MBA Major

Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability MBA Major

The MBA Major in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (“BEES”) is designed to provide in-depth foundations for those interested in the complex relationships between business and the natural environment, management of environmental risks, and the business and economics of energy. As global energy markets grow and change rapidly and environmental challenges rise, there is a strong need for a new generation of expert business leaders who understand the rapidly evolving trends in business models, technology, regulation, and financing. Students choosing the BEES MBA Major are therefore ideally suited for the ever-expanding set of careers in energy companies, clean-tech investing, energy banking, consulting, the non-profit world, and the government. Students will gain insight into these challenges through an inter-disciplinary approach. Relevant courses are offered by departments including Business Economics and Public Policy, Finance, Legal Studies and Business Ethics, Management, Marketing, and Operations Information and Decisions. Additional courses on business, energy, and the environment can be credited toward the Wharton BEES MBA Major from the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Design, among other programs, as specified below.

The program is coordinated by the Director of the MBA Major in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (Professor Eric Orts). The ongoing design and development of the program is supported by a Wharton-wide advisory committee of faculty and affiliates with teaching and research interests in areas including environmental management, law, and policy; environmental and risk management; energy economics; and energy finance, among others. Current advisory committee members include Erik Gilje, Carolyn Kousky, Howard Kunreuther, Sarah Light, and Arthur van Benthem.

Requirements for the Major: Four Course Units (cu)

The BEES MBA Major requires four (4) units of coursework as indicated below. At least three (3) units of coursework must be from the list of Wharton courses below. Up to one (1) unit may be either from (a) the list of pre-approved non-Wharton courses (also below), or (b) a course from either inside or outside of Wharton that bears a clear relationship to the core of the major, with advance approval of the Director of the BEES Major.

Acronyms on the following list of courses refer to the following departments: Business Economics and Public Policy (BEPP), Legal Studies and Business Ethics (LGST), Management (MGMT), Marketing (MKTG), and Operations, Information and Decisions Department (OIDD).


(1) WHARTON COURSES (at least 3 cu required)

BEPP/OIDD 763: Energy Markets and Policy (van Benthem; 1 cu)

Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy. Traditional fossil fuel and electricity markets have seen a partial shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives, while rising environmental concerns have led to a wide array of new regulations and “environmental markets.” The growth of renewable energy could be another source of rapid change, but brings with it a whole new set of technological and policy challenges. This changing energy landscape requires quick adaptation from energy companies, but also offers opportunities to turn regulations into new business. The objective of this course is to provide the economist’s perspective on a broad range of topics that professionals in the energy industry will encounter. Topics include the effect of competition, market power and scarcity on energy prices, the impact of deregulation on electricity and fossil fuel markets, extraction and pricing of oil and gas, geopolitical uncertainty and risk in hydrocarbon investments, the environmental impact and policies related to the energy sector, environmental cap-and-trade markets, energy efficiency, the economics and finance of renewable energy, and recent developments in the transportation sector.

FNCE 756: Energy Finance (Gilje; 1 cu)

The objective of this course is to provide students with detailed knowledge of corporate structures, valuation methods, project finance, risk management practices, corporate governance issues, and geo-political risks in the energy industry. In general, this course seeks to provide students with an overall context for understanding energy issues and risks, and how these might affect financing and investment decisions for both providers of energy and end-users of energy.

LGST 815: Environmental Management, Law, and Policy (Light; Orts; 1 cu)

The law and public policy shape how business managers must think about their firms’ interactions with the environment.  The primary goal of this course is to learn to think critically about: (1) the relationship between business and the natural environment; (2) the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection and its effects on what business managers are charged to do; and (3) the potential to effect change in that legal and policy environment. Students will examine a series of case studies in which law, policy, and business intersect, such as the challenge of how to address electronic waste, whether informational governance in the climate context should be public or private, and how to regulate Uber and Lyft’s environmental impacts when there is a dearth of empirical evidence on the subject. The course concludes with a focus on different approaches of incorporating sustainability into business practices, including through lifecycle analysis and environmental management systems.

