Requirements and Guidelines


Students are required to take a minimum of 17 credit hours to earn the Certificate in Sustainability. The certificate will consist of the following components:

  • Anchor course (3 credit hours)
  • One course from each of 3 “spheres” (Ecological, Economic, Social) (9 credit hours total)
  • Two semesters of the Seminar (2 credit hours total)
  • Capstone (3 credit hours)
  • Portfolio

Anchor Course

These courses will provide a foundation in sustainability, including its history, components, and application. Courses which qualify as anchor courses for this certificate will challenge students to evaluate their behavior as citizens and consumers and encourage them to think about the interdisciplinary challenges associated with a sustainable future. There are a minimal number of courses from different departments from which students can choose that may serve as anchor courses.

Coursework from three spheres

  • Ecological Sustainability: Courses in the ecological sustainability sphere will build upon a baseline understanding of ecology and address issues concerning ecosystem services, environmental degradation, and climate change.
  • Economic Sustainability: Courses in this sphere will build upon a baseline understanding of economics and address the bottom-line, as well as address the interactions between the economy and the environment.
  • Social Sustainability: Courses in the social sustainability sphere will build upon a basic understanding of social science and will address the social aspects of sustainability, including issues of cultural diversity, social justice, equality, participation, the built environment, and community.

NB: We require that at least one of the spheres come from courses outside your major and highly recommended that two of the three spheres come from courses outside of your major to develop the broadest perspective on sustainability.


The seminar will introduce students to the many ways UGA faculty and the Athens-Clarke County community are promoting sustainability. Sustainability challenges, including climate change, biodiversity, and the built environment, will be addressed. The seminar will be open to the entire UGA Community as a means of connecting and communicating across disciplines. The seminar will also allow students the opportunity to present their capstone course project and receive feedback from their peers.

Capstone Course/Project

This course will provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned to hands-on sustainability challenges. For capstone projects, students will work on problems identified on campus and in the surrounding community to offer creative, sustainable solutions. For details, see the Guidelines for the Capstone.


A collection of documents presented at the completion of the certificate that ties together the courses, seminar, and capstone project completed by the student. This portfolio will provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the integration of disciplines, systems thinking, analysis of complex problems, and their ongoing commitment to sustainability. For details, see Guidelines for the Portfolio.



Apply here. Log in with your UGA MyId and then fill out the application form.

Students must be in good standing with the University at the time of applying.

Students will be notified by email when they have been accepted into the program. Once accepted, students must add the Sustainability Certificate to their active curricula program via the MyPrograms option in Athena.

Completion of Pre and Post Assessment

Upon admittance into the certificate program, students will be prompted to complete an online survey to measure their baseline sustainability attitudes and knowledge. Near completion of the certificate, students will gain access to another online survey measuring approximately the same domains. These assessments are for internal use only (primarily to measure the effectiveness of the program), and responses will not have bearing on the students' approval to receive the certificate; however, students are strongly encouraged to complete both surveys.

Completion of the Checklist

Once a student has applied and been approved, they can begin filling in a checklist of completed requirements by logging into this website.


There will be an orientation for new and continuing students in the program early each semester.

Advising Appointments

Students are encouraged to meet with the director and/or the certificate graduate assistant after an application has been approved to plan a program of study and then periodically after as needed.

Defining your Capstone

See Guidelines for the Capstone

Creating your Portfolio

See Guidelines for the Portfolio

Making regular progress

Regular progress is expected to remain in the program.

Applying for graduation

When you Apply to Graduate - you must apply to Graduate with the Sustainability Certificate. This will be done the semester you graduate - do NOT forget. Here is what you will do when the time comes:

Log onto Athena:
Click: Student > Apply to Graduate > Follow the Directions to add the Sustainability Certificate.


Students can petition for exceptions to any requirement for the certificate. A written rationale for the exception should be included in the Checklist under Exceptions. The director, in consultation with the Advisory Board, will review the petition and let the student know the results.