Certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability

UW-Madison undergraduate students enrolled in a first-year sustainability course tour bioenergy research plantings to learn more about the agronomical impacts of different cropping systems.


Scott Williams
(608) 890-2199


Equity and sustainability of energy resources in the face of increasing global population and economic development are key issues at the center of the public discourse today. The objective of this certificate program is to offer undergraduate students a suite of courses addressing energy sustainability that span across the engineering curriculum, with firm roots in “real world” design and engineering practices.


Students who are enrolled as degree-seeking undergraduate students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a plan of study to fulfill the certificate requirements may enroll in the program. Applications may be submitted at any time, but students are strongly encouraged to apply early in their undergraduate careers in order to ensure successful completion of the program. Students may take courses that fulfill certificate requirements prior to submitting an application; however, it is strongly recommended that students submit their application prior to their final semester on campus. Declaring the certificate gives students access to the most up-to-date information on meeting certificate requirements, including new and special topics courses.

A student interested in completing the certificate program must contact a designated faculty member in his or her major department to apply. The student and faculty member must complete a declaration of intent and study plan to enter the certificate program.

Declaration of Intent and Study Plan

The following faculty members have been designated as a point of contact for each department:

When the student and faculty member have filled out and signed the Declaration of Intent and Study Plan, the student must hand them in to Room 1150 Wisconsin Energy Institute. Once there, the student also needs to fill out and hand in a College of Engineering Certificate Declaration Form, copies of which are located in the drop box in Room 1150.

COE Certificate Declaration form example


Students must select 16 “sustainability credits” from a suite of available courses that are divided into the following categories:

  • Liberal Studies and Science
  • Engineering
  • Capstone

Students are required to take a minimum of 3 sustainability credits and a maximum of 6 sustainability credits from each of the categories above.

In addition, students must fulfill a one-credit seminar requirement. Currently, this seminar requirement is fulfilled through the course CBE 555, Chemical Engineering Connections, or EP 602, Sustainable Energy Challenges and Solution, both of which are open to all engineering majors. Not all courses have the same number of sustainability credits as academic credits; some courses have fewer sustainability credits depending on how closely related they are to energy and sustainability.

List of Pre-Approved Courses

Course Authorization

Some courses may require additional approval to appear in students’ DARS reports as having fulfilled part of the certificate requirements. Students who are taking a course for the capstone requirement must fill out a DARS authorization form to receive the proper number of sustainability credits.

DARS Authorization Form

Capstone Course Guidelines

In addition, students who wish to receive sustainability credits for courses that are not currently on the pre-approved list may also complete the DARS Authorization Form and explain why the course should receive sustainability credits.

Once a form is filled out, it will be sent to the certificate faculty committee for approval. To expedite the approval process, students should submit their DARS Authorization Form prior to or during the semester in which they plan to take the course.

The certificate faculty committee reviews authorization forms twice a semester in the fall and spring. The deadlines for students to submit their forms are listed below:

Fall Semester:

  • Early Semester Deadline: October 1
  • Late Semester Deadline: November 15

Spring Semester

  • Early Semester Deadline: March 1
  • Late Semester Deadline: April 15

Students will be notified of approval approximately two weeks following each submission deadline.

Course Plan

During the term that they expect to meet the certificate requirements, students must fill out and submit a course plan to the designated point of contact in their major department (see above). Once the faculty member reviews the course plan and signs it, students must return the course plan to Room 1150 Wisconsin Energy Institute and place it in the drop box.

CEES Final Course Plan