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Curriculum


Program Requirements

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 one to three consecutive 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 - 12 semester credits or 18 continuing education units


We recommend students start with NEPA 6200 and finish the program with NEPA 6220. Each course will consist of three 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:

NEPA 6200

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.

Student Competencies:

  • Manage the NEPA process so the spirit and the letter of the Act are legally fulfilled.
  • 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 documented CATEXs, EISs, and EAs.
  • Review EISs, EAs, RODs, FONSIs, and documented CATEXs for compliance with NEPA, the CEQ regulations, and agency implementing procedures.
  • Write high-quality EAs, FONSIs, Notices of Intent, EISs, and other environmental documents using approved NEPA, CEQ, individual agency, and Government Publishing Office (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.

NEPA 6210

Clear Writing for NEPA Specialists - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)

This course helps participants learn how to identify the writing and editing requirements unique to NEPA documents including making graphics, organizing and 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.

Student Competencies:

  • 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.

NEPA 6220

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 EISs, EAs, FONSIs, RODs, and documented CATEXs. Participants will concentrate on setting review priorities, reviewing for compliance with the law, reviewing for quality and readability, and preparing review comments.

Student Competencies:

  • 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.

NEPA 6260

Cultural and Natural Resource Management - 2 credits or 3 continuing education units (required course)

The purpose of this course is to help students identify and understand federal laws, regulations, and policies for managing cultural and natural resources on federal lands. It addresses the requirements of 16 laws and policies federal agencies must consider when actions they are responsible for may adversely impact an important cultural or natural resource. Laws addressed in this course include: National Historic Preservation Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Clean Water Act – Section 404, Endangered Species Act, etc.

Student Competencies:

  • Understand the requirements of relevant laws, associated regulations, and executive orders.
  • Recognize when the laws apply to an action and what regulating agency should be notified.
  • Understand the varying level of compliance requirements associated with laws and policies.

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 one to two instructional days, with additional time required to complete reading and examination assignments.

NEPA 6230

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.

Student Competencies: 

  • 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.

NEPA 6310

Technical Writing - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

Participants in this course will learn how to ensure their readers do not miss the main point or spend unnecessary time searching for key information. Although documents are varied and often complex, they must be clear, understandable, and accurate. 100% clarity is the primary goal. Shipley Group writing strategies agree with and illustrate many of the guidelines from www.plainlanguage.gov. Note: This course does not address NEPA nor the writing of EAs and EISs.

Student Competencies:

  • Learn how to write for the right purposes and right audiences.
  • Design a document to catch your readers’ interests and needs by “telling the story.”
  • Make the writing process more efficient and a less time-consuming chore.
  • Edit their own work and the work of others.

Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6310: ATW - Advanced Technical Writing.

NEPA 6320

Cumulative Impacts Analysis and Documentation - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

This course has three main objectives: 1) assist participants in developing a scoping and public involvement strategy that leads to a sound cumulative impact analysis; 2) assess various impact methodologies as to their strengths and weaknesses in supporting the disclosure of impacts, especially cumulative impacts; and, 3) teach participants how to record cumulative impact information in ways that support clear, legally sufficient EAs and EISs.

Student Competencies:

  • 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 on specific resources.
  • Know how to place cumulative 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.

NEPA 6360

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. It reviews the history of the ESA, the rationale behind its passage, the importance of species diversity, and the history of species decline and loss. Students will learn about compliance with the Section 7 permitting process for federal actions, including content of Biological Assessments and Biological Opinions. In addition, the course will examine the criteria for listing and delisting species, listing distinct population segments, and experimental populations and their designation as essential or nonessential.

Student Competencies:

  • 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.

NEPA 6380

 Managing NEPA Projects and Teams - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

The main focus of this course is to teach students to be effective team members and leaders by understanding how to control the process of project and plan development. Participants will be introduced to various models on time management, project management, team management, and decision-making methods. They 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.

Student Competencies:

  • Understand the premise and need for effective problem framing so the purpose and need reflect the reasonable alternatives developed by the team.
  • Understand what projects should be analyzed in one document, and what projects need separate documents.
  • Recognize who are legitimate core team members and who are not.
  • Know techniques for communicating with and managing people for efficient NEPA analysis and documentation.
  • Understand how to develop a project plan and what to include in the plan.
  • Develop and use scheduling models for more effective and realistic timing of projects.

Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 6380: MNPT - Managing NEPA Projects and Teams; NEPAPPM - NEPA Project and Program Management.

