Program participants are required to take a total of seven courses, plus a capstone experience:
- Four required core courses
- Three elective courses
- One capstone experience
All courses are offered in the short-course format of two to four consecutive eight-hour days (depending on the course). Each course is worth either 1 or 2 academic credits OR 1.5 or 3 continuing education units. Courses can be taken in-person at various locations across the U.S. or online as webinars (no travel is required for webinar based courses), or using a combination of in-person and webinar-based courses.
Required Courses - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units
Elective Courses - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
Schedule of Courses
For a comparison of the course names and acronyms used on the Shipley Group course schedule and the course names and numbers approved for Utah State University credit and the NEPA Certificate Program please click on the following link: Course Names Comparison
Core Courses - 8 semester credits or 12 continuing education units
We recommend students start with NEPA 6200 and finish the program with NEPA 6220. Each course will consist of 3-4 instructional days, with additional time required to complete reading and examination assignments. Each core course will be worth 2 semester credits or 3 continuing education units. Participants must take the following four core courses:
How to Manage the NEPA Process and Write Effective NEPA Documents - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)
This course is an introduction to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. Participants will learn: the various levels of NEPA documentation; how to develop a reasonable range of alternatives; how to identify potential issues; how to develop public involvement strategies; the importance of identifying other relevant environmental laws; how to develop a systematic process for quantitatively and qualitatively predicting effects; and, the skills necessary to identify the actions needed for a thorough environmental analysis.
- Manage the NEPA process so the spirit and the letter of the act are fulfilled legally and efficiently.
- Implement the CEQ regulations and agency regulations so the spirit and the letter of the directives are fulfilled.
- Oversee contractors who conduct environmental analyses and/or write EISs/EAs.
- Review EISs, EAs, RODs, FONSIs for compliance with NEPA, the CEQ Regulations, and the agency implementing procedures.
- Write high-quality EAs, FONSIs, Notice of Intent, EISs, and other environmental documents using approved NEPA, CEQ, agency, and GPO guidelines.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6200: Apply the NEPA Process = ANPWEND - Applying the NEPA Process and Writing Effective NEPA Documents, ANP-DOD - same course as ANPWEND with an emphasis on Department of Defense examples and regulations, ANP-NA - same course as ANPWEND with an emphasis on Native American concerns and other applicable laws and policies.
Clear Writing for NEPA Specialists - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)
This course will help participants learn how to identify the writing and editing requirements unique to NEPA documents including making graphics, writing chapters, and reviewing documents for accuracy. Participants will also practice interdisciplinary team skills as they relate to each phase of the analysis and documentation process.
- Identify those writing and editing requirements unique to NEPA documents.
- Practice interdisciplinary team skills as they relate to each phase of the analysis and documentation process.
- Prepare high quality, well-edited NEPA documents.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6210: ECW - Environmental Clear Writing; ATW - Advanced Technical Writing; NWW - NEPA Writing Workshop; CP - Core Principles.
Reviewing NEPA Documents - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)
The primary focus of this course is to learn how to review the full range of NEPA documents including Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), Environmental Assessments (EAs), Findings of No Significant Impacts (FONSIs), and Records of Decisions (RODs). Participants will concentrate on setting review priorities, reviewing for compliance with the law, reviewing for quality and readability, and preparing review comments.
- Check for appropriate environmental analysis.
- Set clear review priorities.
- Use the CEQ format to guide document reviews.
- Check for issue tracking and document consistency.
- Check for document quality and readability.
- Apply strategies for providing effective feedback.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6220: RND - Reviewing NEPA Documents; NEPA/RND - NEPA Overview and Reviewing NEPA Documents.
Cultural and Natural Resource Management - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)
The purpose of this course is to help students learn how to manage cultural and natural resources on public lands. It addresses the pertinent laws and associated executive orders and regulations pertaining to the preservation of these resources. In addition, it will look at how to integrate cultural and natural resources funding requirements into an environmental budget.
- Manage the natural and cultural resources of your agency.
- Understand the pertinent laws, and associated executive orders and regulations.
- Integrate natural and cultural resources funding requirements with an environmental budget.
- Request assistance of contractors, non-profit organizations, or other government agencies on cultural and natural resource issues.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6260: CNRM/AM - Cultural and Natural Resource Management and Adaptive Management; CNRM/ESA - Cultural and Natural Resource Management and and ESA Overview; IFEL - Integrating Federal Environmental Laws into NEPA
Elective Courses - 3 semester credits or 4.5 continuing education units
Participants are required to take three courses from the following list. Each of these courses consists of two instructional days, with additional time required to complete reading and examination assignments.
Risk Communications for NEPA Specialists - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
Participants in this course will learn the meaning and application of risk communication. The course explores the full range of response communication, including developing a communication plan and strategy, standing before an audience, and responding in writing.
- Understand the fundamentals of risk communication.
- Respond effectively in a low trust, high stress environment.
- Appreciate how effective communication strategies include internal (within an organization) and external (outside the organization) communication.
- Write clear, easy-to-understand, audience-based documents.
- Build a clear, simple response to questions from the public and the media.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6230: ERPI - Environmental Risk and Public Involvement.
