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Best Online Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Studies Graduate Cer­tifi­cates Top Online Cer­tifi­cate Programs

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Now more than ever, the world of green energy and sustainability has picked up large-scale attention in light of a more hefty awareness of the impact of global climate change. It is clear that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many jobs have gone by the wayside as we are trying to navigate a safer world. Renewable energy and green energy jobs, however, are nowhere near the chopping block in these uncertain and unprecedented times. Get this, The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an increase of 105 percent of green jobs, between 2016 and 2026. There are many ways to move into the industry that is focused on more sustainable practices to ensure the planet has a future. 

Of course, it would never hurt to get a four-year degree or bachelor’s in the field of green energy, but if you already have a degree in something else, your chances are not lost. You may want to consider a master’s degree in the field, or for an even shorter and less expensive academic path, you can consider a graduate certificate program. There are many ways to achieve a graduate certificate in the green industry that is expedient, flexible, and affordable. Especially if you are interested in studying online. We have sourced for you 25 of the best graduate certificates in sustainability for sustainability by using the following metric:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Rate of Success

Dive in and take a look; I am sure you will find the perfect program for yourself. 

Stanford University is such a leader in higher education, so it is no surprise that they would offer such a cutting edge certificate program in sustainability. Their energy innovation and emerging technologies certificate offered through their distinguished School of Engineering. This program is designed for professional students to have an opportunity to study with flexibility in an online format. Many prospective students are already working in the energy field, or they are interested in moving into this career path. Other people who are drawn to this program include engineers, product marketing managers, product developers, investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and accountants. This course of study enables students to gain a wide range of skills and understandings of the entire field of energy. A scientific background could help support the coursework, however, it is not mandatory. Students are given the opportunity to engage in the coursework at their own pace. 

Certificate Title: Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies Certificate

Cost: $12,000.00

Nobody is confused that Harvard University offers the best of everything, so it should come as no surprise that they have graduate certificates in sustainability programs.  The emphasis of this program includes climate change and engaging alternatives to problematic fossil fuels. Students will learn how to immediately implement strategies for sustainability in a myriad of contexts such as local governments, within communities, and many other frameworks. Key understandings in many topics will be engaged such as greenhouse emissions standards, environmental economics, sustainable supply chain management, and sustainable building design. One of the amazing aspects of this endeavor is there is no application process or additional fees. Completing the program simply entails undergoing five certificate courses for graduate credit. Students must earn a minimum of a B grade in each class to pass. The program can be completed within a three-year timeframe. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainability 

Cost: $16,000.00

The UCLA Extension offers many opportunities for adult learners and working professionals to achieve additional knowledge and career opportunities. The graduate certificate in sustainability is no different. It was designed for students to gain the foundations of environmental systems and the impact that humans have ultimately on the environment. Students will gain awareness and understanding to utilize practical tools related to sustainability. The program is multi-disciplinary and allows students to learn a survey of skills related to green disciplines. The entire certificate program is made up of 20 units which include: energy and environmental consultancy, green building project design, green investment and marketing, renewable energy, service-learning, water resource policy, and climate change. All of the instructors are experts in their particular fields. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Sustainability 

Cost: $14,000.00


University of Illinois

The University of Illinois Online offers a profound certificate of professional development in urban agriculture that is delivered entirely online. This program is a part of their urban agriculture and professional development schools. Many people are drawn to this graduate certificate in sustainability programs including entrepreneurs, professionals, and students. There are a series of classes students can take to complete the program including HORT 435, HORT 434, Horticulture, and Crop Sciences. The goal of the program is to give students the opportunity to study on a part-time basis to supplement full-time employment and any internships students might be participating in conjunction with their degree. Students will choose between three certificate areas including urban agriculture, crop sciences, and horticulture. A “B” grade or better is required for program completion. Students register for classes through the Center for Innovation for Teaching and Learning. 

