Recently, a majority of MBA students at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder signed a letter strongly stating that the reason they chose the school was for its leadership position in sustainability and they encouraged the school to add more courses and opportunities related to this emerging field of management.

In a few short years, eco-friendly practices have gone from being new-fangled selling points to becoming essential requirements, with states vying with each other to offer incentives and legislation that promote green technology and business. While the corporate world is scrambling to devise strategies to address sustainability, business schools across the country have been incorporating it into their curriculum for the past several years, both in response to student demand and in line with industry trends.

Some schools, like San Francisco's Presidio School of Management (which contributes a regular column for GreenBiz.com), the Dominican University in San Rafael, Calif. and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Wash. were founded with the idea of integrating the concept of sustainability with business education, but mainstream business schools are also making this shift.

MBA students graduating from these progressive schools will receive a solid grounding in environmental issues. These futuristic programs will prepare them for the reality of tomorrow's markets by equipping them with the social, environmental and economic perspectives required for business success in a competitive and fast changing world.

The Aspen Institute conducts a rigorous research survey and ranking called Beyond Grey Pinstripes, which spotlights such innovative full-time MBA programs. The survey ranks the top 100 schools in terms of student exposure and opportunity, course content and faculty research in environmental stewardship. Their global 100 list ranks Stanford University at the top, followed by a mix of Ivy League schools and many other avant-garde universities as well as a few entrants from outside the U.S.

In order to gauge how business schools are progressing, I spoke with administrators at three business schools at various stages in developing in-depth course content and opportunities in sustainability. Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is one of the top ranked schools in terms of course content, according to the Grey Pinstripes survey; Boulder's Leeds School of Business placed within the top 20 overall and 33rd for course content in the survey; and the Rady School of Management at the University of California at San Diego is fairly new and has not yet been ranked, but it has achieved significant progress in preparing its students and giving them opportunities to team up with cleantech researchers.

What emerged from the talks was that aside from course content and faculty research, programs such as Net Impact clubs, practicum projects, venture capital competitions and opportunities to network with green technology thought leaders and researchers had the most impact on grooming MBA students to handle sustainability and launch green start ups in the real world.

Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder -- Deming Center for Entrepreneurship

Colorado is home to NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and has a thriving cleantech industry and Leeds encourages its students to tap opportunities to gain exposure by interacting with local CEOs and executives.

The school partners with Cleantech Ventures to run the Cleantech Venture Challenge, which showcases emerging opportunities and ideas from the best universities teams around the world and offers $25,000 in prize money. It also launched the Sustainable Venturing Initiative in 2005, to foster growth in renewable energy and clean technology.