New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Master of Sustainable Development Goals

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Availability for international students varies. Refer to the major / endorsement web pages for details.
  • Some courses are offered in block mode.

Advance your sustainability career

Massey’s Master of Sustainable Development Goals will give you an advanced grounding in the theory, practice and application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What is it like?

Find out more about entry requirements, fees and courses in the planning section.

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals is a new 180-credit taught degree focusing on the theory and practice of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme addresses the most pressing imperative facing humanity and the planet: sustainability. This degree is unique in Australasia. It presents a unique opportunity to showcase Pacific and Indigenous paradigms of sustainability as alternatives to dominant western paradigms.  

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The SDGs are the UN’s ambitious macro-level plan for humankind’s development and sustainability. The goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. UN member countries, including New Zealand, began to implement the SDGs in 2016; they will run until 2030. The goals are relevant to both “developed” and “developing” countries.

This cross-disciplinary degree addresses the three main elements of the SDGs; ecological, societal and economic sustainability.

Follow your interests

You’ll take two core courses in sustainable development. The first will introduce you to theories of sustainable development and the SDGs. The second will focus on multi-disciplinary frameworks, how to measure progress against the SDGs, and paradigms of Indigenous knowledge and practice in the field of sustainability. This will have a strong international flavour.

Then you’ll choose your endorsement from one of the four following subject specialisation areas:

  • Business and Sustainability
  • Disaster Management
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Development

Each specialisation has contemporary relevance to local, national, regional and global wellbeing. You don’t need any prior subject specialisation knowledge. These practical taught courses focus on you as a practitioner, working in an area related to sustainable development. 

Real-world research

The final 60-credit component of your degree is a research practicum. You’ll identify an agency, corporation or institution with which to work towards policies or practices guided by the SDG framework in your subject area. You’ll then conduct research on and analyse the sustainable development work undertaken by that organisation.

Get ready for the workplace

This qualification will give you:

  • the skills to establish appropriate, collaborative working relationships with professionals in the sustainable development sector;
  • an advanced ability to understand and apply the tools and approaches used in the theory and practice of sustainable development under the framework of the SDGs;
  • critical skills to evaluate the success of particular SDGs in their application to particular real-world problems;
  • a sophisticated understanding of alternative frameworks for the successful application of the SDGs; and
  • the ability to reflect critically on multidisciplinary approaches to the SDGs, their interaction with one another, and their application to complex real-world problems.

Study to suit you

The degree will be taught full-time or part-time over three academic periods (trimesters), with contact workshops on one of our three campuses.


Massey’s Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship will support students who plan a career in sustainable development.


Master of Sustainable Development Goals: Disaster Management

A good fit if you:

  • Have a degree in any subject
  • Want to address contemporary problems facing both people and planet
  • Seek skills in applying sustainable development within a private sector, government or civil society organisation
  • Are interested in alternatives to the dominant western paradigm


There is strong demand in the global marketplace for workers with the requisite new skills to translate, implement, monitor and report on the SDGs.

The SDGs are already facing challenges on how the goals’ macro-level aspirations, collected through multiple rounds of global consultation, will be translated into everyday community, health, education, and workplace settings.

Employees with the skills to implement and measure progress against the SDGs are much in demand in both public and private organisations.

Lecturer profiles

Professor David Johnston

Disaster Management

David Johnston is a Professor of Disaster Management. His research focuses on human responses to volcano, tsunami, earthquake and weather warnings, crisis decision-making and the role of public education and participation in building community resilience and recovery. In 2016 he became Co-chair of World Meteorological Organisation’s High Impact Weather Project Steering Group.

Dr Samantha Leonard

Programme coordinator

Sam Leonard has a PhD in Education for Sustainable Development. Her teaching and research interests include sustainable development theory and practice, alternative economics, people-entered development and local sustainable livelihoods. Sam is the programme co-ordinator for the Master of Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Regina Scheyvens

Global Development

Regina Scheyvens has examined issues of sustainable development for over 20 years – from logging of rainforests in the Solomon Islands to ecotourism around national parks in Southern Africa and corporate social responsibility of tourist resorts in Fiji. Her work centres on how economic development should enhance social wellbeing, in a way which supports the integrity of the natural environment. In 2019 she convened the world’s first conference on Tourism and the SDGs.

Professor Diane Pearson

Environmental Sustainability

Diane Pearson is a Professor in Environmental Management. She is interested in environmental sustainability and transdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving and natural resource management. Her expertise lies in land system change, sustainable landscape management and working towards sustainable landscapes and livelihoods.

Associate Professor Gabriel Eweje

Business and Sustainability

Gabriel Eweje is Editor-in-Chief, Corporate Governance – An International Journal of Business in Society, and Associate Editor, Business Ethics: A European Review. His background is in teaching, research and consultancy in social issues in management and sustainability. His research interests focus on business ethical behaviour, corporate social responsibility, sustainability disciplines, and the UN sustainable development goals.

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