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Graduate Certificate in Sustainability


Program Overview

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability offers an integrated series of post-baccalaureate courses that comprise a multidisciplinary study of the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability. Students will gain an understanding of the major theories and concepts related to the key dimensions of sustainability, as well as case analysis experience with applications to private and public projects. Students receiving the certificate will complete 6 linked classes totaling a minimum of 22 credits. Courses in the program can be taken by students admitted solely to the certificate program or concurrently enrolled as master's and doctoral students in a degree program at Portland State University.

The certificate is a two-part program that is consistent with the need for a multidisciplinary perspective and a focus on understanding sustainability in practice. The first part of the program is a set of four core courses that provide exposure to the breadth of contemporary sustainability concepts and offers an opportunity for interaction among students with different disciplinary backgrounds. The second part of the program is a set of two elective courses totaling 6-8 credits that allow the student to focus on issues of sustainability in his or her major field of study. The certificate program is administered by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions (formerly the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices).


Length of Program:  
Intended time to complete: 4 years
% of graduates who completed on time: 100%
Cost of Program:  
Tuition and Fees $8,444 - $12,580
Books and Supplies  $900 - $1,200
Estimated Room and Board $53,680
Other Required Fees $0
Total Estimated Costs

$9,344 - $13,780 program +
$53,680 estimated room and board

Jobs related to this program Occupational Classification System Code
Sustainability Specialist 13-1199.05
Median program graduate debt from:
Federal Loans $0
Private educational loans $0
Institutional financing plan $0



Course Requirements


Required core courses (15 credits):

Course Number Course Name Credits Term Offered Days & Time
ESM 588 Environmental Sustainability 4 Fall TR 14:00-15:50
ECON 522* Economics of Sustainability: Theory and Practice 4 Winter MW 16:00-17:50
SOC 588/688 Social Sustainability: Theory and Practice 4 Spring TR 12:00-13:50
USP 588/688 Sustainable Development Practices 3 Fall M 16:00-18:30

* Graduate courses cannot be applied to two graduate certificates. Since the Graduate Certificate in Environmental and Resource Economics and the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability both require ECON 522, it is not possible to receive both certificates.

Electives (7-8 credits):

  • Similar relevant discrete-numbered courses may be substituted for the elective courses with prior approval of the program Director.
  • 510/610 numbered courses are considered "topic" courses, not discrete-numbered, and can't be used as electives.
  • Graduate courses can't be applied to two different graduate certificates.
  • The term electives are offered varies per year, per department. Please check the PSU Class Schedule.
Department Course Number Course Name Credits
Economics EC 532 Environmental Economics 4

EC 533 Natural Resource Economics 4

EC 534 Business Environmental Management Economics 4

EC 543 Global Environmental Economics 4

EC 544 Economics of Green Power 4
English ENG 598 Ecology, Criticism, and Culture 4
Environmental Sciences and Management ESR 528 Urban Ecology 4

ESR 529 Environmental Impact Assessment 4
Geography GEOG 542 Sustainable Cities 4

GEOG 546 Water Resource Management 4

GEOG 547 Urban Streams 4

GEOG 548 The Urban Forest 4
History HIST 540 American Environmental History I 4

HIST 541 American Environmental History II 4
Master of International Management

MIM 511/
BA 548

Global Business and Sustainability 4

MIM 521 Sustainability Metrics in Business 4

MIM 531 Product Design and Stewardship for Sustainable Enterprises 4

MIM 541 Cross-Sector Partnerships for Sustainable Enterprises
Public Administration PA 564 Current Issues in Environmental Policy and Administration 3
Sociology SOC 565 Environmental Sociology 4
Urban Studies and Planning USP 577/677 Urban Environmental Management 3
  USP 581 Environmental Psychology 3

USP 590 Green Economics and Sustainable Development 3

Additional Approved Relevant Courses to Substitute as Electives (These courses are approved to use as electives):

