Loyola University Chicago

School of Environmental Sustainability

Graduate Certificates

You’re passionate about being a change agent, but your busy schedule demands flexibility. That’s why at SES, we offer fully online Graduate Certificates that provide some of the most valuable knowledge and practical skills for professionals seeking to improve their credentials in environmental sustainability work.

  • Learn from the best and brightest faculty with years of experience in the profession.
  • Enjoy the flexible scheduling advantages of learning online any time of the day or night.
  • Build valuable credentials from a leading institution of environmental sustainability that can advance your career and change your life.
  • Apply your certificate credits toward completion of the Master of Science in Environmental Science and Sustainability.

By the numbers


Online classes will accomplish your Graduate Certificate requirements


Week classes taken one at a time, designed to speed your progress toward completion


Months are all that is required to earn your Graduate Certificate

Certificate Options

Environmental Law and Policy

This Concentration provides essential knowledge in relevant areas of environmental law and policy for professionals who want to better understand the role of government, industry, non-profit, and other institutions involved in environmental advocacy, consulting, and compliance.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand how the legal process works as it relates to environment and health, and how the process creates challenges and benefits to making good decisions
  • Learn how the natural environment is controlled, managed and promoted through the US legal system through the key foundations of environmental law principles and how they have been applied and developed over time
  • Gain appreciation for how environmental law and policy can impact social justice

ENVS 410 – Introduction to Environmental Law & Policy

This introduction to environmental law introduces the legal process and surveys critical federal environmental statutes, rules, and regulations in the United States and regionally. Students will consider important case law decided under statutes; interaction between federal, state, and local jurisdictions; and impacts on air, land, water, and natural resources. Students learn how the natural environment is controlled, managed, and promoted through the legal system and how those systems impact social justice and the environment. ENVS 410 is strongly recommended as the first course in this sequence.

ENVS 411 - Natural Resources and Land Use Law & Policy

This course focuses on the legal and policy processes used to govern pollution, endangered species, toxic substances, and environmental impact and risk. Students learn how land resources are controlled, managed, promoted and manipulated through the legal system and how land use laws and policy impact social and economic issues.

ENVS 412 - Water Law & Policy

This course looks at how the law and policy allocates and protects one of our most crucial natural resources -- water. The course will look at the political development and regulation of water ownership and use and how those decisions impact current environmental and socio-economic issues. Students will learn how key laws and policies impact protection and use of water in the United States and understand key legal concepts that shape the management of our water resources.

ENVS 413 - Energy Law & Policy

This course looks at the laws that shape traditional energy production and the growing regulation of renewable and sustainable energy. Students will learn how key laws and policies impact production and use of energy, how energy is controlled by federal and local regulations and policies and how those political and regulatory decisions influence socio-economic issues.

Sustainability Assessment and Planning

This Concentration delivers valuable skills for professionals who want to better understand how organizations can - and do – measure, regulate and report their own natural resource use. Students will develop essential skills used by sustainability professionals in government, industry, non-profit, and other institutions striving to improve and document their sustainability impact.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the foundations of sustainability science and its economic and ethical values.
  • Learn common methods for gathering data on an organizations’ baseline environmental footprint (water, energy, food, transportation, landscaping, waste, etc.) and the most effective strategies for improving environmental sustainability.
  • Gain experience in these skills by creating a real-world comprehensive sustainability plan.

    ENVS 451 – Introduction to Sustainability Concepts & Impacts

    Required first course in sequence. This course examines the environmental, economic, social and political impacts of sustainable practices on the general public and global and local organizations. Students will gain an understanding of the importance to corporations and other entities of measuring, monitoring, and reporting resource use to customers and stakeholders. This course teaches students how to interpret the basic concepts of sustainability and how they relate to the operations and goals of institutions and organizations. Students will see how the interaction of social, economic, and ecological systems influence sustainability challenges and solutions.

    ENVS 452 - Assessment & Reporting l – Energy, Air, Buildings & Transportation

    This course provides the fundamental concepts and methodology of measuring and reporting environmental sustainability impacts in the areas of energy, air, buildings, and transportation. Students will learn to assess and report sustainability metrics related to energy, air, buildings, and transportation. ENVS 451 prerequisite.

    ENVS 453 - Assessment & Reporting ll – Water, Land, Food & Waste

    This course provides the fundamental concepts and methodology of measuring and reporting environmental sustainability impacts in the areas of water, land, food, and waste. Students will learn about the environmental and social impacts of water use and sources, land use practices, food sourcing and production, and waste production and recovery. Students will learn to assess and report sustainability metrics related to water, land, food, and waste. ENVS 451 prerequisite.