Certificate Title: Certificate of Professional Development in Urban Agriculture

Cost: $17,000.00


Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University has its own Texas A&M Energy Institute. They offer a 10-month long Graduate Certificate in Energy. This course of study is designed for people who are interested in energy leadership. Primarily those who are drawn to this program are professionals as well as students. There are many focal points that students can access in this interdisciplinary program including renewable, fossil-based, and non-fossil based as well as multi-scale energy systems. This also includes energy economics, security, law, societal impact, and policy. Students can choose to participate in this program entirely online or in person. Texas A&M students that participate in this program are granted the possibility of achieving a scholarship or other funding support options. Prospective students can learn more about the program by participating in a virtual open house. It is a quick admit process for students who are already attending Texas A&M. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Energy

Cost: $19,000.00

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy offers a Certificate in Energy and Environmental policy. This program brings together a synthesis of public policy and science and offers students an opportunity to look deeply at energy and environmental concerns. Embedded in the program are key competencies regarding renewable and non-renewable energy sources as they relate to economic, scientific, and regulatory forces. There are many electives that students can choose from that enable them to explore the many disciplines that this field in full. Students who are already a part of the Harris School are already admitted into the program. Other students must apply by filling out the Harris certificate application for non-Harris students. The entire program is made up of four classes in total, which include two specific classes and two courses that students can choose. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Energy & Environmental Policy

Cost: $26,000.00


Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a graduate certificate in sustainability that is delivered entirely online. The entire course of study is made up of five classes in total. Each class is delivered over a seven and a half week period. The entire program consists of 15 credit hours. Students will learn how to look at sustainability from a myriad of perspectives and subsequently collaborate in many industries. This also means they learn the skills that are necessary to integrate sustainable thinking into any field, as it is always relevant. This includes the non-profit sector, government, and education. Many people earn this certificate as a standalone opportunity or incorporate it into coursework for which they are already engaging at Arizona State University. This program can be completed in as little as two sessions, depending on the number of classes students choose to engage in. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainability 

Cost: $12,000.00


Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University offers a graduate certificate program in sustainability that can be accomplished anywhere, due to its flexible format. Not only is this program an offering full of career potential, but students will gain it is also expedient. The program can be completed in as little as one year. They offer a great deal of support to all students who are not only in the program, but those who are applying will have access to an application concierge. Some of the careers graduates of the program might consider include: public policy analysts, environmental planners, project managers, policy managers, environmental policy analysts, project managers, and environmental specialists. The courses include energy and the environment, integrated environmental issues, environmental policy and analysis, and environmental law and regulation.  Prospective students must have an undergraduate degree from a fully accredited institution of higher learning and a minimum of a 3.0. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Environmental Energy Policy

Cost: $9,000.00

The University of Houston offers a Power and Electronics and Renewable Energy Technologies certificate program that is delivered entirely online. This course of study is specifically from those interested in bringing these skills to the table in the global industrial workplace. The coursework consists of high-level classes that look deeply at power systems, power system protection, and smart grid. All of the classes relate to industry standards within gas and oil, utilities, renewable energy, and power industries. The entire program can be accomplished in one year. They have other relevant certificate programs that students might want to consider in addition to power systems and smart grid. Those who undergo this course of study are generally interested in leadership roles that are relevant and, therefore, the coursework also delves into both business and technical skills. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Technologies 

Cost: $12,000.00

The Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers a myriad of energy-related programs, many of which deal with the complexities of renewable energy, which include wind and solar. Much of their programming is designed specifically for engineers to have a stronger handle on the renewable energy systems that are critical in terms of combating climate change. They have three related graduate certificate programs including the Renewable Energy Certificate. Students in this course of study will engage in classes such as fundamentals of solar energy, renewable energy and the power grid, and fundamentals of wind power. In order to participate in the class Electronics 1. Students will be required to take the following prerequisites: physics with calculus II, electric circuits II, and introduction to ordinary and differential equations. For non-Clemson students, the application process includes a background evaluation that includes transcripts that account for the prerequisite coursework. 

