Green Mountain College’s online Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems is the first distance learning program of its kind in the country, offering an in-depth interdisciplinary understanding of food systems that empowers students to develop sustainable food solutions in their communities with faculty support.
In today’s world of complex food, nutrition and agriculture systems, we need leaders with a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.
Our Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program prepares you for a graduate level interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable agriculture and diets, and a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.
At Green Mountain College, we’ve been teaching about sustainability for two decades. Our distance MSFS program—built on the success of the College’s undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food systems and on the surging interest in food and agriculture in the U.S. and beyond—is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and is designed to provide students with the skills to conduct in-depth interdisciplinary investigations into the complex arena of their own bioregional food systems. MSFS students graduate with the knowledge and confidence to become leaders and join a cutting-edge community ready to make a difference.
The MSFS program requires 39 hours of Green Mountain College graduate credits. The courses are three credits and last six weeks. Most of our course sections range from 10-18 students, creating an ideal online learning environment.
The courses are typically taken sequentially year round, with a one week break in-between each course. You will focus on the content of each course as you proceed through the program (most students take the courses in the same order). You’ll complete projects by applying the skills and knowledge you acquire and then engage with one another and your instructors in asynchronous discussions. Discussions and course assignments are intended to be tailored to your specific area of interest in food systems and your bioregion providing you with the opportunity to also learn about your peers’ bioregions and food systems interests.
The courses that make up the 39 credits in the MSFS program are intended to be taken in a linear sequence, with each course building upon the knowledge and content learned in prior courses. Students may select the standard MSFS program or the MSFS program with a Concentration in Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity.
This optional concentration is designed for students who work in nutrition, culinary nutrition, public health and other sustainable food system fields where knowledge about diverse diets with low environmental impacts can play an important role in ensuring food and nutrition security. Students concentrating in Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity will take three credits of context courses (5000+) and another nine credits of courses which, while part of the MSFS core, have tailored assignments. These content courses (marked with an *, below) and the tailored assignments ensure that food and nutrition security, health and wellbeing and understanding dietary diversity as an ecosystem service will be at the forefront when considering one’s food system (5010*), nutrition-sensitive agricultural value chains (5050*) and the subject matter of the capstone (6090/6091*). To learn more about this concentration, please click here.
To learn more about the MSFS program, please request more information and you will gain access to your personal Green Mountain College Admissions Portal.
- SFS 5010* Contemporary Food Systems
- SFS 5020 Advanced Food and Agricultural Policy
- SFS 5030+ History of American Agriculture OR SFS 5000 Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity
- SFS 5040 Theory and Practice of Sustainable Agriculture
- SFS 5050* Vegetables and Fruits: Farm to Plate Sustainability
- SFS 5060 Livestock: Farm to Plate Sustainability
- SFS 6010 Contemporary Food and Agriculture Movements: Regional, National, and International
- SFS 6020 Food Law and Policy
- SFS 6035 Food System Solutions: Project Design and Impact Measurement
- SFS 6040 Sustainable Marketing
- SFS 6050 Sustainable Organization Management
- SFS 6060 Turning Traditions into Markets – OR – SFS 6065 Agricultural Biodiversity in the Marketplace
- SFS 6090* Capstone Proposal
- SFS 6091* Capstone Project
*If Concentrating in Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity, students will encounter specialized assignments.
+If Concentrating in Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity, this course is taken in lieu of MSFS 5030.
The GMC Advantage
We recognize that people working in changing food systems tend to be rooted in place, and the MSFS program allows students to remain committed to their communities and professions. Not only do students explore their own bioregional foodsheds, but they also contrast their findings with students from other parts of the U.S. and abroad, enhancing their understanding of food system dynamics and leverage points for change.
Here is what makes Green Mountain College’s MSFS program so unique:
- Optional-Residency Requirements Reduces Travel Time and Expense: Although we hope for all MSFS students to attend, we do not require student participation at the annual residency. Unlike other programs, we use our residencies to build relationships and enhance learning among our students, faculty, and scholars-in-residence. This means you will spend less money on obtaining your MSFS degree and less time away from work and family.
- Bioregional Approach: GMC master’s degree programs combine the best of online learning with intensive locally applied experience. We call it a bioregional approach to distance education. Rather than learning about food systems solely through examples in a textbook, students use their local foodsheds as laboratories in which to experiment with new concepts and skills.
- Leading Faculty: Our faculty possess in-depth experience teaching and researching concepts in sustainable agriculture, sustainable diets and food systems. Many of our faculty are nationally known and recognized as leaders in their fields.
- College is Recognized for Leadership in Sustainability: Sustainability has been the organizational principle of Green Mountain College for more than two decades, and the College has built a national reputation for teaching sustainability in higher education. GMC has received a perfect green rating from The Princeton Review’s Best 378 College’s Guide four years running, and is one of just four higher education institutions to land on Sierra Magazine’s top 10 “Cool Schools” list more than 5 times, earning the #1 spot for the second time in 2018. For the last two years, The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has ranked GMC first among more than 900 other institutions as best in the nation overall and for sustainability curriculum. Learn more about our awards and accolades »
- Student Variety: GMC students span the United States and the globe, bringing a breadth of perspectives and experiences that are not available in masters programs that draw the majority of their students from the same geographic area.
- Proven Online Learning System and Small Classes Facilitate Learning: This was the first online Master’s of Sustainable Food Systems. We’ve been teaching online longer than any other similar program. Our students can focus on their studies, not on dealing with technological glitches. In addition, we keep our class size small—normally, no more than 20 students per section. This ensures that you have meaningful interactions with you fellow students and receive individualized attention from your instructors.