Sustainability & Sustainable Development

Power the present, protect the future

With a concentration in Sustainability and Sustainable Development, you’ll be prepared to help organizations and people strike a balance between meeting immediate needs and ensuring a secure, livable future. Your study will combine environmental, economic, social, and political elements.

By completing this concentration, you will be well prepared to work in a variety of settings, including governments and government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit entities, and other special-interest organizations that seek to sustain and improve current and future conditions for life on earth.

How to apply


1:3Faculty: student ratio (2021)

89%All O’Neill MPA placement rate (2020)

A broad base, plus depth and detail

You’ll begin by mastering the fundamentals reflected in the MPA program's core competencies. These five courses (15 credit hours) will give you well-developed analytical skills and a broad understanding of policy issues and government processes. In addition to these highly transferable core skills, the Sustainability and Sustainable Development concentration includes two required courses which provide the fundamental theories and tools of sustainable development.

  • Sustainable Communities (S 515)
  • Sustainable Development (S 596)
  • Sustainability in a Tri-Sectoral World (R 563)

The remainder of the coursework comes in a wide range of elective courses. These will allow you to tailor your Sustainability and Sustainable Development program to your own specific interests. Working with an advisor, you will select two courses from one of these three areas: Development, Policy and Entrepreneurship, Natural environment, or Environmental Protection.

Development, Policy, and Entrepreneurship
  • Approaches to Development (D 576)
  • Economic Development, Globalization, and Entrepreneurship ( D669)
  • International Environmental Policy (E 535)
  • Seminar in Urban Economic Development (L 622)
  • Energy Policy from a Nation-State Perspective ( R 590)
  • Environmental Economics and Policy (R 625)
  • Natural Resource Management and Policy (R 643)
  • Energy Economics and Policy (R 674)
  • Climate Law and Policy (V 550)
  • Water Policy and Economics (V 550)
  • Urban Sustainability (V 527)
  • Principles and Practices of Social Entrepreneurship (V 559)
  • Human Behavior and Energy Consumption (X 511)
Natural Environment
  • Fisheries and Wildlife Management (E 460)
  • Urban Forest Management (E 522)
  • Forest Ecology and Management (E 528)
  • Restoration Ecology (E 534)
  • Wetlands Ecology and Management (E 540)
  • Lake and Watershed Management (E 545)
  • Urban Ecology (E 555)
  • BMP Design for Healthy Urban Watersheds (E 555)
  • River Management (E 555)
  • Conservation Biology (E 557)
  • Climate Change Impacts on Natural Resources (E 591)
Environmental Protection
  • Fundamentals of Air Pollution (E 515)
  • Aquatic Chemistry (E 539)
  • Environmental Engineering (E 552)
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Management (E 562)
  • Organic Pollutants: Environmental Chemistry & Fate (E 564)
  • Energy Systems (E 574)

Then you’ll select two courses from the following area:

Analytical Tools
  • Application of Geographic Information Systems (E 529)
  • Negotiation and Dispute Resolution for Public Affairs (M 547)
  • Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs (P 507)
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis (P 541)
  • Public Program Evaluation (P 562)

Combining your Sustainability and Sustainable Development concentration with another MPA concentration—such as Economic Development, Policy Analysis, or Public Finance Administration—may offer you unique advantages in pursuing a particular career. As they help you design your program, our faculty will work to accommodate your specialized professional interests.

The above are examples of your course options. For a complete listing, see the official Indiana University Graduate Bulletin and work with your advisor as you make your schedule.

Gain real-world experience while still in school

You can join the O’Neill Environmental Management & Sustainable Development Association, one of many professional student organizations that offer networking and current information on events in the industry.

Get involved

Learn from faculty with expertise and experience in sustainability and sustainable development


Associate Professor

(812) 855-1467

Associate Professor

(812) 855-8446

Ethan Horvath, MPA’17

Environmental Manager 2, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Office of Air Quality

“The courses and faculty at O’Neill have provided me with the appropriate analytical and policy-focused skills to succeed in life and become a future leader in my field.”

Leah Harmon, MPA’14

Clean Water Indiana Program Manager, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indianapolis

“O’Neill gave me a toolbox of skills in environmental sciences and policy analysis. I utilize this combination of skills to communicate with varied audiences, including our constituents, policy makers, and consulting scientists.”


Mark Milby, MPA’13

Program Manager, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Chicago

“Careers in sustainability are multidisciplinary and require a broad base of knowledge and the ability to manage diverse stakeholders and communicate effectively. O’Neill provided the academic experience I needed to make an impact in my field.”

50 years at O'Neill