our dedication to applied learning. Applied learning means that our graduate students are taught to apply the academic material they learn in practical ways that specifically align with their individual interests and careers.

Applied learning is incredibly invaluable for this reason: More than 95 percent of GMC’s graduate students are working professionals. Our students take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to their current organizations and communities. This not only deepens their learning, it helps raise their visibility and paves the way for future opportunities.

What does this kind of learning really look like?

In our Sustainable MBA program, this means students apply the concepts to an organization or organizations of their choice. GMC’s SMBA students have helped their organizations deepen their own sustainability practices, created sustainability departments, and even launched their own new ventures.

For the other three graduate programs, students are encouraged to apply the concepts they are learning in their own bioregions, allowing students to engage with this question: “How can I apply what I’m learning in my community?”

This bioregional, instructional model deepens students’ connection to their own organizations, bioregions, and businesses. In each graduate program, students apply concepts learned in class to real-world challenges in the community where they live. In the process, students develop a deeper understanding about their classmates and their own bioregions or business environments.

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GMC’s Residency: Meet Colleagues, Professors, and Industry Thought Leaders

Coursework at GMC happens online, but GMC’s graduate students have several opportunities to meet professors and fellow cohort members at a yearly residency. Each program features an annual 3-4 day residency at GMC’s campus in Poultney, Vermont. The residencies are led by GMC faculty members and a scholar-in-residence who is a nationally recognized thought leader.

Put quite frankly, the residencies offered at Green Mountain College are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students. Students meet and learn with leaders in their fields. Past residency scholars in residence have included:

Served as the previous director of Environment Liaison Centre International

Dr. Barbara Gemmill-Herren

Whose first book, The End of Nature, is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change

Bill McKibben

A social entrepreneur whose own students went on to co-found 350.org

Jon Isham

Founder of the Global Water Policy Project.

Sandra Postel

A lepidopterist (a specialist in the study of moths and butterflies) and a writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems

Dr. Robert Michael Pyle

let’s dig a little deeper


Sustainable MBA

GMC’s Sustainable MBA program was the first 100% online Sustainable MBA in the nation and is the only online MBA offered by a college nationally known for sustainability.

The SMBA program reflects the growing trend among successful companies, large and small, to focus on the triple bottom line, seeking competitive advantages through practices that succeed economically, are socially responsible, and environmentally sound.

The program provides students with a solid foundation in the core areas of business administration, including:

Core Areas of Business Administration

The Capstone project, the final degree requirement, encourages students to create a business plan or research project that will help them move forward in their specific career path.

What makes GMC’s Sustainable MBA truly unique is that sustainable business concepts are woven through every course. Most other MBAs offer one or two courses related to sustainability. Also, all GMC MBA courses are taught by committed faculty who possess real-world sustainable business experience. Our faculty members have highly regarded professional backgrounds, and they are committed to helping students understand today’s green business issues and challenges.

Jacob Park

For more than two decades, I have been examining the relationship between business and sustainable development as a Tokyo-based United Nations policy specialist, impact investing analyst for a London-based sustainable investment company, and now as a Vermont-based business school academic specializing in social and environmental strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation issues. In my role as professor of Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at Green Mountain College, I have the great honor of working with sustainable businesses in Vermont and elsewhere as well as educating students and future leaders in sustainable business practices.

- Jacob Park, MBA Program Director


Meet Kat McCarthy

Kathleen “Kat” McCarthy grew up in upstate New York and developed an early sensibility to the notion of sustainability, before the word became part of the lexicon.

“Like a lot of families, we approached it from an economic standpoint — it just made sense to conserve fuel by turning the thermostat down a notch. So the idea of conservation as part of the triple bottom line — people, profit, planet—has always been in the background for me.”

Read Kat's
Full Testimony
Kat McCarthy

Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems

In today’s world of complex food and agriculture systems, we need leaders with a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.

Our Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS) program prepares you for a graduate-level interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable agricultural production and a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.

Our distance MSFS program is designed to provide students with the skills to conduct in-depth interdisciplinary investigations into the complex arena of their own bioregional food systems. MSFS students graduate with the knowledge and confidence to become leaders and join a cutting-edge community ready to make a difference.

Robin Currey

The GMC Sustainable Food Systems program is all about reclaiming what matters about nature, nurture, and nutrition – by way of learning why it matters. How we as individuals relate to food is usually a pretty good indicator of how we relate to the environment, our society, other cultures, and other animals. GMC takes farming and food issues seriously. I’m proud to work in a college that has a working farm as a centerpiece of campus life and that doesn’t shy away from the complexity of issues surrounding how we sustain ourselves, our environment, and our culture.

- Robin Currey, MSFS Program Director


Meet Lisa Trocchia-Balkits

Food has always played an important role in Lisa Trocchia-Balkits’ life, beyond the purely nutritional necessity. Growing up in an Italian-American family in rural southeastern Ohio, meals were a source of cultural connection and shared experience.

Over the years, Lisa’s view of food and the role it plays in society was shaped by her experience as a mother, a baker and a chef, a market gardener, and her work with community-based, non-profit organizations.

Read Lisa's
Full Testimony
Lisa Trocchia-Balkits

Download the Guide

We invite you to download A Guide to Green Mountain College's 4 Premier Online Graduate Programs for your future reference!



