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LSE Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to submit my application?
LSE new student applications are accepted during Fall and Winter terms until February 15 of each year. Students are only admitted for fall term. Students will not be admitted in winter, spring or summer terms.

Do I need to take the GRE?
No. The LSE program admission application does not require GRE scores.

How long is the program?
The LSE program requires the completion of at least 45 credits. This includes the Professional Studies Core (16 credits), LSE Foundational Courses (8 credits), LSE Thematic Specialization (12 credits), Culminating Experience: LSE Comprehensive Exam Course or Thesis (4 credits), and Electives (5 credits).

Students typically take 2-3 courses during each quarter, selecting courses from the professional core, the LSE foundational courses, the LSE thematic specialization and electives. A master’s degree can be completed within two years.

How many students are accepted into the program each year? How competitive is the admission process?
We typically admit 20-25 new LSE students each Fall. The admission process is competitive.

How do I apply for the LSE program? 
See our admissions page for complete information about how to apply to the LSE program.

Can I take classes in the program before being admitted?
Non-degree is a great option for students interested in exploring the program before formally applying or for students who are late in applying to the LSE program for a specific term. As a non-degree student, you are not formally admitted to the University, but you may enroll in as many as eight credits in Fall, Winter, and Spring, and up to 21 credits in Summer. Up to 15 credits are transferable to a graduate program. Certain courses that require a prerequisite or formal University admission are not available to non-degree students. Additionally, LSE foundational courses, ELP 550 Advanced Leadership for Sustainability and ELP 517 Ecological and Cultural Foundations of Learning are not available for non-degree students. Student services such as financial aid, career counseling, and transfer evaluation are not available to non-degree students. 

Becoming a non-degree student is fast and easy. Go to the online non-degree form and choose "First time user account creation." The online process takes only a few minutes to complete, and generates a student record and ID number so you may begin the registration process as soon as possible. Make sure to have your credit card available when enrolling online; a non-refundable $25 processing fee applies and is charged to your credit card as part of the form completion process.

Alternately, download and print a non-degree form. Submit the paper form, along with the non-refundable $25 processing fee, to the Office of Admissions, Registration, and Records. As soon as the form is processed -- usually within 24 hours of submission -- they will mail you the information you need to register for classes.

How much does the LSE program cost?
The cost of the program depends on your residency status as well as the number of credits you decide to take each term. See the Portland State Tuition Estimator at to determine the cost of your tuition for the given academic year.

Is there financial aid or scholarships available for the LSE program?
Your eligibility for financial aid is determined by the Portland State Financial Aid Office. Please visit or contact them at (503)725-3461 or toll-free: (800)547-8887 for information about financial aid eligibility, types of financial aid available, instructions and deadlines for completing your FAFSA and other financial aid related questions.

The Graduate School of Education offer a number of scholarships. Visit the GSE's scholarship page for specific application instructions and deadlines.

What is a graduate assistantship and how do I apply?
Graduate Assistantships provide remission of the instructional fee portion of tuition and a salary on a regular periodic basis as compensation for the service provided each term of the appointment (see the OGS website). There are three types of assistantships: teaching, research, and administrative. Graduate assistants must be full-time graduate students, regularly admitted to a graduate degree program, and in good academic standing to begin an assistantship. Students are free to apply for assistantships in any department (academic or administrative), not only in the department to which they are admitted. Students wishing to apply for graduate assistantships must correspond directly with the department offering the assistantship.

Only a few graduate assistantships are available through the ELP Department each year and the selection process is highly competitive. The best place to find out about gradate assistantships at PSU is through the LSE listserv, where announcements are posted. To join the listserv contact Heather Burns at

Some graduate assistant openings are also posted on the Office of Graduate Studies website at

Can graduate credits taken at a previous institution transfer into the program?
Up to 15 graduate credits can transfer as electives towards LSE program requirements, upon Department/Program approval. You may also use the ELP Department/LSE Program petition for Course Substitution to request course waiver or substitution related to course previously taken at another institution.

What are Community Based Learning hours? What are my options for Community Based Learning?
Community Based Learning (CBL) provides meaningful opportunities for students to interface their classroom experiences with issues in the local community. Many ELP courses carry a requirement for 30 credit hours of community-based learning. Specific requirements for community based learning are set by the instructor. Community based learning can be carried out in a variety of organizations and educational settings across the metropolitan region. LSE students with an interest in school and community gardens often volunteer at the Learning Gardens Laboratory assisting with classes for middle school students or for special events. Other students volunteer in local non-formal and formal education organizations or for non-profit organizations. Students are advised to create a plan for their CBL hours that creates a variety of meaningful experiences that supports their future career goals. See for more information about CBL and a list of possible CBL opportunities in the local area.

What are my options for elective credit? Can I take elective courses outside of the department?
Yes. LSE students are encouraged to select a minimum of 5 credit hours of electives courses that align with their interests and support their future careers. LSE students have chosen electives from various departments on campus including Environmental Sciences and Management, the School of Urban Studies and Planning, Conflict Resolution, the Institute for Nonprofit Management, Sociology, Gender Race and Nations and the School of Community Health. Some LSE students also choose to earn a graduate certificate in conjunction with their degree requirements.

Students may also design a self-directed project or internship and enroll in ELP 506 Special Projects (1-4 credits). What types of jobs do students get after graduating from the LSE program?

LSE graduates work in a wide variety of jobs after they graduate from PSU. LSE graduates work in non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, schools, and non-formal education organizations (e.g., museums, botanical garden, and nature centers). Some also work in the private sector and others open their own businesses. See examples of LSE alumni work at

What are some examples of Thesis and Culminating Project Topics of past LSE students?

