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.


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

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.

Checking Program Accomplishements

A review of transcripts will be completed throughout the two-year program. Scholars will regularly upload transcripts to the Graham Institute website.

Co-Curricular Program

The Graham Sustainability Scholars Program is a co-curricular program to complement academic major and minor courses. The Graham Scholars participate in many academic programs, including the Program in the Environment, the Program in Sustainable Engineering, and the Business and Sustainability Concentration. 

  • 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, interdisciplinary teamwork, project management, collaboration, etc.), on social media platforms, and discuss their experiences and skills learned as a Scholar during interviews.
  • The undergraduate supplemental studies program was discontinued in April 2020.