Master of Science in Engineering for Sustainability and Health [Online]

Transdisciplinary praxis to transform our world

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Your Online Master of Engineering for Sustainability and Health Degree at USD

Learn to think through the lens of other disciplines, cultures, and practices to develop the capabilities to co-create solutions to our greatest global challenges.

The world’s problems do not stop at disciplinary boundaries. Disease, poverty, inequity and social injustice, humanitarian crises, and climate change are just a few of the interlinked global crises that are challenging us to take a more holistic view of the health of our planet and our future.

To meet these challenges, the University of San Diego has created the Master of Science in Engineering for Sustainability and Health (MESH) degree program to provide today’s problem solvers with a purposeful and critical transdisciplinary practice that incorporates complex system approaches to sustainability and health.

Who is the MESH Degree For?

We’re looking for change-makers, innovators, and disruptors from across all disciplines and backgrounds.

Whilst many of the problems we face may be related to our engineered world, the solutions cannot come from engineers alone – we will need to work together across disciplinary boundaries and create substantial alternatives to our current systems. Your experience does not need to be within an engineering discipline. The MESH program is designed for students and working professionals who are passionate about addressing the challenges that face our natural and built environments. For example you might have a background and/or relevant professional experience in areas including, but not limited to:


  • STEM
  • One-health
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Planning and Sustainability Studies
  • Urban planning
  • Sociology
  • Peace and Justice Studies
  • Political Science
  • Engineering
  • Public, International, and Global Health
  • Nursing
  • Community and Global Development Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • Anthropology
  • Architecture and Urban Design and Planning

In order to co-create solutions for the right problems it is necessary to foster the development of changemakers who:

  • Understand that the status quo cannot be sustained and that innovative, critical approaches to development are essential.
  • Believe that socio-technical innovation holds incredible potential to address our greatest challenges, provided we are able to break out of our institutional and disciplinary silos.
  • Know that we must critically assess institutions of power to better understand the interconnectivity of our communities and environment in the pursuit of justice.

Whether experienced professionals or recent graduates, from a STEM or non-STEM field, all are invited to participate in this program that prioritizes critical thinking, sustainable design, teamwork, creativity and innovation across multiple disciplines to achieve innovative praxis and novel technological solutions for global health.

For example, you might be:

  • A health professional who understands that the built environment (eg., transport, energy systems, water and sanitation) affects the health of populations, and may want to make a difference, but may not know how to impact changes.
  • An engineer working for a hydroelectric company, who wants to understand better alternatives to protect lndigenous land and local flora and fauna.
  • A peace builder who wants to understand more about the impact of mining on local communities.

Together, we’re committed to thinking and working across disciplines and asking the right questions.

Program Goals

The larger goal of MESH is to facilitate the integration of different disciplines in order to foster a critical approach to sustainability, design, and development that will have a key impact on global health and development. Beyond offering professional development, MESH positions its graduates to be able to:

  • Solve complex interdisciplinary challenges relating to engineering, health, development, peace, ecological and justice individually and as part of a group.
  • Trace the history of industrial and international development and globalization and their impacts on the built environment and the health of ecosystems and humans.
  • Demonstrate mastery over fundamental concepts of health using one health, Eco-Health and planetary health frameworks and their implications for engineering.
  • Explore and apply transdisciplinary capabilities related to new and emerging sustainable technologies in four key areas of waste, water, energy and food.
  • Design “Just Transitions” to sustainable, healthy and proven alternatives in a manner that is cost effective and achievable for local communities on up.

Career Options

The global need to achieve more sustainable human and economic development has brought significant opportunities to environmental engineering and related fields in sustainability. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that two of the top three fastest growing occupations from 2019 to 2020 were green jobs. In fact, seven out of the ten fastest-growing occupations concerned areas related to sustainability or health.

The Master of Science in Engineering for Sustainability and Health degree provides graduates with the foundational skills needed to excel in the transformation of corporate, non-profit (NPO) and non-governmental organizations (NGO) committed to a balance between technology and the built environment, sustainability, and health. The program provides mid-career professionals with the capabilities to move within their own organization or to facilitate career changes into areas concerning energy, water, humanitarian aid, corporate social responsibility, and international/global development. This program is also ideal for parents returning to work after a career break, as they can stay at home with young children whilst studying.

With a focus on critical approaches to problem solving through innovation, MESH graduates are well positioned for leadership and managerial positions. Those who wish to begin their own venture will develop the capabilities and skills needed to create and manage their own equitable organizations. Other graduates will be able to leverage their skills and experience for greater upward mobility in their professions to become value-driven, critical change-making managers, executive officers, consultants, and instructors at colleges and universities.


The MESH faculty has a unique combination of academic and practical experience. Their educational backgrounds and working experience span engineering, health, sustainability studies, and environmental justice with a focus on furthering the causes of global social and eco-justice, health politics, and education.

Additionally, the MESH program leverages ongoing input and insight from an advisory board of educators, consultants, directors and founders who work with NPOs, charities and international organizations committed to the promotion of peace, justice, indigenous rights, and sustainability.

Students can look forward to individual mentoring from expert faculty, especially over the course of their capstone project which will run throughout the entire program and enhance their applied knowledge, expertise, and professional portfolios.


The Master of Science in Engineering for Sustainability and Health is a 30-unit project-based program that is designed to be completed in 20 months over five semesters.

