Program FAQ

1. When can I begin the program?

The ISP offers rolling admission and admits students are completed. Applicants may choose to begin their application process up to 18 months in advance of their desired start time. Students can enter the program in the Fall semester (August) or Spring semester (January or March).

2. How do I apply?

Follow the checklist provided on our admissions page. We can begin to process your application once we receive the online application. An admissions decision will be made upon receipt of your academic transcripts, two references, resume, personal statement/essay, and interview form. For potential Dual Degree MBA/MS students and MBA students seeking a concentration in sustainable practice, acceptance to ISP does not guarantee acceptance to the College of Business. Students must apply to both the College of Business and ISP. You can review College of Business requirements on their webpage.

3. Do I have to have a science background?

No, in fact, the vast percentage of our students do not have science backgrounds. As a unique program, we strive to be value-added to every discipline and profession. We help you examine and explore sustainability principles and apply them to whatever interests and opportunities excite you. We've had students go through our program who are architects, teachers, homebuilders, renewable energy enthusiasts, communications professionals, Peace Corps volunteers, waiters, and more. We've found that our students really enjoy learning from others with varied backgrounds, ages and career aspirations.

4. What is the average student like?

Our students range in age from 24 to 65. Some students have 25+ years of work experience and are seeking a new career direction. Others are interested in gaining academic credentials in the field of sustainability. We also have young students fresh out of college. Though not a requirement for acceptance into the program, we do prefer for students to have at least a few years of work experience. If you don't have experience, we strive to make that a central goal of your educational journey at Lipscomb. We try to foster a diverse and unique group of individuals.

5. What about financial aid?

Many students seek federal funding and loan assistance to pay for graduate school. Other students receive tuition assistance from their employers. For financial aid questions, contact Tiffany Summers at or 615.966.6205. To learn what opportunities for graduate assistantships or institute funding are currently available, contact Rosemary McPherson at A FAFSA is required for federal assistance. Books, meals and most of the funding for travel courses is already provided through required tuition fees. Visit Lipscomb’s financial aid website for more information.

6. What is the schedule like? Can I work while in the program?

Most, if not all, of our students continue working in full-time or part-time/internship positions while in the program. Our courses are designed with the working professional in mind. Students should plan to reserve an average of 3-4 nights per week while in the program for course work, reading and project work. Graduate school should be a transformative experience, correlated to the amount of time you invest in yourself and your personal and professional development.  Classes follow one of four different formats:

  • Foundation classes meet one night per week for 8 weeks (1/2 of a semester)
  • Advanced required courses and some electives meet in a five week format, meeting a few weeknights and two intensive weekends    (typically the 2nd and 4th weekends of the month). No weeknight meetings, but class Friday evening and all day Saturday for two weekends.
  • Self-directed electives are student-driven, and involve monthly check-ins, student-and-professor negotiated due dates and assignments. Assignments and topics are determined according to students’ needs and objectives.
  • Travel courses involve weekend or weeknight pre-travel meetings, 4-10 days of travel, and post-travel weekend or weeknight meetings and will typically also have one initial night orientation meeting at the beginning of the course or two brief night orientation meetings per session and a course review session prior to the final lecture to ensure clear expectations.

7. How long does it take to complete the program?

Master's students can complete the program in 18 months if they stay on schedule and depending on their electives of choice. Certificate students can complete the program in about 6 months. Students may also stretch out their coursework for two years if work demands require more time.

8. What is required for graduation?

Please visit our Graduate Programs page to view fliers for specific programs. Our certificate program requires 15 credit hours and our Master's program requires 30 credit hours. Green MBA students complete nine hours of sustainability courses for the “green” concentration, in addition to the required business courses. Dual degree MBA/MS students complete 48 credit hours total, or 24 hours in both program.

9. What exciting opportunities are available to students at ISP?

The Institute for Sustainable Practice offers one of the only sustainability-focused graduate programs in the Southeast. Our reputation as innovators and leaders in the field attract expert speakers, lecturers and course instructors. We offer numerous ways for students to network, including the successful Green Business Summit we host each spring. We believe in using outside-the-box curriculum, team-based projects and opportunities for real-world application. Students are also required to participate in at least one travel course with the institute – past travel experiences include trips to the Greenbuild Conference (28,000+ people in attendance), a “Roots of Sustainability” tour through Vermont, trips to the Georgia Organics Conference and more.

10. What about after graduation?

Sustainability is quickly becoming a popular field, though still growing in areas like the Southeast. Our program is very entrepreneurially designed and encourages students to take advantage of opportunities for personal and professional growth. We are proud to help our students become leaders in the field of sustainable practice.