NEPA 6390

NEPA Climate Change Analysis - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

Students are introduced to climate change in the NEPA analysis process. The course covers the science of climate change, impacts in regard to greenhouse gas emissions, how to consider the effects of climate change on projects, and the resources a project may impact. Students learn to use various methods for analyzing impacts. They are exposed to several case studies, court decisions, and guidance on how to prepare legally-compliant climate change analysis documents.

Student Competencies:

  • Understand basic climate change science, especially how it relates to likely impacts that should be addressed in a NEPA analysis.
  • Understand key NEPA climate change court cases and rulings, and lessons from them on how to prepare legally-compliant analyses.
  • Choose the most effective methods and analytical techniques to analyze climate change impacts.
  • Explore, discuss, and take away key lessons from NEPA case study documents that incorporate climate change analysis.
  • Understand various mitigation strategies for addressing climate change impacts.
  • Create concise EAs and EISs that properly address climate change impacts.

Shipley course titles equivalent to NEPA 3690: NCAA - NEPA Change Analysis and Documentation.

NEPA 6410

Administrative Record and Document Management - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

Students will learn what is included in the Administrative Record and how to prepare and index records for litigation during the NEPA process. The course also covers the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Freedom of Information Act requirements.

Student Competencies:

  • Know what qualifies as a record under the definition of the Federal code as it applies to the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • Evaluate what goes in the Certified Administrative Record for purposes of NEPA.
  • Understand how to properly reference records for inclusion in the Administrative Record.
  • Create an index for a defensible Administrative Record.

NEPA 6420

Tools for Effective NEPA - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

Students will learn techniques to improve their efficiency in implementing the NEPA process. The course covers a range of best practices, including project management, scoping, decision making, proposal scope and scale definition, adaptive management, interagency coordination processes, and writing.

Student Competencies:

  • Understand the existing statutory and regulatory policies regarding page limits, time limits, and other relevant aspects of NEPA document preparation.
  • Apply approaches and techniques for improving the efficiency of the NEPA process.
  • Use lessons from recent case law to prepare NEPA documents more efficiently.Recognize various mitigation strategies for addressing climate change impacts.
  • Use the scoping process and improved interagency cooperation to improve the efficiencyof NEPA reviews.
  • Use writing and document organization techniques to prepare more useful and compliant NEPA analyses and documents.

NEPA 6430

Environmental Justice - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

Students will learn what is meant by environmental justice (EJ) and will learn how to address the scope of analysis for EJ in NEPA documents. Students will also learn best techniques for mitigating impacts to low-income and minority communities.

Student Competencies:

  • Understand the meaning of environmental justice (EJ).
  • Interpret existing policies for EJ analysis and documentation.
  • Integrate EJ into the NEPA analysis process.
  • Engage low-income or minority communities and interest groups into public decision making.
  • Prepare documentation of EJ considerations and responsive strategies.

NEPA 6440

Overview of the Marine Mammal Protection Act - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units

This class focuses primarily on the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), including the goals of the Act and the consultation process. The class also discusses the Magnuson-Stevens Act and identifying and protecting essential fish habitat (EFH).

Student Competencies:

  • Identify what animals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
  • Recognize the purpose and goals of both the MMPA and Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and how all federal agencies can help achieve those goals.
  • Comprehend how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and MMPA work together to protect listed species.
  • Understand what take and harassment mean under the MMPA – as well as other important terminology unique to these Acts.
  • Know which actions require consultation and authorization of incidental take of marine mammals, and what is required to successfully complete the consultation process to receive Letters of Authorization and Incidental Harassment Authorizations.
  • Understand what Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is and the types of federal actions that could adversely affect it.
  • Learn how to incorporate compliance with the MMPA and MSA into the NEPA process. 

Capstone Course - 1 semester credit or 1.5 continuing education units


NEPA 6370

NEPA Capstone - 1 credit or 1.5 continuing education units (required course)

After completing the required and elective 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 other requirements of implementing the Act. Each student’s 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.

For information on the NEPA Certificate Program, please contact:


Lisa Welsh

Dr. Lisa Welsh

NEPA Certificate Program 
Department of Environment & Society 
Utah State University
5215 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-5215

435.797.0922

Email: lisa.welsh@usu.edu

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Joanna Endter-Wada

Dr. Joanna Endter-Wada

NEPA Program Director

joanna.endter-wada@usu.edu

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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.