Graham Sustainability Institute

Eligibility & Academic Requirements


Undergraduate sophomores in all U-M academic units on the Ann Arbor campus are eligible to apply. Students must:

  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, including Fall semester grades. 
  • Be either in their second year, having completed three (3) full semesters at U-M by January. (Transfer or non-traditional/junior student applicants must be on track to graduate no earlier than December of their senior year.)
  • Reside on the Ann Arbor campus and be in good standing during the full two-years of the Program, with the exception of their field-based experience.
  • Students must successfully complete all program elements (including passing grades in all courses) to be eligible to receive funding for field-based experiences, and a certificate acknowledging completion of the Program.

Program Requirements

All Scholars participate in a variety of cohort and skill-building activities and complete sustainability-related courses including a field-based course and a project-based experiential course (e.g., 391 Sustainability & the Campus) designed to enhance academic efforts. 

Requirements for Scholars: Fall Retreat, Monthly Co-curricular Seminar Series, Senior Interdisciplinary Team Project, and the courses described below.

  • The Fall Retreat is a critical program requirement: Engage in discussions about sustainability, outdoor activities, and team-building.

  • Monthly Seminar Series: Thursdays from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (Graham North Seminar Room). Thes seminars will continue monthly through the winter semester, with the schedule to be determined. As participants move into the second year of the program, the focus will be on interdisciplinary team-based projects and engaging clients external to the university for both fall and winter terms. 
  • Interdisciplinary Team Project (Senior Year): Teams of 5 Scholars will work on a sustainability project with a partner external to the university.
  • Participation: Full student attendance at required events is critical to program success. Toward this end, the Graham Institute sets and communicates program activity dates in advance to allow adequate time to schedule other activities and courses. The Graham Institute has reduced the number of requirements overall and is allowing for much greater flexibility in scheduling to reduce student conflicts with program engagement. Please be advised that students who choose not to participate consistently in required events run the risk of losing support for the field-based course experience and may not be able to continue with the program.

Note: Fall 2019 is the final UC 427, Leadership Development for Sustainability seminar, and will not be offered/required in future years. 


  • ENVIRON/RCIDIV 391 Sustainability and the Campus, offered winter semester only (four-credits). May be taken in Junior or Senior year. See Sustainability and the Campus.
  • Field-based Sustainability Course or an approved alternative, which may include an appropriate course within or outside of U-M, or an independent study experience (three-credits). Program leaders strongly suggest that Juniors complete their field-based course the spring-summer of their Junior year. Support for this course is available for current students, not alumni.

Note: Alternatives to pre-approved courses require approval from the Program Manager.

    Financial Support for Field-based Course Experience

    Participating students can petition to access up to $3,500 for direct expenses related to field-based sustainability courses in the U.S. or abroad. Support includes assistance with course fees, and related direct travel expenses (e.g., food, lodging, airfare, ground transportation, lab fees). 

    • Indirect expenses (e.g., gear/equipment/supplies and anything involving individual preferences not directly attributable to the course/experience) are ineligible for funding.
    • If all Scholars Program requirements are not completed, students must return funds disbursed for field-based courses to the Graham Institute. 

    Request Funds:

    • To request funds and receive course approval, complete the Graham Scholars Funding Request Form
    • Please include details for a field-based course, including the title of the course, number of credits (must be a minimum of 3), and a link to additional course details, name of the instructor, course location, and timeframe for travel.

    Field-course Requirements & Options

    • The course or experience must generate three (3) credits that appear on your transcript at U-M (independent study and internship credits can count); provide an opportunity to investigate natural, social, economic, political, and technological aspects of a sustainability problem in a site-specific context; and engender an in-depth analysis of potential approaches to the resolution of the sustainability problem.
    • A syllabus or the equivalent information that provides the full details about the proposed course or experience.
    • Official approval (if required and appropriate) for entry into the course or experience, signed by the faculty member or appropriate authority.
    • If studying abroad, additional requirements include your agreement to purchase UM travel abroad health insurance and register with the U-M Travel Registry ( This is a requirement of field-based travel and we cannot approve your course or funding if you have not first registered your travel with U-M.

    Seeking Approval

    • Complete and submit the Graham Scholars Funding Request Form, including course details, a budget with details, the location, and dates of travel (see Financial Support above).
    • If you are interested in a field-course option not previously approved, including proposing an independent study, you must seek approval from the Graham Institute and discuss this with your academic advisor.
    • The Graham Institute Education Program Manager approves field-based course requests that are aligned to the sustainability program goals. However, schools and colleges approve the credit for the course. 

    After Completing Your Field-based Course: Complete the Graham Undergraduate Scholars - Field-based Experience Form within 30 days of finishing your field-based course.


    Review of transcripts for graduation releases will be completed throughout the year. To ensure you have met all the program requirements, please submit the Graham Scholars Requirements Submission Form at least three (3) months prior to your graduation date.

    Supplemental Studies Program

    Note: The undergraduate supplemental studies program will be discontinued after the graduation of the Senior cohort in April 2020. All Scholars will continue to receive a certificate signed by the Graham Institute Program Director confirming they have completed the program. Scholars are encouraged to add a notation about this achievement on their resumes (noting transferrable skills such as team-based project experience, and interdisciplinary interaction), on social media platforms, and discuss their experiences and skills development into talking points during interviews.

    For Current LS&A Seniors:

    • LS&A students who complete a Sustainability Minor through the Program in the Environment may NOT have both the Sustainability Minor and the Sustainability Scholars Program listed on their transcripts. 
    • Per LS&A policy, students who want the program designation to appear on their transcripts may not share any courses used toward the program with any other LS&A major or minor. 
    • Per LS&A policy, students receiving approval for substitutions or exceptions to program requirements cannot receive transcript notation for completion.
    • Students who complete all requirements will be considered Scholars Program alumni in good standing by the Graham Institute.