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Bachelor's in Sustainability Studies for Adult Learners (BASS)

College of Arts and Sciences

The adult degree completion sustainability studies program is the first of its kind in the Chicago area. Our adult learners graduate ready to tackle the sustainability problems of the 21st century.

The first sustainability bachelor’s degree in the Chicago area, this program prepares graduates to tackle the sustainability problems of the 21st century. Using insights and analytic methods from science, policy, and environmental justice, students explore natural and social ecosystems, recognize national and international implications of sustainability issues, and apply their knowledge on behalf of campus and community projects.

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Location: Chicago, Online
Start Term: Fall, Fall B, Spring, Spring B, Summer
Program Type: Major, Eight-week

Students may double-major with other adult degree completion majors in the College of Professional Studies or minor in other fields offered throughout the University. A minor and/or double-major in a professional, natural science or social science discipline gives a SUST major additional focus and power, both for graduate study or the job market.

Recommended minors include:

  • Professional: business, communications, criminal justice, hospitality and tourism management, journalism, organizational leadership, paralegal studies
  • Natural science: biology, chemistry, environmental science, math
  • Social science: economics, history, political science, psychology, social justice studies, sociology

Double-major options for the BASS adult degree completion program include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Organizational communication
  • Organizational leadership
  • Paralegal studies

What Differentiates Us


We're Number One

This is the first sustainability studies program in the Chicago-area and the first to deliver its program to adult students.

Graduate Faster

Graduate Faster

The adult degree completion program lets students earn their undergraduate degree at an accelerated pace while balancing work and family commitments. Courses in the program are conveniently offered on campus, online and in “hybrid” mode (combining face-to-face meetings and online interactions). Courses are eight weeks in length for general education and functional areas, and a traditional semester-length for courses outside the college, allowing adult students to reduce the time it takes to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Complete Your Degree Online

Complete Your Degree Online

All classes available online (24/7) with options for daytime classes.

Expectations & Requirements


The Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Studies is open to students 22 years of age and older. Its main requirements include seven core SUST courses, one SUST elective, two "relevant electives" in an appropriate subject area, an 18-semester-hour "functional area" (which may also be a minor) in a related discipline or interdisciplinary area, selected general education seminars specifically geared toward the needs and learning styles of adult learners, and general electives.

Student complete 24 semester hours in the major with 15 semester hours required at Roosevelt.

Minor Requirements

The functional area is defined as a sequence of related courses in a discipline or an interdisciplinary area. For example, students may elects six courses in one discipline such as sociology (and earn a minor, if requirements are met). Or, students may choose six courses in an interdisciplinary area such as the humanities (combining courses in, for example, speech, literature, and gender studies). Appropriate functional areas will be approved by an academic adviser in consultation with the program director.

Courses in the functional area and relevant elective may qualify for an academic minor in a discipline if all requirements are fulfilled per the RU undergrad catalog. Recommended functional areas for a SUST major include biology, chemistry, communications, criminal justice, economics, environmental science, hospitality and tourism management, math, organizational leadership, and paralegal studies.

Sample Courses

  • Sustainable Future: Environment, Economy, Equity
  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Sprawl, Transportation and Planning
  • Biodiversity
  • Service and Sustainability
  • The Sustainable Campus

Several SUST courses provide outstanding opportunities for hands-on, applied, community-based learning. SUST 330 "Biodiversity" is offered onsite each fall semester at the Field Museum of Natural History, where students conduct conservation research under the guidance of museum scientists. SUST 350 "Service Learning" is taught onsite at Chicago-based urban farms and nature centers. Most SUST classes utilize field trips and/or campus sustainability projects to provide practical learning opportunities.

More Opportunities

Clubs & Activities

The Wabash Rooftop Garden Project at RU's Chicago Campus, the RU Green student organization, the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, and the SUST at RU blog offer unique and varied opportunities for students to explore their passions and contribute to Roosevelt's sustainability mission through research, writing, and hands-on projects.

Each spring, the faculty induct eligible PLS students into Alpha Sigma Lambda, Rho Upsilon Chapter, which is an adult-focused honor society recognizing the top 20 percent of all PLS students.


"Roosevelt's locations in Chicago and Schaumburg means we have access to, and the chance to make positive impacts upon, both urban and suburban ecosystems here in the Chicago region. This is an ideal setting for studying sustainability issues and working to advance environmental justice in human and natural communities. In all of my SUST classes, even those which are fully online, I build in field trips and outdoor learning experiences to enhance what we do in the physical and virtual classrooms. My students have paddled the Chicago River, done research in the animal and plant collections at the Field Museum of Natural History, worked on urban farms, presented at local sustainability conferences, hiked through forest and prairie preserves, analyzed water quality in area streams and wetlands, and implemented many campus-based sustainability projects here at Roosevelt."

Mike Bryson
Professor & Director of Sustainability Studies​, Roosevelt University

Ron Taylor, 54, graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies. He already had a bachelor’s degree in electro engineering technology, but he wanted to move his career in a future-focused direction.

“I was at a point in my life where I was looking at where the world is going, and I became interested in sustainability.”

Ron took most of his courses online, though one of his classes was a hybrid that included a canoe trip on the Chicago River, part of an examination of sustainability issues related to water systems management. Through another of his courses, he secured an internship at a local environmental organization where he analyzed public transit policy and funding in the Chicago region.

“You can get about doing it, or you can continue to say, ‘I would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.’”

Ron Taylor - Sustainability Studies '13