• Application deadline

    15 May or earlier if programme reaches maximum capacity

    The application form remains open until the 15 May or until the maximum number of applications has been submitted (whichever occurs first). Number of applications allowed before application closes: 495

  • Starting date

    August 2023

  • Format

    Full-time | 12 months

  • Credits


  • Fee

    €2,314 (EEA) | €21,500 (non-EEA)

    Find more information below

  • Language


Are you determined and passionate about creating robust sustainability solutions to the world’s toughest problems? In this master, you’ll learn how to embed sustainability into the core of business’ (international) operations, how new social enterprises are changing the face of industries, and how companies and NGOs can collaborate and partner to tackle societal grand challenges.

  • 39% international students in programme
  • 89% of graduates employed within 3 months after graduation
  • Examples of your future job titles: Sustainability Consultant, ESG Financial Analyst, Sustainability Manager

What you will learn

Our courses are designed to provide you with knowledge, skills and attitude for meaningful careers in a new paradigm of business. For example, the Sustainability Grand Challenges core course sets you the task of creating new business solutions to tackle a real societal problem, and pitch it to a multi-stakeholder jury. Our elective portfolio is updated annually to reflect the fast-changing business sustainability landscape, and is closely connected with practice. For example, the elective Corporate Social Investment for Positive Change will ask you to provide guidance to real corporate social investors on the problems they are facing.

You will:

Understand organisations embedded within sustainable socio-ecological systems

Learn tools and frameworks that enable applying knowledge to create sustainability solutions

Challenge the current status-quo and critically ask ‘is this the way things should work?’

Discover how all of this works in practice through our extensive alumni network of global changemakers including CEOs, governmental politicians, professors and social entrepreneurs.

Programme highlights

  • Real business challenges

    Engage with organisations striving to develop innovative strategies and business models that answer our global sustainability challenges.

  • Core transferable skills

    Learn strong analytical and problem-solving skills – supported by interactive learning such as simulations, live business cases and role-plays – and develop interpersonal skills such as negotiation, presenting and working on interdisciplinary projects.

  • Top-rated

    RSM and GBS are consistently ranked well in (international) master rankings, for example in the national student satisfaction survey Studiekeuze 123 and the Keuzegids Top Programme award.

  • Top-notch research and curriculum

    Explore the latest theoretical knowledge and ideas of sustainable business with the latest cutting-edge advancements of practice, and create your own new solutions. The master is part of a globally leading department dedicated to researching the ethics, responsibility and sustainability of organisations nested within society – which is taught directly in the master.

  • Strong student and alumni network

    Immerse yourself in a community of passionate people seeking impactful careers for positive societal change. Alumni stay closely connected to the programme and current students through events, guest lectures and company visits – this is a great way to discover how sustainability in business really works, and to meet likeminded people who can help you find projects and maybe even a job!

More about the programme


The RSM MSc in Global Business & Sustainability programme is one academic year’s duration. Core courses are compulsory and will be offered during the autumn semester (26 EC). Master electives (18 EC) are offered during the spring semester, of which one elective can be chosen from another MSc programme. During the year, students work on a master thesis project (16 EC).

Please note that certain electives may be very popular. Although we can place most students in the elective(s) of their choice, there are no guaranteed places.

A professor talks about RSM’s MSc in Global Business and Sustainability

  View all core courses below:

Our world is facing severe global social and environmental challenges.  Human population is growing, while the resource base it relies on for wellbeing continues to decline.  We have surpassed the ecological thresholds of some of the planetary boundaries that govern a safe space for humanity, while others are being encroached with short windows of opportunity for solutions.  Basic needs of many of the world’s people remain unmet, while inequality has grown to the extent that the world’s richest 62 people are worth more than the poorest 50% of the world’s global population. 

Sustainability has now long been a boardroom agenda, yet our ecological systems continue to degrade and many social issues remain unresolved.  The reality check for business leadership is that nine billion people simply cannot live well in this world if companies do not start finding new solutions to co-create a safe operating space for humanity.  In this course we consider how leading companies are taking this challenge seriously.  

The goal of this course is to broaden participants’ understanding of sustainability, allowing for a holistic recognition of the interconnectivity of issues and their impacts on the future of business. Participants will learn the basics concepts of corporate sustainability and the meaning of ‘true corporate sustainability’ from a holistic and embedded perspective. The course engages with how and why companies form sustainability strategies and considers how an embedded perspective can be achieved through tools such as the planetary boundaries framework.  Participants will be immersed in how strategies may be implemented through a range of the contemporary advancements in sustainability leadership such as sustainable business models, integrated reporting and the circular economy. 

Students should attend and actively participate in the classes. Students are expected to engage in class discussions, ask questions of speakers, and demonstrate involvement with group exercises.  

Taught by Dr S.P. Kennedy.

This Master course primarily focusses on the global strategic and corporate perspective of multinational enterprises (MNEs). Internalizing international markets and managing operations across borders can be a very profitable exercise for firms. It, however, also comes with considerable risks and challenges. During the course, we will examine the logic behind the strategies MNEs develop to manage the risk and challenges associated with international operations.   

Beyond discussing how MNEs aim to be profitable across markets, we will consider the broader societal implications of MNE operations in both their home and host countries. MNEs are generally concerned with containing negative reputation effects that stem from their operations, and with developing a positive image resulting from the way they handle the manifold of societal issues in their firm and environment. We will analyze and formulate strategies through which MNEs can contribute to resolving the pressing societal issues defined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as inequality, corruption, and climate change. 

Taught by K. van der Straaten.

With the global population growing to 9.7 billion people, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development forecasts that if organizations do not drastically revise their way of doing business, humanity will be consuming the ecological resources of 2.3 earths in 2050. To avert the disaster that would ensue, organizations need to drive the transition toward a sustainable society, one that does not transgress planetary boundaries and where value is created for all stakeholders involved, including nature and future generations.  

This global challenge elicits questions about (a) what managers, companies and stakeholders ought to do, and (b) how they can be moved to actually act like this. Put differently, this course offers (a) a normative focus on sustainability and (b) a descriptive focus on how to motivate sustainable behaviour. 

Normative, more philosophical questions include how companies ought to treat their stakeholders, when is it right to prioritize environmental outcomes over social outcomes, how much ought we weight outcomes of future generations and how much should we rely on technological solutions. Descriptive, more behavioural questions include how consumers can be encouraged to buy green products, how managers can end up acting in immoral ways that nullify sustainable progress, what psychological barriers to sustainable behaviour people may experience, and why managers may be tempted to act in their self-interest, rather than the collective interest.  

Such questions will be discussed in the context of, among others, normative stakeholder theory, greenwashing, green consumerism, social dilemmas and environmental ethics. We will focus also on your own moral development and explore your own sustainability values, while reflecting on barriers in realizing them. 

This course emphasizes linking theory, research and practice, and therefore so do the course assignments. While the assignments are still tentative, the first assignment that is planned is for you and your team to either (a) carry out a quantitative, applied research project on a topic relevant to sustainability and ethics, or (b) conduct research using CSR-reporting from companies to identify and provide solutions for moral challenges that these companies are facing. Both assignments will allow you to further apply theory and literature on sustainability and ethics, as well as to subject your own ideas to (empirical) scrutiny, and to communicate your findings concisely, accurately, clearly and straightforwardly in a paper of 2500 words maximum. You and your team will also present your research to your fellow students, allowing you to further practice communicating your ideas. 

The second assignment consists of an individual 1000-word essay where you will reflect on material from at least two different lectures. This gives you the opportunity to creatively process the course material. Perhaps you see previously unimagined potential in some of the theories discussed in the lectures, allowing you to propose brand new applications for sustainable development in business. Perhaps you see ways to improve existing theories and make them more relevant to practice. Or perhaps you are skeptical of certain theories, the link between theory and practice, or the value of the empirical research discussed in the lectures.  

This course consists of six lectures, two consultation sessions, and one presentation session. Active participation during the lectures may count toward one’s final grade. 

Taught by Dr M. Wubben, Prof Dr M. van DijkeProf Dr M. KapteinL. de Schutter, MSc and Y. Tang, MSc.

This course focuses on the sustainability grand challenges of our times. Sustainability grand challenges can refer to environmental or ecological problems as well as social problems. Examples include climate change, land degradation and natural disasters or global displacement, poverty and inequality. Grand challenges are global problems that require combined efforts and new innovative approaches to better understand, harness, and tackle them.

In this course, you will collaborate to analyze a sustainability grand challenge and formulate ‘solutions’ by engaging multiple partners and by thinking out-of-the-box. Specifically, you work together to create a novel and (commercially) viable solution to a real-world grand challenge. The main learning goal of this course is to understand and harness a grand challenge.

You will work individually as well as in teams and under significant time pressures to analyze the grand challenge and jointly formulate a credible and feasible ‘solution’. You will individually demonstrate your understanding of the grand challenge with an individual essay and by reviewing one of your peers, and jointly develop and assess a solution in a group report. You will present the solution in the group report to a multi-stakeholder jury at the end of the course. Your groups will need to apply your learning of structuring and delivery of a message in time-restricted and context-sensitive ‘pitching’ format for this presentation.

Taught by S. Fleuren and Dr C.M. Serres.

The course consists of 4 different parts.  

Part 1: Interview strategy, your story, your aspirations
During the 1st lecture, we will develop the concept of strategy for a job interview and explore one of its key components: how to tell your introduction story.  In the associated homework assignment, you will reflect on your motivations, strengths and personality traits to try & articulate a possible career direction - all of which should be the basis for the other part of the assignment: a first draft of your introduction story.  

Part 2: Tell me about a time when...
In the 2nd lecture, we will explore how to recount in story-like manner your meaningful personal and professional experiences.  In the associated 2nd and 3rd assignments you will develop a portfolio of powerful stories that you can share as you navigate through your job search and the recruitment process.  

