Sustainable Environmental, Social, and Governance Leadership Graduate Certificate

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Advance as a Change Agent Versed in Sustainable Business Practices

Many organizations today strive to meet the triple bottom line — people, the planet, and profit. By pursuing your Sustainable Environmental, Social, and Governance Leadership Graduate Certificate, you can prepare to oversee efforts to achieve net zero emission targets and commit to ethical practices at companies in Minnesota and around the globe.

Developed through a collaboration between the Carlson School of Management, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and the Institute on the Environment (IonE), the Sustainable ESG Certificate program focuses on public policy and sustainability concepts relevant to modern business positions. You'll learn from faculty who impart expertise from multiple disciplines, enabling you to design and implement ESG improvements in a variety of job sectors.

Associated Degree

2 Semesters
work experience
Work experience
Not Required
start date
Start date
January and September

Learn to Establish ESG Frameworks at Global Organizations

In our Sustainable ESG Certificate program, you'll take five or six courses that explore ways to retool business operations to consider environmental impacts and social justice. The Carlson School, Humphrey School, and IonE incorporate hands-on experience into the coursework, preparing you to apply proven strategies when collaborating on sustainability initiatives.

Our graduate certificate program imparts competencies central to ESG roles, such as measuring greenhouse gas emissions, evaluating climate data, and communicating sustainability targets to company stakeholders. You can personalize the credential to your goals through elective courses on business ethics, environmental justice, corporate social responsibility, and more.

  • PA 5771: Change Leadership for Environmental, Social, and Governance Action - 3 Credits
  • PA 5772: Foundations in Sustainability Science - 1 Credit


Choose one of the following courses:

  • FINA 6920: ESG for Investors and the Economy - 2 Credits
  • SCO 6094: Responsible Supply Chain Management - 2 Credits

Choose two or three of the following courses:

  • MBA 6315: The Ethical Environment of Business - 2 Credits
  • MGMT 6411: Corporate Responsibility - 2 Credits
  • PA 5761: Environmental Systems Analysis - 3 Credits
  • PA 5243: Environmental Justice in Urban Planning & Public Policy - 3 Credits
  • ASCL 6315: Legal & Ethical Business Issues for Science Professionals - 3 Credits
  • COMM 4251*: Environmental Communication - 3 Credits
  • GCC 5044**: A Circularity Revolution: Working to Close the Loop on Global Issues - 3 Credits
  • MGMT 6101***: Strategies for Sustainability - 2 Credits

* 4000-level courses are not transferrable into the Carlson School's graduate programs. Note that this course takes place during standard business hours.

** Note that this course takes place two days per week during standard business hours. 

*** This course will change to MGMT 6043: Strategies for Sustainability in Spring 2025. It is currently offered under the Management Topics shell 6100.

Group of students discussing in a classroom

Lead Sustainable Solutions in a Growing Career Field

As of 2023, more than half of the companies on the Forbes Global 2000 list had set net zero emissions targets.1 These ambitious pledges make it no surprise that demand for professionals with ESG knowledge is growing. In fact, LinkedIn ranked sustainability analyst among the top five Jobs on the Rise for 2024.2

By seeking your Sustainable ESG Certificate, you can prepare for careers with high demand and considerable earning potential. For instance, there were more than 24,000 job postings for titles like alternative energy manager, sustainability specialist, and energy analyst in Minnesota in April 2024. For the positions with advertised salaries, the median pay was about $93,100.3

  • $100,206 average annual salary for corporate sustainability managers4
  • $132,790 average annual salary for ESG managers5
  • 84% projected increase in investments related to ESG initiatives (2021 to 2026)6

Why Earn a Sustainable ESG Certificate?

Our graduate certificate program offers a fast way to build ESG expertise valued in many industries today. This work is essential to promoting business responsibility, as ESG professionals establish frameworks for supporting sustainability and social justice causes.

You can complete the program in two semesters on our campus, taking ESG certification courses among other socially conscious professionals. After earning your graduate certificate, you can transfer credits toward the Carlson School's Part-Time MBA or Online MBA programs.

Tuition Details

Our graduate certificate helps you gain advanced knowledge and hands-on experience as you prepare to lead eco-friendly solutions on behalf of organizations. The Sustainable ESG Certificate program includes 12 credits, with a cost-per-credit of $1,532.

Admissions Details and Application Deadlines

We offer a streamlined admissions process for students interested in acquiring ESG certification. You don't need to submit GMAT or GRE scores to apply, and there is no minimum GPA requirement. Moreover, our team of enrollment specialists provides helpful guidance for completing the admissions process and starting your graduate certificate program.

Admissions Requirements Overview

Admission to the Sustainable ESG Certificate program includes the following items:

  • Application
  • $75 application fee (waived for military candidates)
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Unofficial transcripts from all universities/colleges where you have completed coursework
  • Two professional references or recommendations
  • Personal statement
  • Current resume
  • Optional written essay

International Students

Proof of English Language Proficiency is required. The following tests are accepted:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Duolingo

Application Deadlines



(January Start)


(September Start)

Round 1October 15May 15
Round 2November 15June 15
Round 3December 15July 15

Admissions Requirements Start an application

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to common questions about earning your Sustainable ESG Certificate, offered through a collaboration between the Carlson School, Humphrey School, and IonE.

The first step is to start your application.

You don't need a specific type of work experience to begin our graduate certificate program. That said, you will need to provide two professional references or recommendations when you apply. Contact us to learn more about the admissions process for the ESG Certificate program.

Organizations across job sectors are pledging to meet net zero climate targets, stand up for social justice, and hold themselves accountable for the good of the planet. ESG professional certification programs provide qualifications for overseeing many of these efforts. In our graduate certificate program, you can position yourself for roles focusing on sustainability and justice, such as ESG manager, environmental analyst, and corporate social responsibility specialist.

The tuition is $1,532 per credit hour. You'll complete 12 credits for a total tuition cost of $18,384. Contact us today to learn more about tuition and fees.

On average, students complete our graduate certificate program in two semesters.

Many organizations offer ESG certification for individuals interested in ensuring businesses adopt sustainable procurement practices, reduce their carbon footprint, and champion social justice causes.

"ESG" stands for "environmental, social, and governance." It refers to efforts by companies to develop systems for achieving environmental and social justice. While seeking your Sustainable ESG Certificate, you'll prepare to stand up for environmentally friendly solutions and corporate social responsibility.

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  1. Net Zero Tracker. New analysis: Half of world’s largest companies are committed to net zero. Retrieved from
  2. LinkedIn. LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise 2024: The 25 fastest-growing roles in the U.S. Retrieved from
  3. Lightcast. Job Posting Analytics, Lightcast Q1 2024 Data Set, April 2024, Minnesota. Retrieved from
  4. Corporate Sustainability Manager Salaries in the United States. Retrieved from
  5. ESG Manager Salary in the United States. Retrieved from
  6. PWC. ESG-focused institutional investment seen soaring 84% to US$33.9 trillion in 2026, making up 21.5% of assets under management: PwC report. Retrieved from