Formal sustainability education is ‘exploding’ with a range of university options

One growth industry in sustainability is the number of higher education courses and certificates springing up to meet the career development and training needs of business professionals – one new study identifies more than 20 formal education programmes in the U.S. and Canada alone.

This study, from the University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, is being used to help promote their own Certificate in CSR/Sustainability.

This research gives some useful insights to the growing sustainability career opportunities presented including the core competencies required, career pathways, and examples of formal education programmes in the area.

The survey results, presented in a short report called CSR & Sustainability Career Pathways, show that today’s CSR/Sustainability professionals are systems thinkers, boundary spanners and intrapreneurs who “spark urgent, deep, purposeful change toward a socially and environmentally responsible way of working and living.”

Some of the key findings from the University of St. Michael’s College research include:

  • Current CSR/Sustainability professionals identified they had over 61 CSR/Sustainability titles in 8 core job areas and 19 job roles;
  • Nearly one-half (53%) of CSR/Sustainability professionals in the field did not feel they fully understood all the core competencies they needed to acquire to be a CSR/Sustainability professional;
  • Surveys by ECO Canada and others indicate significant job growth in the CSR/Sustainability field;
  • Top ‘impact’ competencies for CSR/Sustainability professionals, according to the 2014 CR Salary Survey are: 1) engage with Stakeholders, 2) influence and persuade, 3) plan and develop strategy, 4) measure and report impact, and 5) project management.

The report says formal CSR/Sustainability education is exploding, but in a differentiated way. Formal education programs range from graduate certificates attained while working full-time to full-time student options for degrees, master degrees and certificates – these represent the majority of education programmes.

University of St. Michael’s College research found that many sustainability job functions are being written as they emerge and that keeping abreast of developments is important. You can find out more about what the University of St. Michael’s College has to offer by going to and their current registration deadline is June 30th.