Graduate Certificate in Sustainability

SNRE's Sustainability Graduate Certificate provides the knowledge, skill sets, and credentials relevant to working in the sustainability field. Graduates will be better positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in the emerging global green economy and uniquely positioned to compete for a wide range of positions in the private for-profit, public, and nonprofit sectors. 

Certificate requirements

The Sustainability Graduate Certificate is designed to accommodate the diverse skill sets and disciplinary backgrounds of potential applicants, yet provide sufficient structure to deliver a cohesive learning experience. The certificate requires completion of:

  • 6 credits of coursework in fundamental knowledge
  • 6 credits of coursework in skill development
  • A capstone experience that allows students to apply the knowledge and skills they developed through their coursework. The capstone may take the form of an additional 3-credit course or an approved co-curricular experiential activity.

A list of pre-approved courses designated as either Sustainability Knowledge Fundamentals or Skill Set Development is below.

When applying to the certificate program, students must identify a proposed suite of courses related by a focus area. Alternate courses may be approved given adequate justification. For courses not on the pre-approved list, the program coordinator or designated member(s) of the certificate committee will evaluate and approve course selection. Suggested curricula for example focus areas are given below.

Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

The capstone experience is an activity or combination of activities that represent the effort associated with a 3-credit course.  The capstone experience may be in the form of an approved 3-credit elective course, or an approved activity not associated with an official course. Current non-credit opportunities include participation in the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program, Sustainability Without Borders, Blue Lab, Planet Blue, the Campus Farm, sustainability-related internships, or other approved experiential activity. For example, experiential activities could take the form of an intensive international project trip, volunteering at a community organization over the course of a semester, or helping to design and implement a Planet Blue campaign. Given the range of possible activities, experiential activities that are not taken for course credit are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The suitability of experiences that also fulfill requirements for a graduate degree, such as a required project, departmental capstone course, or research project, are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Capstone experiences must have a distinct sustainability-related focus and should be approved in advance of the activity.

Advising
Each student must obtain a faculty advisor for the certificate program who is knowledgeable in the student’s proposed focus area.  The role of the advisor will be to assist the student in selecting appropriate coursework relevant to the proposed focus area. 

 

Application information

Students already enrolled in a Rackham or non-Rackham graduate degree program must complete at least one term before applying.

Deadlines to apply

  • For fall admission: February 1
  • For winter admission: October 1

Eligibility

The Sustainability Graduate Certificate is open to students enrolled in any University of Michigan graduate program. However, students must apply to the certificate program separately.

A free-standing certificate option is available for persons not currently enrolled in a University of Michigan graduate program. All applicants to the free-standing certificate must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and can apply directly through standard admissions procedures. A person admitted to the certificate program must complete requirements within four years from the date of first enrollment in the program.

Applications must include:

  • Identification of the student’s proposed focus area
  • Identification of a faculty advisor for the certificate
  • A proposed schedule of coursework
  • Identification of any courses expected to be double-counted with degree requirements
  • A brief statement (~500 words) describing the focus area of study along with the relationship of the proposed courses and how they will adequately prepare the student for the practice of sustainability principles
  • A brief description of the intended capstone experience. If the student has not identified an appropriate capstone experience at the time of application, this portion of the application may be deferred for later approval.

Applicants will need the following codes to complete their application:

  • Program of application: Sustainability
  • Numeric code: 02132
  • Plan (Subplan): 9140CGR
  • Program Level: Certificate

 

Information for certificate students

General rules

  • The student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale in courses for the certificate program.
  • Only graduate-level courses may be used to meet certificate requirements; no transfer credit or undergraduate courses may be applied. All credits must be completed on the home campus, i.e., the campus on which the degree program is administered.
  • Not more than one-sixth of the credits required for a master’s degree can be double-counted with a certificate. 
  • Not more than half of the credits necessary for the certificate can be double-counted with a master’s degree. 
  • No double-counting is permitted for students seeking a dual degree.
  • No double-counting is permitted for free-standing certificate programs.
  • Students cannot double-count credits with any other graduate certificate programs.

Capstone experience approval

  • The capstone experience must be pre-approved by the certificate coordinator or member of the certificate committee designated by the coordinator, prior to engaging in the experience.
  • It is not necessary to complete all coursework prior to engaging in the capstone experience.
  • For non-coursework activities, the student must identify an appropriate supervisor who will certify completion of the capstone experience.
  • At the completion of the capstone experience, the student must submit a short statement (~1000 words) describing how the capstone experience integrated the coursework pertaining to knowledge fundamentals and skill set development in the practice of sustainability.

Graduation requirements

Students, with the exception of those completing the certificate as a free-standing program, must complete Rackham's dual-degree election form prior to graduation, and submit to registrars at both programs.

Students must also apply for graduation of certificate program through Wolverine Access, just as one applies for graduation of degree program.

 

Pre-approved courses

Below is a list of pre-approved courses designated by the category of Sustainability Knowledge Fundamentals or Skill Set Development. Students must identify a proposed suite of courses related by some focus area in their application to the certificate.  Alternate courses may be approved given adequate justification.

