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Graduate Certificate in Climate Policy and Action

The School of Public Policy offers professional programs that develop innovative leaders in the art of policy and governance, advance the frontiers of applied interdisciplinary knowledge, and promote local, national and global public good. The curriculums are designed to develop the skills and techniques used by professionals to implement policies, projects, and programs that resolve important societal problems.

Mentoring and advising are an essential part of the program. Students meet with faculty and the academic program director to ensure that educational goals and career learning and development goals are met. Students with specific academic questions may contact Thomas Kennedy, Director, Office of Executive Programs, via email:


The Graduate Certificate in Climate Policy and Action is designed to create professionals able to assess, design and implement effective strategies and actions to address climate change and lead towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. 

  • Offered in person (major code Z163) or online (major code Z164). The curriculum is identical.
  • Has a 12-credit, 4-course curriculum wherein students enroll in a mix of core and elective coursework.
  • Develops concepts and skills relevant for mitigating climate change and building resilience to its impacts will be covered - based on foundational values of equity and justice. 
  • Addresses policy approaches and actions at all governance levels and by all actors – public and private.
  • Targets mid-career professionals from public agencies at the national and state level, multinational organizations, NGOs, and from private sector such as energy and environmental companies.
  • Can be completed in nine months of continuous part-time enrollment. See Designation of Full-time/Part-time Status.

Program Features

The world’s shared challenges—improving well-being for all, ensuring human security in all its forms, creating broadly shared prosperity, and creating healthier and vibrant economies—are critically and fundamentally intertwined with climate change. Improving lives and livelihoods across all development contexts depends on a healthy environment, a reduction of the risks of climate change, managing resources and energy effectively, and the job and economic opportunities of the 21st Century that will flow from a rapid transition to a new, green economy. 

  • Addressing these issues will require creativity to create new policy and societal strategies rooted in an integrated understanding of values, natural and climate systems, political institutions, policy context, economic opportunities, values, and technology.
  • Program equips students to contribute to this process, providing a platform that not only enables them to better understand these issues but also to develop the experience and confidence to apply their own creativity and leadership toward implementing new climate solutions.


Below is a listing of all program courses. For a detailed course description that includes pre-requisites or co-requisites, see The Graduate School Catalog, Course Listing as follows: PLCY Course Descriptions.

Category Course Number Course Title
Required PLCY*** Climate Policy for a 1.5C World
Required PLCY798W Thriving in a changing climate: Policies and actions for climate resilience
Required - Select 1 PLCY699B Intersections of Technology and Policy: Modernizing the Energy System
Required - Select 1 PLCY742 Environmental Ethics
Required - Select 1 PLCY798K Integrated Human Earth Systems Modeling and Analysis
Required - Select 1 PLCY798N Energy and Climate Economics
Elective - Select 1 PLCY689I Social-Ecological Systems, Climate, and Development in Indonesia
Elective - Select 1 PLCY689L Influence of Science on Policy, and of Policy on Science
Elective - Select 1 PLCY699Z Energy Policy
Elective - Select 1 PLCY740 Public Policy and the Environment
Elective - Select 1 PLCY741 Global Environmental Problems
Elective - Select 1 PLCY744 Environment and Development
Elective - Select 1 PLCY745 Human Health and Environmental Policy
Elective - Select 1 PLCY798F Climate Finance
Elective - Select 1 PLCY798T Climate Change, Human Community, and Ecological Loss in the Peruvian Amazon and Andes
Elective - Select 1 Other Any other climate policy course approved by specialization advisor.

Registration Overview

  • See the sample plan of study, below. Students should use this as a guide to develop a plan with the academic program director. 
  • Actual course offerings are determined by the program and may vary semester to semester. Students should note if a course has a pre-requisite or co-requisite. 
  • Specific class meeting information (days and time) is posted on UMD’s interactive web service services, Testudo. Once on that site, select “Schedule of Classes,” then the term/year. Courses are listed by academic unit. 
  • The program uses specific section codes for registration which are listed on the sample plan of study. 

One-Year Sample Plan

Semester Year Course Number In Person Section Code Online Section Code Credits
Fall 1 Climate Policy PCY* PWY* 3
Fall 1 PLCY798W PCY* PWY* 3
Spring 1 PLCY742 PCY* PWY* 3
Spring 1 PLCY798N PCY* PWY* 3

Two-Year Sample Plan

Semester Year Course Number In Person Section Code Online Section Code Credits
Fall 1 Climate Policy PCY* PWY* 3
Spring 1 PLCY798W PCY* PWY* 3
Fall 2 PLCY742 PCY* PWY* 3
Spring 2 PLCY798N PCY* PWY* 3


  • Offered in person (major code Z163) or online (major code Z164). The curriculum is identical.
  • Uses the semester academic calendar with classes held in the fall and spring semester (16 weeks each).
  • Classes are held weekday evenings (e.g., after 5:00 p.m.) to accommodate the working professional’s schedule.
  • Instruction provided by University of Maryland faculty and professionals in the field.

In-Person Learning 

  • Classes meet in UMD College Park campus classrooms, offering a focused, distraction-free learning environment. 
  • Instructors present dynamic and interactive seminar-style instruction. 
  • Students enrolled in a program that features in-person instruction are required to submit the University’s Immunization Record Form prior to the first day of their first semester/term. See Health Requirements

Online Learning 

  • Using advanced audio and video technology, UMD’s online learning environment delivers dynamic and interactive content. 
  • Featuring convenience and flexibility, online instruction permits asynchronous or synchronous participation.
  • Lectures are video archived. Students who are unable to attend in real time can review the session through asynchronous participation.

Upon successful completion, graduates will have mastered the following competencies:

  • Understand the principles and practices of climate policy and action; they will be able to articulate the justifications for various climate interventions and apply the most suitable interventions to tackle climate change related issues in various settings.
  • Understand the design and implementation of policies targeting climate mitigation and adaptation outcomes – and how these outcomes can advance broader policy goals; they will be able to evaluate and compare the effectiveness and efficiency of each intervention using evidence-based approach.
  • Gain practical skills related to analysis, effective communication and transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches towards complex climate and sustainability problems; they will be able to apply policy analysis, systems modeling, data analytics, and economic analysis to assess climate issues, policies, and actions.
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