Read some LSE Comps projects at:

  • Training New Outdoor Program Managers: Recommendations Based on the Exploration of the Management Beliefs and Practices of Outdoor Program Managers (Travis Southworth-Neumeyer 2009)
  • Learning English and Growing Tomatoes: A Summer Garden-Based Literacy Program for English Language Learners (Lynne Hjelte Fowler 2009)
  • From the Root to the Fruit: An Intergenerational Writing Unit for the Garden and the Classroom (Ryan Harvey 2010)
  • Children’s Perceptions of Bikes and Bicycling In An After School Bike Club (Kim Whitney 2010) 
  • Education for Sustainability Advocates: A One-Term Curriculum for Empowering Sustainability Advocates (Matthew Simmons 2010) 
  • A Framework for Engaging Faith-Based Organizations in the Service of Sustainability (Greg Esion 2010)
  • The Zahniser Institute for Environmental Studies: A Context-Specific Framework for Nonformal Sustainability Education (Lacy Cagle 2010)
  • Better Education: Looking to Place-Based Education as a Tool for Creating Sustainable Leaders (Rob Nathan 2010)
  • Systems for Wonder: Designing and Transforming Education which Nourishes the Spirit (Dane Tudhope-Locklear 2010)
  • Restoring Sustainable Communities through Gardens: Healing Soldiers in Transition (Nina Grout 2010)
  • Empowerment in the Shadows: Implementing Yoga Based Programs for At-Risk Youth (Melissa Haeckel 2010)
  • Exploring the Guiding Metaphors of Sustainability Education (Jon Brown 2010) Thesis
  • Remembering our Reciprocal Relationship with Nature: Hostelling as an Experiential Approach (Amanda McFadden 2010)
  • Leadership for Sustainability Education: Engaging Peer Mentors in Institutional Transformation (Brittany Depew 2010)
  • Mindfulness in Education: Teaching the Teacher, Empowering the Student, and Promoting Sustainable Well-being (Darcy Bedortha 2010)
  • Sustainable Event Management of Music Festivals: An Event Organizer Perspective (Stephanie Stettler 2011) Thesis
  • Education for Sustainability through an Ecologically Designed Service-Learning Program (Matthew Collins, 2011)
  • Playing with Nature's Patterns:  A Sustainability Education Method for Cascadia (Jeffrey Briley, 2011)
  • A Story of Creation: Using Relationship-based Communication to Create Cultures of Sustainability (Katie Shaw, 2011)
  • Comprehensive Movement Education: A Way Toward Health and Longevity (Anne Geuss, 2011)
  • Buy Green, Learn Green, Be Green: Responsible purchasing as a pathway to a living laboratory model for sustainability education at Portland State University (Julia Fraser, 2011)
  • Placing Community in Sustainability Education:
  • Non-Formal Sustainability Education through Asset-Based Community Development (Tyler Roppe, 2011)
  • The Practical Green Renovation and Repair Project: Living within your means and the means of the planet (Jolene Johnson, 2011)
  • Nourishing Relationships with Soul, Soil and Society: Closing the Gap between Early Childhood and Sustainable Education (Christine Waters, 2011)
  • The Siskiyou Farm & Trade School:  Vocational Education for Rural Community Renewal (Cate Clother, 2011)
  • Teaching for Sustainability Education: Ecological Picture Books for K-5 Place-Based Learning (Maria Zink, 2011)
  • The Role of Green Teams in Organizational Culture Change (Kelli Martin, 2011)
  • Transforming with Heart:  Emotional Intelligence and Transformational Sustainability Education (Bliss Newton, 2011)
  • Educational Gardens: Inspiring Communication, Connection and Change (Aprilmarie Petersen, 2011)
  • Co-curricular Education for Sustainability Leadership: Holistic Immersion in Regenerative, Transformative, Systemic Learning (Angela Hamilton, 2011)
  • Educating Leaders for Transformational Development in the Global South: Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo's response to systemic challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Sarah Gaither, 2011)
  • Sustainability in Community and Environment: The Cascadia Farm-Hostel (Lauriel Schuman, 2011)
  • Place based learning in Partnerships: Developing an ecological perspective for sustainability (Ayni Raimondi, 2011)
  • Creating a New Model: Applying Whole System Design to a Dual Enrollment College Program (Melissa Pirie, 2011)
  • The Secret of the Garden: How school gardens can influence sustainable change in public schools (Tim Vogt, 2011)
  • Addressing the Challenges of International Service-Learning: Promoting Sustainability through Partnership (Sarah Dodson, 2011)
  • Ecological Reconnection: How Cyclical Art Curriculum can Enhance School Gardens (Jesse Nellis, 2011)
  • Building stronger communities and better education through place-based arts learning (Kim Manuel, 2011)
  • Engaging Community Food Systems through Learning Garden Programs: Oregon Food Bank's Seed to Supper Program (Denissia Withers, 2012). Thesis
  • Empowering sustainability leaders: Developing an authentic leadership identity (Heather Diamond, 2012)
  • University Student Gardens: Education from Within Whole Systems for Systemic Educational Change (Julie Sheen, 2012)
  • Teaching as transformation: The impacts of the Burns Model of Sustainability Pedagogy on student-learning in the University Studies Peer Mentor Program (Jacob Sherman, 2012)


What happened to LECL?
The LECL program became the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE). Information about the program can be found at