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Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership

An online program designed to help you find your purpose, drive your career and transform your organization.

Our next cohort starts January 2017 – join our network of successful thought leaders!
Scholarships of up to $15,000 available!

Real World Leadership Tools to Build a Sustainable Future

Why this program is different and why you will be different in 13 months:
  1. Experience a degree unlike a traditional MBA – faculty work together to provide integrated course content in a linked set of sessions, not a collection of unlinked courses.
  2. Participate in a program of interactive online learning with three face-to-face sessions including an 8-day international immersive experience.
  3. Gain real-world applicability for immediate use through the course deliverables, international immersive and live lectures from leading experts – from Day 1 to graduation you will directly apply what you learn into what you are working on in the real world.
  4. Receive individual one-on-one engagement from real industry leaders – faculty within ASU and practitioners outside of the university who are pioneers in their field.
  5. Earn a degree that’s truly unique – differentiate yourself with skills that scale beyond sustainability.
  6. Arm yourself with the tools necessary to confidently move initiatives forward in the face of powerful obstacles.
  7. Realize perspectives outside your routine sphere of influence through the diversity of our cohorts.
  8. Achieve, as many of our students do, personal transformational growth in just 13 months.

Applicants to EMSL come from all corners of their organization and recognize that a traditional MBA does not adequately address their needs or goals. Our students are entrepreneurs, educators, managers, small business owners and community leaders with a rich variety of backgrounds and experiences. They come from around the world and bring a multitude of professional practice. Their diversity is a strength of this program.

The EMSL curriculum was created by practitioners for practitioners. Graduates leave the program with the tools to turn good intentions and valuable ideas into real change. They are transformed into highly effective leaders who use their skills to advance their organization’s success using sustainability as a core driver.

Find the tools you need for the results you want

The Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership was designed with specific input from hundreds of sustainability executives and advocates from corporations, NGOs, communities and governments.

The innovative curriculum, created in partnership with academic and industry leaders, encourages the use of hands-on projects from your own workplace as practical case studies and builds to a final capstone project that will apply directly and immediately to your organization’s sustainability plans and challenges.

When you finish the program, you will be armed with practical, actionable tools to become a leader who can embed sustainability throughout your organization, through four specific themes: global context, strategy, communication and leadership.

Important dates

  • 2017 Cohort Application Deadline
  • Cohort Application + Scholarship Deadline
  • Workshop Session I and program kickoff (Tempe, AZ)
  • International Workshop (The Netherlands)
  • Workshop Session II and graduation (Tempe, AZ)
  • November 30, 2016
  • November 30, 2016
  • January 8-11, 2017
  • June 17-24, 2017
  • January 10-13, 2018
Global Context
  • EMS 502 Global Context I—Translating Global Context into Organizational Realities
  • EMS 506 Global Context II—From Risk Avoidance and Compliance to Innovation and Thought Leadership
  • EMS 511 Global Context III—Addressing Sustainability Beyond Organizational Boundaries: Melding Global Context and Organizational Leadership
  • EMS 503 Strategic Sustainability I—Foundations of Strategic Sustainability: Sustainability as a Strategic Lens
  • EMS 507 Strategic Sustainability II—Reframing Strategy in a Sustainability Context: Weaving Success and Sustainability into Strategy
  • EMS 512 Strategic Sustainability III—Sustainable Integration in Developed and Emerging Markets: Building for Global Success
  • EMS 504 Communications and Sustainability I—Foundations for Professional Communications: Creating Chief Sustainability Storytellers
  • EMS 509 Communications and Sustainability II—Communicating Sustainability: How and Where to Tell Your Stories of Sustainability
  • EMS 513 Communications and Sustainability III—Engaging Stakeholders and Global Communications: How to Own ANY Room: Boardroom, Team Room, Break Room, Chat Room and Living Room
  • EMS 505 Sustainability Leadership I—Emerging Sustainability Leadership
  • EMS 510 Sustainability Leadership II—Sustainability as a Core Leadership Platform
  • EMS 514 Sustainability Leadership III—Transformational Leadership for Global Success

While the majority of this program is conducted online, it also integrates three face-to-face workshop sessions to enhance the interpersonal network development and experience. Two sessions are held at Arizona State University, and one is held in a vibrant international location.

Workshop Session I (EMS 501: Sustainability Leadership Workshop I) ASU Tempe Campus January 8-11, 2017

This first workshop session formally kicks off the program. It’s an opportunity to meet graduating and fellow cohort members, learn what the entire program will cover and what success will look like. This will include hands-on collaboration and group time with peer cohort members; engaging in thought-provoking workshops and discussions with individuals as diverse as policy makers and artists; and experiencing regional sustainability cases onsite, such as Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.Upon leaving, you will feel connected to your cohort and faculty and will have a personalized success and development roadmap for the following year.

Executive Master's class of 2015 in the Netherlands workshop

International Workshop (EMS 508: International Immersive) The Netherlands June 17-24, 2017

The international workshop experience will take place in the Netherlands where all of the challenges and opportunities of sustainability are in play. The international immersive is designed as a dynamic vehicle to make real-world connections to sustainability leaders, projects and communities. It is sure to be among the most memorable experiences of the program. You will ‘see’ and ‘feel’ sustainability from the perspective of another country and cultural context. You will extend your professional networks to other host countries and generate a reflective experience and analysis report. Collaborative teams will work through a sustainability case study and present their solutions.

Workshop Session II (EMS 516: Sustainability Leadership Workshop II) ASU Tempe Campus January 10-13, 2018

You will present your capstone project and share the knowledge and experience gained during the 13 months of the program. The student portfolio will be showcased and brought to life when each student delivers their TED-style talk during this workshop. You will leave as graduates, energized to put your enhanced toolkits to work and become fully recommitted to your purpose.

The faculty for the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program provides you with a perfect balance of perspectives between seasoned academics, respected thought leaders and innovative practitioners.

George Basile
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability
Chair, Master of Sustainability Solutions Curriculum Committee, School of Sustainability

Kevin Gazzara
Instructor, School of Sustainability

Park Howell
Instructor, School of Sustainability
President, Park&Co

Bruno Sarda
Senior Sustainability Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Consultant, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, Juile Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Adjunct Professor, School of Sustainability
Head of Sustainability, NRG Business Solutions

Featured speakers

  • Roian Atwood, Director of Sustainability, VF Jeanswear
  • Darren Beck, Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint
  • Peter Byck, Documentary film director/producer and Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability & Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University
  • Jonathan Gottschall, Author of The Storytelling Animal
  • Lee Gutkind, Distinguished Writer in Residence for the Consortium Science, Policy & Outcomes and Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
“I know that I’ve got experts in all sorts of industries and businesses throughout the country that I can call on if I’m ever in their area, if I ever have a question about something related to their business, and they can always help me. It’s those relationships that surprisingly are a huge takeaway for me.”
Tim Trefzer, Sustainability Manager, Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Apply now

Below you will find helpful information on how to prepare and submit your online application:


Jennifer Griffin
Assistant Director, Online Programs, School of Sustainability