Sustainability Certificate Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the sustainability certificate new?

A: Relatively new, yes. The certificate was approved in spring 2014.

Q: Can anyone apply to earn the sustainability certificate? If so, how?

A: Students in any major are encouraged to apply by completing the admission form. To be eligible to apply, you need to have completed at least one of the courses for the certificate with a grade of B or better, to have an overall GPA of 2.8, and to have a copy of your transcript that you can upload as part of the application process. In addition, you cannot be an environmental studies major, and you cannot be earning either the environmental studies certificate or the certificate in engineering for energy sustainability.

Q: How are applications for the sustainability certificate ranked?

A: A: By several different means. The application includes three short essay questions (< 500 words) that will be used in evaluating your credentials. The selection committee is looking to fill the program with a range of students, in terms of their major field of study, their School or College, and their personal interests. The committee also gives preference to third and fourth year students who qualify for the capstone.

Q: What's the difference between the sustainability certificate and the environmental studies certificate?

A: These certificates connect to two different academic programs, each with its own learning goals and course requirements. This table highlights the differences:

  Sustainability Environmental Studies
Number of credits 12 credits 15 credits
Enrollment process Need to apply Can declare
Students admitted 100 No limit
Capstone Yes Yes

Q: Can you earn both an environmental studies certificate and a sustainability certificate?

A: No.

Q:Can you be an environmental studies major and earn the sustainability certificate?

A: No.

Q: Where can you get your specific sustainability certificate questions answered?

A: For information about the sustainability certificate, please contact advisor Becky Ryan ( at the Nelson Institute. For more general advising and career information, please contact Nick Horan who can point you to an appropriate advising resource at the Nelson Institute. Use this subject line: "INFO REQUEST: SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATE." As part of your message, include your full name, student ID number, and anticipated graduation date.

Q: Where can you get your specific environmental studies certificate questions answered?

A: For the environmental studies certificate, please write to and use subject line: "CERTIFICATE."   Include your full name, student ID number and anticipated graduation date. An advisor will review your record and follow up.

Q: Where can you find more information about the community engagement requirement for this certificate?

A: Look to the left on this page to find a link to the Community Engagement page. As you will see, you can meet this requirement in several ways, either on-campus or off-campus.