We are a community of innovative, passionate, and committed change-makers. We aim to leave the world a better place for future generations and are equipped with the business and leadership skills to make it happen. We are Presidio Graduate School.
Presidio Graduate School is the antidote to the traditional graduate school. The collective intelligence and energy of our community and our mutually-supportive network enable us to develop insightful, dedicated leaders who drive industry breakthroughs and advance sustainability across the globe.
We are an accredited, nonprofit offering several unique degree programs — Three MBAs, the only sustainable MPA, and the only Dual MBA/MPA — as well as several certificates, all taught with our systems-thinking methodology at the core. The premise we adhere to is that private enterprise, the public sector, commerce and the common good, all must to work through their differences as companions and collaborators, not competitors.
Our flexible hybrid programs based in San Francisco or Seattle, and online PGS100 degrees, ensure that location and lifestyle aren’t an obstacle to pursuing a career with meaning. Rounded out by our weekly in-person Metro program, our full and part-time degrees and certificate programs meet almost any needs.
While PGS’s setting and educational level are new, its vision, values, and philosophy are based largely on the experience of its predecessor, World College West, an accredited work-study, world-study liberal arts college founded in 1973 and operated on its 194-acre environmentally designed campus in Marin County until 1992 but the spirit of WCW lives on in Dick Gray’s successor institution Presidio World College founded in 1993 and was renamed Presidio Graduate School (PGS) in 2003. Its experiential learning philosophy was based on the premise that only disciplined reflection on experience leads to learning that lasts. At World College West that included seminar-size classes, work experience, and a year’s study in a non-Western culture such as China, Mexico, Russia, or Nepal.
At Presidio Graduate School, students are educated and inspired to be a new generation of skilled, visionary, and enterprising leaders transforming business and public policy and creating a more just, prosperous, and sustainable world. Presidio activates students and professionals across a range of disciplines, industries, and sectors to bridge the gap between commerce and the common good.
In 1996, soon after the Presidio of San Francisco, a 200-year-old military post adjoining the Golden Gate Bridge, was converted to an urban National Park, the School established its presence in this 1,490-acre natural setting in one of the nation’s most attractive cities.
For several years, PGS offered non-degree courses and seminars in a program known as Sustainable Later-Life Design, focusing on areas contributing to an integrated, sustainable second half of life: Purposeful Work, Physical Well-Being, Economic Security, Spiritual Grounding, Meaningful Relationships, and Commitment to the Community. PGS also worked collaboratively with AARP and developed programs co-sponsored by Elderhostel, which was seeking ways to serve younger, midlife adults. But the PGS board and administration were especially interested in developing sustainability-oriented degree programs.
So, in 1999, the School signed a contract with Vermont’s Goddard College for Presidio to develop and pilot-test, during the 2000-01 academic year, a B.A.-completion program known as S E E D (Sustainable, Ethical, Enterprise Design).
Market research and focus groups revealed, however, that the major interest in sustainability-related higher education was from a different demographic group, men and women in their thirties and beyond seeking an MBA degree which integrates concerns for the sustainability of “People, Planet, and Profit.”
In 2002, therefore, the School signed an affiliation agreement with accredited Alliant International University to conduct an MBA program with a concentration in Sustainable Management.
The school has earned its own independent accreditation and acquired Pinchot University, formerly Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI). The School has conducted the two-year MBA Program in Sustainable Management for thirteen years (the first cohort enrolled in BGI in 2002 and Presidio World College in 2003 respectively). The school now offers an online only program, two MBAs in Seattle, an MPA program in Sustainable Public Administration in governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations, as well as a Dual MBA/MPA Degree and several Certificate programs in Sustainable Management for executives.
Unlike schools which offer individual courses or programs in the social, financial and environmental dimensions of business and public policy, PGS integrates all three of these dimensions to decision-making in every single course.
To date, more than 1,600 graduates have earned the M.B.A. and M.P.A. degrees. These uniquely prepared graduates are leading the sustainability movement around the globe.
In 2003, PGS was a pioneer in the field of sustainable management education with an initial class of 22 MBA students, a handful of faculty, and vision that integrated systems thinking and sustainability with pragmatic business skills. The school’s initial driving forces were Richard M. Gray and Steven Swig, followed by Founding Provost Ron Nahser in 2004. The school was rebranded as Presidio School of Management in 2004. PGS’s programs met with early success, as graduates from these early classes founded companies including Conscious Company Magazine, TriplePundit, EOS Climate, and EcoHome Improvement.
In 2009, PGS offered its first MPA in Sustainable Management as an expression of the need for systems level, intersectoral problem solving that reaches public administration to remedy our most pressing sustainability challenges. In 2011, in response to student interest, PGS began offering a MBA/MPA Dual Degree. That year, Presidio also started its center for professional education, PresidioPRO, for professionals seeking new skills.
Until 2014, PGS programs were accredited in partnership with Alliant International University. In June 2014, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges granted PGS independent accreditation.
In 2016, Presidio Graduate School merged with Pinchot University (previously Bainbridge Graduate School/BGI). Starting in 2002, Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) offered the nation’s first MBA in Sustainable Business with the focus of developing business solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges. Since then, more than 1,600 change agents from both schools, have created a networked community like no other, with an 82% job placement within three months of graduation.
Today, we are larger than ever with a far broader reach and an online program planned for fall 2017. PGS has built an accomplished team of faculty and staff, an outstanding board of directors, and a reputation for being at the forefront of the sustainability education field.