Sustainability at Ara Institute of Canterbury
Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

Climate change is a critical issue confronting the world today; it is the “the defining issue of our time”, as United Nations secretary-general António Guterres puts it.

Inaction is expected to lead to serious consequences both on the planet and its people, which means it isn’t enough that the work reversing the threat of climate change begins now, it also requires the participation of all segments of society.

Despite the severity of the issue, there is reason to be hopeful.

Climate change awareness is growing – for instance, instead of “climate change”, prominent media outlet The Guardian now uses terms such as “climate emergency”, “climate crisis” or “climate breakdown” in its reporting to “accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world”.

Other examples include the meteoric rise of school climate strikes across the globe, fashion brands adopting more eco-friendly approaches to their clothing and the average Jane and Joe becoming more environmentally conscious and adopting more sustainable practices, such as eating less meat or buying second-hand goods.

If you’re passionate about sustainability-related issues, are looking to carve yourself a career that would help you make positive contributions to the world or become an environmental changemaker, a postgraduate degree in sustainability may just be your calling.

Sustainability at UTS

Source: University of Technology Sydney

A sustainability graduate degree can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to flexibly apply concepts of sustainable practice across various industries and organisations, including those that are looking to solve problems in sustainable practice. Depending on the institution, students from all backgrounds of study may be eligible.

If your interest is piqued, here are three institutions to consider pursuing your graduate studies in sustainability:


Ara is the largest vocational training institute in New Zealand, with campuses spread across Christchurch, Timaru, Ashburton and Oamaru. It is government-owned and holds an NZQA Category 1 Institution status, which means international students at Ara can work up to 20 hours per week, subject to satisfying requirements.

Ara attracts some 1,800 international students each year, which means students will learn in a vibrant environment with more than 50 different nationalities on campus. The institution’s internationally recognised postgraduate qualifications in sustainable practice includes a Master of Sustainable Practice, Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice and Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Practice. These programmes are designed to suit the needs of both part-time and full-time students.

Sustainability at Ara Institute of Canterbury

Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

Its Postgraduate Certificate programme introduces students to core knowledge about sustainability theory and practice alongside social and organisational change, coupled with project work relevant to their specific professional context. Meanwhile, Ara’s Postgraduate Diploma builds on the core concepts of the Postgraduate Certificate by focusing on the relationships between policy, performance indicators and practice, alongside research utilisation and collaborative interdisciplinary project work.

Its master programme offers the same courses as the PG Diploma programme, in addition to a plus 60 credit applied research dissertation where students can develop solutions to real-world sustainable practice problems through applied research inquiry and innovation.

Upon successful completion of Ara’s sustainability programmes, students will be equipped with the skills to critically analyse, evaluate and reflect on personal and professional values, perspectives, assumptions, and practices alongside sustainability related-problems and solutions.

Additionally, Ara students will also benefit from learning from seasoned lecturers with real-world experience and industry contacts, small class sizes as well as work placement opportunities to ensure they are work-ready upon graduation.


If you’re looking to take a deep dive into sustainability, this public university prides itself for its industry-driven ethos to ensure the success of their graduates in the workforce. Its website notes that sustainability is increasingly being integrated into most courses across all disciplines at UTS, which is ranked as Australia’s top young university.

Sustainability at UTS

Source: University of Technology Sydney

Courses with a sustainability focus can be undertaken in science, engineering, arts and social sciences, business, architecture and building.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) is UTS’ research institute that offers an award-winning postgraduate programme for master’s and doctoral research students. ISF’s postgraduate students work at the leading edge of complex societal problems and sustainability challenges, across diverse sustainability topics. For example, their postgraduate research delivers real-world impact on sustainability challenges, contributes to the flow of knowledge and provides transformative learning experiences for participants.

Those who are keen on becoming a postgraduate research student in the field of sustainability can choose from their Master of Sustainable Futures (Research) and Doctor of Philosophy: Sustainable Futures programmes. Here, students will be studying with world-leading academics and practitioners in their highly acclaimed research centres. This degree will equip students with specialist knowledge in their chosen field in preparation for entrepreneurial career pathways, senior roles in industry, or even in a future career in research.


Located in Singapore, NTU is a globally-recognised research institution that consistently ranks among Asia’s leading universities. Recently, they were ranked joint 11th in the QS World University Rankings 2020 and joint 48th in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020. NTU is also ranked among the world’s best young university under 50 years old by QS for six consecutive years.

Sustainability at NTU

Source: Nanyang Technological University

Prospective students keen on pursuing postgraduate research relating to sustainability may want to enrol in NTU’s Asian School of the Environment. This interdisciplinary school is a world leader in environmental research focused on Asian environmental challenges. The school integrates earth and environmental life science, ecology, engineering and technology, human ecology, humanities, and the social sciences to address key issues of the environment and sustainability.

ASE’s PhD programme is four years while their research covers a wide spectrum of areas, including the climate and environment, society and complexity, oceans and atmosphere, ecology and ecosystems, among others. Apart from working on their research, doctoral students are required to take a minimum of 24 Academic Units of classes during their PhD, which roughly translates to between six and eight courses.

Upon completing a qualifying examination their third semester, students will focus on completing their doctoral project where they will work closely with a faculty advisor. Students with a master’s degree may be allowed to waive up to half of their course requirements.

Becoming a student at NTU also entails studying in a stunning environment. Its campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world. It has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) buildings, of which 54 are certified Green Mark Platinum. ​

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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