Smeal sustainability graduate certificate provides many pathways to a master’s

February 21, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An online graduate certificate specializing in business strategy and sustainability now offers multiple pathways to different master’s degrees at Penn State, giving students a unique opportunity to leverage their graduate education.

The nine-credit Business Sustainability Strategy graduate certificate ­is led by the internationally ranked Penn State Smeal College of Business and delivered online through Penn State World Campus. It aims to give students the tools to develop a sustainability plan for any size or type of organization, execute the strategy across the enterprise including the supply chain, and overall to prepare them for the massive market and cultural shift to sustainability.

"We built our professional graduate portfolio with a high degree of program integration that facilitates degree and graduate certificate ‘stacking’ and enables possible concurrent degree collaborations with our master’s programs and now programs outside of Smeal,” said Brian Cameron, associate dean for Smeal’s Professional Graduate Programs. “We are excited about this collaboration and see it as a model for Smeal in the future.”

The certificate is already integrated as a concentration for three of Smeal’s online master’s programs, including: Penn State Online MBA, Master’s in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Master's in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership. In this example of “stacking,” students can start with the graduate certificate and then apply shared credits toward a master’s program, earning both credentials upon completion.

In its newest collaboration, the certificate now serves as an elective for the online Master’s in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems, which is led by the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. 

The 33-credit master’s program prepares students to lead the shift toward alternative energy production, and it recently earned the No. 15 spot overall and best renewable energy focus in’s ranking of online master’s in environmental management programs.

This program integration offers students the flexibility to either start with the certificate and apply their credits toward a master’s, or conversely they can elect to take business sustainability strategy courses as a master’s student and apply to earn the graduate certificate, once again earning both credentials upon completion.

Additionally, concurrent master’s degrees can also be achieved due to the unique credit overlap, meaning a student may work on two degrees simultaneously with program approval. Penn State Smeal residential and executive MBA students may also use the graduate certificate as a bridge into the Master’s in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems program.

“This is a great opportunity for students because we know now that nearly every industry will be transformed by the combined forces of technology and resource constraints,” said Erik Foley, director of Smeal’s Center for the Business of Sustainability and faculty director. “The certificate was created because business must lead the transition to a prosperous, equitable, and environmentally healthy future.”

The Business Sustainability Strategy graduate certificate application deadline for fall 2020 admission is July 1. Learn more by visiting the Penn State World Campus website.

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Last Updated February 21, 2020