Faculty and students examining plants in the outdoors


Create the world you want as a change-maker in the sustainability program. With course topics ranging from environmental science to public policy, this program prepares you with the real-world experiences and knowledge you need to make a difference.

Why Study Sustainability?

As a sustainability major at USD, you will learn in a highly experiential major, which results in high-impact learning. As one of the only schools in the region to offer an undergraduate sustainability degree, we make sure to incorporate real-world experiences throughout the curriculum. This includes completing a required internship or conducting undergraduate research. Many of the classes include community-based learning, and we encourage students to participate in study-abroad opportunities. 

At USD, we take a personal interest in our students. As a sustainability major, you'll have hands-on learning with your professors as we learn your interests and try to help you structure your college career. We'll help position you to succeed in fields such as natural resource conversation, public relations, sustainable and local food, public education and outreach, sustainability consulting, policymaking and more.

Join this exciting and rapidly growing field and help safeguard the planet for future generations through sustainability!

Degrees & Offerings

Sustainability (B.A., B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Students majoring in sustainability may choose either an Environmental Science Specialization or a Human and Natural Systems Specialization.

Sustainability: Human & Natural Systems (B.S.)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Sustainability: Environmental Science (B.S.)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Sustainability Minor

  Vermillion Main Campus

A minor in sustainability prepares you for building sustainable practices for the earth, and studying the experiential 18 credit hour curriculum in courses such as Sustainable Society or Environmental Science.

Program Details






Known for Excellence

At USD, you'll find a high quality educational experience strengthened by our faculty's research and creative scholarship. See what makes our department exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including Environmental Club, United Nations Association of the USA, Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning, and Food Recovery Network (part of SERVE).

Explore Student Organizations

There are even more ways to get involved! Check out our campus and community sustainability initiatives below to learn more about how you can make a difference at USD.

Sustainability is an ever-growing collaboration on campus to build healthy, fair, and resilient systems that help everyone thrive. By working together, USD aims to grow and become a more sustainable university.

Learn more about Campus Sustainability Initiatives

Student Dropping Plastic Water Bottle into Recycling Bin

The Green Initiative Fund gives USD students the opportunity to enhance campus and turn their ideas into reality by implementing innovative projects that reduce waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and motivate continued progress toward a sustainable campus environment. The fund helps provide support and guidance for students who want to make a lasting impact on campus. 

Learn More about Campus Sustainability Initiatives

Propose A Project

USD offers a range of scholarships for students, including scholarships specifically for sustainability majors looking to make a positive difference. The Department of Sustainability & Environment strives to recognize and reward outstanding students for their accomplishments and potential whenever possible.

Learn More

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in Sustainability.
Faculty and students researching on Spirit Mound near Vermillion

Sustainability & Environment

The field of sustainability invites us to examine the world we live in and imagine the possibilities for a brighter future. Find solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges through the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Overview of the Missouri River

Missouri River Institute

Located along the free-flowing Missouri National Recreational River, the Missouri River Institute explores the natural and cultural resources of the river through its focus on research, education and outreach.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Sustainability & Environment. Our faculty are experts in the field, bringing practical experience in ecology, behavior change, hydrology, energy, climate change and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Joseph Kantenbacher

Joseph Kantenbacher

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Sweeney

Mark Sweeney

Bio Image for Faculty Member Ranjeet John

Ranjeet John

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Brenda Walker

Brenda Walker

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Bess Vlaisavljevich

Bess Vlaisavljevich

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Cheyenne Marco

Cheyenne Marco

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Rand Wergin

Rand Wergin

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tony Krus

Tony Krus

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kenneth Green

Kenneth Green

Bio Image for Faculty Member Mike Allgrunn

Mike Allgrunn

Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Chair, Biology/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mandie Weinandt

Mandie Weinandt

Director, CTL/Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Carr

David Carr Ph.D.

Chair, ECON & DSCI/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Pere Miro

Pere Miro

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jeff Wesner

Jeff Wesner

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swanson

David Swanson

Director, Missouri River Institute/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shane Nordyke

Shane Nordyke

Coordinator, Chieseman Center/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Dale Clark

Dale Clark

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shelby Jepperson

Shelby Jepperson

Assistant Professor of Practice
Bio Image for Faculty Member Vijayalakshmi Saravanan

Vijayalakshmi Saravanan

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon

Bio Image for Faculty Member Ed Gerrish

Ed Gerrish

Coordinator, MPA/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Molly Rozum

Molly Rozum

Associate Professor/Ronald M. Nelson Distinguished Professor
Students Posed for Club Photo

Serving Our Communities

At USD, you'll find opportunities to get involved in your community and make a difference through sustainability initiatives. Every spring the Environmental Club hosts Earth Days along with the local organization Greening Vermillion and local businesses and farms. 


Learn More about Campus Sustainability Initiatives

Make a Difference in a Sustainable Entrepreneurship

USD sustainability students turn their ideas into action. See how three USD students made fashion more sustainable and second-hand shopping more accessible.


Tuition & Costs

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.
SD Residents, SD Advantage* & Child of Alumni
MN Residents
Tuition (30 cr.)
Fees (30 cr.)
Books (estimate)
Food Service

* SD Advantage: The in-state rate is available to new undergraduate students who are residents of South Dakota, Colorado, Illinois (starting Summer 2023), Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin (starting Summer 2023), Wyoming and children of alumni of USD.

More About Tuition & Costs

This is an estimated annual cost. Other factors may change the cost of tuition.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.


Hear From A USD Alum

Success story Emily Roberson smiling.
Sustainability is a broad major that focuses on the environment, social systems, economic systems, and how all three interact. I've found through coursework that I really enjoy the economic and societal aspects of the major, and that has lead me to obtain a minor in political science in the pursuit of a career in policy research and analysis. In my time at USD, I have gotten to interact with professors across campus and build connections that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

Emily Roberson

B.A. Sustainability, Anthropology '16
Executive Director, Youth Garden Project
Moab, Utah

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