The program is offered 100% online using the Blackboard learning management system and requires students to take two seven-week-long courses each semester, including a culminating capstone course that involves the development and completion of a major project related to the application of sustainable change for planetary health.

The MESH program is organized around the following themes and courses:

Engineering for planetary health

Two foundational courses that introduce students to new ways of thinking about human and ecological health, and how they can be applied to a variety of different disciplines.

  • Engineering and the Health of the Planet
  • Health and the Built Environment
Engineering for sustainability

Four courses that examine past and contemporary practice and explore new and emerging technologies, to provide students with the skillset to design and develop holistic, economically viable solutions in support of sustaining the planet and human health.

  • Sustainable Energy
  • Sustainable Water
  • Sustainable Food
  • Getting to Zero Waste
Just transitions

Two courses that explore global challenges and ask students to consider new approaches in transitioning to alternatives in a manner that is just and equitable, yet economically viable.

  • Transitioning to Alternatives
  • Environmental Justice
Capstone project

This six-unit capstone project requires students to either develop a model and feasibility study or a significant change to their own practice, or to the practice of others, and explore the impact of this change. This project will run throughout the entire program, and incorporates the skills and knowledge derived from all courses in the program.

Admissions (Earn Your Degree in 20 Months)

Students are accepted throughout the year for admission into one of three semesters (Spring, Summer and Fall). Students typically take two courses in each 14-week semester, focusing intensively on one 7-week course at a time.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. A decision will be recommended by the Review Committee within one week of your application being submitted. For details on specific requirements needed for admission, please visit our Admissions page.

If you are interested in this program but do not meet all of the published admissions requirements, please contact an enrollment advisor via the form above.


University of San Diego tuition rates are competitive with other leading institutions. The cost for each program varies by credit hour; the Master of Science in Engineering for Sustainability and Health program requires a minimum of 30 total credit hours.

Financial Aid

One of University of San Diego’s highest priorities is to ensure that sufficient tuition and financial aid support is available to all eligible Master of Education program students. The first step in applying for aid is to complete the Free Application Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to financial aid, the University of San Diego provides assistance in securing additional financial support for students to further their education, including scholarships and grants.

Learn More About Financial Aid at USD


Accreditation is an important quality indicator for college and university degree programs, generally regarded as a stamp of approval that ensures you will be able to apply for financial aid and transfer your credits if you decide to switch schools. Most state universities and private non-profit universities will have a regional accreditation. The University of San Diego has earned both regional and national accreditations.

Accreditations include:

The WASC Senior College and University Commission – WASC is a regional accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid. Learn more about the importance of selecting a regionally accredited program.

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The University of San Diego, established in 1949, is a highly rated private, Catholic university that regularly earns accolades and honors from academic websites and publications. USD citations include:

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The Princeton Review

  • #3 Most Beautiful Campus
  • #12 Best-Run Colleges
  • #23 Top 50 Green Colleges

U.S. News & World Report

  • #13 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs
  • #25 International Business
  • #58 Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #66 Best Value Schools
  • #90 Best Business Programs
  • #91 National Universities

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Business Insider

  • #14 Best Colleges in the West
  • #12 Best Business Schools for Networking


  • #60 Best College Values (Private Universities)

CEO World Magazine

  • #85 Best Universities and Colleges in the World
  • #69 World’s Top Business Schools Rankings (2019)

Washington Monthly

  • #1 Promoting Public Service

Online Learning

Designed for busy working professionals, those who want to earn their master’s degree while balancing the demands of work and family life, and particularly those with a young family at home, the University of San Diego offers convenient, yet rigorous online learning programs that enable you to achieve your educational goals on your own schedule.

As an online graduate student, you will have access to your classroom at any time and can view your assignments, syllabus and course resources from any computer with internet capability.

The degree you’ll earn as an online graduate student is exactly the same as that earned by campus-based students. The online courses embody the same learning outcomes, educational rigor, and high level of academic excellence.

Ready to make a difference?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the MESH program admit international students?

Absolutely. The MESH program is designed to be global, which means we welcome students from all countries. Our innovative online format makes MESH accessible from anywhere on the globe. Your projects can be framed around local needs while also accessing globally distributed multidisciplinary expertise.

Is a GRE or GMAT required for admission?

Candidates who have an undergrad GPA above 2.5 are not required to take a GRE or GMAT; however, a standardized test such as GRE or GMAT will be required for applicants with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.5.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in science or engineering?

As a transdisciplinary degree, MESH is open to applicants with undergraduate degrees from all fields, whether STEM or non-STEM, relevant to our areas of study. Each applicant is asked to provide a written statement on how their skills, education and experience are suited to the program’s goal of understanding the relationship between engineering design and sustainability and health.

What makes this program transdisciplinary?

Traditional interdisciplinary approaches maintain a separation (or silos) between academic disciplines in praxis – they are not commingled, but rather employed alongside one another. MESH’s transdisciplinary approach aims to work across, or incorporate the knowledge of, different disciplines in tandem in order to achieve a truly innovative praxis and develop novel solutions.

Does USD offer career development/advising support?

Yes! The University of San Diego is committed to steering you on a path toward educational and professional success. Right from the start, you’ll receive support and guidance from experienced University of San Diego advisors who are invested in helping you achieve your education goals!

Are classes designed to accommodate working professionals?

Yes. The schedule of classes for the Master of Science in Engineering for Health and Sustainability is designed specifically with working professionals in mind. The online program can be completed on your own schedule (as long as deadlines are met).

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