Master of Arts in Sustainable Development
Learn to build thriving communities through innovative and regenerative sustainable practices with a part-time hybrid degree in sustainable development.
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In recent decades, economic disparity, social tension, and environmental destruction have become ever more pronounced. Learn how current economic systems, policy structures, and beliefs have led to today’s growing inequality, poverty, and unsustainable use of natural resources. Discover and be inspired by innovative and regenerative solutions being developed all over the world. Through this unique program, you will acquire the skills to create real change that can help societies, communities, and ecologies thrive.
What you’ll learn
Lasting change requires participation from all interested parties. Acquire the skills of inquiry, project design, leadership, and monitoring and evaluation to develop collaborative solutions that benefit local communities and ecologies.
Get conceptual and practical tools to understand and directly engage with the complexity of today’s systemic problems.
Identify gaps in current sustainable development policy and how innovative eco-social design can be applied in these areas.
Get a global, comparative perspective on sustainable development and regeneration across different geographical, ecological, socioeconomic, cultural, and political contexts.
Develop practical skills in project design and implementation, project management and evaluation, and leadership and innovation.
Apply and integrate systems-thinking and design in the areas of sustainable development and eco-social regeneration, wherever you are based.
How it works
This flexible degree combines face-to-face and online learning to allow you to stay in your job while completing a master’s degree. During short residencies in Brattleboro, Vermont, and Oaxaca, Mexico, you'll learn from a diverse and inspiring array of sustainable development projects that highlight innovation, creativity, and regeneration. Throughout the online portions of the program, you’ll apply your learning directly within your own job or community.
With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice. In addition to core courses, a broad range of elective choices let you focus on courses that will help you meet your career goals.
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On this part-time program, you’ll earn 36 credits over two years.
Year 1, term 1 – Two-week residency in Vermont and online (7 credits)
Theory and Practice of Social Change (3 credits)
Human Flourishing in the Anthropocene: From Development to Regeneration (3 credits)
Foundations in Regenerative Leadership (1 credit)
Year 1, term 2 – Online (6 credits)
Regenerative Design (2 credits)
Learning in Place: Land and Ecology (2 credits)
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (2 credits)
Year 1, term 3 – Two-week residency in Oaxaca, Mexico, and online (6 credits)
Development and Resistance in Latin America (2 credits)
Communication, Media, and Art for Social Transformation (2 credits)
Food Sovereignty and Agro-ecology (1 credit)
Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities (1 credit)
Year 2, term 1 – One-week residency in Vermont and online (5 credits)
Understanding and Designing Social-Ecological Change (3 credits)
Science and Appropriate Technology (2 credit)
Year 2, term 2 – Online (5 credits)
Learning in Place: Society and Culture (2 credits)
Economics for Sustainable Development and Regeneration (3 credits)
Year 2, term 3 – Online and seminar in Vermont (5 credits)
Reflective Practice (3 credits)
Capstone Paper (1 credit)
Capstone Presentation and Seminar (1 credit)
Elective Courses (2 credits)
Master of Arts in Sustainable Development students are required to complete two credits of electives.
Electives may be chosen from the following:
- Special Topics in Sustainable Development, including field courses
- Optional elective from MA in Peace and Justice Leadership
- Independent Study (maximum of two credits per Independent Study, as determined by student and advisor)
- Transfer credit, if approved, for online or face-to-face courses taken elsewhere (variable number of credits; must be approved by degree chair and registrar)
Get hands-on training in different learning contexts.
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Vermont is at the forefront of sustainability and regeneration. New England is a hotbed of innovation, including transition towns, permaculture (in various forms), community-owned forests (indigenous and beyond), co-housing, cooperatives, local food industries, local artisanal companies, eco-architecture, green energy, and environmental and social justice organizations. SIT’s southern Vermont campus is in a strategic position for you to see this innovation firsthand.
Oaxaca is a thriving hub of ecological and social innovation. You’ll engage with social movements and indigenous communities and learn directly from individuals who are creatively responding to challenges.
A priority of the program is to allow you to immediately apply what you learn in your workplace, community, and/or organization. This gives you guided, hands-on practice that deepens your learning.
SIT’s faculty are practitioners in their fields. Our diverse, multicultural faculty have worked across the world as leaders, trainers, and developers in the business, nonprofit, education, and public sectors.
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- Alyson Dagang
PhD, University of Florida, Gainesville, School of Forest Resources and Conservation
BA, American University
A California native, Alyson completed her BA in international development with an emphasis in Latin American studies at American University in Washington, DC, and her PhD in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
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- Program Partners
The following are partner organizations of the sustainable development program:
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Brattleboro Food Co-op (Vermont)
This community-owned business sells food and serves the local community by providing free services and keeping resources in the community.