Certificate Title: Renewable Energy certificate

Cost: $18,000.00

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell offers a graduate certificate program in renewable energy engineering. This online graduate certificate in sustainability. One of the aspects of this program, aside from the content, that entices prospective students is that it can be completed in as little as nine months. It is also one of the most affordable options out there and incredibly flexible. There are no application dates, so students can apply at any time. The entire course of study is made up of four distinct classes that bring together the fundamental concepts related to designing, renewable energy systems, and their production, research, and technology. Excellent candidates for this program offers are engineers or those who have extensive engineering coursework in their background. Graduates will have more access to the wide variety of green jobs out there, especially as the field continues to expand and innovate. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Engineering 

Cost: $19,000.00

Ready to change the world? I hope so, if you are interested in this program, anyway, as it is their tagline. It sounds like they are ready to give you the tools to do so in relation to sustainable environmental planning and management. This graduate certificate in environmental management and sustainability program was designed to support students to be part of the ever-growing field of green energy. They encourage students to not only find lucrative work but to play a role in shifting global climate change. The entire course of study is made up of 12 credit hours that are delivered entirely online. Students can complete the program in as little as twelve months to sixteen months’ time. This is an excellent opportunity for those who have graduated from college in a field that is in some way connected and would like some extra tools and support to break into the industry itself. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Environmental Planning and Management 

Cost: $22,000.00


Colorado State University

Colorado State University offers a graduate certificate in sustainability that is specifically designed for community development workers. Students will choose between three topic areas which include: natural resources, water resources, and agriculture. One thing that stands out about this program is the fact that they offer very practical skills alongside the theoretical frameworks. All of the skills are directly applicable to improving community infrastructures and creating environmental sustainability. The goal of the program is to serve mid-career professionals that are working in a myriad of industries including the peace corps, department of defense, and the United Nations. Prospective students should be comfortable working on their own and self-directed. This program is offered entirely online in a flexible format, or students can choose to participate in person. There are many application deadlines and subsequently, start dates. Prospective students must have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate Applied Global Stability 

Cost: $13,000.00


Among the plethora of outstanding flexible online programs that Penn State World Campus offers you will find the graduate certificate in Solar Energy. This program is responding to the fact that the green energy economy is in a moment of exponential growth. Some of the aspects of this course of study include resource assessment, system design, project development, and emerging technologies. Students will learn the top skills related process improvement, system design and analysis, and solar energy systems. This program is made up of 12 credit hours. Students will choose a path including thermal or electric. Graduates of this certificate offering can qualify for jobs such as project engineer in solar energy, solar research analyst, solar energy project manager, VP of business development in a commercial solar sector, and solar PV design engineer. Veterans and members of the military have access to additional financial aid opportunities for this program among others. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Solar Energy 

Cost: $23,000.00

Texas Tech University offers a graduate certificate in sustainability program that emphasizes wind energy. This course of study was designed to be incredibly flexible, as it is delivered entirely online. The entire program is made up of 15 credit hours. Prospective students to this program must first have a bachelor’s degree prior to their application. Students will have the option to study within six subject areas that are relevant to the discipline. This program specifically is inclusive of professionals in the field who do not have technical backgrounds but would like to engage those skills. The graduate school is connected to the National Wind Institute. The out of state rate is comparable to the in-state tuition for the program. They are inviting to those who are veterans or are currently serving in the military. This program has some access to scholarship opportunities. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate of Wind Energy

Cost: $17,000.00

The University of Colorado offers a graduate certificate program in renewable and sustainable energy. This program is made up of credit hours and is delivered entirely online. This online format makes it so students are able to study at their own pace and within an environment that works for them. Prospective students must first have a 3.0 GPA in order to matriculate into the program. The program requires no standardized tests, not even for admissions. They do not accept transfer credits. The instructors for the program teach both on campus and within the online program. Students can participate in this program from all over the world. There are many opportunities to gain support throughout both the application process as well as throughout the course of study. The University of Colorado, Boulder is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Renewable and Sustainable Energy

Cost: $22,000.00

The University of Nevada, Reno offers a graduate certificate program in sustainability. This particular course of study is a certificate in renewable energy. It was created to support professionals who are already working in the industry. This includes those who are engineers, administrators, business entrepreneurs, and others who are in fields that would benefit from an understanding and implementation of renewable energy. The program is delivered entirely online, making it flexible as well as convenient. It is made up of four distinct classes which in total make up 12 credit hours. Students get to choose their four courses out of a total list of ten, enabling them to customize the program to their unique interests and goals. The program is approved for VA benefits, though veterans must first set up the benefits through the veteran’s services office. The faculty are all experts in their fields and experienced online educators. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy 