Sustainability Knowledge Fundamentals (6 credits required)

This set of courses allows students to acquire fundamental knowledge in sustainability principles. Courses that fulfill this requirement focus on foundational theory and background within a specific topic, providing context and in-depth analysis of that topic. Included are courses that cover principles of sustainability, ethics, behavior, education, biodiversity conservation, policy, law, or other sustainability-themed courses that investigate a particular topical area through case studies.  

COURSE NUMBER(S) COURSE TITLE
AAS 596, CAAS 596 History of Environmental Thought and Activism
ANTHRCUL 539 Consumption
ANTHRCUL 625 Anthropological approaches to property and property rights
POLSCI 650 Political Economy of Development
EHS 588 Environmental law
EHS 574, CHEM 574 Environmental Chemistry
EPID 666  Health and socioeconomic development
HBEHED 516     Global health: Anthropological perspectives
LAW 771 How to Save the Planet
NRE 537 Urban sustainability
NRE 501 (038) Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems
NRE 501 (055) Poverty, environment and inequality
NRE 501 (089)  Justice issues in conservation and sustainability
NRE 577 Political ecology, environmental security and conflict
NRE 509 Ecology: Science of context and interaction
NRE 510 The Science and Practice of Social Change
NRE 512, BL 536 Ethics of corporate management
NRE 517, EHS 580 Conservation biology
NRE 548 Land use and global change
NRE 555 Climate and development
NRE 557, CEE 586 Industrial ecology
NRE 560, UP 560, SW 710 Behavior and Environment
NRE 564 Localization
NRE 565a Principles of transition
NRE 565b Power-over and power-with
NRE 566 Public opinion and the environment
NRE 574, PUBPOL 519 Sustainable energy systems
NRE 593  Environmental justice
NRE 596 History of environmental thought and activism
NRE 592, UP 502 Environmental planning: Issues and concepts
UP 533 Sustainable urbanism and architecture

                                                              

Skill Set Development (6 credits required)

This set of courses allows students to acquire specific tools and methods that can be applied to the practice of sustainability. Courses fulfilling this requirement focus on developing techniques and tools of analysis, intervention or design principles, and generally have associated problem sets, laboratory or field-based components, design projects, mock negotiations, or other experiences directly related to skill development. Included are courses related to modeling, mapping, design, policy-making, behavior change, analytical problem solving, and otherwise acquiring experience applying different tools or techniques.

COURSE NUMBER(S)   COURSE TITLE
ARCH 507 Green development
ARCH 575 Building ecology
BE 555 Non-market strategy
CEE  460 Design of environmental engineering systems
CEE 582 Environmental microbiology
CEE 686, ChE 686 Case studies in environmental sustainability
COMPLEXSYS 501 An Introduction to Complex Systems
EEB 556 Field botany of Northern Michigan (UMBS)
EEB 585  Ecology of streams and rivers (UMBS)
ECON 662 Environmental Economics
EHS 570 Water quality management
EHS 571 Water quality management practices
EHS 672 Life cycle assessment: Human health & environ. impacts
ENGR 521 CleanTech entrepreneurship
ES 520 CleanTech venture opportunities
FIN 583 Energy project finance
FIN 637   Finance and sustainable enterprises
MECHENG 589 Sustainable design of technology systems
NRE 501 (000) Economics of environmental regulation
NRE 501 (007) Sustainable Aquaculture
NRE 549 Analysis and modeling of ecological data
NRE 501 (031)  Urban agriculture
NRE 573 Environmental Footprinting and Input-Output Analysis
NRE 578 Urban storm water: Science, design and management
NRE 501 (046)   Science and management of the great lakes
NRE 552 Ecosystem services
NRE 501 (059)    Economics of environment and development
NRE 545     Applied ecosystem modeling
NRE 610 Advanced LCA methods and software tools
NRE 508 Wetland ecology
NRE 513, STRAT 564, Strat 565 Strategies for sustainable development
NRE 514, EHS 572 Environmental impact assessment
NRE 516    Aquatic entomology
NRE 520 Fluvial ecosystems
NRE 521 Fluvial ecosystems lab
NRE 523   Environmental risk assessment
NRE 527, BE 527 Energy markets and energy politics
NRE 531  Principles of GIS
NRE 532 Natural resources conflict management
NRE 533      Negotiation skills in environmental dispute resolution
NRE 534 GIS and landscape modeling
NRE 540  GIS for natural resource applications
NRE 541   Remote sensing
NRE 543  Environmental spatial data analysis
NRE 547     Forest ecology in a changing world
NRE 550, STRAT 566 Systems thinking for sustainable development
NRE 556, EEB 477 Field ecology
NRE 561  Psychology of environmental stewardship
NRE 562 Environmental policy, politics and organizations
NRE 563 International environmental policy
NRE 568   Re-connecting and re-vitalizing
NRE 570 Environmental economics: Quantitative methods and tools
NRE 571 Environmental economics
NRE 581   Advanced environmental education
NRE 589 Ecological restoration
NRE 592, UP 502 Environmental planning: Issues and concepts
NRE 597   Environmental systems analysis
NRE 605, BA 605 Green development
NRE 639 (075) Food sovereignty
NRE 639 (108) Conservation biology and ecosystem health
NRE 639 (114) Future scenarios for global food security
NRE 664 Food and fuel: Research questions at the base of the economy
NRE 668, ECON 661 Advanced Natural Resources Economics
NRE 669, ECON 662 Environmental Economics
NRE 687 Landscape planning
STRAT 564 Strategies sustainable devel. I: Competitive environ. strategy
STRAT 565 Strategies sustainable devel. II: Managing social issues
STRAT 735 Topics in global sustainable enterprise
UP 524 Land use and development management planning
UP 525 Food systems planning
UP 532 Sustainable development

