Dec 09, 2023  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Studies in Sustainability

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  • Master of Science in Sustainability
  • Dual Degree MBA/M.S. in Sustainability
  • Certificate of Graduate Studies in Sustainability

Steve Joiner, Dean, College of Leadership and Public Policy
Emily Stutzman, Academic Director
G. Dodd Galbreath, Founding Director

Core Faculty

G. Dodd Galbreath, Assistant Professor of Sustainability
Emily Stutzman, Assistant Professor of Sustainability

Other adjunct faculty, staff, guest lecturers and program advisors associated with the graduate program in sustainability are posted on the Institute website at

The mission of the Institute for Sustainable Practice is to develop and advance the practices and profession of sustainability through education, research, training and service to the community and the world. Sustainability refers to a holistic approach in the stewardship of people, the planet, prosperity and providence. The founding principles of sustainability translate to all professions, cultures, organizations, economic markets and natural environments.

Unlike most sustainability programs, Lipscomb University equips professionals from virtually any discipline with advanced expertise in sustainability, including students with non-science backgrounds. Entry-level course work establishes a foundation in sustainability principles. These include:  fundamentals of earth science, biomimicry, business management, entrepreneurship, social justice, corporate and social responsibility, leadership, multi-media communications, conflict management, and social dynamics. .Advanced courses allow students to graduate with concentrations in sustainable food systems, renewable energy, green buildings and sites, sustainable business performance, sustainability metrics, creation care and individually designed sustainability concentrations approved by the program. Students are also able to tailor course work to individual passions and interests through course projects, elective study, independent research and a capstone project.

The Institute for Sustainable Practice offers four graduate study options: a Master of Science in Sustainability; a dual degree Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in sustainability resulting in two diplomas with less credit hours due to overlapping course work; a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Sustainability (a “half degree” option); and the MBA with a concentration in sustainability. All study options begin with the same introductory course work allowing a student to choose the best path based on their initial course experience. All courses offer assignments that students can tailor to personal or career interests. Successful practitioners in sustainability and seasoned academics provide course instruction to combine the best of market experience and subject matter delivery. Course content, field tours, sustainability travel, guest expert lectures, annual seminars and conferences provide complete insight into subject discovery, career networks and the best chances for professional success.

Lipscomb University was named one of the Princeton Review’s 2013 322 Green Colleges due to “exemplary commitment to sustainability.” For five consecutive years, the university founded and sponsored Tennessee’s first Sustainable Business Summit bringing to Nashville leading sustainability pioneers such as L. Hunter Lovins, author of Natural Capitalism; Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry; and Gary Hirshberg, founder and CEO of Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt company. The Biomimicry Institute also named the university as its first faith-based affiliate member.

Nashville and the state of Tennessee provide a superb classroom for sustainability in practice. Highlights include: three Lipscomb University ground-sourced heating and cooling system buildings and Tennessee’s first LEED Gold Certified academic building. In the surrounding region and state, there has been rapid growth in solar energy installations; a new $1.6 billion Nissan’s electric car and battery plant; a $1 billion LEED Platinum (first in the world) Volkswagen automobile plant; and the internationally significant aquatic biodiversity of the Clinch, Powell, Duck and Conasauga Rivers and the Great Smoky Mountains, among other regional wonders of creation.

Master of Science in Sustainability

The Master of Science degree consists of 30 hours of graduate course work. Since few universities offer such a degree, graduates achieve a competitive advantage for emerging sustainability positions. The degree is ideal for students from any discipline who seek a focused career in sustainability managing people and/or projects, including: corporate management; consulting; design; construction management; business performance; nonprofit development; project management; and sustainability certification.

Fifteen hours of course work compose the core foundation. Students also complete 15 additional hours of advanced courses. Some of these advanced courses allow students to further refine specializations in sustainable food systems, renewable energy, green buildings and sites, sustainable business performance, sustainability metrics, creation care, and custom designed concentrations approved by the academic director. Students must also complete a capstone experience to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding and application prior to graduation. Foreign or domestic travel to the best sustainability locations round out the program experience. Experienced academics and successful practitioners provide course content.

