Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enroll?

Registration for all classes is done through the School of Extended Education. Registration may be completed in-person, by mail, by phone at 707/664-2394, by fax at 707/664-2613, or online. Forms and instructions are available in each semester's course catalog, online, or by calling the Extended Education Office at 707/664-2394.

Who should I contact with questions before I register?

Contact Marcia Harrigan at 707-664-3011 or Our customer service staff is always happy to take your registration, but for any questions, please contact Marcia Harrigan directly.

Do I have to pay for the whole program at once?

Students register and pay for only those courses they are enrolling in each semester/session. We cannot accept pre-payment for future semester courses. You may register course by course to spread the payments out, submitting a registration form and payment each time, or by multiple courses with registration and payment. Payment is always due at the time of registration.

Can I enroll late? Is there a penalty?

Late registration is accepted on a case by case basis. Please contact Marcia Harrigan at 707-664-3011 or at Students who attend but have not registered by the day of the class may be charged a $25.00 late fee. It is important that students be enrolled by the Wednesday before the start of the course because the Program Manager reviews class enrollment on that day. If enrollment is low, the course may be cancelled. Timely enrollment may keep a class from being cancelled, and allows for advance notification of cancellation, if necessary.

How much is parking? Is it close to the classroom?

Classes are held in the Environmental Technology Center (ENTC). The closest parking is in lot "A", which is adjacent to the ENTC. All classes in the program are held on Saturdays, and the $2.50 parking fee is not enforced on Saturday and Sunday. Be aware that the parking lot directly next to the ENTC is for student housing only. If you park in that or any lot designated for student housing, you should expect to be ticketed by Campus Police.

How long do I have to complete the program?

In order to be eligible for a Sustainable Development and Climate Change Certificate, students must complete all courses within two years (24 months) of the date of the first course they attend.

How is the class graded?

These courses are considered professional development and are taken as Continuing Education Units (CEU). The CEU hours are graded on a Credit/No Credit basis. Ten hours CEU equal 1.0 units. The total program is 42 hours CEU or 4.2 units.

What happens if I miss a class? Can classes be made up?

Attendance is required for all courses. If you have missed a class, you can make it up in the next cycle. This is a 2-semester or 1-year program, but you have two years to complete it. For questions, contact Marcia Harrigan at 707-664-3011 or

How large are the classes?

Typical enrollment is estimated to be between 20 and 35 students.

Does the Sustainable Development & Climate Change Certificate Program offer job placement assistance to its graduates?

Although Sonoma State's job placement office does not work with this program, our coordinators and instructors assist students and connect graduates with resources and others in the field.

What percentage of graduates finds employment in training-related jobs?

This is a relatively new program, so there is no data on this yet. Many graduates do find employment in this ever-expanding field. Likewise, many professionals already in a related field will learn "green" practices that will enhance their ability to secure work in the emerging New Green Economy.

How much are the courses?

There are six courses, each costing $195.00, with a total course cost of $1,170.00. This does not include the required textbook listed below.

What books and supplies will I need?

The required textbook is "The Sustainable Urban Development Reader" edited by Stephen Wheeler and Timothy Beatley, ISBN 978-0415453820, $69.95 new. It is available at the SSU Bookstore or most online booksellers. Be sure to get the 2nd Edition. An additional textbook will be recommended if it is available when the class begins. The final exam will be based on assigned readings and class presentations.

Is there any financial assistance available?

While the Green Building Certificate Program does not qualify for federal financial aid, you may be qualified to receive assistance through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The purpose of the WIA is to provide employment training for adults and dislocated workers. For more information, contact your local Workforce Investment Act Office (you can find your local office on the list at If you qualify, you will be able to register once your WIA authorization to enroll has been received in our office.

Is Sonoma State University accredited?

Yes. Sonoma State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, (WASC). We are also members of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and Build It Green.

What is "Sustainable Development and Climate Change"?

Sustainability is about aligning our built environment and socioeconomic activities with the natural systems that support life. In the long run, sustainability means adapting human activities to nature's constraints and opportunities. Central to this definition is meeting the needs of both the present and future. Climate Change is an international science-based concern that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are changing the climate in ways detrimental to our social and economic well-being. California has accepted a leadership role in the United States to address climate change.

What types of careers are available in the Sustainable Development and Climate Change field?

As "Sustainability and Green" becomes more of an operating standard within mainstream business and government, the demand for individuals with a broad understanding of Green principles and practices grows apace. Like the U.S. Green Building Council, which is comprised of "industry stakeholders"--including product manufacturers and salespeople, educators, realtors, architects, engineers, scientists, regulators, and many others--this program speaks to a broad range of interests engaged in promoting sustainability in a private company, municipality, or through a non-profit organization.

What are the current graduates now doing?

This is a new certificate program. Nonetheless, similar to Sonoma State's Environmental Studies and Planning Department's undergraduate degrees and Green Building and Sustainable Landscape Certificate Programs, many graduates will pursue careers in the energy field, planning, environmental management, public works, and administration, or as sustainability coordinators. Others will use the program as a springboard to launch new careers or be more competitive in their existing field.

Would I be able to be a Sustainable Development and Climate Change consultant with just the Certificate alone?

Probably not, as the subject matter is rapidly expanding and professional experience in developing programs would likely be needed to be truly competitive--particularly in specialized fields. However, many students will be able to use this Certificate combined with other educational and/or work experience to qualify for new positions as sustainability and climate change coordinators and consultants.

I don't have a background in planning, development, or construction. Will this program help me get into the sustainability field?

Yes, the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Certificate program will provide a broad and comprehensive understanding of the topics and issues that are woven together under the concept of Sustainable Development. The instructors are committed to help students with a study plan to build upon their prior education and experiences and enhance and broaden their background to include current examples and best practices in this exciting new field. The new Sustainable Development and Climate Change Certificate taken in combination with the existing Green Building and Sustainable Landscape Certificate Programs will provide a comprehensive and leading edge education in sustainable community strategies.

Is the training done by industry professionals? What is the background of the Director and Instructor?

Please refer to the Faculty page.