Portfolio Program

The Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability provides Master and Doctoral students with a trans-disciplinary framework to study and research issues related to sustainability. Sustainability is an emerging discourse that simultaneously addresses issues of economic development, environmental protection, and social equity. The objectives of the portfolio program are to:

  • Provide a cohesive plan of study in sustainability;
  • Prepare students for leadership roles in academic and professional practice;
  • Foster trans-disciplinary research and dialogue between graduate students and participating faculty members interested in sustainability; and,
  • Assist students in publishing research on sustainability topics.

 The program is supervised by a committee of nine professors: Dave Allen (Cockrell School of Engineering), Jessica Cance (College of Education), David Eaton (LBJ School of Public Affairs), Katherine Lieberknecht (School of Architecture), Daene McKinney (Cockrell School of Engineering), Steven Moore (School of Architecture), Erika Bsumek (Department of History), Eric Hersh (School of Engineering) and Allan Shearer (School of Architecture). The program was originally funded as an interdisciplinary initiatives project by the Henry Luce Foundation. For more information, please see the Luce Foundation website.

General Information and Eligibility

The University of Texas at Austin offers graduate portfolio programs to introduce students to trans-disciplinary areas of academic inquiry while completing degree requirements in an established discipline. Portfolio programs are not degree programs; instead they provide an opportunity for graduate students to orient their studies to address a specific topic that overlaps several disciplines. These programs are similar to a minor area of study or a certificate program at other institutions.To be eligible for admission to the Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability, students must be admitted to a graduate degree program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Program Details and Application Information

The Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability PDF files are all available for download below. For more information about sustainability at UT and to select portfolio courses, please see the UT Sustainability Directory.

When to Apply:

You must apply for the portfolio program the semester before you plan to graduate. For example, if you plan to graduate in May, you must submit an application no later than the fall of your graduation year.

Application Due Dates: 

We prefer to process applications during the first month of a given semester. However, if you are planning ahead and would prefer to submit your application early, please do contact the program coordinator, Susan Sharp, at susansharp@utexas.edu. We may be able to accomodate you as long as your request comes before the semester of your graduation. 

Papers, Posters, and Videos by Recent Graduates

As part of their requirements, each Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability participant is required to present on their sustainability research at the annual Portfolio Program symposium (hosted by the Center for Sustainable Development) before the end of their course of study. Each student must also complete a scholarly paper, suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
Recent submissions include: 

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I submit an application for the program?

You should submit an application at least two semesters before you intend to graduate. 

If I meet the program requirements, will my application automatically be accepted?

Not necessarily. This is a competitive program and not all applications will be accepted due to administrative limitations and University policies. However, the Faculty Steering Committee will attempt to include all students who meet the program requirements and demonstrate a strong interest in sustainability and sustainable development issues.

Can I apply courses to the program that I have completed in previous semesters?

Yes. You can fulfill the program’s course requirements with courses you have successfully completed in previous semesters in the same degree program. However, these courses must be approved by the Faculty Steering Committee as part of your Thematic Course of Study.

How do I have courses approved as part of my Thematic Course of Study?

Since sustainability is a rapidly developing and expanding field, there are many new courses related to sustainability added each semester at UT Austin. If you find a course that has a substantial focus on sustainability or sustainable development, please send the course title and description to susansharp@utexas.edu and request that it be considered by the Faculty Steering Committee.

Are there other portfolio programs at UT?

Yes, there are several other portfolio programs available at UT in a variety of subjects. Students interested in this portfolio program may also be interested in programs such as Integrated Watershed Science and the Societal Impacts of Science & Technology. The Graduate School maintains a current list of all portfolio programs at www.utexas.edu/ogs/docport/index.html.

Will my participation in the program be reflected on my diploma or transcript?

Students who successfully complete the program requirements will have a statement added to their transcript that reads, “With Certification in the Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability”. Portfolio Program certification will not appear on your diploma.

If accepted, what are there deadlines for completing the program requirements?

All program requirements must be completed within a semester from participant's graduation date from UT. If you do not complete the program requirements in this time period, you will be dropped from the program.

What is sustainability anyway?

Sustainability is interpreted in various ways and it is not necessarily helpful to provide a rigid definition. However, advocates of sustainability and sustainable development would probably agree that the concepts involve the simultaneous consideration of interrelated issues in the long-term. The intent of this program is to engage students and faculty members from across campus in a broad discussion of how long-term, holistic perspectives can be employed to solve social, environmental, political, and economic problems in ways that are equitable and effective.