Effective Environmental Contracting - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
Participants in this course will develop an understanding of tools and techniques for efficient and effective management of contracts and contractors. Those people working with environmental contractors will be able to design and write better statements of work (SOWs), and establish and manage timelines and budgets.
- Understand the differences between a specification and a statement of work.
- Apply the various methods of specifying.
- Know the parts of the contract and how they fit together. Be familiar with the regulations that govern contracting.
- Plan a SOW or Specification.
- Draft and revise SOWs and specifications.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6300: EEC - Effective Environmental Contracting; SOW - Preparing Environmental Statement of Work.
NEPA Writing for Technical Specialists - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
This course is designed to teach participants how to use a “document management process” to become more efficient and writers of NEPA documents. In this course, participants will learn: how and when to use various types of graphics; how to produce a working first draft of a NEPA document and conduct peer and managerial review sessions; the various levels of document revisions and how to select which level is appropriate; and, how to adapt their writing to different formats.
- Analyze a writing situation.
- Plan a document; Write effectively.
- Manage the review process.
- Edit their work and the work of others.
- Write in a variety of media, including online.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6310: ATW - Advanced Technical Writing.
Cumulative Impacts Analysis and Documentation - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
This course has three main objectives: 1) to assist participants in developing a scoping and public involvement strategy that leads to a sound cumulative impact analysis; 2) to assess various impact methodologies as to their strengths and weaknesses in supporting the disclosure of impacts, especially cumulative impacts; and, 3) to teach participants how to record cumulative impact information in ways that support clear, legally-sufficient EAs and EISs.
- Understand the working definition of “cumulative impacts.”
- Understand compliance requirements of full NEPA disclosure.
- Develop a scoping and public involvement strategy for determining cumulative impacts.
- Choose correct methodologies for determining impacts of specific resources.
- Know how to place cumulative impacts information into the various chapters of a NEPA document.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6320: CIAD - Cumulative Impacts Analysis and Documentation; NEAD - NEPA Cumulative Effects Analysis and Documentation.
Overview of the Endangered Species Act - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
This course is designed to teach students about the requirements and procedures for complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, by reviewing the history of the law and the Section 7 consultation process and section 10 permit process. The course will look at the rationale behind the passage of the ESA, including the importance of species diversity, and the history of lost species habitat. Students will also learn which agencies are responsible for enforcing the ESA, how they go about doing this, and the consequences to those who violate it, including potential civil and criminal penalties. In addition, the course will explore how the ESA coordination is handled with tribal governments and explain experimental populations and their designations as essential or nonessential.
- Understand the ESA and its requirements and regulations.
- Understand the implications if ESA is violated.
- Know how to consult under section 7 of ESA, informally and formally.
- Understand the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
- Know how the ESA affects tribes and the Tribal Consultation requirements.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6360: ESA/106 - Endangered Species Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Managing NEPA Projects and Teams - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
The course focuses on teaching students to be effective team leaders and members by understanding how to control the process of project and plan development. Students will be introduced to various models on time management, project management, team management, and decision-making methods. Students will also learn how to frame problems in such a way that they can more clearly identify alternative solutions and develop cause-and-effect models showing how their actions impact resources.
- Use a model for managing NEPA projects.
- Know critical quality control milestones for the NEPA process.
- Judge the quality and adequacy of a NEPA document.
- Know how to set resource, time, and quality parameters for NEPA analysis and documentation.
- Know techniques for communicating with and managing people for efficient NEPA analysis.
- Know what is important to manage and monitor for one NEPA project, or multiple projects.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6380: MNPT - Managing NEPA Projects and Teams; NEPAPPM - NEPA Project and Program Management.
NEPA Climate Change Analysis - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units
Students will be introduced to climate change in the NEPA analysis process. We will discuss the science of climate change, impacts in regard to green house gas emissions, as well as taking into account the effects of climate change on projects and the resources a project may impact. Students learn to use various methods for analyzing impacts, and are exposed to several case studies, court decisions, and guidance on how to prepare legally adequate climate change analysis documents.
- Understand basic climate change science and how it applies to NEPA documentation.
- Understand key NEPA climate change court cases and rulings and how to prepare legally-sufficient analyses.
- Ability to choose the most effective methods and analytical techniques for analyzing climate change impacts.
- Recognize various mitigation strategies for addressing climate change impacts.
- Create concise, legally-defensible EAs and EISs that properly address climate change impacts.
Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 3690: NCAA - NEPA Change Analysis and Documentation.
Capstone Course - 1 semester credit or 1.5 continuing education units
NEPA Capstone - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units (required course)
After completing the course work, participants are required to complete a capstone experience before being awarded the NEPA Certificate. This experience will be individualized to each participant and will consist of a project reflecting the participant’s knowledge of NEPA, CEQ regulations, and the requirements of the Act. The actual capstone experience will be negotiated, based upon opportunities available at the time and preferences of the participant. The capstone experience will help USU to certify that participants who receive the certificate have basic mastery of the material presented in the program course work. The capstone experience will be conducted under the direction of a faculty member affiliated with the program.
For information on the NEPA Certificate Program, please contact:
The NEPA Certificate Program courses taken for graduate academic credit may also be applied toward other graduate degrees at Utah State University upon approval of the student's graduate supervisory committee.