Master of Science in Environmental Studies

Our distance Master of Science in Environmental Studies (MSES) program is the only one of its kind in the nation, designed to help working professionals develop expertise in environmental issues and put that learning to work in their own communities.

Unlike other graduate programs, the GMC master’s degree combines the best of online learning with intensive locally applied experience. We call it a bioregional approach to distance education. Rather than learning about environmental studies solely through examples in a textbook, students in each of our courses use their local ecosystems as laboratories in which to experiment with new concepts and skills.

Students choose between three concentrations — conservation biology, writing and communication, and self-design — and graduate as experts in the workings of their own bioregions. This emphasis on practical application of knowledge prepares students for professional work, whether they are just launching a career or looking for growth in an established position.

Our MSES students graduate with the knowledge and confidence to become leaders. They join a cutting-edge community ready to make a difference.


"I am an aquatic ecologist with a passion for education. My research has ranged from morphological studies of intertidal fishes in the Gulf of California to the early lives of fishes in northeastern US rivers and from the sustainability of freshwater ecosystems to global fisheries management. The thread that runs through this research and my teaching is the desire to understand enough about the lives of the wonderful creatures below the waterline that we learn to live with them sustainably.

I have been with the Green Mountain masters programs from the beginning. I had the good fortune to chair the interdisciplinary faculty task-force that decided how the College could translate the faculty’s intense place-based personal interaction with students into the online classroom. We crafted programs that reflected the College’s nationally recognized leadership in sustainability and the environment. Our program aims to help students create deep connection to and understanding of their own bioregion and to produce the feel of a residential program at a distance."

- Meriel Brooks, Ph.D,., MSES Program Director


Meet Shannon Westlake

Shannon Westlake is a self-described “tree hugger” going back to her childhood growing up in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

Today she’s interested in the connections between habitat management, species preservation and healthy food.

Read Shannon's
Full Testimony
Shannon Westlake.png

Master of Science in Resilient and Sustainable Communities

Green Mountain College’s online Master of Science degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities (MRSC) is the first program of its kind in the nation. This program adopts GMC’s groundbreaking bioregional approach to distance learning, in which students apply what they learn in each course to their local communities.

MRSC students learn about land-use planning, economic development, energy production, food systems, and resource management, while developing skills in leadership, group organization, and conflict resolution.

The program prepares students for a rapidly expanding range of careers in community development, energy production, municipal agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

Laird Christensen.png

"I’m delighted to be a part of our latest graduate program, designed to prepare students for the urgent work of creating communities that are more resilient, ecologically sustainable, and socially just. I’ve spent much of my adult life working as an activist and community organizer, even living for a number of years in intentional communities. As the first director of our MS in Environmental Studies, I introduced our bioregional approach to online education: the transformation of our communities must be informed by a deep understanding of the ecological and cultural characteristics of the places we call home."

- Laird Christensen, MRSC Program Director


Meet Erin Willett

As she worked towards her master of science in resilient and sustainable communities at GMC, Erin Willett likens her education to box of crayons.

“The program has really sharpened a lot of my skills, and added a whole lot of new colors and tools that enable me to accomplish my goal of changing the world. I feel empowered by this program.”

Read Erin's
Full Testimony
Erin Willett
Green Mountain College building

Where are GMC graduate alumni employed upon graduation?

There is an increasing market for ‘green jobs’ and a growing demand for employees who can bring skills and sustainability-minded practices to revolutionize the workplace. In fact, some green jobs are projected to experience more than 100 percent job growth in the coming years.

Here’s a list of where some of our graduate program alums have found employment:

Eileen Fisher logo
American Geophysical Union logo
One World Conservation Center (OWCC) logo
Apple, Inc. logo
Dresdner Robin Environmental Management logo
Federal Aviation Administration logo
The Gordian Group logo
Johnson & Wales University logo
T-Mobile logo
Spence Farm Foundation logo
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. logo
Basalt Bike and Ski logo
Green Mountain Power logo

Highlighting GMC’s Achievements

“The students who come here to learn are able to go into their area and industry of interest and ignite authentic sustainability.”

Established in 1834, and a leader in sustainability education since the late twentieth century, Green Mountain College has continued its tradition of innovative leadership and applied education by offering the nation’s first online graduate programs in Environmental Studies, Sustainable Food Systems, and Resilient and Sustainable Communities — all featuring the college’s distinctive bioregional approach to online learning — as well as the nation’s first online Sustainable MBA.

01 #1 curriculum in sustainability (AASHE)
02 A Sierra magazine top 10 green school
03 Climate-neutral campus since 2011
04 Perfect 99 rating on The Princeton Review’s “Green Honor Roll” for four consecutive years
05 Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
06 Only Sustainable Business MBA to make the 2013 U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Graduate Program”

If you see yourself pursuing a career that’s focused on change and purpose, we hope you’ll consider Green Mountain College as the avenue from which you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make a real difference in all social, economic, and environmental spheres of sustainability.


Dig Deeper:
Additional Reading

Sustainability by Degree is a blog by Green Mountain College that is designed to encourage and inspire students to learn more about sustainability-based education and careers in today’s fastest growing fields, such as the green job sector.

Through the stories we share, we hope to cultivate a community of students who are excited about purposeful, personal, and practical learning and who are inspired to pursue a purpose-driven career by leading a purpose-driven life.

A girl planting a plant


Blog Articles of Interest for Aspiring Leaders in Sustainability

Why Sustainability is Trending in Advanced Business Programs in 2018


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