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The Wisconsin School of Business Graduate/Professional Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility (BESR) is designed for UW–Madison graduate students who want to broaden their understanding of sustainable business practices. This certificate provides the real-world skills and knowledge needed to manage enterprises that integrate economic, environmental, and social decision-making in their daily operations.

As determined by each student’s individual course path, students will acquire deeper knowledge and skills in select domains such as risk management, diversity, green real estate, and more. Students are also encouraged but not required to participate in a variety of events and activities that provide a forum to exchange ideas and connect the business community with students and faculty interested in sustainability.

The BESR certificate is open to students with Graduate/Professional students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.1  Admission is on a rolling basis.  To declare the certificate, students must submit an online application form and request a certificate declaration through the Graduate Student Portal in MyUW. To declare this certificate, log in to MyUW, click on Graduate Student Portal, and then click on Add/Change Programs. Select the information for this certificate.  


Graduate/Professional students enrolled in a 131/non-pooled revenue program cannot earn this certificate.  

The required foundation course, advanced business sustainability coursework, and electives from across the campus need to tally a minimum of 12 credits. The slate of coursework options available for fulfilling the certificate program is shown in the table below. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in related non-credit sustainability experiences via competitions, conferences, and speaker events.

The foundation course has no prerequisites and is open to all graduate students on campus. Students will: (1) take one required foundation course: M H R 710 Challenges & Solutions in Business Sustainability (2) choose at least 3 additional credits from a list of School of Business advanced business sustainability coursework, and (3) select up to 6 credits of additional courses from other elective coursework. Coursework needs to be completed with a B or better to count towards the certificate.

Required Foundational Coursework
M H R 710 Challenges & Solutions in Business Sustainability (spring)3
School of Business - Advanced Business Sustainability Classes
Choose at least 3 credits from list
GEN BUS 713 Role of Business in Society2
GEN BUS 714 Corporate Governance and Board Membership3
M H R 617 Diversity in Organizations3
REAL EST 651 Green - Sustainable Development3
R M I 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management3
Other Elective Coursework
Up to 6 credits from other elective coursework can be counted towards the required 12 certificate credits
School of Business
ACCT I S 700 Financial Accounting3
ACCT I S 710 Managerial Accounting3
ACCT I S 771 Analysis of Performance Measurement & Control3
FINANCE 700 Introduction to Financial Management3
M H R 723 Business Strategy3
M H R 728 Bargaining, Negotiating and Dispute Settlement for Managers3
MARKETNG 700 Marketing Management3
OTM 700 Operations Management3
OTM 732 Economics for Managers3
R M I 700 Principles of Risk Management3
R M I/​GEN BUS  701 Managing Legal Risks3
Multiple Schools/Colleges/Institutes
A A E/​ECON/​F&W ECOL  531 Natural Resource Economics3
ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL  515 Natural Resources Policy3
ENVIR ST/​GEOG  534 Environmental Governance: Markets, States and Nature3
ENVIR ST/​C&E SOC/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  575 Assessment of Environmental Impact3
ENVIR ST 652 3-4
ENVIR ST/​A A E/​ECON/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3
ENVIR ST/​AGROECOL/​AGRONOMY  724 Agroecosystems and Global Change3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  739 Climate Change, Human and Planetary Health2
ENVIR ST/​PUB AFFR/​URB R PL  809 Introduction to Energy Analysis and Policy3
ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 Land Use Policy and Planning3
ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  865 Water Resources Institutions and Policies3
ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI/​PUB AFFR  866 Global Environmental Governance3
ENVIR ST/​A A E/​POP HLTH/​PUB AFFR  881 Benefit-Cost Analysis3
ENVIR ST 977 Sustainable Development - Integral Perspective3
URB R PL/​ECON/​PUB AFFR  734 Regional Economic Problem Analysis3
College of Agricultural & Life Sciences
A A E 642 Foundations of Development Economics3
A A E 643 Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3
A A E 730 Frontiers in Development Economics 13
A A E 731 Frontiers in Development Economics 23
A A E 760 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 13
A A E 762 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 23
A A E 771 Microeconomics of Resources and Energy: Theory to Practice3
A A E 772 Applied Econometrics of Resource and Energy Demand4
A A E 773 Seminar in Resource and Energy Demand Analysis1-2
College of Letters & Science
GEOG 507 Waste Geographies: Politics, People, and Infrastructures3
LAND ARC 563 Designing Sustainable and Resilient Regions4
LAND ARC 621 Designing Healthy Communities Seminar3
SOC/​C&E SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
URB R PL 550 Transportation and the Built Environment3
URB R PL 551 Climate Action Planning: Sustainable Transportation3
URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization and Environmental Form2-3
Law School
LAW 845 Water Rights Law2-3
LAW 848 Introduction to Environmental Law3
LAW 918 Selected Problems in International Law-Seminar "Human Rights/Humanitarian Law" or "Climate, Human Rights & Enviro"2-3
LAW 988 Selected Problems in Environmental Law-Seminar "Natural Resources Law" or "Agricultural Law & the Environment"2-3
LAW 989 Environmental Law and Practice3
School of Medicine and Public Health
POP HLTH/​M&ENVTOX  789 Principles of Environmental Health: A Systems Thinking Approach3
College of Engineering
CIV ENGR/​G L E  421 Environmental Sustainability Engineering3
CIV ENGR 494 Civil and Environmental Engineering Decision Making3
CIV ENGR 729 Environmental Sustainability Tools3
E P D 660 Core Competencies of Sustainability3

The list of electives is dynamic and will be adjusted as new courses are being offered and others dropped. Students may request to substitute listed electives with courses that are currently not listed. Such a request requires that the student explains how the substitute class meets the learning outcomes of the certificate and assists the student in reaching their individual goals for taking the certificate. The request requires approval by the certificate director.

For courses with access restricted to School of Business students, non-business school students may select equivalent open-access lower-level courses numbered 300 and above (e.g., substitute M H R 723 Business Strategy with M H R 423 Strategic Management).

Extracurricular Activities (Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to engage in extracurricular activities that enhance the certificate’s learning outcomes.) These include:

  • Speaker events such as the Weston Lecture Series or the Sustainable Success Speaker Series
  • Sustainability oriented student organizations such as NetImpact; other relevant student organizations can be found here.
  • UW's Green Fund Competition
  • Conferences such as the Nelson’s Institute Annual Earth Day conference
  1. Analyze how business, society, and the natural environment interrelate to drive sustainability challenges.
  2. Synthesize knowledge of business with knowledge of the natural and societal environment to develop and implement sustainability solutions for business and policy.
  3. Develop appreciation of how different professions and disciplines contribute to business sustainability.
  4. Prepare for business sustainability-related career pathways in industry, consulting, government, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations).