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Master of Environmental Studies (MES) in Sustainability Management

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The Program

In the 25 years since “sustainable development” was defined as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” by the United Nations report “Our Common Future” academia develops tools, concepts and systems for sustainability management, trying to meet this challenge.  

The new Masters of Sustainability Management program (Master of Environmental Studies (MES) Sustainability Management) of The University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) launching in Fall 2013 is committed to provide future leaders with the research skills, management tools, strategies and processes required to realize sustainable outcomes within business, government and third sector organizations.

SEED logoThe Sustainability Management program is now accepting applications.  

Apply for the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) in Sustainability Management here.

DON'T FORGET: Supplementary Information Form (statement of interest): Complete on Quest. Please describe your interests in sustainability management (i.e. why you want to study sustainability management). What aspects of sustainability management (e.g., developmental issues, sustainable finance, sustainable corporations, life-cycles, etc.) are of most interest to you? You may check the faculty website for research conducted at SEED. This statement should be approximately 500 words in length.

The Masters of Sustainability Management takes an interdisciplinary research-based approach where economic, social, environmental and development issues are taken into equally into account. The program will contribute to the creation of academic knowledge for methods, systems, concepts, and tools for careers in sustainability management such as academia, public policy and business analytics. Students will receive training from and will work on their academic program under the mentorship and guidance of faculty members.

Students have the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of SEED faculty members. Below you find a list of project research examples. For detailed information please contact the respective SEED faculty:

Amelia Clark

  • Sustainable Communities: Implementation of collaborative regional (or community) sustainability plans and local sustainable development and the engagement of stakeholders / partners
  • Sustainable Campuses: Institutionalizing campus environmental management in Canada
  • Social Entrepreneurship / Green Jobs: Enabling environmental change through youth-led social ventures (or initiatives) and defining the local green economy

Bruce Frayne

  • Planning for Sustainable Food Secure Cities in China and Canada
  • Urban Food Security in Southern Africa

Goretty Dias

  • LCA of bioenergy options in Canada
  • LCA of agricultural systems (e.g. greenhouse tomatoes, blueberries, beef)
  • LCA methodology development for policy- Incorporation of ecosystem service accounting into LCA OR Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment with focus on food and bioenergy systems
  • Food system assessment in China using LCA and ecological footprint analysis

Geoffrey Lewis

  • Mapping realizable renewable energy potential in Canada
  • Life cycle GHG emissions of electricity generation in Ontario
  • Commonalities between energy and transportation systems - problem solving across a disciplinary boundary
  • Unlocking the potential of smart grids - economic, social, and policy dimensions

Haiying Lin

  • Exploring “cross-sector solutions to complex environmental issues

Neil Craik

  • First Nations, Impact and Benefit Agreements and Environmental Governance: Exploring the relationship between environmental assessment, the duty to consult (First Nations) and the development of Impact and Benefit Agreements with resource developers
  • Geoengineering and International Environmental Assessment: Examining the application of the environmental assessment to geoengineering activities in the global commons.
  • Innovative (market based and information based)  forms of environmental regulation and governance in Canada and internationally.

Olaf Weber

  • Sustainable finance: The impact of social finance, microfinance and impact investment – analyses, measurement and indicators
  • Sustainability strategies for the financial sector: What is the sustainability case for banks, insurances and institutional investors?

Simron Singh

  • The Role of Biodiversity in Climate Change Mitigation in Latin America
  • Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade

Steve Young

  • The value of third-party verification in carbon accounting: Greenhouse gas emissions reporting at university campuses, including both voluntary and mandatory requirements.
  • Environmental profiles of bio-based plastics: Using life cycle assessment (LCA) to analyze environmental impacts of production of novel bio-based polymers, derived from agricultural commodities, compared to conventional plastics from fossil sources.
  • Certifying sustainability of metals: Assessing the possibilities, barriers and opportunities to certify the sources and sustainability of metals.
  • Life cycle management of lithium-ion systems: Using life cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate lithium-ion battery systems used in electric vehicles.

As SEED hosts undergraduate and graduate programs for environment, business and international development it is an ideal unit to offer the Masters of Sustainability Management that joins the Masters of Development Practice and Masters of Environment and Business as part of SEED’s growing roster of graduate-level programs. the program is aimed at Canadian and international students from a broad range of undergraduate programs in management, the social sciences, applied sciences and engineering, which address the role of for-profit, government and third sector enterprises in realizing sustainability goals in both developed and developing economies.