Cost: $14,000.00

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas offers a graduate certificate in sustainability that is delivered entirely online. The program is designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree and in some cases a master’s. This is an excellent choice for those who are interested in moving up in the energy industry or entering the field for the first time. Those who earn their certificate can easily apply to the graduate program upon completion if they are interested in going deeper and making a bigger commitment. The entire program is made up of 18 credit hours. Some of the courses embedded into the program include environmental decision making, energy policy– which may include one of the following: environmental risk management, policy implementation, environmental problem solving, the role of government in society, environmental law and policy seminar, environmental quality law, and origins and development of public policy in America. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Solar and Renewable Energy

Cost: $11,000.00

The University of Denver offers a Certificate in Energy and Sustainability that is available entirely online. The program is already underway, but students can start anytime during the 4 semester year. This online graduate certificate is offered in 10 weeks sessions.  This is a 4 course 16 credit certificate that students can complete in 6 months or a 6 course 24 credit certificate that can be completed in one year. With four concentration courses such as environmental systems, renewable energy, policy and practices, and sustainable transportation, students will select which areas they want to focus on. The University of Denver also offers students the option to enroll in the courses prior to applying for the program. Upon completion of this certificate program student will qualify for positions in the energy sector, as Energy Consultant, Renewable Energy Manager, or Solar Engineer. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Energy and Sustainability 

Cost: $29,000.00

Drexel University offers a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable and Green Construction. This fully online program is geared toward post-baccalaureate students or professionals, continuing their education. An online graduate certificate in sustainability and green construction has the daunting task of preparing individuals to find and invent a cohesiveness between the built environment and the natural environment. Drexel’s approach is with industry professionals on faculty and a history of pushes for community sustainability and its support of the green new deal. Now more than ever Drexel University sees a need for professionals with the skills to meet the demands of the architectural, engineering, and construction industry. The 15 credit program can be completed within one year. Courses are offered 4 times a year in 10 week quarters, allowing flexible start times and shorter courses. Admission into the program is fairly moderate. Drexel requires official transcripts and a 500-word essay, to name a few of the admission requirements. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainable and Green Construction

Cost: $34,000.00

Certificate in Energy Engineering offered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is an interdisciplinary program made available by the Engineering department. This course of study is open to individuals with a bachelor’s degree interested in continuing their education but do not want to spend the time or money on a Master’s degree. This Certificate gives the student an opportunity to obtain advancement in their field while applying industry-standards as real-life practice. Energy Engineering online graduate certificates focus on the electrical and mechanical design of devices and systems. To obtain this certificate the completion of 15 credits in the given list of courses that are separated by letter. You may transfer in courses yet to meet the requirements for completion. 12 credits must be obtained from the University of Wisconsin. Students may choose to focus closely on one energy system which is offered with the advanced course list. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Energy Engineering

Cost: $18,000.00

Lipscomb University’s Certificate in Sustainability is one of a series of Sustainability degrees offered, with online hybrid or on-campus delivery options. This 15 credit certificate can be completed once accepted into the Lipscomb University Master’s program, there are several sustainability tracks to choose from, Building systems, Collaborative Competency, food systems, renewable energy, and more.  With so many course options you can choose where you want to focus your study. The program is designed to support students becoming leaders of this new Green wave in the business sector as the economy tries to address climate change and the need for renewable resources. They do this by teaching three clear concepts of sustainability in environmental studies, business, economics, and social sciences. There is required travel for some of the courses to complete the program, although you can choose to receive course work fully online. 

Certificate Title: Certificate in Sustainability 

Cost: $24,000.0

Wilmington University College of Business provides a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability for professionals wanting to advance their careers by continuing to learn at their own pace. This online graduate certificate is flexible with start dates every eight weeks. Wilmington University has employed industry professionals to teach the courses so students are learning from faculty working in the industry. To obtain the certificate students must complete five courses, each focusing on management, and principles of business and planning for sustainability, there is one elective required. This program is offered to all master’s degree students in progress at Wilmington University or any bachelor’s degree graduate with a transcript from an accredited institution. The benefits of completing this certificate are clear, boost earning potential, while learning from industry professionals. 

