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Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility

Make a Difference With the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility

The Wisconsin School of Business Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility (BESR) is designed for UW–Madison graduate students who want to broaden their understanding of sustainable business practices. This certificate provides the real-world skills and knowledge needed to manage enterprises that integrate economic, environmental, and social decision-making in their daily operations.

Declare the BESR Certificate

Both need to be completed for the application to be processed.

Get a Competitive Edge in Your Chosen Field

With sustainability increasingly becoming a mainstream business focus, UW–Madison graduates who earn the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility have a competitive advantage in securing positions in a variety of fields, including:

  • Consulting
  • Strategic Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Accounting and Sustainability Reporting
  • Supply Chain Management & Operations
  • Finance and Impact Investing
  • Sustainable Real Estate Development
  • Public Policy
  • Nonprofit Sector
  • Project Management

Upon successful completion of all BESR Certificate requirements prior to or concurrently with degree requirements, “Awarded Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility” will be listed on your official transcripts.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. You must be a UW–Madison student to participate in the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility Program.

Yes, as long as you are a graduate student at UW–Madison, you can pursue the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility offered by the Wisconsin School of Business.

No—there are no additional tuition costs or fees.

Program Overview

As a student in the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility Program, you will acquire career-enhancing knowledge of:

You also will acquire in-demand skills that will enable you to:

A Flexible Curriculum You Can Customize

The BESR Certificate Program curriculum includes a required foundation course and at least 3 credits in advanced business sustainability courses. To complete the minimum required 12 credits, you may choose a maximum of 6 credits of electives compatible with your career goals.

Required Foundation Class

Advanced Business Sustainability Coursework—choose at least 3 credits**

**Contact BESR Certificate director at if listed classes conflict with required MBA classes

Other Elective Coursework—choose at least 6 credits*

Up to 6 credits of electives can be counted toward the required 12 certificate credits.

  • ACCT 700/765 Financial Accounting (3 credits)
  • ACCT 710 Managerial Accounting (3 credits)
  • ACCT 771 Seminar in Strategic Cost Management and Performance Measurement (3 credits)
  • FIN 700/765 Introduction to Financial Management (3 credits)
  • MHR 723 Business Strategy (3 credits)
  • MHR 728 Bargaining, Negotiating and Dispute Settlement for Managers (3 credits)
  • MARKETING 700/765 Marketing Management (3 credits)
  • OTM 700/765 Operations Management (3 credits)
  • OTM 732 Economics for Management (3 credits)
  • RMI 700/765 Principles of Risk Management (3 credits)
  • RMI/GEN BUS 701 Managing Legal Risks (3 credits)
  • ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)

  • AAE/ECON/F&W ECOL 531 Natural Resource Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 643 Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 729 The Microdynamics of Environment and Development (3 credits)
  • AAE 760 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 1 (3 credits)
  • AAE 762 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 2 (3 credits)
  • F&W ECOL/AAE/ENVIR ST 652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers (3-4 credits)

  • URB R PL/​A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • URB R PL/​ECON/​PUB AFFR 734 Regional Economic Problem Analysis (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 814 Environmental and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Public Policy & Planning (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization and Environmental Form (2-3 credits)
  • URB R PL 843 Land Use Policy and Planning (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 865 Water Resources Institutions and Policies (3 credits)

  • ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI 575 Assessment of Environmental Impact (3 credits)
  • ENVIR ST/​A A E/​ECON/​URB R PL 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • ENVIR ST 977 Sustainable Development – An Integral Perspective (3 credits)

  • CIV ENGR 498 Construction Project Management (3 credits)
  • CIV ENGR 729 Environmental Sustainability Tools (3 credits)
  • EPD 660 Core Competencies of Sustainability (3 credits)
  • EPD 661 Industrial Ecology: Sustainability Tools in Context (3 credits)

  • LAW 845 Water Rights Law (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 848 Introduction to Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • LAW 918 Selected Problems in International Law Seminar: “International Environmental Law & Policy,” or “Climate Change, Human Rights & the Environment” (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 988 Selected Problems in Environmental Law Seminar: “Natural Resources Law,” or “Agricultural Law & the Environment” (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 989 Environmental Law and Practice (3 credits)

  • PUB AFFR 866 Global Environmental Governance (3 credits)
  • PUB AFFR 881 Benefit-Cost Analysis (3 credits)

  • POP HLTH 789: Principles of Environmental Health: A Systems Thinking Approach (3 credits)


  1. The list of electives above will be adjusted as new courses are offered and others dropped. You may request to substitute a listed course with a related one by submitting a syllabus, as well as a written explanation of how the substitute course meets the learning outcomes of the certificate and how it will assist you in reaching your own goals for earning the certificate. The substitute course must be approved by the BESR Certificate faculty advisor in coordination with the Certificate Oversight Committee.
  1. For courses with access restricted to Wisconsin School of Business students, nonbusiness-school students may select equivalent open-access lower-level courses numbered 300 and above (e.g., substitute Marketing 700/765 with Marketing 300).

Recommended Extracurricular Activities

Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to engage in extracurricular activities that enhance the certificate’s learning outcomes. These include:

Contact Us

Want to learn more about the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility? Please contact us for more information about the program, or to get answers to your specific questions.

Ann Terlaak

Ann Terlaak

Associate Professor
Management and Human Resources