At Green Mountain College, we think that food should be fresh, nutritious, local, and affordable. We also believe that the well-being of the land, workers, and animals should always be kept in mind during the farming and food production processes.

We understand that upholding this standard for our country’s food systems can be difficult, but here at Green Mountain College, we are dedicated to actively raising up a generation of changemakers who can carry out sustainability-conscious methods of food production and agriculture.

That’s why we offer a Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program, a solutions-oriented program that emphasizes the development of new methods of food production and distribution that are socially just and less reliant on fossil fuels and other non-renewable natural resources.

Explore our resouce page — A Guide to Green Mountain College's 4 Premier Online  Graduate Degrees — for an in-depth look at our graduate programs in  sustainability!

Unpacking Sustainable Food Systems at GMC

GMC’s Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS) is a degree designed to help promote meaningful solutions for a cleaner and healthier planet, one food system at a time. The MSFS program connects students with the soil and the kitchen and everything in between.

GMC’s faculty members are aware of how important the understanding of sustainability and food systems is and seek to build leaders “with a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.” For that reason, we also connect students with food systems change agents who show students how to engage successfully in the Good Food Revolution — a movement that is transforming farming, food, and communities around the world.

The MSFS program at GMC is a distance-learning graduate program, and through these online courses, our applied learning approach, and our Scholar in Residence program, students have the opportunity to learn about the food systems in their own region, while also interacting with other students across the country and learning about the diversity of each system.

Sustainable Food Systems Courses:

Here are a few examples of courses in GMC’s MSFS program:

  • Contemporary Food Systems — Understand the history of dynamic shifts in food systems; learn to analyze local, regional, national, and international food systems and study the level of sustainability in different regions
  • History of American Agriculture — Analyze today’s American food system and its history of changes in order predict potential shifts and how agriculture plays a role in today’s globalized food system
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Farm to Plate Sustainability — explore current thinking, trends, and production methods for vegetables and fruits before moving into the often hidden methods and difficulties in processing, storing, distributing, preparing, and consuming these foods

Graduates of the MSFS graduate program go on to pursue careers in varying industries,  including agriculture, food services, and public health.

Below are several career options to consider as you begin your search:

Green Mountain College’s Community

For Lisa Trocchia-Balkits, a native of rural southeastern Ohio, food has always played an important role in her everyday life. She is a mother, a cook, and a gardener. She also volunteers with non-profit organizations in her community. GMC provided Lisa the opportunity to further explore her knowledge of food through the interdisciplinary and systems-based program.


Lisa embraced the online curriculum and was glad to learn GMC understood that MSFS students “were likely to be ‘place-based.’  Thanks to the distance-learning curriculum, she was able to study off campus in her home town of Athens, Ohio.

The online food systems courses allowed Lisa to learn more about her fellow online students and the food systems each of these people represented across the country.  She also praised the professors who offer expert insight and create a professional and appealing learning environment. Lisa went on to complete her PhD and is a Scholar in Residence with GMC.

Philip Ackerman-Leist is a professor of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems, as well as the director of the Sustainable Food Solutions Initiative. He is also the founder of the master’s program in Sustainable Food Systems. He started teaching at GMC more than twenty years ago and admired the school’s determination to become an advocate for sustainability and sustainability-based programs for students.

Philip enjoys working with students through hands-on field work, which he considers rare yet beneficial in college education. He finds himself constantly learning through the courses he teaches, and he is also learning through his farm work he does at home. Philip is able to apply his job as a farmer to his job as an instructor, making sustainability and food systems less theoretical and more concrete and powerful.

Be a Leader in Sustainability with GMC's Help

Attending graduate school for an education in sustainability is one way to deepen your knowledge, hone in on your skills, and discover your strengths.

Green Mountain College faculty and staff are dedicated to educating students today to be leaders tomorrow in all spheres of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic. Implementing efficient and sustainability-friendly food systems is a huge challenge that our world faces, but we’re committed to empowering students to contribute impactful change.

Interested in pursuing a graduate degree based in sustainability? Access our digital page — A Guide to Green Mountain College's 4 Premier Online Graduate Degrees — for an in-depth look at our master's programs.

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