MSc in Sustainability

A two-year programme providing the knowledge and practical skills necessary to solve the challenges of sustainability.

Program Level
Programme Location
Tokyo, Japan
Program Start Date
September 2024

Applications for September 2024 entry will open in December 2023. 

The programme is intended for recent graduates, professionals, and practitioners who seek to meaningfully contribute to the work of governments, civil society, the private sector, and/or the UN and other international organisations in the area of sustainability.

The programme builds on UNU’s strong record in research and capacity development, as well as the extensive network of scholars and academic institutions participating in UNU research. Practice-oriented, user-focused, and of the highest academic quality, it provides students with unique opportunities to interact with leading scholars and policymakers through lectures, international conferences, and workshops.

Students can select courses from those offered by UNU-IAS, while also enjoying the opportunity to take courses at other leading universities in Japan such as the University of Tokyo, Sophia University, and International Christian University.



Programme Structure & Language

The programme is offered on a full-time basis only. The academic year starts in September. The standard period to complete the degree requirements is 24 months or four academic semesters, excluding time spent on study leave of absence from the university. The Master of Science in Sustainability degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 30 credits and a master’s thesis project. 

The language of instruction is English. [Top]

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the Master of Science in Sustainability are required to have met the following requirements by the application deadline in order to be considered. Those who wish to participate in the double degree programme of UNU-IAS and the University of Tokyo (Department of Urban Engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering) must be shortlisted by the University of Tokyo before submitting an application to UNU-IAS.

  1. A completed bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from a recognised university or institution of higher education in a field related to sustainability in accordance with the UNU-IAS thematic areas (those who expect to receive a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent conferred before the entrance period of September 2023 may also apply);
  2. A GPA of 2.8 or above on a 4.0 scale (equivalent to 70% on a 100 % scale) for the bachelor’s degree earned and;
  3. English language proficiency.* 
  • 600 on TOEFL – Paper-Based Testing (PBT) OR
  • 100 on TOEFL – Internet-Based Testing (IBT) OR
  • 7.0 on IELTS – Academic format

* Please note that TOEFL and ILTS test scores are valid for two years. Invalid test scores will not be accepted. IELTS Indicator (7.0 and above) and TOEFL iBT Home Edition (100 and above) may be accepted for those who reside in a country where either IELTS or TOEFL test services are not provided due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNU-IAS requires original TOEFL/IELTS score reports (no photocopies accepted).

  • TOEFL: Please order an official score report using the institution code 6991. For more information on TOEFL, please visit
  • IELTS: Please request that an official report be sent directly to UNU-IAS. For more information on IELTS, please visit
  • IELTS Indicator (7.0 and above) and TOEFL iBT Home Edition (100 and above) may be accepted for those who reside in a country where either IELTS or TOEFL test services are not provided due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Top]


Application Processing Fee: None

Tuition Fee: USD 10,000 per year*

To secure admission, successful applicants will be required to pay at least 50% of the tuition fee for the first academic year (USD 5,000, non-refundable) within 10 UNU working days** after the result announcement and prior to enrollment. Students who choose to pay annually must make a full one-year tuition payment before the commencement of the academic year. Successful applicants are required to submit all documents and pay the tuition fee by the deadline.

The estimated total expenses for living and studying in Tokyo for 2 years are approximately USD 56,000, including tuition. Applicants must ensure adequate financial resources to meet the full costs of educational and living expenses. [Top]

* The fee is subject to change.
** UNU holidays can be found in Resources for Students.

Climate Action for the Paris Agreement Specialization

Under the GSD specialization, the Master’s programme also aims to enhance capacity for implementing the Paris Agreement and provide a practicum training opportunity in collaboration with global partners, with the purpose to contribute to their own country’s climate policy objectives through the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Enrolled students can earn the diploma of Master’s degree with concentration of Governance for Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Strong interest and knowledge are required on the international and national climate policy, including national mitigation and adaptation planning, scenario analysis on greenhouse gas emission, governance and law on climate change, carbon market mechanisms, and nature-based solutions. [Top]

Double Degree with the University of Tokyo

UNU-IAS and the Department of Urban Engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo offer a double master’s degree programme. Students first spend two years at the University of Tokyo, obtaining a Master of Engineering degree. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, students enroll at UNU-IAS for one year to obtain a Master of Science in Sustainability degree. The total amount of time required for this double degree programme is three years.

If you wish to enroll in this double degree programme, you must be accepted to both master’s degree programmes (the UNU-IAS MSc in Sustainability, and the Master of Engineering offered by the University of Tokyo). Information on the Master of Engineering degree is available on the University of Tokyo website. Please note that each university has different admission requirements and application deadlines. [Top]

Joint Diploma Programmes

Students of the UNU-IAS master’s degree programme are also encouraged to pursue one of two joint diplomas in sustainability science, which are offered in partnership with the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences (UT-GSFS), and with Sophia University. These diploma programmes require students to gain 34 credits, of which eight must be from courses specified by UNU-IAS and the partner university under the respective joint diploma programme. A joint diploma can only be awarded to students who successfully complete the two-year UNU-IAS master’s degree programme. [Top]