Donella Meadows Institute (Vermont)
The Donella Meadows Project preserves Donella (Dana) H. Meadows’s legacy by maintaining a comprehensive and easily accessible archive of her work online and by developing new resources and programs that apply her ideas to current issues.
Ecoversities Alliance (International)
The alliance, an informal community of learning practitioners from around the world, seeks to develop innovative pedagogies that critique current education systems and cultivate new practices to address today’s challenges.
Greater Falls Community Justice Center (Vermont)
A citizen-governed nonprofit addressing conflict and crime by promoting shared responsibility for a safe and healthy community, engaging citizens to restore relationships, repair past harms, and build community connections through education and involvement.
Founded in 1991 to support communities with regenerative social and ecological initiatives in the diverse state of Oaxaca, INSO's flagship "Slow Water" project aims to address the Central Valley's watershed crisis, where the speed that water flows impacts communities and ecosystems.
Retreat Farm (Vermont)
An independent nonprofit organization offering opportunities to learn, play, and grow, strengthening communities ties and fostering an appreciation of the land, farmers, and animals that nourish us.
Slow Living Summit (Vermont)
The June 2020 Slow Living Summit will explore how large beverage, food, and local producers are utilizing new and innovative techniques in their farming and production practices to help reduce climate change.
Strolling of the Heifers (Vermont)
Strolling of the Heifers offers funding, apprenticeships, and other resources to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability in farm and food businesses.
Windham Grows (Vermont)
This socially responsible project provides training, mentorship, capital resources, and opportunities for collaboration to food and agriculture entrepreneurs in New England free of charge.
- Alumni Careers
Students in this program go on to work in the field in a variety of areas including study abroad offices, NGOs, nonprofits, and government agencies. Find out some of the career paths that may be open to you.
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Graduates from this degree can expect to find employment in the fields of:
- Community capacity building
- Economic development
- Environmental resource management and advocacy
- Food security
- Gender equity
- Human rights
- International relations
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Nonprofit and NGO leadership and management
- Policy and research
- Social entrepreneurship
- Socially engaged cultural institutions
In addition, this program will provide you with tools, skills, and networks that are important for starting your own socially and ecologically engaged entrepreneurial enterprise.
- Admissions Criteria
We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.
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To be considered for admission to the MA in Sustainable Development program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- US bachelor’s degree or an equivalent that demonstrates academic ability
- Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
- Intercultural and professional experience
- Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning
English Language Ability
Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS practice tests online.)
- Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
- 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
- 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
- 100 on the internet-based iBT.
- Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher.
- Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.
These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.
FOR APPLICANTS EXPERIENCING ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING CENTER CLOSURES DUE TO COVID19:
The Covid-19 pandemic has made center-based testing unavailable in much of the world. Because of this, Duolingo, which is taken at home over the Internet, is now accepted as a substitute for the TOEFL and IELTS at a growing number of universities
The Duolingo English Test presents an entirely different approach to testing because students can take it at home from their own computer. There are no test centers and no appointments. The cost is $49 USD and they can take the test online, anytime.
SIT Graduate Institute’s Selection Process
Our admissions staff work one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: applicants are encouraged to talk with SIT faculty and staff and hear from current students and alumni. As applicants become familiar with the attributes of an SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — they determine for themselves in what ways SIT can help them meet their educational and career objectives.
See a breakdown of the costs for this program.
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Tuition and Fees
Year 1 tuition: $21,750
Year 2 tuition: $21,750
MA degree total tuition and fees (all terms combined): $43,500
Year 1 on-campus room and board: $1,050
SIT estimates the costs to students for books, personal expenses, transportation. Individual expenses may vary.
Year 1 books: $1,200
Year 1 personal expenses: $1,500
Year 1 transportation costs: $1,250
Year 2 estimated Oaxaca, Mexico room and board: $500
Year 2 books: $1,200
Year 2 personal expenses: $1,500
Year 2 transportation costs: $500 (plus $195 for passport, if student doesn’t already have valid one)
Optional Washington, DC, Credit
Personal expenses: $200
Transportation costs: $250
Estimated Student Loan Fees:
Year 1: $225
Year 2: $225
Estimated fees are based on the average amount borrowed by SIT Graduate Institute students. See details on student loan options.
Direct costs and on-campus room and board are billed by SIT Graduate Institute. Indirect, off-campus housing costs, transportation expenses, and additional costs are not billed by SIT, but represent educational expenses associated with being an enrolled student.