Pioneering “green MBA” program recognized in Corporate Knights ranking
The Impact MBA at the Colorado State University College of Business has been named the No. 4 Better World MBA in the United States and No. 20 globally by Corporate Knights. It is the second consecutive year the international publication has ranked the innovative, sustainability-focused Impact MBA among the world’s best.
The Corporate Knights ranking measures MBA programs’ commitment to business sustainability, evaluating the depth to which sustainability is integrated into curriculum, the amount of sustainability-focused research generated by faculty, racial and gender diversity of faculty and the total number of alumni serving at companies focused on addressing social or environmental problems. The highly competitive and growing field included programs accredited by AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS. For the Better World MBA ranking, Corporate Knights also evaluated schools from the most recent Financial Times Top 100 MBA list including the University of Pennsylvania Wharton, Columbia Business School, Chicago Booth and the Kellogg School of Management.
The recognition affirms the power of the College of Business’ vision that business will take a lead role in driving positive social, environmental and economic change. It again places the Impact MBA’s focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit among the most innovative in the world.
“Our College’s strategic focus on Business for a Better World unites purpose and profit,” College of Business Dean Beth Walker said. “The Impact MBA’s core curriculum and faculty research are shining examples of all that vision can accomplish.”
Since it launched in 2007, the program has been at the vanguard of sustainable business education, with sustainable topics woven into its coursework on every level. Students learn from faculty who are engaged in leading-edge research into topics such as sustainable entrepreneurship, socially responsible corporate governance and public policy. After immersion into sustainability in the classroom for two semesters, students put their cutting-edge skills into practice in real-world settings as part of the program’s summer fellowship program.
Beth Walker, Dean of the College of Business at Colorado State University
The award-winning combination of classroom theory and insights with hands-on experience attracts students who aim to harness their passion for sustainability to drive change in their organizations or businesses. Program alumni span more than 70 countries, encompassing industries ranging from engineering and environmental science to international development and renewable energy. Leveraging these diverse perspectives and backgrounds, students complete the program prepared to influence change across any industry.
The value of real-world experience
The program’s signature fellowship program plays a central role in preparing students to be changemakers. By completing a summer-long, onsite fellowship, Impact MBA students gain experience leading sustainability initiatives before they graduate. This 400-hour program places students in positions developing sustainable efforts in companies such as PepsiCo, Lightning eMotors and Leprino foods, nonprofits like the Food Bank of the Rockies and working with governments like the City of Fort Collins.
As companies increasingly acknowledge their responsibility toward sustainability and recognize the bottom-line benefits that addressing it provides, Impact alumni enjoy a unique opportunity to step into an expanding field with market-proven results.
“As a leader in sustainability education, the Impact MBA has a track record of integrating the latest approaches into our curriculum,” Impact MBA Program Director Kat Ernst said. “We cultivate authentic relationships with corporate partners to ensure we’re able to provide value to them and our students through our fellowship program. This has an additional outcome of positioning our graduating students for careers in the growing sustainability space.”
Meta Bergwall completed her Impact MBA fellowship at Tailwind Nutrition in Durango.
Impact MBA alumni have positively influenced industries as diverse as finance, public lands and global development. Serving at B-Lab, Lindsey Wilson (’17) has guided other organizations developing standards and achieving B-corp certification, while Meta Bergwall (’21) leads Vail Resorts’ eastern region as sustainability manager. Nick McCulloch (’14) serves as director of sustainability at Rubicon, a tech firm managing waste and recycling solutions. They’re among the hundreds of Impact MBA alumni who use their insights into sustainability and passion for positive change.
Even before they graduate, Impact MBA students make tangible progress toward social, environmental and economic stability. Two Impact MBA students travelled to Egypt with CSU’s delegation to the United Nations’ COP27 Climate Change Conference to advocate for climate action. Another group took first prize at the Corporate Startup Lab Case Competition in Pittsburgh with a concept to provide mobile healthcare to low-income workers.
A tradition of innovation
Alyse Daunis, an Impact MBA graduate, worked to research rural energy needs in East Africa.
As a leading sustainability-focused MBA program, Impact MBA faculty and staff partner with industry leaders to ensure the program remains on the cutting edge. This partnership guides the program, allowing it to nimbly evolve to keep pace with a constantly evolving marketplace. Staff routinely participate in GreenBiz and other sustainability conferences to network with innovators and disruptors and stay abreast of the latest innovations such as net-zero business practices and green finance.
Finance will play an even larger role in the program in August 2023, when the CSU College of Business introduces the dual degree program in the Impact MBA and Master of Finance. The STEM-designated program will allow students to develop their sustainable business mindset in the Impact MBA while augmenting it with knowledge about corporate and applied finance, ESG reporting and green investment practices.
“The triple bottom line of people, planet and profit is now influencing corporate finance, too,” Ernst said. “The recent Securities and Exchange Commission proposal to make climate disclosures mandatory for investors is just one of many signals that the whole financial system is poised to shift significantly. Our dual degree students will be equipped to either do the new financial and climate analysis work themselves, or manage the team.”
Impact MBA Highlights
About CSU’s College of Business
As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.
The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for five years running and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.