Department Course Number Course Name Credits
Civil & Environmental Engineering CE 565 Watershed Hyrdology 4
  CE 569/669 Groundwater Hydrology 4
  CE 572/672 Environmental Fluid Transport 4
  CE 574 Unit Operations in Environmental Engineering 4
  CE 576/676 Environmental Fluid Mechanics 4
  CE 579 Fate and Transport of Toxics in the Environment 4
  CE 580 Chemistry of Environmental Toxins 4
Environmental Sciences and Management ESR 527 Watershed Biogeochemistry 4
  ESR 590 Ecosystem Services & Sustainability: Toolbox 1
  ESR 591 Ecosystem Services & Sustainability: Field Projects 4
Educational Leadership and Policy EPFA 517/617 Ecological and Cultural Foundations of Learning 4
  ELP 519 Sustainability Education 4
  ELP 548 Advanced Global Political Ecology 4
  ELP 550 Advanced Leadership for Sustainability 4
Geography GEOG 565 Tuscany: Sustainability in City and Country 4
Management/School of Business MGMT 507 Carbon Markets and Corporate Strategy 4
Public Administration PA 541 Social Entrepreneurship 3
  PA 565 Natural Resource Policy and Administration 3
  PA 567 Energy Resources Policy and Administration 3
Social Work SW 545 Sustainability and Social Work 3
Systems Science SYSC 511 Systems Theory 4
Urban Studies and Planning USP 529 Green Buildings I 3
  USP 544 Urban Transportation Planning 3
  USP 545 Cities and Third World Development 3
  USP 565 Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning 3
  USP 569 Sustainable Cities & Regions 3
  USP 518 Energy and Society 3


Admission Requirements

Admission to the Graduate Certificate Program requires a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited institution with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for admission. An applicant with 9 or more graduate credits must have a cumulative graduate GPA of at least 3.0, and this GPA supersedes the undergraduate GPA. Current PSU graduate students must be in good academic standing.

For continuation in the program, students are required to be in good academic standing, requiring a 3.00 GPA for all graduate coursework taken at PSU and a term GPA of at least 2.67 each term.

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When to Apply

Application Deadlines:
FALL: April 1
WINTER: September 1
SPRING: November 1


How to Apply

Admission to graduate study is selective and is granted on the basis of evidence of suitable preparation and the probability of success in the intended field of study. Failure to supply complete and accurate information will subject you to the University's policies governing academic dishonesty.

Admission to a Graduate Certificate program does not guarantee admission to any master's or doctoral program. There is a separate application process for admission to master's and doctoral programs, with an additional application fee and additional materials required. Students fully admitted to a Graduate Certificate program may register for a maximum of 16 credits per term. Students must register for at least one credit for the term they are admitted.

Applicants must submit two separate application packets*:

* Exception: Currently Registered and Admitted Students to PSU Master's or Doctoral Programs



Application Packet 1


Application Packet 2

Return the following items to the Office of Admissions, Registration, and Records as a complete packet:

Return the following items to the Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) as a complete packet:

1. University Application for Graduate Certificate Admission

2. $50.00 non-refundable application fee. The fee is good for one year. Pay by check, money order, or credit card. Do not send cash.

3. One official transcript (in a sealed [closed] envelope from the issuing institution) from each post-secondary institution attended.(A transcript from PSU is not required.)

1. ISS Departmental Graduate Certificate Admission Application Form

2. A 1-2 page essay answering the following:

  • Why do you want to apply for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability?
  • Please briefly describe your background or interest in sustainability (one paragraph or less).

3. One transcript from each post-secondary institution attended
4. Three Professional Letters of Recommendation
5. Resume

Submit Application Packet 1 to:
Office of Admissions, Registration, and Records
Portland State University
PO Box 901
Portland, OR 97207-0901

Submit Application Packet 2 to:
Elizabeth Lloyd
Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Mail code: SUST
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751



Currently Registered and Admitted Students to PSU Master's or Doctoral Programs

Students who are currently admitted to PSU master's or doctoral programs AND currently registered must submit all of the below information. Students are responsible for obtaining their current department's approval signature first before submitting the GO-19 form to the Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

  1. The appropriate GO-19 form listed below:
    • GO-19M for students in a PSU Master's Program
    • GO-19D for students in a PSU Doctoral Program
  2. Graduate Certificate in Sustainability Departmental Application:


Please send all of these materials as a complete packet to:

Elizabeth Lloyd
Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Mail code: SUST
Portland State University
PO Box 751

Graduation Requirements

To be awarded the certificate, students must have a successful completion of the 22 specified graduate credits with a grade of B- or higher for each course used for the graduate certificate plus a cumulative PSU graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (computed on all graduate credit taken at PSU) and a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher (computed on all courses used for the Graduate Certificate).

The following 2 forms must be submitted the first Friday of the term you plan to graduate:


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Transfer Credits

Transfer credit is defined as eligible graduate credit taken at other accredited institutions. Two-thirds of the Graduate Certificate program requirements or 15 credits minimum, whichever is larger, must be taken at Portland State University. The maximum number of transfer credits that can be used in the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is 7 credits. Transfer credit must be letter-graded with a B or higher and eligible for use in master's degree programs at PSU. The Proposed Transfer Credit (GO-11GC) form must be used for approval of transfer credit.



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Contact Information

Elizabeth Lloyd
Program Administrator
Institute for Sustainable Solutions
(503) 725-8556