New Guide Spotlights Expanding Roster of Green MBA Programs

New Guide Spotlights Expanding Roster of Green MBA Programs

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Herkie

The slumping economy may be dragging down the share prices of some of the nation's largest companies, but it isn't slowing down the business students dreaming of one day leading their sustainability programs, or the universities angling to train them.

This is evident in a new guide from Net Impact, the network of students and professionals promoting corporate social responsibility. The group's latest digest profiling Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs covers more than twice as many universities as its first iteration in 2006, boding well for students navigating this growing field of sustainability curricula.

"The not-surprising and good news is that students are increasingly interested in sustainability," said Liz Maw, Net Impact's executive director. "We're seeing that in the growth in entries to guide."

Maw noted that in 2006, when "Business as UNusual" first launched, only 39 schools participated. In comparison, the 2010 guide features profiles of 95 programs, including 13 international schools.

The guide, available for free download at Net Impact's website, is largely based on feedback gleaned from Net Impact student members. More than 3,000 students participated in the surveys this year, nearly three times as many as in 2006, when 1,191 students responded.

Aside from more academic players in the field, the surveys also revealed students' belief that the academic offerings are getting better, Maw said. Sixty percent of those in the survey agreed that their programs were adequately preparing students for ethical or responsible leadership, compared to 43.7 percent in 2006.

Maw pointed to a growing body of coursework now available that didn't exist when the guide first made its debut, such as a sustainable operations class at Carnegie Mellon, or an energy management course at the University of Massachusetts -- Dartmouth.

While the economic downturn continues to take its toll on hiring across all sectors, students' attitudes have improved since the last guide was compiled.

"Last year we heard a lot of desperation and depression," Maw said. "That has lifted noticeably. People are getting jobs, or are at least optimistic that they will get jobs."

There also is optimism -- or at least relief -- evident in the larger business community.

"There was a concern within the business community that sustainability would become less of a focus," Maw said. "We haven't seen that at all."

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Herkie.