Photo by Kongjian Yu, Turenscape

Graduate Certificate in Climate Adaptation Planning

Certificate Program Director 

Elisabeth Infield, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. (Faculty mentor; approves admission to the certificate program, plan of study, and achievement of requirements, available for advising). 

Academic Program Coordinator 

AJ Pion, (Staff; student inquiries, admissions, progress and graduation requirements) 


Program Overview  

The Graduate Certificate in Climate Adaptation Planning is designed to provide emerging and mid-career professionals with comprehensive and curated skills in addressing the climate change emergency in their work with communities, governments, and consultancies. The primary focus of the certificate is on adaptation, or preparing the built form and society for changes that are underway. We also address decarbonization, with particular attention to integrating decarbonization and resilience together. The Certificate uses a justice-centered approach so that actions going forward can redress deep historical inequities, rather than reinforcing them. 


Why this topic?  

There is an urgent need for planners, landscape architects, state and local government and NGO employees as well as consultants who deeply understand how to improve climate resilience. This is a particular issue at the site, local, and regional level where the public expects government to ensure their safety over the long term, governments need to make infrastructure investments that will function under changing climate conditions, and these investments need to respond to community goals, values and histories of injustice. This certificate assures employers that you are ready for leadership in addressing the climate emergency and provides credentials for new positions such as Resilience or Sustainability Officer. 


Why here?  

UMass’ Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning brings together the knowledge and skills of designers, planners and policymakers, providing the best approach to this topic available in the nation. Landscape architecture works at the site level and designs appropriate systems to support ecologically sound and resilient outdoor environments; planning provides the public process, infrastructure and regulatory framework within which new development occurs. Our focus is the local and regional scale, which is where deep innovation is currently happening. 


What will I learn? 

The Graduate Certificate has three core classes: one in climate planning, one in green infrastructure, and one in case studies of adaptation implementation. 

Planning for Climate Change (RegionPl 585) provides the basic understanding of how our changing climate impacts built form and builds familiarity with best practices for climate solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to future climate at the municipal and regional level. 

Sustaining Green Infrastructure (LandArch 591I) explores solutions to reduce flooding and extreme heat, while achieving co-benefits such as improved public health. 

Case Studies in Urban and Rural Adaptation (RegionPl 590X) explores best practices including existing site- and community–scale designs, governance structures, financing mechanisms, and emerging policy and design practices. 

*Ideally, students complete RegionPl 595 and LandArch 591I before taking RegionPl 590X, but it’s flexible. 


Can courses in the certificate count toward a graduate degree?  

Yes. Completed course credits can be directly credited to UMass and other university programs, subject to the requirements of that program – these are regular graduate-level courses. For those who are already at UMass, there is no limit on dual counting of certificate courses if these courses also fulfill requirements in your graduate degree program. In other words, use these certificate courses for your degree electives, and you may not have to take any extra courses at all. 


Who can get the certificate? 

Students must hold a bachelor’s degree, but we welcome students from a broad range of disciplines as well as returning professionals. Instructors in this program appreciate the enrichment of knowledge that interdisciplinarity and a range of life experiences brings. Graduating college seniors may apply to join the certificate for the semester after they graduate with their bachelor’s degree. Non-degree students are welcome in this program. Recent graduates must have earned a 3.0 average in their major; those who are longer out of school may request admission at a lower GPA. There are no prerequisites. 


What are the certificate’s core knowledge and skills? 

-Basic comprehension of climate change processes and reputable sources of and uses for climate and hazard projections 

-Familiarity with the theories of resilience, vulnerability and sustainability in the urban environment 

-Knowledge of best practices in municipal climate planning 

-Basics of greenhouse gas inventories and practices that reduce GhG emissions 

-How to protect, accommodate, and/or retreat to address intensified storms, floods, and heat events 

-Ability to plan and design green infrastructure networks across multiple spatial scales (i.e., site, local, and regional) 

-Awareness of the multiple objectives (co-benefits) resilience investments can create, including decarbonization, public health improvement, water quality and quantity management, biodiversity, mobility, and recreational resources 

-Basics of financing climate solutions 

-Case studies of outstanding municipal and site solutions 

-How to apply an equity lens to all of the above 


How long will the certificate program take? 

Nine months, assuming you take one class per semester including the winter session. 


How much will the full certificate cost for a UWW student? 

For Academic Year 2023, we expect students will have the costs listed below. Note that tuition and fees change periodically, so interested students should verify these costs with UWW. 

-UMass UWW Admission Fee: $60 (early) – $85 (regular) 

-Registration Fee: $75 per term; 3 terms = $225 

-Course fees (9 credits at $631/credit): $5,679 

-Total cost: $5,964 (early registration), $5,989 (regular registration) 


How do I apply? 

Students apply to join the certificate program by emailing their cv/resume and a one-page statement of interest to the Program Director, Professor Infield at


How do I register for classes? 

If you don’t attend UMass already, you will register for courses through University Without Walls (UWW). If you attend UMass, you can sign up through UWW for on-line courses; existing students may be able to register for the regular semester in-person courses through Spire. To receive the certificate, you need to have been approved for admission to the certificate program, and then about the middle of your last class, meet with Professor Infield to confirm that all requirements will be met by the semester end. 


Photo by Kongjian Yu, Turenscape