Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture provides post-baccalaureate students with an interdisciplinary understanding of practices and current issues in sustainable agriculture, along with the science that makes it work.  Students who earn the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture may take these skills into all industries and agencies involved in the food chain; from production, processing, and delivery to policy, regulation, and education.

Currently enrolled degree-seeking graduate students are eligible to concurrently enroll in a graduate certificate program. Credits earned by these students while enrolled in the graduate certificate program may be credited toward course requirements for a master’s or doctoral degree if the student’s graduate committee approves those credits.

Students not in degree programs are also eligible to earn the certificate by enrolling as non-degree students, again providing that they meet the prerequisites of the courses needed for the certificate. Apply for admission to an academic department, indicating your intention to be classified as a part-time, certificate graduate student. See below for more information.

Course Requirements:

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture requires a minimum of 9 graded credits. Two core courses provide 6 credits, and 3 credits must be earned in relevant disciplines outside the student’s primary degree program. No more than 3 of the graded credits toward the certificate may be undergraduate (300- and 400-level) credits.

Certificate Core (6 credits) (*indicates courses available through Global Campus)

  • AFS 501*: Current Research in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (3 credits) – typically offered Fall even years only
  • AFS 545*: Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems (3 credits) – typically offered each Spring term
    Note: This course involves a field trip within Washington state. If this poses a problem, please discuss this in advance of application with the Certificate Program Director, Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs.

Scientific Breadth Component (3 credits)

Because sustainable agriculture is inherently interdisciplinary, the Breadth Component ensures that students gain knowledge of a relevant discipline outside their primary degree department. The student is required to complete at least 3 graded credits in disciplines other than the home department. For instance, a student seeking a PhD in Crop Science may complete 3 credits in Entomology, 3 credits in Sociology, or 1 credit in Entomology plus 2 credits in Soil Science. The course(s) must be clearly and directly relevant to the practice or understanding of sustainable agriculture.

Students may choose from this list (*indicates courses available through Global Campus)

  • AFS 302*: Introduction to Agroecology (3 credits)
  • AFS 336: Agriculture, Environment, and Community (3 credits)
  • AFS 350: Food Systems in Western Washington (3 credits)
  • AFS 590: Sociology of Agriculture and Food Systems (3 credits)
  • BIOLOGY 544: Nitrogen Cycling in the Earth’s Systems (3 credits)
  • CROP_SCI 360*: World Agricultural Systems (3 credits)
  • CROP_SCI/PL P 403/503: Advanced Cropping Systems (3 credits)
  • CROP_SCI  443*: Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture (3 credits)
  • ENTOM 351*: Ecological and Integrated Pest Management (3 credits)
  • ENTOM 361: Honey Bee Biology (3 credit)
  • HORT 310: Pomology (3-4 credits)
  • HORT 320: Olericulture (3-4 credits)
  • HORT 357-358: Greenhouse Management and Crop Production (3-4 credits)
  • HORT 421/521: Fruit Crops Management (3 credits)
  • IPM 552*: Pesticides and the Environment (3 credits)
  • SOC 336: Sociology of Food (3 credits)
  • SOE 540: Agroecology (3 credits)
  • SOE 450/550*: Conservation Biology (3 credits)
  • SOIL_SCI 443*: Soil Management for Sustainable and Organic Farming Systems (3 credits)
  • SOIL_SCI 478*: Advanced Organic Farming and Gardening (2 credits)
  • SOIL_SCI 479*: Organic Farm and Garden Field Management (2 credits)
  • SOIL_SCI 480*: Practicum in Organic Agriculture (1-6 credits)

Other relevant courses may be accepted upon request.


Prospective students must apply to a disciplinary department for admission. Primary affiliated programs are:

More information for students not enrolling in MS or PhD programs

To qualify as a part-time certificate student, a prospective student must

  1. Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited post-secondary institution,
  2. Meet all prerequisite course requirements or be able to demonstrate equivalent knowledge and understanding for courses prior to enrollment,
  3. Be part-time student,
  4. Enroll in eligible courses on a space-available basis,
  5. Complete the Graduate School application form prior to enrollment in their first course, indicating their intention to be classified as a part-time, certificate student and their area of study,
  6. Be admitted, upon recommendation from the academic unit, to the Graduate School as a certificate student.
  7. Pay existing graduate tuition and fees.
  8. Students on academic probation and students suspended from the university for any reason are not eligible to enroll in certificate courses.
  9. Because the certificate programs are designed for part-time study without formal admission to a degree program, international students in the US on student visas are not eligible to enroll solely in certificate courses.

Students enrolled in certificate programs

  • Are expected to meet all course requirements, to fully participate in all course activities, and to complete all assignments, exams, projects, and other requirements to earn credit and a grade.
  • Maintain minimum GPA requirements (>3.0) while enrolled as a part-time certificate student
  • May use such university services as the library, computing, and bookstore
  • Are not eligible for all services provided to degree students who pay comprehensive fees, i.e. enrolling in independent study, research and project course credit, research/dissertation credits, final examinations and/or similar course work designed for degree-seeking students (i.e. 600, 700, 702, or 800 credits).
  • Are not eligible for graduate assistantships, fellowships, or scholarships.
  • Are not eligible for federal or state aid if not also enrolled in a degree program.
  • May contact WSU Financial Aid for information and support of personal educational loans.

How to Earn the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture is open to students in any graduate degree program at WSU, as well as non-degree seeking students–at both the Pullman and Global (online) campuses.

Prospective and non-degree seeking students should submit an application for graduate school. There is a $75 application fee. Once accepted, follow the steps outlined below.

Currently enrolled graduate students do not need to fill out a formal application for admission to the certificate program, but should follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Plan your Certificate Coursework

It is recommended that you meet with the Chair of the Certificate Committee to approve your intended courses. See left for more information.

Step 2: Complete the Required Coursework

The program requires that students take at least 9 hours of graded coursework, including two specific core courses, and another 3 credits outside of the student’s home department, from a list of options. See left for more information.

Step 3: Submit an Application

Fill out the Application for Graduation for Graduate Certificate (pdf) near the beginning of the term in which you complete the last course for the certificate. Meet with the Chair of the Certificate Committee (Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs) to approve your course list and sign the application. There is a $25 application fee. The application must be filed by the “Last Day to Apply for a Graduate Certificate” in that semester. These deadlines are approximately October 1 (Fall), March 1 (Spring), and May 15 (Summer).

Check the Academic Calendar for more information.

Learn more about Graduate Certificates at WSU.

More questions?

Please contact either of us:

Debra Marsh, Graduate Center Academic Coordinator

Dr. Lynne Carpenter-BoggsCertificate Program Director


Sustainable Food Jobs

ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
The ATTRA project has served as the premier source of information about sustainable agriculture for U.S. farmers and other agriculturists for twenty years.