Master of Arts in Climate Change and Global Sustainability


2 locations available

Program Description

The world needs skilled professionals working in the climate change arena more than ever. Get the skills and hands-on experience you need to make a difference.

See what you’ll be doing on this globe-spanning program

In this one-of-a-kind degree program, you’ll travel the globe as you examine the impacts of climate change and innovations and policies to combat them. You’ll examine current global environmental governance and consider opportunities for effective climate action in a rapidly changing world.

Starting in Iceland, you’ll be introduced to climate science, assessment methods, and energy and climate policy. You’ll see Iceland’s energy alternatives to fossil fuels as well as its methods for reducing carbon dioxide output. You’ll also discover Iceland’s core policies of environmental governance and changing geopolitical role as a leader in energy innovation as part of Europe.

In the spring semester, you’ll travel to the Zanzibar archipelago, engaging with community members, scientists, activists, and government officials as you explore agriculture and aquaculture, food chains and markets, water and food security, and government policies on coastal urban planning. You’ll discover the effects of climate change on ecosystems and human communities in the Indian Ocean region and the challenges of balancing natural resource management with the need to promote sustainable livelihoods.

A semester-long practicum at a prominent environmental or climate change organization rounds out your experience by letting you practice what you’ve learned in a professional setting while getting real-world experience for your résumé.

This program is designed for professionals who want to make a difference in sustainability, ecological conservation, and community livelihoods. Advanced knowledge of science is not required; you will learn the key concepts of climate science on the program.


With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice.

In this program, you’ll learn:

The fundamentals of climate science and the challenges posed by climate change to environments, species, and human communities

  • Ecological and social research methods to study climate change and its impacts in the arctic and global tropics
  • How to analyze environmental and social data and interpret outcomes
  • How to communicate scientific outcomes for stakeholders and the public
  • The basic history of climate change research and the extent and types of physical evidence of global climate change
  • How to understand and critically evaluate general climate change modelling and models for strengths and weaknesses
  • The broad human dimensions of climate change impacts on settlements, water, food, and energy and the environmental governance strategies and community adaptations that mitigate it
  • How to identify and assess climate change impacts
  • Ways to balance natural resource management with more sustainable livelihoods for communities
  • How to apply environmental economics to the influences of climate change on community water and food security but also to urban planning and tourism
  • How to critically assess the roles and limitations of science and technology, market-based solutions, and regulatory mechanisms in climate policy
  • The functions of global environmental governance and the factors that influence climate diplomacy
  • The roles and perspectives of diverse stakeholders — states, international organizations, NGOs, and citizens — in defining, promoting, implementing, and resisting sustainable development agendas in an era of climate change
  • How relations among actors from different scales shape climate negotiations, both constraining efforts to enact change and enabling new opportunities that challenge the status quo


Semester One: Iceland (12 Credits)

  • Science of Global Climate Change
  • Political Economy of Sustainable Development and Environmental Change
  • Climate Change Methods and Impact Assessment in the Arctic
  • Energy and Climate Policy in Iceland

Semester Two: Tanzania (13 Credits)

  • Climate Change and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Natural Resources Management in an Era of Environmental Change
  • Social and Ecological Methods on Tropical Coasts
  • Water, Food, and Climate Economics in Zanzibar

Semester Three: Practicum (11 Credits)

  • International Climate Policy and Diplomacy
  • Climate Change Policy-Advocacy Practicum
  • Capstone Project

Professional Practicum

A cornerstone of SIT degree programs is the practicum. This allows you to apply learning from the classroom in real-world settings while getting hands-on, professional experience.

For your final semester, SIT will support you in finding an approved practicum with a climate change or environmental sustainability think tank, NGO, government agency, or other organization involved in policy/advocacy work in a global location of your choice. This practicum experience will give you the opportunity to practice policy/advocacy work in a real-world setting and to expand your professional network and strengthen your ability to develop grounded expectations about what constitutes feasible climate change strategies. Your practicum is completed alongside other semester coursework.

During this period, you’ll remain engaged with faculty and other students and receive course credit for documenting the integration of your knowledge and skills while working in a professional context.

Admissions Criteria

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.

To be considered for admission to the MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability 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

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.

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.

Alumni Careers

Career opportunities in the field are numerous. Possible career paths include:

  • Climate and environmental science
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainable livelihoods development
  • Sustainability of food, water, and energy
  • Climate and environmental policy and advocacy
  • Climate change education
  • Community development and resilience
  • Social development
  • Environmental monitoring and climate change mitigation
  • Ecological conservation
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Environmental governance
  • National/state parks service
  • Environmental economics and planning
  • Tourism and sustainability consultancy
  • International development and global sustainability
  • Environmental education
Last updated Mar 2019

About the School

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainab ... Read More

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainable development, and TESOL. Since 1964, SIT has been preparing professionals to be successful in intercultural and international environments. Read less
Brattleboro , Washington , Oaxaca , Johannesburg + 3 More Less