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Sustainability Graduate

A Lasting Education

Join our commitment to preserve the health of both human society and the environment.

Studying sustainability will prepare students to pursue careers in the private sector or government.  Career areas include sustainable practices, natural resource management, renewable energy, community planning, non-governmental organizations and education. 

USD is the second university in the U.S. to offer sustainability degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Sustainability is an emerging field that seeks to address many of society’s complex and interdisciplinary issues. We emphasize experiential learning where we find solutions to real-world environmental, social and economic problems.

The concept of sustainability encompasses a wide range of topics and endeavors, including ecosystems, energy, natural resources, economic development, population, food security, industry and conflict resolution. Its unifying core is a commitment to development that can be sustained over time while preserving the health of both human society and the environment. 

You will conduct community-based research and engage with community partners to restore native ecosystems, use the campus as a learning laboratory to advance sustainability locally, and work directly on the Missouri River to investigate the environment and study the impact of human activities on the Missouri National Recreational River. 


Master of Science (M.S.)

The Master of Science in Sustainability – thesis and non-thesis option – is ideal for students studying social and/or environmental aspects of sustainability.

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Accelerated Master of Science (M.S.)

The Accelerated M.S. degree is intended for current USD undergraduate students who would like to begin earning their master’s degree while completing their undergraduate degree. Students in the Accelerated master’s program may apply and begin the program after completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours. Students may apply up to 12 graduate credits toward their undergraduate degree.

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainability – dissertation only – is available for students seeking the highest degree in sustainability. 

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Master of Science / Juris Doctor (M.S./J.D.)

The M.S./J.D. – non-thesis only – is available to candidates who are concurrently enrolled in the School of Law. Students complete the first year of the J.D. before beginning the M.S. in Sustainability. 

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Geospatial Analysis Graduate Certificate

Earn your credentials to work in a wider range of fields including environmental sciences, community planning, and archeology. Geospatial analysis is the collection, analysis and visualization of spatial data. Doing geospatial analysis requires the ability to use software including (GIS) and remote sensing programs and may require the ability to use equipment and hardware that integrate with the software including sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 

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Admission Requirements

For more detailed admission requirements, please refer to Sustainability in the current graduate catalogAdditional requirements exist for international applicants. For more information, visit International Admission Requirements. For additional details about the graduate sustainability programs, contact Graduate Admissions at 605-658-6200 or email

The Classroom & Beyond

  • Graduate Assistantships Available for Fall 2019

    Several assistantships are available for students admitted to sustainability graduate program (M.S. or Ph.D.) for the fall of 2019. Teaching and recycling assistantships available. Apply by the priority admission deadline of Feb. 1 for consideration.

  • We work to increase sustainability awareness and initiatives within the University of South Dakota and it's community. 

  • Morgan Appley wants to change the world, and she said she is going to do it one backyard at a time.