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Graduate Certificate in Sustainability

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Program Overview

Addressing the world’s toughest challenges—from poverty and globalization to climate change and urban development—requires unprecedented collaboration and knowledge from every field. This is sustainability. 

Portland State University’s Graduate Certificate in Sustainability provides students with an in-depth understanding of the connections between social, environmental, and economic systems, and equips them with the knowledge to apply sustainable, integrated problem solving approaches in their lives and careers.

The graduate certificate is open to students from all areas of study and professional backgrounds. It is available as an add-on to a master’s or doctoral degree program at PSU—courses in the certificate can often double as requirements for graduate degree programs—or as a stand-alone program for professionals and college graduates seeking to broaden their understanding of sustainability issues. Graduates of the certificate pursue careers in a broad variety of fields, from engineering and urban planning to teaching, communications, and business. 

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is offered by the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions in collaboration with 14 participating departments and schools on campus. 

Course Requirements

Students must complete the four core courses for 15 credits and two electives totaling at least 7 credits for a minimum of 22 credits total in order to obtain the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability. Students may consult with an adviser to select the two elective courses that will best help them meet their career goals. 

Check specific dates and times for courses and register online here.

Required core courses (15 credits)

Course Number

Course Name and Description

Credits

Term Offered

Environmental Science and Management
(ESM) 588

Environmental Sustainability

Sustainability in natural and human-influenced ecosystems, with a focus on processes of regeneration, maturity, collapse and renewal. Topic areas include natural provisioning of ecosystem services, processes of change in ecological systems, interactions among ecological and social systems, economic valuation of ecosystem services, and ecosystem management.

4

Fall

Urban Studies and Planning
(USP) 588

Sustainable Development Practices

Introduction to analytic and management approaches intended to limit the social and environmental harms associated with most past patterns of development. Builds upon basic understanding of socio-environmental change and provides a foundation for subsequent in-depth studies of particular sustainable development strategies and analytic techniques. Students study a broader range of sustainable development topics, tools, and techniques. 

3

Fall

Economics
(ECON) 522

Economics of Sustainability

Economic concepts and theories for analyzing sustainable development, including the emerging field of ecological economics. Roles and practices of the business, government and nonprofit sectors in fostering sustainability. 

4

Winter

Sociology
(SOC) 565*

Environmental Sociology (for 2014/2015)

Analysis of the types of social forces that frame the nature of environmental problems concerning resource use and distribution across spatial and geopolitical levels. Examines the social forces that influence which problems are tackled; the mechanisms selected to solve the problems; and the social impact of the selected solutions. 

4

Spring

* Prior to 2014/2015, the required Sociology course was SOC 588/688, Social Sustainability 

Elective courses (7 credits)

Elective courses for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability are offered by various departments across campus. Browse currently offered electives here.

Application Information

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is available as a stand-alone program, or as an add-on for students concurrently enrolled in a master's or doctoral degree program at Portland State University.

For Certificate-Only Students:

Instructions for individuals who are not currently enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at PSU.

  1. Complete PSU's online graduate school application.
  2. You will be asked for the following information:
    1. Name, contact information, and some personal details.
    2. Choice of Program: In “Program Selection,” choose “Institute for Sustainable Solutions,” then “Sustainability, Certificate.”
    3. Transcript(s) and Degree Information: You will be asked to upload a scan (an unofficial copy) of transcripts from each post-secondary institution you have attended. Please see what an Unofficial Transcript is here. *Please note that you will need to provide Official Transcripts if you are admitted to the university. For further details regarding graduate admissions, please visit the Office of Graduate Admissions.
    4. Three professional letters of recommendation.
    5. Resume.

For Current PSU Masters/Doctoral Students:

Instructions for current PSU students who want to add the certificate to their master’s/doctoral program.

  1. Complete Department Application Form.
  2. Complete the GO-19, Request for Change of Major form. Please note: 
    1. You must obtain your Masters/Doctoral program director’s signature first.
    2. Send signed form to the Program Coordinator via campus mail (mail code: SUST) or by postal mail to: Elizabeth Lloyd-Pool, Program Coordinator, Portland State University, Mail code: SUST, PO BOX 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751.
    3. Must have original signatures. Email, fax, or PDF are not accepted.  

Deadlines:

  • Fall admission: April 1
  • Winter admission: September 1
  • Spring admission: November 1

Program Contacts

Program Coordinator:
Elizabeth Lloyd-Pool
elloyd@pdx.edu
503-725-8556

Program Director:
Jennifer H. Allen
jhallen@pdx.edu
503-725-9940

For more information, visit our FAQ page »