College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2013-2014

Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities

Sustainable Communities, Master of Arts

This is an interdisciplinary program that enables students to create their own course of study to address their intellectual, ethical and practical concerns.
Among the earliest of its kind to be developed, this degree can enable students to merge the field of liberal studies with critical issues related to sustainability and community life.
Since sustainability implies interconnectedness and a systems understanding of knowledge, "SUS" students study the intersections between human social structures and the natural world, paying attention to the philosophical, ethical, and practical dimensions of such study. This program is issue-based:  Rather than learn a discipline, SUS students focus on a particular issue or nexus of issues.


What Can I Do with a Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities?

If you're looking to expand your personal and professional perspectives on the complex issues of contemporary society, then consider the MA in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University. Among the first of its kind, this degree can help you merge the field of liberal studies with critical issues related to sustainability and community life.
You create your own course of study, focusing on your personal, intellectual, ethical, and practical concerns. Through this program, you will take an integrated approach to several areas of study, such as anthropology, business, economics, the performing arts, and many more. Building your expertise in sustainable community practices will prepare you for a wide range of employment opportunities.

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Community organizer
  • Non-profit administrator
  • City planner
  • Ecological restoration professional
  • Journalist
  • Ecological entrepreneur

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Thesis Thesis is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 36 units:

    • SUS 601 (3 units)
    • SUS 602 (3 units)
    • SUS 603 (3 units)
    • SUS 604 (3 units)
    • Electives related to sustainable communities and focused on your area of study, chosen in consultation with your graduate advisor. Courses may include independent study and fieldwork experience, as well as special topics courses and courses from disciplines across the University. (15 units)
    • Select one of the following (6 units):

      • Integrative Project: SUS 689, for the preparation of a final integrative project.
      • Thesis: SUS 699, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis.
      Please note that, in preparing your thesis or integrative project, you may end up taking more than the 6 units of thesis/project credit because you must enroll each term while you are working on your thesis/project.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

Go to mobile site