Our world is increasingly defined by our shared destiny. At PGS, we are dedicated to forging new paths to ensure a future where people, planet, and prosperity are united – sustainably.

Presidio Graduate School is the antidote to the traditional graduate school. We equip insightful, dedicated leaders who drive business and public policy breakthroughs to advance sustainability in organizations around the world.

We offer several unique degree programs — an MBA in Sustainable Solutions, the first of its kind MPA in Sustainable Solutions, and the only combined Dual MBA/MPA program. For working professionals looking to expand their skills in specific disciplines, we offer a continuing education certificate program. All programs have our systems-thinking methodology at the core. The premise we adhere to is that private enterprise and the public sector work best when they work together in service to the common good.

Our History

PGS’s vision, values, and philosophy are based mainly on the experience of its predecessor, World College West (WCW). Founded by Richard “Dick” Gray in 1973, this accredited work-study, world-study liberal arts college operated on its 194-acre environmentally designed campus in Marin County until 1992. The spirit of WCW lived on in Dick Gray’s successor institution Presidio World College founded in 1993, which is today known as Presidio Graduate School. Its experiential learning philosophy is simple: only disciplined reflection on experience leads to learning that lasts. 

For several years, Presidio World College offered non-degree courses and seminars in a program known as Sustainable Later-Life Design. These courses focused on areas contributing to an integrated, sustainable life: Purposeful Work, Physical Well-Being, Economic Security, Spiritual Grounding, Meaningful Relationships, and Commitment to the Community. At the same time, the board and administration were exploring the development of sustainability-oriented degree programs.

In 1999, Vermont’s Goddard College asked Presidio World College to develop and pilot-test a Bachelor of Arts program known as Sustainable, Ethical, Enterprise Design (SEED.)

After the successful launch of SEED in 2001, it became apparent to the design team that the significant interest in sustainability-related higher education was at the graduate level. Graduate students were looking for an option that enabled them to align their values with their work better. These men and women were seeking an MBA degree, which integrated their concerns for the sustainability of “People, Planet, and Profit.”

In response, Presidio World College launched a pioneering new kind of business school in 2003 with the first class of 22 MBA students. The curriculum focused on sustainable management education guided by a vision that integrated systems-thinking, sustainability, and pragmatic business skills. The school’s initial driving forces were Richard M. Gray and Steven Swig,  joined by Founding Provost Ron Nahser in 2004.

The school was renamed the Presidio School of Management in 2004 to better reflect its new focus. PGS’s programs met with quick success, as graduates from these early classes founded companies including Conscious Company MagazineTriplePunditEOS Climate, and EcoHome Improvement. The achievements of these students proved it was possible to train a new generation of business leaders to think about advancing, not sacrificing, social, and environmental results along with financial results. 

In 2009, PGS offered its first MPA in Sustainable Management. This new degree met the need for systems-level, intersectoral problem-solving in public administration to remedy our most pressing sustainability challenges. The school changed its name to Presidio Graduate School at this time to reflect this new path setting multisectoral approach. 

In 2011, PGS began offering an MBA/MPA Dual Degree.  This new degree was in response to students that were anticipating careers in which they would have leadership roles at organizations that operate in both the public and private sectors. 

In 2016, Presidio Graduate School merged with Pinchot University, previously known as Bainbridge Graduate School. Founded in 2002 in the Pacific Northwest by Gifford and Libba Pinchot, Sherman Severin, and Jill Bamburg,  it prospered as a new kind of business school devoted to sustainable business and transformational leadership. The combination joined together the two pioneers in sustainability graduate education.

Unlike schools that offer individual courses or programs in sustainability, Presidio Graduate School has always integrated sustainability concepts and decision-making frameworks in every single course. To date, more than 1,800 graduates have earned their MBA, MPA, or Dual degrees. These uniquely equipped graduates are leading the sustainability movement in organizations around the world.