Certificate in Sustainability

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Addressing environmental challenges and creating sustainable solutions requires an interdisciplinary approach. All sectors should recognize that the well-being of people, places and the planet are interdependent and sustainability requires moving beyond a focus on individual behavior towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions and their impact. A Certificate in Sustainability provides students with the tools to understand the dynamics of human and environmental systems and their relationship to promote sustainable knowledge, action, and understanding across sectors.


Sustainability embraces many disciplines, methodologies, and institutional practices. Certificate students must have knowledge of the multidisciplinary nature of the field, which is represented by the program's breadth electives: dynamics of natural systems; dynamics of human systems; and communication, ethics, and interpretation. 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. 

Recognizing the critical importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to the goal of sustainability, the Sustainability Certificate Advisory Committee is committed to ensuring that UI graduates who earn a Sustainability Certificate are able to articulate how historical and contemporary systems have led to oppression and unequal access to key resources. To this end, as a committee we are actively reflecting on how our institution and the certificate itself have helped to perpetuate such systems.  We are reviewing our core courses to ensure that students who complete the certificate graduate with a thorough understanding of why equity, inclusion, and an antiracist culture are of central importance to the production of a sustainable future.


Students complete four introductory course courses, three breadth electives; and one project/integrative system course. They may be able to count some courses taken for the certificate toward requirements for their major, a minor, or another certificate. No more than three certificate courses may be taken from a single department or program. Students must maintain a GPA 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. See course work listing in the UI General Catalog.


  • 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, except students earning a B.S in Sustainability Science
  • 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 (319-353-5700), the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development in 120 Schaeffer Hall (319-335-2633), or on MyUI>Student Information> Programs of Study & Advisors.
  • A minimum grade-point average of 2.00 must be maintained on all certificate course work.
  • No more than three courses may be taken from a single department.
  • A maximum of six 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 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.

Course Substitution Guidelines - for Students

All course substitution proposals must include the following:

  • Name of student, ID number, major(s), and semester hours completed
  • Name of credit granting institution
  • Syllabus for the course
  • Certificate requirement you would like to satisfy with a brief statement how you think the class fulfills the requirement

Declare a Certificate in Sustainability!

The Certificate in Sustainability has been a great opportunity for me to connect sustainability to all aspects of my academic, personal, and professional life!

Claire Jacobmeyer 

Sustainability Certificate Advisory Committee Members David Bennett, Geography,  Professor, david-bennett@uiowa.edu Bradley Cramer, Earth and...
Sustainability Certificate Course Approval Guidelines for Faculty Members 

All University of Iowa instructors, in whatever department or college,...