Many students complete the program in 12-15 months, but credits are eligible for up to ifve years. The Master of Science in sustainability is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges.

Dual Degree Program: MBA and M.S. in Sustainability

The dual degree program combines cutting edge business training with state of the art training in sustainability resulting in two diplomas. Many professionals choose this option to enhance their flexibility to meet ever shifting credential expectations. Students enrolled in the dual-degree program will complete a select grouping of courses from each program (24 hours in business and 24 hours in sustainability, depending on which travel course is selected). Successful completion of 48 hours of course work will earn students both an MBA and an M.S. in sustainable practice.

Dual degree students must participate in a global travel course, but have the option of either an MBA travel course or the sustainability travel course, as long as it is a global experience (outside of the continental U.S.).

The dual-degree option MUST be declared before the student graduates with either degree.

Certificate of Graduate Studies in Sustainability

The certificate consists of 15 hours of graduate course work and comprises one half of a master’s degree. The certificate is ideal for college graduates or masters degreed professionals of any discipline who seek additional professional credentials and fundamental skills in sustainability, without having to pursue a full graduate degree. Course work includes both theoretical and applied experiences for seasoned or new professionals.

Services and Benefits Common to all ISP Programs

  • All books, materials, and weekend meals are included in tuition unless otherwise noted during the admissions process (this does not include additional fees required for travel courses).
  • All assignments, homework submissions, exams and grading are completed electronically.
  • Professional, applied and real consulting experiences are available in every sustainability course.
  • Sustainability course meetings are held on two weeknights as course orientations or specially called meetings; on two lecture/discussion weekends; and for one final exam or presentation meeting at the end of the month, all of which occurs in one calendar month. Many classes will meet once or twice a month on a week night.
  • Graduate courses for graduate credit are open to undergraduates in their last semester of study or may be taken as undergraduate credit courses altered for undergraduate requirements.
  • All certificate credit hours can be applied to current and future sustainability graduate degrees offered through ISP, as listed in the aforementioned program summary.
  • The certificate can be completed in six to eight months and the M.S. in 12 to 15 months, but all earned course credits can be applied toward a certificate or degree for up to five years.
  • Students have the opportunity to receive a personal library of the most recent and relevant sustainability literature and a professional sustainability tool kit that includes a sustainability resume, web pages, an electronic library of best practices, professional memberships and lifelong contacts.
  • Students have the opportunity to meet national and international sustainability leaders in class lectures, at local events, at travel conferences and other additional events.
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and other professional credentials can be secured for partial or full graduate credit, depending on the credit hours required.

Admission Policies and Procedures

A four-year undergraduate degree, background courses in business or environmental sciences, as well as prior relevant work experience, will most enhance the student experience, but are not necessary for successful completion of the program and professional advancement. In addition to meeting all Lipscomb University requirements for admission, each applicant to the graduate program in sustainability must submit the following:

  1. Application Form. Each applicant must complete an application form. The application form is available at then click on “Apply by Program” to complete the online application.
  2. Application Fee. Each application should be accompanied by a $50 nonrefundable application fee.
  3. Standardized examination score or writing sample. Students must either submit the scores of a standardized examination (see below for accepted examinations) or a writing sample.
    - Standardized examination score:  Students may submit the scores of a standardized examination.  Scores from the Graduate Record Examination are preferred for students seeking their first graduate course work.  (For more information on the GRE, visit and click on GRE).  However, scores for the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), MCAT, MAT or LSAT will be accepted as substitutes for the GRE requirement.
    - Writing sample: In lieu of a standardized test score, applicants may submit a writing sample. The writing sample should demonstrate clarity of thinking, reasoning ability, logic, and strong writing and communication skills. The sample should be an academic or professional document that has been previously written and perhaps evaluated in an academic or professional setting.  Previously published work may also be considered.  The sample should not be something prepared for the sole purpose of admission to the program.
  4. References. Two letters of reference are required: one academic and one character reference.
  5. Official Transcript(s). Each applicant must submit an official transcript, showing degree conferral when appropriate, from all schools attended.
  6. Health Form. Upon acceptance, each applicant must submit a completed health form signed by a health care provider. (To print a copy of the health form, visit
  7. FERPA. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affords students certain rights of access to educational records; even if you are independent of your parents, you must submit this form prior to enrollment.
  8. Candidate Interview. Each applicant must visit the campus or meet by video conference call to participate in an interview to identify the applicant’s unique goals and objectives and to determine the applicant’s suitability for successful completion of the program and leadership potential in the field of sustainability.
  9. TOEFL. The Test of English as a Foreign Language is required for international students. (See section titled International Students for more information).

