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Graduate Certificate inBusiness Sustainability Strategy

Program summary

Learn sustainable business practices that can drive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance while improving profitability, reducing cost and risk, and building competitive advantage. Prepare to develop and implement a sustainability strategy for any type of organization.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by July 20 to start August 26

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

No GRE/GMAT

GRE and GMAT test scores are NOT required.

Gain Skills to Help Organizations Achieve Long-Term Sustainability

  • Manage the environmental and social impact of a business in order to drive profitability, reduce cost and risk, and build competitive advantage.

  • Develop a sustainability plan for any size or type of organization, from startup to global corporation.

  • Implement business practices that meet the present demands of your company and its stakeholders, while protecting the resources needed in the future.

  • Effectively assess opportunities and measure financial, environmental, and social returns.

Online Business Sustainability Courses

This 9-credit online program can help you successfully lead change for sustainability within your organization, with course work focusing on strategy, business model innovation, operations, supply chain, employee engagement, and change management.

The courses in this certificate program will focus on: 

  • an exploration of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and how leading businesses can respond to changes in the regulatory, consumer, and competitive landscape 
  • analysis of differences across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas 
  • an overview of current topics and trends you must understand, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Reporting Initiative, impact/ESG investing, blockchain and sustainability, and social entrepreneurship 
  • reducing costs and risks through sustainable procurement and supply chain management 
  • the latest business models and sustainable design solutions to drive business value and environmental/social performance up and down the value chain

Required Courses (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    An overview of the economic, social, and environmental drivers of the transformation to sustainable business models and practices; identification of best practices and frameworks for assessing organizational engagement with sustainability; development of a strategic sustainability plan.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to new business models and sustainable design principles for reinventing products and services to drive business value while reducing environmental and social impact, sourcing raw materials and working effectively with suppliers to safeguard labor and human rights and protect and restore natural resources, and managing total cost and risk. Special focus on circular economy strategies and closed loop supply chains.

Additional Courses (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Emphasizes identity issues that are critical to understanding individual and collective processes in organizational life.

  • 3
    credits

    Integrating multiple functional business areas to resolve global business problems and improve organizational performance.

  • 3
    credits

    Overview of human behavior in organizations, and implications for managing and leading individuals, teams, and organizations.

  • 3
    credits

    Addresses the managerial challenge of strategy implementation, particularly by examining the organizational elements that must be drawn into line to support a strategy, as well as the immense difficulties of changing an organization. Relies on two overarching frameworks: a model of organizational alignment and a model for managing the change process.

Start or Advance Your Career

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As concern for the environment has grown in recent decades, incorporating sustainability practices into core business strategy and operations, from supply chain to marketing to accounting, is no longer an option for companies — it’s a necessity.


Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 20 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

Penn State Smeal Advantage

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Smeal College of Business is committed to being your partner in lifelong learning. Smeal offers programs, support, and resources for every career stage and life circumstance that will prepare you not only for your next great opportunity but also for the one after that.

More options, greater flexibility, and a commitment to lifelong learning

The desire for knowledge and professional growth spans a lifetime. That is why the Penn State Smeal College of Business offers a portfolio of professional graduate programs for all stages of your career. In partnership with Penn State World Campus, Smeal makes it easy to customize a learning plan to your unique career aspirations and busy schedule. Penn State Smeal offers you a lifetime of learning with more concentrations and one of the most integrated, flexible offerings of online and residential programs in the United States.

Penn State Business building

An entire team dedicated to your success

Personal advising — Our experts will explain the many options that Penn State Smeal offers and will help you refine your career strategy and craft the educational experience best suited to your interests. It all starts with a simple, but critical question: “What are your goals?” 

Career coaching* — Our Alumni Career Services team will support you across all career stages with professional advancement opportunities and coaching to help you stay focused on achieving your goals.

Delivering the best of online and in-person learning for a rich educational experience

We understand that today’s professional learners want meaningful discussion and interaction with faculty and classmates along with the technologies and flexible approaches of contemporary online learning. By aligning the best of both worlds, we bring richness, depth, and diversity to the overall educational experience.

Courses designed to engage and motivate the professional student

Creative Teams consisting of a lead faculty member, a Teaching Support Specialist (TSS), and an Instructional Designer use advanced analytics to develop and deliver contemporary graduate courses that promote application and engagement. We strive to innovate in ways that others don’t. 

A real-world perspective

  • Industry professionals inside the virtual classroom — Many of Penn State Smeal’s courses feature industry professionals who have been in the trenches and work hard to make an impact every day. These individuals, most of whom hold a Smeal graduate degree, partner with our renowned faculty to provide a rich academic context with real-world application.
  • Global immersion* — This unique, optional experience will enhance your ability to communicate cross-culturally, adapt to evolving business environments, and manage the risks and benefits of operating on a global scale. Any student pursing a full degree from Smeal may participate in this optional, faculty-led experience for elective credit. Previous destinations have included Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Prague, Czech Republic; Santiago, Chile; and Zagreb, Croatia.

One of the largest and most influential networks in the country

At Penn State, you are part of a worldwide community of instructors, learners, and more than 750,000 alumni who support one another and make a meaningful impact. 

More than 90,000 Smeal alumni benefit from connections around the globe as well as networking events, podcasts, webinars, a powerful LinkedIn community, and opportunities for volunteerism.

Impact Smeal Day — This day provides alumni and professional graduate students with the opportunity to come to campus and interact with current students, network with other alumni, gain professional insights, and hear about college initiatives. The day is designed so that you can sign up for the sessions that work for your schedule.

* Services are available only to students and alumni of Penn State Smeal’s degree programs and online degrees led by Smeal and delivered through the World Campus. Students and alumni of online graduate certificates are not eligible to receive these benefits unless they are also enrolled in a degree program.

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

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Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Programs Related to This Certificate

Some or all credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree programs:

Learn to strategically manage high-performance teams and solve complex, real-world business challenges. With more than 25 concentrations available, you can customize this top-ranked online MBA to suit your unique career goals.

Learn more about the Master of Business Administration

Learn to strategically manage corporate innovation; develop new products, services, and business models for companies; and launch startups. With multiple concentrations to choose from, you can customize this online degree program to support your goals.

Learn more about the Master's in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Prepare to lead organizations at the highest level. This program focuses on strategic thinking and leadership and is designed to help you master organizational strategies that drive effectiveness and performance.

Learn more about the Master's in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership

AACSB Accredited

This program is AACSB Accredited

The Penn State Smeal College of Business is AACSB accredited, an honor reserved for the top 5% of business schools worldwide. This program is competitively priced compared to other AACSB–accredited programs.

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). Depending on the course offering schedule for the program, certificates may be completed in 8–16 months.

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 20 to start August 26

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 20 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 15 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by April 15, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

  2. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

    Test Scores — GRE and GMAT test scores are NOT required.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    Program-Specific Questions/Materials

    Vita or Résumé — A one- to two-page listing of your professional experience and education.

    Statement of Purpose — Describe how your professional experience and goals align with the Graduate Certificate in Business Sustainability Strategy. Please do not exceed 500 words.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this program.

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Business Sustainability Strategy, or for questions regarding the program curriculum or your application status, contact:

Penn State Smeal College of Business
Professional Graduate Programs Office
Phone: 814-865-5290
Email: [email protected]

For general questions about Penn State World Campus or how to apply, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Learn from the Best

This program is offered in partnership with the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Through this certificate program, you can earn a respected credential while learning from faculty with diverse backgrounds, intellectual perspectives, and industry expertise.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 20 to start August 26. How to Apply