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Certificate in Sustainable Business

Georgetown McDonough MBA students have a unique opportunity to earn a Certificate in Sustainable Business. The purpose of the certificate is to equip students with knowledge and practical experience to lead and manage successful businesses with a deep understanding of the complex social, economic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. 

Companies competing in today’s socio-economic context increasingly face new and urgent environmental and societal challenges and opportunities that materially affect their operations and business models. For instance, the global nature of supply chains, including presence in some countries with weak regulation and institutions, requires firms to undertake new approaches to supplier management in order to protect worker safety and rights, as well as safeguard their reputations. Geographical disparities in water, climate, and energy risks are inducing firms to redesign their supply chains and operations. Also, employees are engaged in the social and environmental policies and practices of their firms, as are community members and other stakeholders with vested interests in business operations.

For companies to thrive in the current socio-economic context, executives are aware of the need to anticipate and respond to environmental and social sustainability concerns, while more proactive leaders will incorporate sustainability approaches into their competitive strategies to create value.

Previously, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns were largely relegated to the spheres of corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility and were viewed as part of compliance or community relations concerns, peripheral to the core business. Today, companies understand the need to incorporate sustainability approaches into all business activities and functions, including supply chains, product design and innovation, strategy, finance and investor relations, operations, and human resources. Accordingly, companies are developing integrated ESG approaches in response to changing consumer demand, shifting employee interests, increased volatility in supply chains, and greater exposure to public scrutiny in an age of greater transparency facilitated by digital networks and other factors.

Whether students go on to lead a Fortune 500 company, launch a startup, or pursue careers that span all the three sectors — nonprofit, public, and private — students who earn the MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business will be prepared to address these challenges and identify opportunities to create value by making their businesses and industries more sustainable. 

Questions about the certificate? Contact Vishal Agrawal, academic director, at For questions related to applications and admissions, contact Christine Kidwell, associate director of Business for Impact, at


Vishal Agrawal, academic director, Certificate in Sustainable Business, and Provost’s Distinguished Lapeyre Family Associate Professor

William D. Novelli, managing director, Certificate in Sustainable Business; distinguished professor of the practice; and founder, Business for Impact

Leslie Crutchfield, adjunct professor and executive director, Business for Impact

Melissa Bradley, adjunct professor


Students who elect to enroll in the certificate program will take a 10.5-credit sequence (7.5 overlapping MBA elective credits and 3 overlapping MBA core credits) of integrated MBA core and elective courses to build understanding of challenges and opportunities related to sustainable business and how to address them. Upon graduation from the MBA Program, students will receive a notation on their official university transcript along with a certificate of completion.

Certificate Core Requirements: 3 overlapping core credits 

Structure of Global Industries (BADM 550, 3 credits): This is the first course in the MBA program for all students, offered in an intensive format using multiple instructors, teams, and projects, and an immediate immersion into international business. The first objective of the course is to develop skills of critical thinking and business decision making. This entails learning how to analyze problems with the use of theory and evidence, synthesize findings into recommendations, and communicate persuasively and effectively. The second objective is to learn the foundations of international business and economics that are necessary for managerial success and to incorporate ethical considerations into business decisions. The third objective is to learn how to function effectively in teams and make persuasive professional presentations.

The core discipline and intellectual framework for the course is international economics enriched by global strategy. Ethical considerations are introduced formally and experientially. Team work and presentation skills are learned in the context of the projects.

Certificate Elective Requirements: 3 elective credits 

Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models (OPIM 571, 1.5 credits): This course focuses on a business-oriented perspective by focusing on voluntary or economically-motivated sustainability considerations and initiatives. Among the questions addressed include:

  • How do you analyze product and process performance through life-cycle thinking and assess different types of sustainability initiatives?
  • How do product design, operations and supply chains have environmental consequences that can enhance or hurt a firm’s economic performance?
  • How can managers create value by making their operations and supply chains more environmentally sustainable?
  • What are some new business models that utilize product and process innovation to enhance environmental and economic performance?

The course covers various tools and frameworks that can aid managerial decision making in this context, and introduces a broad range of environmental sustainability issues, such as climate change, supply chain sustainability, circular economy, waste, energy and water.

Corporate Social Responsibility (STRT 610, 1.5 credits): This course focuses on the relationship between business, society and the environment, and its evolution to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) in its most current form. Students learn corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ESG concepts through the multi-stakeholder lens, challenging students to think strategically and critically about how business leaders can approach balancing the needs of different, and sometimes competing, stakeholders including customers, shareholders, employees, and suppliers, as well as communities, non-governmental organizations, and the natural environment.

Students explore approaches to the trade-offs that CEOs and managers must consider when striving to create shareholder value while delivering products and services that can impact people and the planet in both positive and negative ways. The course also explores the limits of concepts, such as CSR, ESG, corporate philanthropy and shared value; CEO activism and how today’s corporate leaders are increasingly taking stands on controversial causes; and the impact of modern consumer and citizen movements on corporations. The course will enhance students’ abilities to succeed in an age of the triple bottom line.

Certificate Electives: Must complete 4.5 elective credits from the following list

*Off-list courses including non-MBA courses with approval of the certificate academic director.

**This list of MBA electives serves as a guide. It is subject to change and does not represent a guarantee that specific courses will be offered in specific academic years.


The Certificate in Sustainable Business is designed for, and limited to, enrolled McDonough MBA students. Enrollment is open now for Full-time ’23, Flex ’23, and Flex ’24 students. 

To learn more, you can view the reorded information session here.

Eligible students can apply (new window) using the newly created common application, which will be due February 5, 2022.