The graduate certificate in sustainability provides students with the opportunity to customize their graduate experience, adding sustainability training to any graduate degree program offered at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Graduate students can complete the sustainability certificate by selecting courses that meet both their degree and Sustainability requirements. As such, most students can add the sustainability certificate onto a degree without any additional time or cost. PhD students may use the sustainability certificate to fulfill their doctoral breadth requirement, though in this case courses may not be double-counted for major requirements.

The certificate’s interdisciplinary curriculum considers environmental, economic, and social factors of sustainability. Through coursework and co-curricular activities focused on solving sustainability challenges across the state, students deepen their understanding of the complexities and solutions involved in addressing today’s most pressing challenges. Students may wish to add this certificate as they prepare for a sustainability-related career pathway in industry, academia, NGO's, government agencies, or consulting. The certificate includes coursework across three thematic areas:

  1. Economics & Development (Economy)
  2. Systems Analysis, Planning & Engineering (Systems)
  3. Environmental Policy, Health & Social Studies (Environment, Culture and Society)

The Sustainability certificate welcomes applications from students in any graduate degree program at UW-Madison that allows students to pursue a certificate. Students may apply to the certificate program concurrently with their graduate school application or once they have matriculated at UW-Madison. Acceptance into the certificate program is contingent on enrollment in a graduate degree program.


To declare the certificate, students must apply to the certificate through the Graduate Student Portal in MyUW (MyUW -> Graduate Student Portal -> Add/Change Programs), and also complete the online Certificate in Sustainability application form, which includes the following elements:

  1. Information on prior educational attainment
  2. Information on degree program being pursued
  3. A brief statement of interest in the Sustainability certificate


Applications may be submitted at any time, but applicants are encouraged to apply before the end of their first year in graduate school to ensure timely completion of certificate requirements. 

This certificate requires 12 credits.  Each student must complete one course representing each of the following three categories (for at least 9 credits) and complete ENVIR ST 900 Seminar (Topic: Sustainability Capstone):

  1. Economics & Development (Economy)
  2. Systems Analysis, Planning & Engineering (Systems)
  3. Environmental Policy, Health & Social Studies (Environment, Culture and Society)

Students also pursuing the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility can overlap a maximum of 6 credits between the two certificates.

Economics & Development (Economy) (Pick one course from the list below)

GEOG/​ENVIR ST  557 Development and Environment in Southeast Asia3
ENVIR ST/​A A E/​ECON/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  534 Environmental Governance: Markets, States and Nature3
A A E 643 Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3
R M I 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management2-3
REAL EST 651 Green - Sustainable Development3
A A E/​ECON/​F&W ECOL  531 Natural Resource Economics3
OTM 770 Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement4
ENVIR ST 977 Sustainable Development - Integral Perspective3

Systems Analysis, Planning & Engineering (Systems) (Pick one course from the list below)

CIV ENGR 494 Civil and Environmental Engineering Decision Making3
E P D 660 Core Competencies of Sustainability3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  421 Environmental Sustainability Engineering3
ENVIR ST 900 Seminar (Topic: Infrastructure & Indigenous Water Resources)1-3
ENVIR ST/​BSE  367 Renewable Energy Systems3
URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization and Environmental Form2-3
GEOG 507 Waste Geographies: Politics, People, and Infrastructures3
BSE 473 Water Management Systems3
CIV ENGR 629 Special Topics in Environmental Engineering (Topic: Infrastructure: Case Studies Exploring Sustainability and Climate Change in Engineered Works)1-3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC/​URB R PL  532 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Planning3
ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC/​SOIL SCI  695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources3
LAND ARC 511 Geodesign Methods and Applications3

Environmental Policy, Health & Social Studies (Environment, Culture and Society) (Pick one course from the list below)

AGRONOMY/​AGROECOL/​ENVIR ST  724 Agroecosystems and Global Change3
PUB AFFR/​ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI  866 Global Environmental Governance3
ENVIR ST/​ECON/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
ENVIR ST/​CURRIC  932 Foundations of Environmental and Sustainability Education3
ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 Land Use Policy and Planning3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​LEGAL ST  430 Law and Environment: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives3
LSC/​ENVIR ST/​JOURN  823 Science and Environment Communication3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  439 US Environmental Policy and Regulation3-4
ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  865 Water Resources Institutions and Policies3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  537 Culture and Environment4
GEN&WS/​INTL ST  535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3
ANTHRO 917 Globalization and Transnational Cultures3
  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the three paradigms (environment, economy, and society) of sustainability, in a systems context.
  2. Apply the three paradigms of sustainability to an interdisciplinary real world project.
  3. Prepare for a sustainability-related career pathway in industry, academia, NGO's, agencies, and consulting.