Part 3: Networking
In the 3rd lecture, we will explore various high impact tools to help you build your network by connect with unknown people eager to help.  You will learn how to reach out and how to conduct impactful conversations with them so that you can get advice from them and learn about the market and opportunities.  In the associated assignments you will develop a list of target organizations, conduct a networking conversation with a “mentor” and learn how to reach out to strangers to ask for help.

Part 4: Interview strategy (continued)
In the final lecture, we will complete our exploration of interview strategies.  In particular, you will learn about the non-story aspects of job interviews. In the associated assignment you will develop an interview strategy for a potential interview with one of your target employers.

Taught by N. Constantinescu.

All electives are listed below:

Circular Economy has rapidly become a buzzword, but it is not always clear how it should affect corporations, organizations, or society as a whole.

This course aims to bring conceptual clarity and develop practical knowledge of circular solutions. The Circular Economy is then explored from both an applied and theoretical perspective while looking at strategies, foundational ideas, and business models. Several examples and case studies will illustrate different views on the Circular Economy, including barriers and enabling conditions.

The course consists of in-class lectures, some of which given by guest lecturers from the government or innovative companies, as well as three assignments: An in-class group presentation and short group report– both based on real business cases – and an individual report.

Taught by P. Morseletto.

From coffee to cellphones, the production and exchange of goods and services has never been more interconnected and dynamic than it is today. The liberalization and deregulation of international trade and investment, alongside IT development, have greatly contributed to the globalization and consequent fragmentation of production and consumption processes throughout countries. The pressure on companies to take their social responsibility –beyond their primary suppliers - has increased. Companies are increasingly viewed as responsible for sustainability and resilience both within the organization as well as in its wider ecosystem of suppliers and customers. In this course we explore the history and drivers of global value chain development and the role of companies in this process.

Global value chains and value chain approaches are perceived to fulfil an essential role in realizing the SDGs. Value chain approaches, including governance, integration and upgrading, have become important instruments for various stakeholders throughout the globe to create win-win linkages among value chain participants to increase efficiency and scale, enhance value-chain performance, and promote market-based development. Entry into global value chains is perceived to allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in and reap the fruits of the global economy. During the course we will learn to understand a global value chain approach and analyse the role of various actors alongside companies, including international organizations and governments, in global value chains.

Despite the promising role of global value chains in spurring (local) development, their positive impact is not uncontested. How the benefits of value chain participation are distributed depends to a large extent on the conditions under which different actors interact. Participation in global value chains may lead to erosion of labour welfare and breakdown in social cohesion. Global trade spurs transportation, pollution and waste generation, thereby contributing to environmental degradation. There is furthermore the risk of widening economic gaps between countries, while global value chain participation might increase an economy’s vulnerability to external shocks. And although value chain participation has the potential to spur local development, Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) inclusion is by no means guaranteed. During the course we therefore critically analyze global value chain approaches as ways forward to achieve sustainability and local development.

‘Global value chains and local development’ focuses on explaining the historical development and key characteristics of global value chains, mapping different types of value chains and what this means for lead companies as ‘agents of change’, and understanding value chain approaches including governance and upgrading. Furthermore, during the course we will critically analyze the impact for different players, including stimulating economic growth, improving industry competitiveness, and realizing local development.

This course is offered to you by the Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC), a specialist research centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The PrC has the objective to connect science and practice. Linking theoretical knowledge to practical problems, experiences and phenomena is therefore one of the key principles of this course. 

Taught by Dr M. Faling.

Nowadays, in many countries the power of government is fading. Governments have failed to solve social issues and have diminished in scope. In addition, we do not only look to government anymore to solve the social issues of our time, use ally. New parties are playing an increasingly decisive role in the political and social arenas: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

What is often forgotten as an important actor in society is the civil society sphere in which philanthropic nongovernmental and non-profit organizations are active. These organizations often focus on societal issues, such as the need for distributing medical care for those who have little access to it, to reduce poverty, reduce emissions, save the whales or advocate for human rights. Many of them are focused upon advocating governments and businesses to take their responsibilities. Others are collaborating with these organizations to gain additional resources. Just like business and governments, the context in which these NPOs and NGOs operate is very diverse (maybe even more diverse!). Just like for-profit organizations, many different types of NPOs and NGOs exist. Just like for-profit organizations, these organizations serve a mission and have their particular strategies. As such, just like for-profit organizations, these organizations need to be managed properly in order to achieve their goals. In this course, you will see however, that the way in which these organizations are managed, is completely different than in the for-profit or governmental sector.

During the elective, you will be provided with a theoretical and practical background of the management of philanthropic, non-profit and nongovernmental organizations. During a number of guest lectures, organizations will provide an insight into the management of their NPO or NGO. During these lectures, specific themes within management of philanthropic organizations are highlighted and investigated. Moreover, fieldtrips to NPOs/NGOs will be arranged for you to be able to take a look into what really happens at these organisations.

