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What is a Sustainability Studies Major and is it Right for Me?

Sponsored by, Lockheed Martin
WayUp Team

Do you care deeply about the environment and keeping it in tact for future generations? Are you passionate about a wide range of academic subjects ranging from science to the humanities? If so, a sustainability studies major might be for you.

What is a sustainability studies major?

Sustainability studies majors learn how to protect, preserve and make the smartest possible use of the planet’s natural resources. Students in this major pull from a wide range of study areas, including science, social science and the humanities. Typical classes in this major include ecology, landscape architecture, urban planning, economics, anthropology and sociology.

Is it right for me?

The field of sustainability studies is best suited for someone who is interested in current environmental challenges and looking to incorporate a variety of subject areas and research methods into their work. Pursuing a major in sustainability studies means you will be part of timely, important work to better understand and make improvements to the ways we interact with the planet.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if a sustainability studies major is right for you:

  • Am I thoughtful? Do I enjoy research-heavy work?
  • Am I open-minded in my work? Do I look at something from a variety of perspectives to find the best possible solution? Am I both creative and analytical?
  • Am I curious? Do I constantly seek out new technologies, research and ideas?
  • Am I a problem solver? Do I care deeply about finding solutions to complex challenges?
  • Am I inquisitive? Do I question how things are currently done and look for ways to do them better?

If you responded “Yes” to all or most of the above questions, then being a sustainability studies major might be for you.

What can I do with a sustainability studies degree?

There isn’t a single go-to career path for those in the field of sustainability studies. Instead, there are a wide range of career paths to choose from. Sustainability studies majors can look into positions and advanced degrees involving:

  • law
  • politics
  • policy and planning
  • journalism
  • business
  • landscape and architectural design
  • marine sciences
  • … and more

What do sustainability studies professionals earn?

With a variety of career options, there are also a range of salaries sustainability professionals can make. Chemical engineers and atmospheric and space scientists make $90,000–$93,000 on average, while environmental engineers, civil engineers, health and safety engineers and industrial engineers make between $75,500 and $79,000 on average. The average salary also goes up significantly as you advance in your career, with chief sustainability executives making an average of $167,000.