The curriculum for the online UW Master of Science in Sustainable Management is designed and taught by the same UW faculty who teach on campus.
In this 34-credit master’s degree program, you will acquire a comprehensive understanding of sustainability through eight core courses (3 credits each), two specialty track courses (3 credits each), including a capstone prep course (1 credit) and capstone course (3 credits) typically taken during the final semester.
Courses are completed entirely online. Students in other UW Extended Campus degree programs often say the online format is a big factor in their ability to earn a degree. You can watch lectures, participate in online forums with your classmates, and do homework whenever it’s convenient for you—all course content is accessible online from any device. Learn more about our online learning format.
UW Sustainable Management Course Descriptions
Course availability for the UW Sustainable Management program varies each fall, spring, and summer.
If you are a current student, please consult with your campus adviser prior to registration.
You are required to take all eight 3-credit courses.
SMGT 700: Cultural and Historical Foundations of Sustainability
In this course, you will investigate the changing relationships of humans to the natural environment, changes in dominant scientific perspectives, and the process of scientific debate. Explore the quest for understanding, manipulating, and dominating the natural world. And learn about cultural and organizational structures, the role and impact of technology, the systems approach to problem solving, and their implications for the future.
SMGT 710: The Natural Environment
Through case studies and some pre-reading, this course explores natural cycles, climate, water, energy, biosystems, ecosystems, the role of humans in the biosphere, and the human impacts on natural systems, with the carbon cycle as a unifying theme. Additionally, it covers disturbance pollution and toxicity, carrying capacity, and natural capital.
SMGT 720: Applied Research and the Triple Bottom Line
Learn how to document and project internal and external costs resulting from the inseparability of the natural, social, and economic environments. Additionally, gain the ability to assess sustainability issues using basic modeling techniques, cause and effect, root cause analysis, regression analysis, and business-scenario-based cases.
SMGT 730: Policy, Law, and the Ethics of Sustainability
This course delves into the law and ethics regarding sustainability of economic development and emerging environmental challenges at national and international levels; including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Carbon Footprints, Kyoto protocol, and Brundtland Commission. We will also explore the policy and role of government and its agencies (such as Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Interior, etc.) in building a more just, prosperous, and secure environmental common future.
SMGT 740: Economics of Sustainability
Learn to understand the economy as a component of the ecosystem in which it resides, with natural capital added to the typical analysis of human, social, built, and financial capital. Explore traditional micro, macro, and international trade theory and policy and the implications of sustainability. Topics include the history of economic systems and thought; globalization and localization; distinguishing between growth and development; the nature and causes of market failure; consumption, consumerism, and human well-being; emerging markets; technological change; business organization and financial market alternatives; demographic change; and the global food economy.
SMGT 750: The Built Environment
This course explores how the built environment came to be, and how it intersects with human needs such as water, air, food, waste, transportation, healthcare, and education. You will evaluate community design and what a sustainable community looks like, and study related technologies while evaluating alternatives and discussing unintended consequences. This course will include case studies.
SMGT 760: Geopolitical Systems–Decision Making for Sustainability on Local, State, and National Levels
This course is an examination of decision making and public policy for sustainability at the national, state, and local levels, with emphasis on the social, economic, and political factors affecting decisions within both the public and private sectors. Attention is given to formal American policymaking processes, informal grassroots activities and consensus building, public engagement with sustainability decisions, corporate sustainability actions and reporting, the promise of public-private partnerships and collaborative decision making, and practical examples of how decision making fosters effective transitions to sustainability goals at all levels.
SMGT 770: Leading Sustainable Organizations
Get a macro-level perspective on leading sustainable organizations. Topics include organizational change and transformation processes, strategic and creative thinking, organizational structures and their impacts, conflict management and negotiation, stakeholder management, and situational leadership styles and behaviors. The course focuses on how organizational leaders develop and enable sustainable organizations, especially in times of environmental change.
You are required to take two courses (3 credits each) from the following list.
SMGT 780: Corporate Social Responsibility
Dig into corporate social responsibility as we evaluate risks and potential impacts in decision making, recognizing the links between the success of an organization and the well-being of a community. Explore ways to integrate corporate social responsibility throughout an organization by creating metrics and communicating CSR policies internally and externally, and take a hard look at the development of best practices in an organization pertaining to corporate social responsibility.
SMGT 782: Supply Chain Management
In this course, planning, organizing, and controlling the organization’s supply chain are examined in the context of the triple bottom line, and total cost analyses or product and process life cycles are considered in the context of strategy and operations. Topics include: sourcing, operations, distribution, reverse logistics, and service supply chains. Process measurements and the impact on organizational performance in the context of footprints (e.g., carbon, water, pollution), and existing and potential software systems are also covered.
SMGT 784: Sustainable Water Management
This course addresses practical applications of sustainability in aquatic environments. Topics covered include water and health, water quality and quantity, governance, assessing the aquatic environment, water treatment technologies, environmental mitigation, and impacts of climate change. Emphasis will be on selected areas of interest from the perspective of public health, engineering, and municipal conservation management.
SMGT 785: Waste Management and Resource Recovery
This course covers the generation, processing, management, and disposal of municipal, industrial, and agricultural waste with an emphasis on the technical, economic, and environmental aspects of various recovery processes. Additional topics will include producer responsibility, design for environment, and life cycle analysis.
You will complete a capstone preparation course (1 credit) and a capstone project (3 credits) for a total of four credits.
SMGT 790: Capstone Preparation Course
In this course, you will build the foundation for your capstone project through research, data analysis, and scholarly inquiry that result in a project proposal. This course is a prerequisite for SMGT 792.
SMGT 792: Capstone Project
Prerequisite: SMGT 790
The capstone project provides students with the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned and gain hands-on experience in the real world. Each student will help a real organization solve an existing sustainability problem by implementing practical knowledge to achieve a triple-bottom-line solution. Projects may focus on issues such as supply chain structures, energy efficiencies, or environmental and climate concerns. The instructor will serve as a guide throughout the experience.
Our enrollment advisers are available Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, or by appointment.