The online design for the circular economy certificate provides students and working professionals the skills necessary to succeed in the emerging field of the circular economy, where businesses are focused on redesigning products to be less resource intensive and can readily be transformed into new products at the end of their life.

Career opportunities in this field are expanding rapidly within business, government and nonprofit enterprises.

The curriculum focuses on the unique requirements of technical management of circular business models and product development initiatives within an organization, including cradle-to-cradle design methodologies, sustainable and resilient operations and supply chains, and leadership.

This program is offered 100% online, enabling students’ greater flexibility with their work schedule and providing for broad reach to students across the globe.


The online Design for the Circular Economy Graduate Certificate is a 9-credit hour, 100% online program. The program offers have three specializations consisting of nine 1-credit hour courses, as outlined below:

Required Courses
Applied Sustainability for Technical Managers3
Sustainability and the Circular Economy
Applied Sustainability Engineering: Methods & Applications
Leading the Circular Business
Product Design for a Circular Economy3
Defining the Circular Economy
Product Design for the Circular Economy – Design for “R”
Circular Product Design Frameworks and Certifications
Sustainable & Resilient Operations and Supply Chains3
Sustainable & Resilient Operations Management
Developing and Managing the Sustainable Supply Chain
Tools and Metrics to Close the Loop: Measuring Environmental & Social Impacts
Total Credit Hours9

Once the program is fully launched on the Coursera platform, our aim is to have 3-6 additional elective courses available, providing topics of greatest interest to learners.  As these are also launched on the platform, students will be required to take two of the “specializations” defined above, and 3 additional courses, which could include the third specialization, or any three topical electives.  Potential topical electives include:

  • Business Models and the Circular Economy (1 CR)
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA):  Methods and Applications (1 CR)
  • Circular Packaging Design (1 CR)
  • Marketing & Brand Management of Circular Products (1 CR)
  • Environmental & Social Impact Metrics: Data, Analytics & Certifications (1 CR)

There are no prerequisites for any of the courses offered within the program, and students must achieve a B or better to obtain credit for the course.

It is important to emphasize that while these are online courses delivered on the Coursera platform, they are accredited by CU Boulder and any academic content decisions regarding the curriculum belong to CU Boulder. Faculty within Engineering Management retain ownership of curriculum for the courses they create. Moreover, course material will be produced according to the existing standard of CU Boulder courses and will be comparable to courses in the ME-EM degree. Finally, the Engineering Management Program will periodically update the curriculum as necessary, along with any required course changes.  

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes for completion of the certificate include foundational technical knowledge and practical professional skills. Students will be able to integrate sustainability and circular economy concepts with the design of products and services that have positive environmental and social impacts, while creating and leading organizations that incorporate principles and practices of the circular economy as core strategic initiatives.  

Our graduates will be specialists in the rapidly emerging field of the circular economy. They will understand the underlying foundations of sustainability engineering, the context of how this knowledge can be successfully applied in a business setting, and the leadership skills to drive transformational change within their organizations and communities. As specialists, students will be able to:

  • Have a science and fact-based discussion with friends, family and work colleagues that explains the need to rapidly move to a more circular economy.
  • Describe our current economic and industrial model of “take-make-waste” and the need to transition to a more resilient and sustainable circular economy.
  • Design sustainable products and packaging using cradle-to-cradle methodologies.
  • Quantitatively assess a product and organization’s social and environmental impacts using the latest data scoring frameworks, including life-cycle analysis, carbon and water footprint analyses.
  • Employ brand management strategies to communicate the organizations values and value proposition to their customers;
  • Establish operations and supply chains consistent with the organization’s sustainability and circular economy goals.
  • Identify and apply international frameworks (i.e., ISO 14000) within the organization.