Program Questions

What’s the difference between a certificate and a master’s degree program?

A graduate certificate is a graduate-level program that is a step below a master's degree program. Graduate certificates are shorter in duration, do not require a thesis, and focus on a particular set of knowledge and skills in a specific area. They are offered as: 1) a stand-alone program; 2) a bridge to a master's program; or 3) an add-on to a graduate degree program currently being pursued. While a certificate can be often be attained within a few months or a year, a master's program is typically a two-year program that shows a candidate has achieved mastery in one field of study.

Why don’t all students complete the program within one year?

It is possible for a student to complete the program in one year. However, completion is dependent upon a number of variable factors including but not limited to a student’s course schedule, home or work obligations, and financial resources.

How are the program tuition and fees calculated?

The PSU Tuition & Fee Estimator is used to estimate the following for the 2020/2021 academic year using the College of Urban and Public Affairs tuition for Economics. This chart reflects only the base tuition and does not include books and supplies, housing and meals, transportation or personal expenses.

Credits per term Graduate Resident base tuition Graduate Non-resident base tuition
Fall term (7 credits) $3,213 $4,802
Winter term (7 credits) $3,213 $4,802
Spring term (8 credits) $3,672 $5,488
Total (22 credits) $10,098 $15,092

Course Questions

When or what day/time are the courses offered?

Use the PSU Class Schedule to find out when a course is offered. Course offerings are determined by the department and vary per year.

What happens if the core course is full? Do I have to wait until next year to take it?

Maybe not. Please contact the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability to see if an alternative course may be substituted.

Can I use the program courses for my master/doctoral degree?

Maybe. Graduate courses can be applied to both a certificate and a master/doctoral degree. Please contact your department adviser to determine which courses are eligible. 

Can I use the program courses for another certificate?

No. Graduate courses cannot be applied to two graduate certificates. 

How do I request a substitute elective?

Send the course syllabus and a brief description of how the course aligns with your professional/career goals to the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability

Can a 510/610 topic course be used as an elective?

Yes, once. You can only use one 510/610 topic course as an elective for the program.  The second elective course must be discrete-numbered. 

Can I transfer graduate credits from another university?

Yes, a maximum of 7 transfer credits can be used for the certificate. Transfer credit must be letter-graded with a B or higher and eligible for use in master's degree programs at PSU. Transfer credit is defined as eligible graduate credit taken at other accredited institutions. A GO-21M form must be completed and submitted to the Program Coordinator. 

Admission Questions

What are the admission requirements?

Admission requires a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited institution with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0. 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.

Does my Bachelor’s degree major affect admission?

 No. All majors are welcome to apply.

Is there a minimum GPA to graduate from the program?

 Yes. Students are required to have a 3.00 GPA for all graduate coursework taken at PSU and a term GPA of at least 2.67 each term.

What is the program acceptance rate?

 The average acceptance rate is 87%.

Are GRE scores required?


What is a professional letter of recommendation?

 A letter written by a previous employer, professor, or colleague who has been in a working or academic relationship with you. 

Is there a preferred format for the letters of recommendation?

 No. Letter of recommendation may be written in any format.

Other Information

Length of Program

  • Intended time to complete: 1-2 years
  • Percent of graduates who completed on time: 81%