Graduate Certificate Program Public Interest Design Certificate

Homeless village

Public Interest Design Graduate Certificate Overview

The Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design prepares future leaders in architecture, urban planning, sustainability, community development, and other fields to aid currently underserved populations through human-centered design methods rooted in the "triple bottom line" of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic). PSU's Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design is the first program of its kind in public interest design in the United States.

The Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design provides an educational foundation for graduate students and professionals preparing to enter the emerging field of Public Interest Design, through study in multiple disciplines and environmental studies, and hands-on field experience, working directly with communities in need. 

Degree Details

  • GC
    Graduate Certificate
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Learn more about PSU’s academic program delivery methods.

Public Interest Design Graduate Certificate: Why PSU?

The Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design is offered through the Center for Public Interest Design (CPID), based at the PSU School of Architecture. The CPID is a research and action center that aims to investigate, promote, and engage in inclusive design practices that address the growing needs of underserved communities worldwide. Through research, design, fieldwork, and public outreach, the CPID's work is intended to promote a mode of practice that is socially conscious, environmentally sustainable, and economically accessible to all. The work of the CPID builds upon decades of progressive practice and research in public interest design by the CPID's faculty fellows and its founding director, Professor Sergio Palleroni.

What can I do with a graduate certificate in Public Interest Design?

The field of architecture has begun to embrace sustainability and equity in practice, as the profession evolves in the face of a changing world. Architecture students who earn a Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design often go on to work in architecture firms and projects focusing on affordable housing, healthy communities, and equitable access to resources, serving communities in need of high-quality architectural and urban design. For students who are not pursuing an architecture degree, the Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design offers a multidisciplinary view into the ways that design can benefit communities in need, empowering them to creatively and collaboratively address social, environmental, and economic issues.

Featured Courses


  • ARCH 533 Contemporary Issues Seminar: Public Interest Design in Practice
  • ARCH 541 Practicum: Public Interest Design Fieldwork

Featured Electives


  • USP Urban Poverty in Critical Perspective
  • ESM 588 Environmental Sustainability
  • PA 541 Social Entrepreneurship
  • USP Political Economy of Nonprofit Organizations


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).