The research notes will prepare you for the lectures and assignments. The individual assignment will teach you to actively connect research and practice based up on pragmatic real-life issues of NPOs/NGOs. With your group, you will create your own (fictional) NPO/NGO based on a real-life issue of your choice.

Taught by A. Turkenburg, MSc.

The growing importance of sustainable business models

Corporate leaders from smaller as well as larger companies, as start-ups as well as big corporates, are nowadays searching for new and more innovative value propositions that can be linked to more future looking and crisis resilient business models. Partly the search is for rejuvenating existing business models, but increasingly the business models introduced are a response to a society that is considered non-sustainable. Enter: the search for sustainable business models. In the literature this tendency is also referred to as ‘shared value creation’, ‘social innovation’ or ‘business model innovation’. Many synonyms are introduced for this ambition. Most of them look at societal issues from a business model (micro level: how to organise it) as well as from a societal level (macro level: what positive consequences will we have from the wide-spread introduction of the business model).

Taught by Prof. Dr R. van Tulder.

Many practitioners and academics alike argue that complex societal challenges, including sustainable development, require collaborative processes between different sectors of society (state, market and civil society). Cross-sector partnerships are therefore an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda and even have their own goal: the 17th SDG is to ‘strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’. Despite all the positive rhetoric on cross-sector partnerships, critical voices point to their limited success in addressing the systemic causes underlying the severe sustainability challenges of our times. In this course, participants are encouraged to critically analyze the concept of cross-sector partnerships, their role in sustainable development and their possible impact and frailties. As such, the course builds specifically on the core courses Sustainability Grand Challenges and Global Business Strategies, where collaboration for sustainability is introduced. This course, however, focuses on cross-sector partnerships not necessarily from a business perspective, but rather from a multi-actor perspective. 

In the course, participants are stimulated to critically look at the drivers of cross-sector partnerships, explore different types of cross-sector partnerships and the process of navigating these, carefully assess the interlinkages between partnerships and sustainable development, and look at partnerships as new forms of governance and at related issues of legitimacy and democracy. An important element of this course is the link between theoretical concepts and their practical relevance and case studies therefore play an important role. This course is developed and taught by staff of the Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC), a specialist research center at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The PrC connects scientifically sound research and practitioner experience of cross-sector partnerships to aid sustainable and inclusive development. 

Taught by Dr A.M. Schouten.

Climate change is one of today’s most pressing issues, receiving international attention from political leaders, corporations, the media, advocacy groups, and the general public. In the future, it is likely to become even more pressing as the effects of climate change intensify resource competition, natural disasters, disease vectors, water and food scarcity, and refugee migration.

According to Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, the impact of climate change is likely to change the international business environment dramatically. However, the business relevance of climate change is insufficiently understood by future decision makers in international management and society.

We believe that tomorrow’s business leaders should be educated on the key elements of climate change – the science, the evolving policy, and role of business. They can become an essential part of the solution, but only if equipped with a sound understanding of the challenges at hand and the processes by which new policies are constructed.

The Climate Change Strategy course and its Model United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) form an innovative educational approach to closing this knowledge gap. Our goal is to broaden students' understanding of climate change, climate policy, and their impacts on the future of business.

The course modules deal with the core issues of climate change and include a wide range of effective didactic tools and exercises. Students are given a deeper understanding of the background and consequences of climate change for business, and of corporate responses to it. Special emphasis is laid on international and national regulatory frameworks, and on emerging resource challenges and market opportunities. Furthermore, the course will provide students with an opportunity to develop a broad set of personal skills such as negotiation, forming strategy, research, public speaking and debating.

The 2021 edition of the course will be simultaneously offered at eight leading CEMS universities and culminates in a two-day UNFCCC simulation event at one of the business schools. Students will be using the 2015 Paris Agreement created at COP21 and be simulating the upcoming COP27. Negotiations will seek to enhance the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries and work out details of how the new mechanisms and funds will function. The big challenge is how to improve the current commitments to be in line with the universally agreed target of limiting global temperature rise to ‘well-below 2 degrees’.

Students will negotiate on issues such as mitigation of greenhouse gases (new voluntary targets, financing and compliance), adaptation to climate change (financing, climate change refugees, technology transfer), and market mechanisms (sustainable development mechanism, REDD+, aviation and shipping).

Students should attend and actively participate in the classes. Students are expected to engage in class discussions, ask questions of speakers, and demonstrate involvement with group exercises.

Review the course guide for more details.

Taught by Dr S.P. Kennedy.

Social entrepreneurship is an emerging field of academic study and real-world practice. At its core, social entrepreneurship pertains the combination of market-based and nonprofit approaches to solve social issues, a feat social entrepreneurs achieve by combining the knowledge and skills used in traditional business with a passionate commitment to having a meaningful and sustainable social impact. By combining insights from the academic literature with real cases and scenarios, the course will introduce students to both theory and practice of social entrepreneurship.

Each week, the course will focus on one important aspect or theme of social entrepreneurship, through two types of lectures: a “theoretical” lecture and a “workshop”.

