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Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership

Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership

Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership

About the Executive Master of Sustainability
Leadership degree

The Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership (EMSL) degree at Arizona State University will prepare professionals with five or more years of work experience to advance social and environmental responsibility. The program teaches organizational leadership skills through the lens of sustainability. This mostly online program with an immersive experience in Washington, D.C. equips graduates to drive high-impact global sustainable results for their companies, organizations, and communities through their own careers. Graduates will be prepared to advance sustainability practices and strategically communicate sustainability as the gold standard for best institutional practices. Through the program, students focus on strategy, global context, leadership and communications. EMSL students also are given the opportunity to have 1:1 coaching sessions once-a-month with program faculty to help with career planning and professional development.

The Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership and Master of Sustainability Leadership programs were established via the generous funding of the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation and created by the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

The program is administered in collaboration with ASU Online

Fall Start: August
Length of Program: One year
Delivery: Mostly online with one immersive experience in Washington, D.C.

Meet our EMSL Graduates

Picture of Tim Trefzer“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
~ Tim Trefzer, Sustainability Manager, Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Learning outcomes

Students graduating from this program will:

  • understand critical knowledge, approaches and tools at the interface of sustainability and leadership
  • be proficient in applying solution-based knowledge and tools for institutional development and change for sustainability
  • be able to successfully lead institutional change and development toward sustainability
  • be proficient in building and communicating cases for sustainability, including opportunities and challenges
  • understand the emerging global sustainability context and proficiency in life-long learning in this rapidly evolving arena


A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership.

Requirements and electives Hours
Core courses 18
Immersive 3
Electives 6
Culminating experience 3
Total credit hours required 30

Have less than five years of professional work experience? Or do you need a more flexible, part-time schedule? You might consider the Master of Sustainability Leadership program. The curriculum is almost identical, but it doesn’t offer an immersive experience in Washington, D.C.

Compare sustainability leadership programs.

Graduate handbooks


The MSL curriculum includes two introductory/foundational courses and four thematic areas: leadership for sustainability, sustainability and strategy, communications and change management, and global context of sustainability.

  • SOS 508 – Pathways to Sustainability (3)
  • SOS 509 – Leading Sustainability Transitions (3)
  • EMS 522 – Mastering the Global Sustainability Context (3)
  • EMS 523 – Strategic Sustainability and Leadership (3)
  • EMS 524 – Sustainability Storytelling and Communications (3)
  • EMS 525 – Essentials of Transformative Leadership in Sustainability (3)

During a week-long stay in Washington D.C., EMSL students also interact and work on teams with other members of their student cohort. The final assignment is development of a plan for a sustainability leadership capstone project.

  • EMS 508 – Immersive Experience in Sustainability Leadership in Sustainability (3)

Students select six credit hours of 500-level leadership electives in line with their overall goals and objectives for their plan of study.

Each student will undertake a capstone project, including a final presentation of project outcomes. The project will be initiated as part of the immersive experience and delivered as part of the following course.

  • EMS 516 – Capstone Course for EMSL Students (3)

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