Distance Learning FAQ

Which Program Would Best Fit My Needs?
Financial Aid, Tuition, and Related Costs
Accreditation
Application and Enrollment
Course Schedule and Study Procedures
SFIA Credentials and Qualifications
Continuing Education Credit

Which Program Would Best Fit My Needs?

Q: What are the differences between the Green MBA and the Master of Science in Green Building programs?

A: The Green MBA degree is primarily for those seeking managerial/administrative positions in private or public institutions or as business managers of green enterprises.

The Master of Science in Green Building degree is primarily for those who want to work as designers, consultants, planners, builders, and/or LEED certifiers — with a much wider range of knowledge than that required for LEED AP status. (LEED, as widely acknowledged, really only covers about 30% of the issues in green building.)

Q: What is the difference between SFIA programs and other Green MBA or Green Building Master Degree programs?

A: Other Green MBA programs generally require frequent onsite visits and are quite costly.

SFIA has always prided itself on offering top-quality education at the lowest possible cost. There’s an assumption that “you get what you pay for,” but that can be misleading. Our programs use the same or superior textbooks as those used in other programs, and our long-standing faculty at SFIA includes world-famous, hands-on experts who are simply not available at other institutions. Our programs are designed for working professionals and are the most efficient and effective to be found anywhere in higher education.

Financial Aid, Tuition, and Related Costs

Q: What types of financial aid does SFIA offer?

A: SFIA offers reduced tuition based on financial need. SFIA also offers interest-free payment plans to help students finance their education. Payment plans enable students to pay their tuition in regular payments over time.

Q: How does SFIA determine eligibility for financial aid?

A: SFIA uses many factors to determine eligibility including financial need and academic achievement. We also offer financial aid to members of USGBC, AIA members, LEED-certified individuals, members of the military, government employees, individuals who have participated in green building initiatives, and international students.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

A: All applicants must apply for financial aid by using SFIA’s online application.

Q: When will I know if I am eligible for financial aid?

A: All applicants will receive notification by email within 1-3 business days.

Q: If I receive financial aid, must I enroll in the program within a certain time period?

A: You must enroll in the program within 30 days of receiving notification of award of financial aid, or resubmit your application.

Q: Is financial aid available for all programs?

A: Financial aid is currently available for select distance learning programs. For the list of eligible programs please refer to the financial aid application form

Q: Are there any additional fees? What is the cost of textbooks?

A: There are no additional fees. You are responsible for purchasing your textbooks. (We recommend Amazon.com for reasonable textbook cost and fast delivery.) Total textbook cost will range from $500 to $750.

Q: Why is tuition so low?

A: Since the founding of SFIA in 1990, our guiding principle has been to deliver the highest-quality education at the lowest-possible cost. We have always opposed students taking on oppressive student loans that can saddle them with debt for years after graduation. The Internet allows us to provide all the essentials of traditional education, in exchange for affordable tuition rates.

Accreditation

Q: What is the status of accreditation?

A: Part of SFIA’s strategic plan is to become accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body in the near term. The accrediting agency is recognized by both the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If you would like to be notified once SFIA receives accreditation please send an email request to accreditation-update@sfia.net.

Course Schedule and Study Procedures

Q: How long will it take me to complete a Program? Are there deadlines?

A: If you can schedule an hour or more each evening for four nights a week, and four to five hours on weekends, you can expect to finish a degree program in 9 to 12 months.

There are no deadlines. The programs are completely self paced; you can start and finish at any time.

Q: How do the courses work? Is instruction online?

A: The program is textbook based, completely self paced.

You’ll read the textbooks chapter by chapter and write checklist format outlines of each chapter’s content. In addition, you’ll write a couple of paragraphs on the significance of the chapter information to you and/or your work. These are called “tell backs” — a very efficient and effective way to learn. Your course work and our reviews are emailed as Word documents. There are no exams, since they do not enhance the learning process.

Q: What about faculty contact, feedback, and grading?

A: Faculty will review your first few “tell backs,” to make sure your work is on track; will review your work again halfway through each course; and will provide a final review and grade at the conclusion of each course. If your work is done as specified, you will earn an A. If your work is well above the norm, you will earn an A+. Faculty counseling and answers to questions are always available, via e-mail.

Q: Is travel to the campus necessary?

A: No, although all our SFIA students are welcome to visit, sit in on, or enroll in SFIA’s Bay Area onsite classes. See www.sfia.net for current class schedules.

Q: What kind of degree will I receive on graduation?

A: You will receive a full degree diploma and transcript from SFIA, when you have completed all Program assignment work.

Application and Enrollment

Q: Is an undergraduate degree required for the GMBA or MSGB Degree Programs?

A: If you have an undergraduate degree and/or are active in the green building design or construction industries, you are qualified. LEED AP or LEED Associate status is also sufficient. If you’re in doubt, please contact us.

Q: Are there any prerequisites for SFIA courses or programs?

A: All courses are stand alone. They can be taken in any sequence you prefer.

Q: Are GRT or other tests required for enrollment?

A: No.

Q: Are transcripts required?

A: You should send us transcripts and/or resumes, to help verify qualifications for enrollment. But you are welcome to enroll and get started before we receive your documentation.

SFIA Credentials and Qualifications

Q: What are SFIA’s qualifications?

A: Founded in 1990, SFIA was the first, and is still the largest professional green building and sustainable design education program in the world.

SFIA presented the first international green education conferences and green building workshops in every major city in the U.S. Founder/Director Fred A. Stitt is the author/editor of the premier green building textbook, The Ecological Design Handbook, published by McGraw-Hill. The book is used in universities worldwide, and has been translated into Chinese.

Our faculty, advisors, and lecturers include the most esteemed architects and green building experts of our time, including Phil Hawes, Ph.D., architect of the Biosphere 2; Eugene Tsui, Ph.D., visionary architect, author of Evolutionary Architecture; Paul Kephart, the world’s leading designer of green roofs/green walls; and dozens of other “green” luminaries.

SFIA Memberships and Affiliations include:

- U.S. Green Building Council (LEED)

- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

- Sustainable Buildings Industry Council*

- Registered Provider of Continuing Education, American Institute of Architects

- Signatory: Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future

*In recognition of our visionary Universal Green Program, SFIA received the 2009 Education Initiative Award from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council at a Congressional Briefing and Award Ceremony in Washington DC.

Continuing Education Credit

Q: Do these courses qualify for USGBC continuing education credit?

A: We are working with the USGBC to have all our courses certified for Continuing Education credit for LEED APs, during 2010. We are also a long-time Registered Provider of Continuing Education for the American Institute of Architects.