  • “Theoretical” lectures will compose the first appointment of each one of the six weeks of the course. These lectures will take the form of traditional frontal lectures where the lecturer will cover the material related to the week’s topic.
  • “Workshop” lectures will instead compose the second appointment of each week and will focus on interweaving the theoretical content covered in previous lectures with real case scenarios and practical exercises. Such lectures will be interactive in nature, with in-class exercises (both individual and in groups), case-studies, and contributions from guest practitioners.

The six weeks of the course will cover the following topics

  • Week 1. Social Entrepreneurship: definition and characteristics
  • Week 2. Social entrepreneurs and opportunities recognition
  • Week 3. Hybrid business models for social enterprises
  • Week 4. Scaling impact in social entrepreneurship
  • Week 5. Evaluating social impact
  • Week 6. Group projects final presentations

Taught by Dr P. Versari.

This course provides insight in the sustainability challenges and the link to finance. The main task of the financial system is to allocate funding to its most productive use. Traditional finance focuses on financial return and regards the financial sector as separate from the society of which it is part and the environment in which it is embedded. By contrast, sustainable finance considers financial, social, and environmental returns in combination and shows how finance can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, inclusive economy.

The course reviews evidence that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors matter and explains in detail how to incorporate these in company business models and strategies, equity investing, bond investing, and bank lending. The course examines the financial instruments and techniques that can be applied in the context of evolving climate policies (and other sustainability policies). The tools will be applied in a group assignment on the valuation of a company based on ESG factors.

Taught by Prof. D. Schoenmaker.

The statistics are very clear and pressing: if we want to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we still have a funding gap of a $ 2.5 trillion annually. We therefore need to find other ways to invest in the SDGs and to scale the impact as merely financial resources will not suffice. An increasingly relevant player in this field are Corporate Social Investors (CSIs); e.g. corporate foundations, corporate social impact funds and corporate social accelerators.

Why? Because these CSIs operate in between the business and the ultimate beneficiary and are in the unique position to leverage corporate resources such as financial means, products, services, technology and the corporate network for the public good. As companies realize that by only pursuing commercial strategies, our wicked problems will not be resolved, an increasing number of companies are implementing non-commercial strategies to contribute to society. 

Indeed, CSI’s are formalized in a separate legal structure to safeguard that they put social impact at the core of their activities rather than financial return. As such, CSIs are aimed at “transforming patterns of thought, behaviour, social relationships, institutions, and social structure to generate beneficial outcomes for individuals, communities, organisations, society, and/or the environment beyond the benefits for the instigators of such transformation” (Stephan et al., 2016, p. 1252; italics added).  

The aim of this course is to introduce students to Corporate Social Investments where social impact is at the core of the activities, rather than the financial return. We will discuss why companies pursue this strategy and why they set up these organizational structures. What is the role of these CSIs in society? What are their strategies? What can they do that the company cannot? And, how are these CSIs managed efficiently and effectively?  

The course has six modules:  

Module 1: Introduction and Corporate Social Investors in Europe 

Module 2: Impact Only, Impact first or Finance First?  

Module 3: Governance and management 

Module 4: Non-financial support 

Module 5: CSI and non-profit collaboration 

Module 6: Contemporary modes of corporate social investments.  

In each module, we will be joined by an expert from the field. Guest lecturers in 2022 included representatives of Ikea Social Entrepreneurship, Philips Foundation, the Chocolonely Foundation, and Human Safety Net among others. 

Taught by P. Hendriks, MSc

Are you ready to put your newly acquired knowledge into practice? GBS students have the opportunity to do practical research at an organization thereby replacing an elective course. Any elective block may be selected. This is your chance to do a research-internship at an organisation of your choice.

The company-based project should seek to contribute to the knowledge of a practitioner, e.g., a manager or policy officer within an organization. An important aspect is that the practitioner should need the developed knowledge to act upon. Preferably, the research should not be related to the thesis though this is discussable if we can ensure it is a separate analysis/advice from your main research question.

This elective mainly focusses on in-company research. This will give students the opportunity to work exclusively within the company do a research internship for a period of 7 weeks. Doing a research internship for a longer time may be agreed on, but a minimum of 160 hours is expected.

This elective is open to GBS students only and counts as a master free elective, so not as a GBS programme elective, This means that in order to graduate you must still complete at least two GBS Programme electives. This also means that you normally cannot do this elective if you want to go on exchange.

To help you and each other move forward, there will be five organized sessions during this elective. We start the first week of the block with a kick-off session, later that week you will present your research proposal. In the third and fifth week, students will join intervision sessions to help each other move forward. Students will present their research in the last week of the course. Attendance to these sessions is mandatory.

During the entire course, the teacher will be available for questions.

Taught by Prof. L. Meijs and P. van Overbeeke.

Across the globe the natural environment is in an increasingly precarious state. In many natural environment areas, humanity has already crossed the boundaries leading to an increased risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

Organizations – entities comprising one or more individuals with a particular purpose – such as businesses, institutions, or associations across many different sectors and in various forms have been shown to play a role in this development. How they behave can have substantial implications for the natural environment around us.

But how exactly are organizations and the natural environment related? What implications do organizational actions have for the natural environment, and the natural environment for organizations? And how do organizations respond to and manage their relationship with the natural environment?

In this elective we consciously move beyond the frequently and broadly discussed topic of climate change and pay particular attention to a range of extremely important yet often less examined natural environment topics, including the themes of water, (chemical) pollution, and biodiversity (loss).

In so doing, the aim is to extend your understanding of natural environment issues in and around organizations and to enable you to have informed managerial conversations on an array of natural environment issues in your roles as future organizational leaders. Further, this course will also develop your skillset by getting you to learn about and then apply a range of tools to assess natural environment issues.

Taught be J.S. Lodge.

In many countries and industries, sustainability accounting is now acknowledged as an essential process of business operation where companies develop measures for their environmental, social, and governance performances; ensure their reliability; report to stakeholders; and assist managers in making critical decisions for their companies and society. However, adopting and implementing such a complex managerial system has become more and more challenging as the demand from stakeholders for responsible business has grown substantially during the past decades as well. This course offers a comprehensive overview of managerial processes involved in sustainability accountability. Students will learn basic concepts, theories and practices and be given opportunities to apply their knowledge and critical thinking to evaluating sustainability reports and standards.

Taught by Dr J. Choi.

The Sustainable and Equitable Food Stategies (SEFS) course aims at applying a transdisciplinary approach to answer wicked problems in the global food sector, focusing on management studies, and introducing some basic concepts of environmental sciences and social sciences. The ultimate goal is making management studies in the food sector more transformative by tackling both personal and global political aspects. The course offers an overview of the food system by investigating and exploring 3 levels of interaction: Macro (society and environment), Meso (companies) and Micro (individual consumers).

At the end, students will understand the interactions between the actors of the "global food chain" (such as governments, international institutions, local market/producers, the big food corporations and supermarket chains) that shape our food system. Sustainability in the food sector will be further analysed from the perspective of the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals.

The course draws on using a problem-oriented project-work approach by implementing action learning techniques, as well personal food journals and business case assessments, with a particular focus on corporate social responsibility and responsible citizenship. Major themes include the sustainable and equitable properties of food, transformations in food industry and global regulations. Particular attention will be dedicated to DIY sustainability of food that will be tackled from different angles, such as international dietary guidelines, the environmental impact of food production (e.g. organic vs industrial food; processed/non processed food; animal based vs plant-based food) and societal drawbacks (i.e. food security and food waste management). In order to realize this ambition, the course collaborates with Erasmus Food Lab for cooking workshops where all the theoretical knowledge will be put into practice.

Taught by Dr S. Mugnai.


Research Methodology 1 & 2 will provide students with an understanding of the basics of qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as the skills to design and implement sound research projects in the area of sustainability management. The overall aim of the course is to provide students with insights and skills to make informed choices regarding the research methodology to be used for their MSc thesis. The course is structured to coincide with work on the master thesis.  

Research Methodology 1 is focused on research design and literature review. By taking this course, students will have the opportunity to find their research topic and formulate their research questions. Research Methodology 2 offers more specific knowledge on qualitative and quantitative methods.  

Taught by Dr J. Choi.

  • This course will provide students with an understanding on the basics of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The overall aim of the course is to provide students with insights and skills to make informed choices regarding the research design to be used for their MSc thesis. The course is structured to coincide with work on the thesis.
  • In this course we provide an overview of methodological principles underlying both qualitative and quantitative methods. We will cover the following topics: research strategies and designs, sampling, common types of data collection methods (interviewing, surveys, and experiments), data analysis, writing, and research ethics.

Taught by Dr P. Choi and Dr P. Versari.

In order to start the Master Thesis Track, students need to pass their Research Proposal. From January onwards the Research Proposal and Thesis Track officially starts.

Students will have time until mid-March to hand in their Research Proposals to their coaches and co-readers, and only if they receive a pass for it, they can officially start writing their Master Thesis.

Note regarding taking courses if you are not an RSM master student: RSM does not offer the possibility for non-RSM students (master or otherwise) to take RSM MSc courses outside of official exchange partnerships or other inter-faculty agreements. If you are interested in learning more about corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or business ethics, please refer to our Open Programmes section.

For more information on all international opportunities offered at RSM, visit the website of our International Office.

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MSc Global Business & Sustainability recruiter

A recruiter talks about RSM’s MSc in Global Business & Sustainability

More than 75 % of corporate recruiters have said the most important criteria in choosing graduates is whether or not they understand the social and environmental responsibilities of corporations. The MSc in GBS covers the responsibilities and agenda of every general and strategic manager within for-profit and non-profit organisations. As such, the programme prepares you for any position in which generalists are required. Our experience indicates that around 60% of our alumni got jobs in the private sector or founded their own company; 25% work for government; 15% for non-profit or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or have founded their own NGO. 

Positions held by some of our graduates:

  • Corporate communications manager; manager of external relations 
  • International manager: managing relationships with international governmental authorities, estimating risk profiles for country investments, entry strategies, lobbying strategies and tax regimes 
  • Portfolio manager in public utilities corporations (water, energy)  
  • Product development: design and testing of new trademarks 
  • Entrepreneur: a number of graduates have set up their own business and/or NGO 
  • Journalist: investigative journalist at a number of international and national journals 
  • Controller/auditor in large multinational enterprise such as Akzo, DSM, or Shell checking for correct implementation of codes and governance principles 
  • Ethical investor: jobs at the largest institutional investors like PGGM or Robeco that are looking at ‘responsible investment’ 
  • CSR manager or ethics officer 
  • Consultant in a variety of areas: privatisation, public-private partnerships, development co-operation, ethical trading, forensic accounting and integrity.  
  • Policymaker for local and national ministries; Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs; Port of Rotterdam, provincial authorities; international organisations (Unctad, European Union, World Bank). 
  • Regulator: Researching in support of a variety of regulatory bodies in financial markets, telecommunication, competition policy, food safety and security. 
  • Professional manager in non-profit organisations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, labour organisations, Oxfam, Fair Trade organisations and the Red Cross. 

Non-EEA nationals who have earned a diploma from a higher education institute in the Netherlands can apply for a special residence permit called the orientation year after completing their studies. The 'Orientation Year for Graduates Seeking Employment' is a residence permit aimed at retaining foreign talent for the Dutch labour market. During this orientation year you are free to work without a work permit. Participants who find a job during this period can change their orientation year into a residence permit for Highly Skilled Migrants under more favourable terms.

For the most up-to-date information please visit the following website.

Career progress

Many students find positions within multinational firms and organisations, partially thanks to relationships they have developed with representatives from the world of business – as well as peers – during the programme’s corporate and other networking events. Students applying for jobs in their home countries are equipped with knowledge and skills to take with them.

Find the Employment Factsheet for your MSc programme here.

View LinkedIn profiles of our graduates

You can read more about our graduates and their career progress from their public LinkedIn profiles.

Tip: you can see more of our graduates’ profile information if you are not signed in to your LinkedIn account. Sign out of LinkedIn, then click the links.

Good to know

Career Centre

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Studying at RSM

A student's story

The RSM Experience

Education for life

Studying at RSM will be a life-changing experience. Your master degree will prepare you for a fulfilling professional life as a capable, self-assured individual. It will make you valuable to business and attractive to employers because it teaches you skills that make the most of your innovative mind. You will be challenged in and outside of the classroom, and you will gain an education based on the latest developments in business. Your master degree from RSM will include RSM’s promise of life-long learning, and membership of the more than 40,000-strong alumni network that is present in more than 110 countries which hosts activities and events all over the world.

Open intellectual culture

Your education at RSM is valuable. You will learn from academics who produce the highest quality research and the most innovative management thinking. In the classroom, sharing and questioning opinions is encouraged – yours and those of your fellow students, as well as the professors’. Many of RSM’s faculty members are young and passionate professors and researchers with outstanding academic credentials. Their work is published in top international management journals.

Engaging environment

Professors’ doors are always open for students who have questions, projects or ideas. Depending on the study programme, students have different opportunities to tailor their programme. This can, for example, take the form of a minors course, an internship, an exchange at one of over 160 partner schools worldwide, elective choices, the participation in a consulting project with a company or public sector organisation, or a thesis project in their specific area of interest. RSM’s strong links with local and international businesses and organisations offer opportunities for practical projects and real-life collaborations.

What is your ‘I WILL’?

RSM’s I WILL movement allows you to define your goals, your ambition, your drive. It’s our forward-thinking community that asks you to say something about your future. Your I WILL statement becomes part of the spirit of RSM’s diverse community of students, researchers, staff, professors, alumni and others related to the school. Making a public commitment to your goal will allow you to achieve it faster and better. What is your goal?

Rotterdam, a future-oriented city

Living and studying in Rotterdam has never been better. Rotterdam is home to one of the largest and busiest ports in the world and many multinational companies have their headquarters here. The city is famous for its stunning modern architecture, such as the Centraal Station or its covered food market, the Markthal. At the same time, the city authorities are forward-thinking in improving its liveability. There’s no shortage of restaurants, museums and theatres, yet Rotterdam is still an extremely student-friendly city with plenty of affordable student housing, and a bustling nightlife that includes events organised by students associations.

Find out more about life in the city of Rotterdam.

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Fees & Scholarships

The combination of affordable tuition fees and living costs together with quality education and an excellent global reputation make a Masters degree at RSM a clever investment.

Tuition fees 

The 2023-2024 tuition fee for the MSc programmes is approximately €21,500 for non-EEA students. The Dutch government contributes towards this cost for students who hold a nationality from a country belonging to the European Economic Area(EEA). These students therefore only pay the statutory fee of €2,314 in 2023/2024.

For EEA nationals who have already completed a master in the Netherlands (and obtained the diploma) the tuition fee for a 2nd master is approximately €12,600.

The MSc International Management - CEMS (18 months) is a longer programme, for which the tuition fee will have to be paid for the duration of the programme. The expected tuition fee for the 18-month MSc International Management - CEMS programme is approximately €32,250 for non-EEA students and is approximately €3,471 for EEA students in 2023/2024.

Please note that all these tuition fee tariffs are subject to change.


The number of scholarships is limited and mainly merit based. If a scholarship covers only the tuition fees, be aware that you need to finance your own living expenses (rent, food and insurances) for the duration of your studies. RSM does not offer scholarships for the pre-master programme. We do however offer a maximum of 2 scholarships per academic year to RSM pre-master students enrolling in an MSc programme.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) offers multiple scholarships to prospective students from non-EEA countries who are not entitled to pay the EEA tuition fee, provided their grades are considered ‘excellent’. RSM also offers one scholarship, the Erasmus Trustfonds Scholarship, to students from EEA countries. 

Besides scholarships awarded by RSM, there are also scholarships awarded by the Dutch government or other organisations that are available if you meet certain criteria such as nationality, age, etc We have listed some of them below but we encourage you to use resources such as Grantfinder or the Scholarship Portal to find additional scholarships.

Scholarship tips

  • Contact the Ministry for Higher Education in your home country to see whether there are scholarship options.
  • We have virtual information session covering all you need to know about scholarships and financial aid. Watch it here.

For students from the Netherlands or the EU/EEA, it may be possible to apply for limited funding towards payment of your tuition fees. Find out whether you meet the nationality and age requirements and read more information about the application process here.

Master Application Handling fee

After having filled in all of the necessary application information on the Online Application Form (OLAF) and uploaded the required documents, applicants with a degree obtained outside the Netherlands will be asked to pay a non-refundable €100 handling fee. This fee can be paid online via the Erasmus Payment System which uses either iDEAL (for those with a Dutch bank account) or PayPal (which can be linked to any bank account or credit card worldwide). It is important that applicants complete the payment process as indicated, otherwise the system cannot register the payment.

Additional programme related expenses

The additional expenses in addition to tuition and general living costs (see below) vary per programme and may include:

  • Study materials such as books, readers and business cases
  • Costs involved in kick-off meetings
  • Costs related to travel, international excursions and compulsory exchange semesters or internships abroad

Living expenses

For a reasonable standard of living in the Netherlands, you should have an income of between €1,000-€1,600 per month depending on your lifestyle. Further information about the costs of living in the Netherlands and related subjects can be found on this website. Below is an example of monthly expenditures:

Furnished accommodation, including gas and electricity  €   500-900
Medical insurance  €   50
Telephone/internet €   15-25
Food €   200 - 300
Books, recreation, clothing €   200 - 300
Public Transportation €   50
Total €  average 1000 - 1625
Other potential expenses:  
Buying or renting a bike €  100 - 250 (for the full 3 years)
In private residence (not student housing) yearly municipal and water taxes €  100 - 300 (per year)

Study and work - part-time jobs

Please ensure, prior to your arrival at RSM, that you have or will have sufficient funding available to finance your stay at RSM. Finding a part-time job, may be an option, but can not be guaranteed. You should therefore not rely on finding other ways to supplement your income during your studies. For additional information on obtaining a part-time job, visit the website of the Nuffic.

For EEA students there are no formal restrictions in finding work in the Netherlands, but students with a lack of Dutch language skills will find it difficult to secure employment. Non-EEA students are subject to labour regulations, which makes the likelihood of obtaining a work permit very small. We therefore ask students not to rely on this possibility. We do not encourage students to combine studies with the heavy workload from a part-time job.


Immigration & visas

Find out everything you need to know about entry visas & residence permits for non-EU or EEA students at RSM.

Release date: October 2022



Finding housing in Rotterdam can be tricky. To help you in your search for housing, we have compiled some helpful resources.

It can be difficult for organisations to do business without harming the environment or society at large. RSM stands for high-quality education which will challenge you from time to time, but you will also get rewarded for all your hard work. This master – which is not offered by many universities – gives you an advantage compared to other graduates because of the combination of knowledge and skills in business and sustainability. Future employers are really looking for people like this to help their company thrive and become resilient for the future.

Jaimy Adriaanse (MSc Global Business & Sustainability 2020)

Jaimy Adriaanse

Is it right for me?

This programme is designed for ambitious young bachelor graduates who want to help tackle sustainability challenges facing business and society. Most GBS students already have a background in business, social or environmental studies, and want to deepen their knowledge in the field of sustainability and how organisations – profit and non-profit, in a broad range of sectors – can transform their current practices to become a positive change for good. You’ll fit right in if you:

Are prepared to think critically about sustainability dilemmas

Are willing and able to analyse complex ‘wicked problems’

Desire systematic knowledge on managing for sustainability

Want to learn professional skills to collaboratively create, scale and communicate sustainability solutions.

Are you still in doubt?

Would you like extra information or support? We are here to help!

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Will you lead or will you follow?

I Will