Course Sequence for Full-Time Students

The minimum period of full-time enrolment is three terms (one year) or its equivalent. Normally degree requirements are to be completed within a maximum of six terms (two years) for full-time study. Most full-time students are expected to complete their course requirements within their first two terms and are prepared to begin thesis research in their third term.

Term Course
Fall SUSM 601: Foundations for Sustainability Management
  SUSM 602 Theories and Concepts of Sustainability Management
  One elective
Winter SUSM 603 Research Methods for Sustainable Management
  SUSM 605 Thesis development
  One elective
Spring Summer

Research Thesis

The thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct original research under the guidance of a faculty member. Furthermore a successful thesis in the program demonstrates knowledge of existing research within the area of inquiry, the development of a sound research question and the ability to apply appropriate methods. The results of research should be original and contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the selected field. The thesis should be approximately 100 pages.


SusM 620: Business Operations and Sustainability

SusM 630: Enterprise Marketing and Social Accountability

SusM 640: Strategy for Sustainable Enterprises

SusM 650: Environmental Finance

ENBUS 621: Enterprise Carbon Management.

ENBUS 622: Product Life Cycle Assessment

ENBUS 632: Stakeholder Engagement

ENBUS 632: Sustainability Reporting

ENBUS 642: Stakeholder Engagement, Collaborations and Partnerships

INDEV 602: International Development - Theory and Practice

INDEV 604: Sustainable Cities

INDEV 605: Economics for Sustainable Development

INDEV 606: Energy and Sustainability

INDEV 607: Management for Sustainability

INDEV 608: Water and Security

INDEV 616: Urban Food Security

LED 611: Industrial Location Theory and concepts

LED 612: Land Development Planning

LED 613: Regional Development Principles and Practices

LED 615: Community Economic Development

LED 619:Regional Planning, Economic and Investment Analysis

LED 688: Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development

*Students may request permission from the SEED Graduate Advisor to enroll in elective courses in other graduate courses that will complement their program of study. Permission must also be granted by the department or program in which the courses are offered.

Degree Requirements & Graduate Courses

The interdisciplinary MES Sustainability Management program, whether pursued full or part-time, consists of four required courses, two electives that are offered by or cross-listed with SEED and a research thesis. Students are expected to complete their course requirements within their first two terms and are prepared to begin their thesis research in their third term. The four mandatory courses are, Foundations of Sustainability Management; Theories and Concepts of Sustainability Management; Research Methods for Sustainability Management; and Thesis Development. Eligibility for graduation with a Masters of Sustainability Management requires the maintenance of an average of at least 75 per cent and successful defense of a research thesis.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must possess an Honours Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a humanities, social science, health, engineering, natural science, environmental science, or business discipline with an overall average of at least 75% in the last two years.

Acceptance into the program will depend on academic standing, letters of reference, the student's subject area of interest in relation to expertise which can be offered through the MES program, and the availability of financial assistance if needed.

General admission requirements.

  • A four-year undergraduate degree equivalent in a humanities, social science, health, engineering, natural science, environmental science, or business discipline with an overall average of at least 75% in the last two years.
  • Letters of reference will be required for entrance into the program.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate command of the English language with a minimum TOEFL score of 580 (paper-based), or 90 (internet-based) or the equivalent on one of the following comparable tests: CAEL 70, IELTS 7.0, MELAB 85. (See Academic Regulations - English Language Proficiency Certification
  • Deferrals for admission and delayed entries will not be permitted.
  • Full-time and part-time studies are available. Part-time students will be obligated to complete their requirement within five calendar years from the date of their initial registration.

Tuition Fees and Scholarships

Learn more about tuition fees for domestic and international students. Interested in applying for a scholarship? Learn more about scholarship opportunities available for Sustainability Management graduate students.


How to apply

All applications are completed and submitted on-line.  Links to the application form are available on the uWaterloo Graduate Studies webpages:  There are a number of steps in the application process.

More Information

Detailed information on SEED and its faculty members is accessible at

For more information on the new Master of Sustainability Management program, contact Professor Dr. Olaf Weber, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, at oweber(at) or or Katherine MacLean at kmaclean(at)

For more information on application requirements, see the University of Waterloo Graduate Studies website at

Contact us!

Faculty of Environment
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
N2L 3G1. Dean's Office located on the third floor of Environment 1 (EV1 on map).

519-888-4567 ext. 33463

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