Sustainability Education Ph.D.

Signature Courses
Sustainability Education and Transformational Change
Sustainability Theory and Practice
Modes of Scholarly Inquiry I and II
Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy
Climate Change


As the first doctoral program in sustainability education in North America (started in 2005) Prescott College offers a unique model of a cohort-based and collaborative learning environment for its doctoral students. The primary goal of the Ph.D. Program in Sustainability Education is to help prepare a new generation of sustainability educators and leaders who possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively serve in those roles in their own respective communities. Most uniquely, the program focuses on economic and ecological sustainability as well as social equity, bio-cultural and linguistic diversities. Building on Prescott College’s over five decades of reputation on experiential, adventure, and ecological education, the Ph.D. program’s learning environment is hands-on, engaged, collaborative, and participatory. Achieving sustainability in all dimensions depends on adopting an educational paradigm that manifests and supports change toward sustainable, equitable, and secure society. The Ph.D. Program strives to contribute to equitable educational change and building a more just future: through a socially and environmentally oriented lens.

The Ph.D. program in Sustainability Education, provides an opportunity for advanced, interdisciplinary, applied, and student-centered learning that addresses important global and local issues. It is based on the traditions, values, and educational and ecological as well as social justice philosophies that have differentiated Prescott College from other educational institutions since the 1960s. This Ph.D. Program emphasizes rigorous scholarship, critical thinking, and experiential, action-oriented, and community-based research. Based on a cohort-model of learning and scholarship, the program fosters open discourse and design of an ecologically sustainable and socially just and diverse world in the 21st century. Through respect for diverse perspectives and scholarly collaboration, integrated, applied and interdisciplinary thinking, the Ph.D. program promotes the evolution of ecological understanding, psychological/philosophical consciousness, and equitable learning for a humane and sustainable future.

Students gravitate to and leverage this program from myriad  scholarly and professional angles. It supports a transdisciplinary group of scholar-practitioners focused on sustainability in their fields, which often manifests professionally into careers in teaching, research, and leadership. 

Graduation Requirements Summary:

The PhD Program consists of 72 credits (at a minimum). The program is limited residency, primarily conducted online with annual optional residential offerings, with two total mandatory on-campus residencies. There is a recommended annual Spring Sustainability Education Symposium in Prescott Arizona, on the Prescott College campus, for student scholars to present their work, to network with students and faculty, and required for graduating doctoral students. The degree must be completed in ten or fewer years

Required on Campus Residencies: First-year Orientation (Fall semester), and one’s last term Spring Sustainability Education Symposium/graduation. All other residencies are optional to attend, but recommended.




Prescott College Sustainability Education doctoral students will:

  • Demonstrate sustained growth in their learning of the interdisciplinary field(s) of sustainability education by engaging key scholars, debates, concepts, critiques, and methods from the relevant scholarly fields and movements.
  • Analyze sustainability education as a social and environmental justice phenomenon, expressly employing an equity literacy lens.
  • Synthesize critical, innovative, and systems thinking skills as reflected in sustainability education theory, inquiry, research, and practice. 
  • Produce and disseminate scholarly knowledge, including: written, visual, and oral products.
  • Build leadership skills that foster environmental and social justice values and pedagogies.
  • Demonstration of competence will occur in the course signature assignments, the qualifying paper, the dissertation proposal, and dissertation, and will be assessed by departmental faculty and committee members.


  • College/University Faculty
  • Higher Education Leadership
  • Research Scientist
  • Corporate or Non-Profit Sustainability Director
  • Sustainability Consultant 
  • K-12 Faculty and Administration
  • Educator Professional Development/ Instructional Coach


List of References: Applicants must submit a list of two to four academic or professional references who could be called upon to address your capability to complete graduate-level work. The list must contain the reference's contact information and must briefly explain the relationship to you. You can submit your references through the application portal.. Professors, supervisors, and employers are often the best sources. 

Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae: Please upload all documents to the the application portal.

Personal Statement*: The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and no more than 1,500 words, not including a title page or reference list. Plan to write for an academic audience, and include recently published scholarly references.* Please use a current citation format utilized in educational fields such as the APA 7th edition. 

Please address the following:

  • Why are you applying to this specific program? 

     Please address your: professional and scholarly background as they pertain to the program, distance learning readiness, and alignment with Prescott College’s social and environmental justice-oriented mission and values.

  • What areas of research in Sustainability Education interest you most?

     Please suggest some potential research questions associated with these areas. 

  • What are your goals for obtaining this degree? 

     Goals could address: professional, scholarly, community impact and outreach, dissemination of knowledge, applied research, social and environmental action, and other realms.

*Note: Upon review of your application materials, the committee may request additional application support materials. These may include items such as undergraduate transcripts and/or examples of previous scholarly work. Updates and materials can be accessed and submitted through the application portal.

Official Transcripts: Official college transcripts showing all graduate-level, post-secondary coursework completed will be required prior to beginning courses with Prescott College. Official transcripts can be submitted electronically through the application portal or through the mail at:

Office of Admissions
Prescott College
220 Grove Avenue
Prescott, Arizona 86301

All transcripts submitted by mail must arrive in an official sealed envelope from the issuing institution. While unofficial transcripts may be submitted for the admissions committee to begin a preliminary evaluation of an application, official transcripts will be required to provide an official offer of admission.


  • On-campus first-time fall orientation
  • On-campus annual spring colloquium 

Phase I consists of 24 credits. The following courses are required:
Critical Foundations of Research and Scholarship (3 credits)
Sustainability: Principles and Practices (3 credits)
Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy (3 credits)
Sustainability Education (3 credits)
Climate Advocacy and Praxis (3 credits)
Additional Research Methods:
 Quantitative Research Methods (3 Credits)
 Qualitative Research Methods (3 Credits) 
Advanced Research Design (3 credits)

Phase II consists of 24 Elective Credits
Students may take no more than 18 credits of electives in Master’s courses, and therefore must take a minimum of 6 credits in PhD-specific elective Courses. Students need some combination of: 
Up to 24 credits in 7,000 level courses (at least 6 credits of Ph.D. specific electives)
Up to 18 credits in 5,000/6,000 level courses; 
This could include a practicum (Up to 6 credits) 

Phase III consists of 24 credits is the benchmark and dissertation phase and consists of:
Academic Writing Seminar  (3 credits) (Outcome: Qualifying Paper, if approved, leads to:)*Note: This could also be accomplished during phase II.
Dissertation Proposal: Doctoral Research Design (3 credits) (if approved, leads to:)
Dissertation: 18 credits total.