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainability 

Cost: $15,000.00

Franklin Univerity’s fully online Graduate Certificate in sustainable management offers a flexible program for students to quickly enter into an in-demand industry. This graduate certificate in sustainability is a 15 credit hour program. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree and a GPA of at least 2.75. This rigorous program asks that students pass the GRE/GMAT to qualify, then upon completion, the student must apply for certification. This graduate program will prepare students to examine the compromises between social, economic, and environmental values while developing strategies for working with stakeholders who need to innovate their process to keep up with the public demand for more sustainable practices. Franklin University offers this accelerated certificate as a fully online program for professionals who want to influence and promote an understanding of how to cultivate a sustainable environment.

Certificate Title: Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Management

Cost: $19,000.00

Boston Architectural College offers an online graduate certificate in sustainability, this certificate focuses on Sustainable Design. With more and more of our green space becoming developed this Graduate Certificate fast tracks skilled professionals into a field that is ready for innovation. The flexibility allowed with this online format is appealing to professionals or college graduates who don’t want to spend the next 2 years in a master’s program. Certificate programs from Boston Architectural college are made up of six-course 9 credits. They follow the Masters of design studies program. You will get to select from the major course curriculum and shape your certificate program to the areas you want to study the most with sustainability design. Undergraduate degrees are recommended but not required to enroll in the program. This certificate can lead to opportunities in the construction personnel, property managers, and many other professional roles in this industry. 

Certificate Title: Certificate Sustainable Design 

Cost: $27,000.00

What Kinds of Jobs are there in Sustainability?

Making the decision to get into sustainability is getting easier and easier with an 11 percent growth in jobs annually and salaries starting over 6oK.  For individuals looking for a home for their innovative ideas and environmental passions, starting a career in Sustainability is a perfect choice. As climate change continues to be one of the biggest social issues of our generation, businesses, small and large are refocusing resources to incorporate jobs in environmental sustainability.  Due to this widespread initiative jobs in sustainability and green careers can be found within a variety of industries, energy, the food industry, and construction and business. If being a creative force behind renewable energy you might want to become a Solar Engineer, Energy Manager, Wind Energy Engineer, or Petroleum Engineer. Developing, designing, and maintaining renewable energy resources is at the forefront of the climate issue, the energy sector has the fastest-growing percentage of jobs in sustainability. For those with a devotion to agriculture, there are jobs in food sustainability, Soil Conservation Technician, Water Resource Engineer, or Agroforester who designs and implements systems for growing crops amidst tree or shrub cover. Along with energy and food, green construction is in large part where most jobs incorporate sustainability, Zoning Technicians, Sustainability Specialist, Landscape Architect, and Sustainability Building Analyst. These positions help insure that corporations invest in building materials and processes that protect the environment they are developing. There are hundreds of jobs in sustainability, we have comprised a more extensive list for a more in-depth look into green careers.

How Much Can I Make with a Certificate in Sustainability?

There are so many reasons to get an online certificate in sustainability, in the above we have listed 25 schools with online options for obtaining a certificate in a wide range of subsets all pertaining to sustainability. The big question on most minds is how to make money while trying to save the environment. When hearing job titles like Geoscientist and Wind turbine engineer, it becomes difficult to imagine how much you can make with that skill set.  While this list doesn’t provide salaries for all the positions available we will look at a range or median salary for a sustainability consultant. Having a cursory understanding of how current energy and manufacturing processes affect the environment allows for most professionals to become sustainability consultants.  As sustainability consulting is the guru most companies are looking to help lead them toward cost-effective green solutions for their day to day operations. By advising on packing, shipping, and energy-saving upgrades sustainability consulting salaries are being budgeted into almost every corporate fiscal calendar. Sustainability consultant salary according to payscale can range between 50k – 95k, with the median salary being $67k. The demand for this position will only increase as environmental sustainability initiatives continue to affect the long term affordability of a company. Sustainability Director, Sustainability project managers, sustainability officers, analysts, and specialists are all in the same window of making an entry-level salary beginning a 50k with a cap around $90k, making sustainability a lucrative field. 


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Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?