About the Sustainability Certificate

The sustainability certificate offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to broaden their studies through interdisciplinary course work related to sustainability. In this academic course of study, students learn sustainability principles and how to apply them to issues on our campus and in the wider world. This unique 12-credit certificate enhances the value of a bachelor's degree and can be added to any undergraduate major except the environmental studies joint degree. Students may earn the sustainability certificate or the environmental studies certificate, but not both.

Why Earn a Sustainability Certificate?

Perhaps the best reason for pursuing a sustainability certificate is a student's personal interest in learning practical skills to make a difference in the world - in your life, in your job, and in your community.

Working toward a certificate offers an opportunity for students to pursue interests that complement their major(s). For example, the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability encourages students to consider multiple perspectives. In doing so, this certificate provides a breadth of perspective that is highly applicable to complex problems, such as those we face in our communities, in the workplace, and in our personal lives.

The certificate culminates in a capstone course, "Sustainability in Practice," that challenges students to identify and address an existing problem on the UW-Madison campus. This hands-on experience with peers and sustainability professionals utilizes highly marketable skills. Because this certificate spans all undergraduate degree programs, students will have the opportunity to learn and grow their strengths in sustainability that apply to their course of study.


Undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may apply for the sustainability certificate if they meet three criteria: (1) overall GPA of 2.8, (2) completion of one of the approved courses for the certificate with a grade of B or better, and (3) are not earning the environmental studies major, the environmental studies certificate, or the certificate in engineering for energy sustainability. 

How to Apply

Interested? Eligible as described above? If so, fill out this application form. Be ready to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript and to answer two short essay questions (fewer than 500 words). The first question asks "Pick an experience from your own life, and explain how it has influenced your interest in sustainability." The first question asks "If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?" You might find it helpful to draft your responses beforehand.


Email professor Cathy Middlecamp and advisor Becky Ryan at the Nelson Institute. Use this subject line: "INFO REQUEST: SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATE." As part of your message, please include your full name, student ID number, and anticipated graduation date.