All application items should be submitted to the Institute for Sustainable Practice no later than 30 days before the beginning of the month in which the student plans to enroll. It is preferred that forms be scanned and emailed to If necessary, forms should be mailed to: The Institute for Sustainable Practice, Lipscomb University, One University Park Drive, Nashville TN 37204-3951.

Student Classifications

Students are admitted to graduate courses in one of five categories:

  1. Graduate Student: one who has satisfied all admissions requirements. (Average of 3.0 for last 60 hours, MAT/GRE acceptable scores.) A student with an incomplete admission file will be accepted to the program at the discretion of the program director but will be placed on an academic hold which will prevent registration for the following semester. Once the proper admissions documents have been received, the hold will be removed and the student will be allowed to register for the following semester.
  2. Conditionally Admitted Student: one who has been admitted conditionally, at the discretion of the program director, without satisfying all admission requirements. Students admitted with the following criteria may be required to complete a minimum of nine hours of graduate work with a grade of “B” or above before the conditional admission is removed.
    1. From an unaccredited school or with a standardized admission score below admission requirements.
    2. A transfer student with a graduate GPA between 2.50 and 2.99. The transfer student must be in good standing at the previous institution attended. The transfer student may be accepted upon approval of Registrar and program administrators.
    3. A student who has not completed a bachelor’s degree program but who is within six hours of graduation. The student must be in good standing at the previous institution attended.
  3. Non-Degree Student: one who has been admitted to graduate studies and has met all admission requirements except GPA or MAT/GRE. The student may take up to nine semester hours for graduate credit. Those hours may be applied toward a master’s degree if the student makes a grade of “B” or better in the courses taken for credit and if all admission requirements (GPA and entrance test score) are met and the student is formally admitted to a graduate program as a degree-seeking student.
  4. Visiting Student: one who is currently enrolled as a student in good standing at the post-bachelor’s level at another graduate school, wishes to take courses at Lipscomb and desires to have transcript evidence of course work done at Lipscomb provided for the school of primary enrollment.
  5. Probationary Student: one who has been readmitted to a graduate program following academic suspension from the program.

Admission to a program does not imply admission to candidacy for the master’s degree. Only those students who meet the requirements for “Graduate Student” described above are eligible for candidacy.

Transfer of Courses

Although all graduate credit hours may be transferred from another accredited institution, a maximum of nine hours will be counted toward the M.S. in Sustainability. The director or appropriate faculty member of the graduate program will evaluate the course(s) being proposed for transfer and make a determination of suitability. No course with a grade below a “B” will be considered for transfer.


Students are required to provide satisfactory documentation of personal identification for off-site learning experiences required in many programs of graduate study at Lipscomb University. Failure to provide proper credentials will result in failure to complete the desired course of study. For complete policy, see section entitled Required Documentation for Off-Site (and Virtual Classroom) Learning Experiences in the opening section of this catalog.

Academic Policies

Course Load

A student enrolled for six hours each semester is considered a full-time student. A student enrolled for less than six hours is considered a part-time student. No student will be permitted to enroll for more than 12 hours per semester without special approval from the academic director of the graduate program. See the section on “Projected Course Plan” for course schedules.

