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Certificate in Sustainability


Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Accomplishing this goal requires an understanding of human and environmental systems and the complex interactions between them.

Because sustainability embraces many disciplines, methodologies, and institutional practices, certificate students must have knowledge of the multidisciplinary breadth of the field, which is represented by the program's four areas of breadth electives: changing environments and human health; energy, climate, and built environments; the power of culture and society; and ethics, economics, and public policy. They also must have experience with analyzing real-life problems in and outside of the classroom and with working collaboratively to solve such problems.

This is a program at the University of Iowa that draws on a number of different disciplines to create a 24 semester hour certificate that will give you the knowledge and skills to contribute to developing sustainable systems. Students who earn the certificate will enhance their preparation for a variety of vocations such as researcher, corporate officer, technology specialist, farmer, government official, and grassroots advocate. Download a certificate brochure (PDF).


  • The Certificate in Sustainability requires 24 s.h. of course work.
  • Undergraduate students pursuing a degree from The University of Iowa are eligible for the certificate.
  • Students who already have earned a baccalaureate degree from The University of Iowa may return to complete or earn the certificate if they are not enrolled in a graduate or professional program.
  • Holders of baccalaureate degrees from other institutions who are not enrolled in a graduate or professional program may enroll at The University of Iowa to complete the certificate.
  • Students must declare their intention to pursue the certificate at the Academic Advising Center, C210 Pomerantz Center (353-5700) or the Academic Program Services at 120 Schaeffer Hall (335-2633).
  • A minimum grade-point average of 2.00 must be maintained on all IBC course work.
  • No more than 3 courses may be taken from a single department.
  • A maximum of 6 hours of transfer coursework may be counted toward the certificate.
  • Certificate courses may not be taken pass/non-pass.
  • A minimum of 18 semester hours of certificate course work (other than language courses) must be completed at The University of Iowa or in approved study abroad programs.
  • A course may not be used to satisfy more than one certificate requirement.
  • Sustainability Certificate courses may also satisfy major or minor requirements.
  • University of Iowa Guided Independent Study is accepted toward the certificate.


Students complete three introductory course courses; four breadth electives-one from each of the program's four elective areas; and one project course. They may be able to count some courses taken for the certificate toward requirements for their major or for a minor. No more than three certificate courses may be taken from a single department or program. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all certificate course work. A maximum of 6 s.h. of approved transfer credit may be counted toward the certificate. Learn more in the UI General Catalog...

Course Substitution Guidelines - for Students

All course substitution proposals must include the following:

  • Name of student, ID number, major(s), and hours completed
  • Name of credit granting institution (if course is a transfer course)
  • Name of professor teaching the course (if course is a transfer course)
  • Number of credit hours requested (if course is a transfer course)
  • A narrative explaining why the proposed course should be included in the plan of study. If the student is requesting the course as a substitute for an existing Sustainability Certificate course, he/she must specify how the two courses are equal. If the student is requesting that a course be added as a new choice, he/she must identify how the change will improve the student’s academic goals.
  • A syllabus of the proposed course
  • Any other material valuable to the Sustainability Certificate Advisory Committee in making their decision

Any proposal that does not include the above requirements will not be reviewed.


  • Certain programs and majors restrict registration in some of their courses to students who have been admitted to those programs or majors. Therefore a student proposing a course substitution must first make sure they can in fact register for that course.
  • While not required, a letter of support from a faculty member would be helpful to the Advisory Committee in their deliberations. This letter should reflect that it is the faculty member’s opinion that the proposed course be viewed as an appropriate substitution for another course and/or matches a student’s academic goals.

Course proposals are due the last Friday in October and the last Friday in March. Course substitutions are reviewed by the Advisory Committee once each semester.

Submit proposals to Joel Wilcox, Academic Coordinator at C210 Pomerantz Center. Proposals may be submitted as attachments to


How can I declare the Sustainability Certificate?

The Sustainability certificate can be declared on ISIS, or by contacting Joel Wilcox (, certificate coordinator, at C210 Pomerantz Center (353-5700), or by contacting the CLAS Academic Program and Student Development office at 120 Schaeffer Hall (335-2633).

Can a student get a certificate after they have earned an undergraduate degree?

Yes. Certificates need to be attached to an undergraduate degree so if they have earned an undergraduate degree at Iowa or at another college or university, they can earn a Certificate in Sustainability.

Can a graduate student earn a Certificate in Sustainability?

Graduate students cannot earn undergraduate certificates while they are enrolled as graduate students.

Contact Us

Joel Wilcox,
C210 Pomerantz Center
319.353.5700 (phone)

Advisory Committee Members

Sustainability Certificate Advisory Committee Members David Bennett, Geography, Associate Professor, david-bennett@uiowa...

Learn More

Certificate in Sustainability Contact

Joel Wilcox
C210 Pomerantz Center
319.353.5700 (phone)

News & Events Climate Narrative Blog

Sustainability at Iowa

1680 University Capitol Centre
200 South Clinton St.
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-5516