    ENVS 454 - Sustainability Plan Development & Reporting

    This is the capstone course in the four-course Concentration on Sustainability Assessment & Planning. Using concepts and methodology learned through the other three courses, students will create a comprehensive sustainability plan including stakeholder engagement, life cycle analyses, set resource baselines, short- and long-term sustainability goals, budgets, as well as a draft sustainability plan for a representative entity. Students will learn best practices to inspire and engage partners and stakeholders to advance environmental sustainability in different types of organizations. This course teaches students how to create a comprehensive sustainability plan for organizations and institutions. ENVS 451, 452, 453 prerequisites.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This program provides essential knowledge on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) -- a compilation of sophisticated, multidimensional software and tools used to capture, store, analyze, manage and present geospatial data. This curriculum provides essential training in the fundamental principles and concepts behind contemporary geographic mapping technology needed to solve complex geospatial problems commonly encountered in environmental sciences, urban planning, social sciences, public health, as well as business, engineering, and many more fields.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the practical, conceptual, and technological application of GIS, including ethical issues germane to GIS; research through the use of GIS data; and use of GIS in community-service projects.
  • Understand various spatial relationship concepts and their applications, including identifying methodological challenges and understanding the use of spatial data to make sound arguments in spatial problem solving and planning and policy.
  • Understand the fundamental principles of remote sensing theory, including understanding the properties of light and platforms used to analyze it; understanding the concepts of landscape patterns; producing thematic maps; and becoming proficient in using ERDAS Imagine to analyze digital satellite images and scanned aerial photographs.

ENVS 480 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a mapping tool that allows users to create interactive searches, analyze spatial information, edit data and maps, and present the results visually. The course includes lecture, laboratory, and project components. Students will learn basic GIS skills and applications and work on projects with community organizations.

ENVS 481 – Advanced GIS Applications

Students in this course will learn tools required to solve complex environmental problems and gain experience with spatial analysis, network analysis, 3-D analysis, GIS modeling, geostatistics, and other ArcGIS extensions. Students will also learn about internet-based mapping for dissemination of spatial data.

ENVS 482 – Remote Sensing

Environmental remote sensing is the art and science of analyzing remotely sensed images - obtaining information about objects without physical contact. Topics include data collection; digital image processing, assessment, evaluation, and enhancement; display alternatives and visualization; electromagnetic radiation principles and radiometric correction; and geometric correction. The course consists of a combination of lectures and weekly laboratory exercises sessions.


This program is rolling admission.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • At least one letter of recommendation (two preferred)
  • Statement of purpose (approx. 250-500 words)
  • Resume


Inside SES:

Aaron Durnbaugh

Director of Sustainability and Certificate Instructor

“Loyola is committed to doing the right thing . . . we see climate action as our responsibility as educators. Sustainability goes beyond just infrastructure changes, but also academics and culture.”

Kevin Erickson

SES Certificate Student and Full-time Professional

“I was hesitant to join an environmental science program without having a strong background in this field. However, the curriculum in this program is designed for people from a myriad of backgrounds and now I have the confidence that I can bring relevant knowledge and experience to my job and make an impact immediately.”

Linda Kurtos

Director of Graduate and Certificate Programs and Certificate Instructor

"Environmental laws and policies touch so many areas beyond the courtroom. If you want to understand social environmental justice, you have to understand the impacts of environmental policies."


What academic or professional background do I need for the SES Certificate Programs?

While students must have completed a bachelor’s degree, there is no specific undergraduate degree or professional experience required to be admitted into the SES Certificate Programs. Each program is designed to challenge and engage students of all backgrounds.

What are the admission requirements?

See our admission requirements here.

Is the GRE required for admission to the program?

No, we do not require Certificate students to take the GRE for admission consideration.

How do I apply to the program?

Submit the application online here.

Is there an application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply to the program.

What is the cost of the program?

Tuition is based on the number of credit hours you are taking. Loyola University Chicago may apply some standard student fees. For the most recent tuition and fee schedule, see the Bursar’s website here.

What is required to earn a Certificate?

To complete the program and earn a certificate, a student must complete the four 3-credit courses in no more than three years, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. A student may not earn more than one C grade.

How soon can I start the program?

We use a rolling admissions policy and will make admissions decisions for each student as soon as the application is completed. A student may be admitted any time before the start of a course and, depending on the program, start the program when the next course begins. Some programs have a required sequence and students will only be able to start the program at the starting date of the first sequenced course.

How long will it take me to complete a Certificate?

Students are able to complete a Certificate in as little as eight months by taking one course in each sequential eight-week session. Depending on their personal schedule and course offering dates, students may take up to three years to complete the full Certificate.

What if I decide I want to pursue the Master of Environmental Science & Sustainability after I finish my Certificate?

Students who complete a Certificate are welcome to apply to the SES Master of Environmental Science & Sustainability Professional Track. Credits earned in the Certificate may be applied to MSESS Professional Track requirements if completed within two years from admission. Completion of a certificate program does not guarantee enrollment in the MSESS program or any other degree program at Loyola University Chicago.

How can I check the status of my application?

Once you submit an application, you can check the status of your application online. You should monitor the status of your application to ensure Loyola University has received all required application materials. All admission decisions will be sent by email.

Will earning a certificate help me get a job?

Our certificate courses can help you enhance your professional skills and knowledge and broaden your skillset in areas appealing to many employers. The Department of Education requires all programs offering professional certificates to provide information to the prospective students on employment outcomes of graduates. For confidentiality reasons, schools are not required to publicly post information until they have five years of data. Our most current data can be found here.