Academic Standing

  1. Good Academic Standing: To remain in good academic standing, the sustainability program graduate student must maintain a cumulative 3.00 GPA and a 3.00 GPA on the most recent 12 semester hours of work.
  2. Probation: Should the student’s cumulative graduate GPA fall below 3.00, he/she will be placed on academic probation. A student on academic probation will not be allowed to enroll for more than six hours during any term the probation applies.
    The probationary student is required to achieve a 3.00 cumulative GPA by the time the student has completed the next nine hours of course work.
    A course(s) may be repeated to achieve the requisite GPA. If the requisite GPA is attained, the academic probation status will be removed.
  3. Suspension: If the requisite GPA is not attained, the student will be suspended from graduate studies at Lipscomb for the following semester, after which the student may apply for readmission. The student may be required to appear before the graduate committee.
    A graduate course in which a student has earned a “C” or “F” may be repeated. In such cases, only the higher grade will be used to compute the student’s GPA. Failing grades will provide no credit toward the degree but will be included in figuring scholarship level, unless replaced with a higher grade by repeating the course(s). A 3.00 GPA must be maintained to be eligible for financial assistance.
  4. Appeals: Appeals to suspension decisions should be made in writing to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Appeals must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on the Monday of the week before classes begin for the term during which the student wishes to be readmitted.

Degree Completion Requirements


No period of formal residency is required.


During the course of pursuing the Master of Science in sustainability, the dual degree M.S./MBA, or the MBA concentration in sustainability, the student must be admitted to “candidacy.” For admission to candidacy the student must satisfy the following:

  1. Complete all required undergraduate deficiencies if admitted on condition.
  2. Complete at least twelve hours of graduate work.
  3. Maintain a 3.00 GPA on all courses taken toward the requirements for the degree with no incomplete grades.
  4. File a declaration of candidacy form with the graduate program office.
  5. File a degree plan in the graduate program office which meets all requirements and is approved by the administrator of the graduate program. The degree plan must be filed during the second semester of graduate work in the program.

After admission to candidacy and approval of the degree plan, any changes in the degree plan must be approved by the administrator of the graduate program. The application for candidacy must be filed before the beginning of the student’s last semester in the program. No student will be allowed to graduate in the same semester in which the application for candidacy is filed.

Statute of Limitations

All requirements for the pursuing the Certificate of Graduate Studies in Sustainability or the M.S. in sustainability, must be completed within a five-year period from the time of initial matriculation. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the ISP academic director.

Minimum Credits

The MBA concentration in sustainability requires nine semester hours of introductory sustainability course work; the dual degree MBA/M.S. in sustainability requires 24 hours in each program; the Certificate of Graduate Study in sustainability requires 15 semester hours of introductory and capstone sustainability course work; and the M.S. in sustainability requires 30 hours of introductory and specialized sustainability course work; all course work is exclusive of hours accumulated to satisfy academic deficiencies.

Minimum GPA

The minimum cumulative grade-point average is 3.00. No grade below a “C” is acceptable. Such grades will not apply toward degree completion.


Students must register for GN 999X the semester in which all course work will be completed for graduation. Students who do not file their intent to graduate form in the registrar’s office by the end of the first week of their last semester may be delayed in graduating.

Graduate students receiving degrees are hooded during the May and Dec. commencement exercises.


Any exceptions to the above stated requirements would require approval by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs in collaboration with the Dean of the College and the Program Director.

Financial Information

Tuition and Fees for 2017-18*

Tuition per credit hour $1,290
Tuition to audit 50% of tuition
Application fee $50
Application for Graduation $195
Returned payment fee $30
TouchNet payment plan enrollment fee (per semester) $60
Withdrawal fee $195
* Effective May 1, 2017  

Projected Degree Plan

Regardless of the graduate program, students should complete a degree plan or declaration of candidacy that not only includes the projected number of hours needed to enter the graduate program (leveling requirements or pre-requisites) as well as the graduate courses required to successfully earn a diploma. In this manner, the student may better plan and coordinate graduate school responsibilities with personal obligations. Leveling or other prerequisite requirements could add from one month or more to a projected program of study, depending on the degree. Please contact each individual graduate program for their pre-graduate program requirements. Please also plan to commit fully to the graduate school experience, giving priority to courses, on-campus speakers, field trips, conferences, travel, team projects, individual maturation and professional growth, and interpersonal interactions.

Program of Study Requirements

    Master of Science

    (Applied behavior analysis, biomolecular science, engineering management, exercise and nutrition science, health care informatics, information security, informatics and analytics, information technology management, clinical mental health counseling, psychology, software engineering and sustainability)


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