 

EXAMPLE CURRICULA FOR FOCUS AREAS

Students are free to design their own focus area, with approval from the certificate coordinator or committee member designated by the coordinator. To provide some structure, this pre-approved list of focus area coursework is given; however, students are not required to choose from the areas listed. Similar to the course lists, the pre-approved focus areas will undergo an annual review by the certificate committee. It is expected that the pre-approved focus areas will change over time. Example pre-approved focus areas include:

1. SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 501 (038): Foundations of a sustainable food systems (3 credits)       

Plus one of the following:                 

  • EEB 498: Ecology of Agroecosystems (3 credits)
  • NRE 501 (055): Food Systems: Implications of Unequal Access (4 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • UP 525: Food systems planning (3 credits)
  • SPH 633: Evaluation of Global Nutrition Programs (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3-credit equivalent)

Internship with any of the following:

  • UM Sustainable Food Systems Campus Farm
  • Washtenaw Food Policy Council
  • Washtenaw Food Hub
  • Growing Hope

2. TRANSITIONAL THINKING FOR A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 564: Localization (1.5 credits)
  • NRE 565a: Principles of transition (1.5 credits)
  • NRE 565b : Power-over and power-with (1.5 credits)
  • NRE 560: Behavior and environment (1.5 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • NRE 561: Psychology of environmental stewardship (1.5 credits)
  • NRE 568: Re-connecting and re-vitalizing (1.5 credits)
  • NRE 581: Advanced environmental education (3 credits

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

Internship with any of the following:

  • Sustainability Without Borders
  • Washtenaw Food Policy Council
  • Data-Driven Detroit

3. SUSTAINABLE CITIES

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • UP 502: Environmental planning: Issues and concepts (3 credits)
  • UP 533: Sustainable urbanism and architecture (3 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • UP 532: Sustainable development (3 credits)
  • ARCH 507: Green development (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

Internship with any of the following in an environmental capacity:

  • City of Ann Arbor
  • Washtenaw County

4. SUSTAINABILITY POLICY

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 510: The Science and Practice of Social Change (3 credits)            
  • NRE 566: Public opinion and the environment (3 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • NRE 562: Environmental policy, politics and organizations (3 credits)
  • NRE 563: International environmental policy (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

 Internship with:

  • National or international environmental NGO focused on policy making

5. SUSTAINABLE ENERGY

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 567 : Transportation energy and climate policy (3 credits)
  • NRE 557, CEE 586: Industrial ecology (3 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • NRE 501 (114): Biofuels and sustainability (3 credits)
  • NRE 527, BE 527: Energy markets and energy politics (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

Internship with one of the following:

  • National or international environmental NGO focused on energy issues
  • Energy-related enterprise
  • Local, regional or national agency focused on energy issues

6. SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 517: Conservation Biology (3 credits)   
  • NRE 589: Ecological Restoration (3 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • NRE 556: Field Ecology (3 credits)

Plus one ecosystem or organismal class, such as:

  • NRE 508: Wetland Ecology (3 credits)
  • NRE 516: Aquatic Entomology (3 credits)
  • NRE 547: Forest Ecology (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

Internship with one of the following:

  • SNRE Affiliated Research Center
  • Local, national or international NGO focused on biodiversity and conservation (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation)
  • Local, regional, or national agency focused on conservation (e.g., Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

7. SUSTAINABLE WATER SYSTEMS

A. Sustainability knowledge fundamentals (6 credits required)

  • NRE 520: Fluvial Ecosystems (3 credits)
  • CEE 520: Land-Surface Hydrology (3 credits)

B. Skill set development (6 credits required)

  • NRE 558: Water Resource Policy (3 credits)
  • EHS 570: Water Quality Management (3 credits)

C. Experiential learning capstone experience (3 credit equivalent)

Internship with one of the following:

  • SNRE Affiliated Research Center focused on water-related issues
  • (e.g., Cooperative Institute for Limnology & Ecosystems Research – CILER; Michigan Sea Grant, or Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab - GLERL).
  • Local, national or international NGO focused on water quality and management
  • (e.g., Huron River Watershed Council, Michigan Clean Water Action)
  • Local, regional or national agency focused on water quality and management (e.g., Michigan DEQ, U.S. Geological Survey)