MGMT 720: Corporate Diplomacy (Henisz; 1 cu)

Are you well prepared to manage or analyze business challenges and competitive threats in a variety of political and social environments? For example, what should you do to dissuade or counter an individual critic armed with a camera phone and a YouTube account from filming water contamination on site? Or a decentralized grassroots organization that seemingly pops up overnight, appears to have no single leader or headquarters, and yet is quite successful in capturing media attention around your land acquisition program? Or a government official who, because of a tight reelection campaign or an internal challenge from a populist general, turns on you and denounces energy reform? Lone individuals, small activist groups and unexpected political shifts have done extensive damage to the reputations – and value – of multinationals in recent years. And yet most companies don’t plan for, or even think about, investing in building the kinds of solid relationships with community leaders, governments, NGOs, and other key players that can help them avoid such crises and, when necessary, draw upon their reservoir of stakeholder capital to respond quickly and decisively when a challenge or threat emerges. This semester-long class provides an integrative perspective towards the management of these risks and opportunities. It highlights that better assessment of stakeholder opinion, understanding of how stakeholders impact firm value and of how to infuse stakeholder relationships with trust to unlock that value are increasingly critical elements of a firm’s long-term success, particularly in extractive industries such as upstream oil & gas or mining, wind and solar power, as well as industries with heavy negative environmental impact. Firms must also focus on continual improvement in their stakeholder engagement, reinforcing their actions with strategic communications and via organizational culture. The course will give students a combination of practical tools and the latest academic thinking in the emerging field of corporate diplomacy with heavy case representation from energy and the environment.

MKTG 733: Marketing for Social Impact (Small; .5 cu)

Private and public sector firms increasingly use marketing strategies to engage their customers and stakeholders around social impact. To do so, managers need to understand how best to engage and influence customers to behave in ways that have positive social effects. This course focuses on the strategies for changing the behavior of a target segment of consumers on key issues in the public interest (e.g., health behaviors, energy efficiency, poverty reduction, fundraising for social causes). How managers partner with organizations (e.g., non-profits, government) to achieve social impact will also be explored.

OIDD/BEPP 761: Risk Analysis and Environmental Management (Kunreuther; 1 cu)

This course is designed to introduce students to the role of risk assessment, risk perception, and risk management in dealing with uncertain health, safety, and environmental risks including the threat of terrorism. It explores the role of decision analysis as well as the use of scenarios for dealing with these problems. The course will evaluate the role of policy tools such as risk communication, economic incentives, insurance, regulation, and private-public partnerships in developing strategies for managing these risks. A project will enable students to apply the concepts discussed in the course to a concrete problem.

OIDD 762: Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation (Kousky; .5 cu)

This course provides an overview of topics related to corporate sustainability with a focus on how environmentally sustainable approaches can create value for the firm.  We will explore trends in corporate practices and consider specific examples to examine the interactions between the firm and the environment.  Several guest lecturers will discuss how they have addressed sustainability within their company.  This course has three objectives: to increase students’ knowledge of sustainability practices and their impact on firm performance; to teach students to think strategically and act entrepreneurially on environmental issues; to help students design business approaches to improve environmental outcomes, while simultaneously creating value.

(2) UNIVERSITY COURSES (1 cu permitted; no advance approval necessary)

Students may count up to 1 credit unit of coursework from courses outside of Wharton toward the BEES MBA Major. The courses below do not require advance approval of the Director of the BEES Major:

  • EAS 301/501: Climate Policy and Technology
  • EAS 306/506: Electricity Systems and Markets
  • EAS 402/502: Renewable Energy and its Impacts
  • MEAM 402/502: Energy Engineering
  • ENVS 669-660: Corporate Sustainability Strategies
  • ENVS 673-660: The Future of Water
  • ENVS 674-660: Life Cycle Analysis
  • LAW 919: Energy Law and Climate Change

(3) COURSES BY PETITION (1 cu permitted with advance approval of the Director of the BEES MBA Major)

Alternatively, students may petition to take another Wharton or non-Wharton course instead of a course from list (2) above by contacting the Director of the BEES Major. Students may find it useful to look at the list of courses focusing on energy and the environment compiled by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, some of which may be approved to count toward the BEES Major: