Contexts of Environmental Policy Graduate Certificate

National Park Service Roger Kennedy Fellows Program

For National Park Service employees who have served for three years or more

The NPS Contexts of Environmental Policy Graduate Certificate Program is designed to help prepare current and future leaders who are responsible for the preservation and protection of our public lands and cultural heritage.  Inspired by a gift from Roger and Frances Kennedy and made possible by the Friends of Roger Kennedy, this program funds NPS students to undertake a course of study that strengthens their knowledge of the natural and cultural resources which lie at the heart of the NPS mission.  Offering a wide range of courses that contextualize environmental policy, the Certificate allows both flexibility and purpose to NPS students.

Program Overview

The certificate program began in Fall 2013 and consists of four graduate-level courses resulting in twelve credits.  All courses are taught by GW faculty who are experts in their fields, and all will be offered at the Washington, D.C. campus of GW at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Students may take one or two courses per semester, and some courses are also offered in the summer. Most courses are in the evening and meet once a week. Students must meet the application requirements of GW. Upon admission to the certificate program, students will not need to apply again each semester, as long as they are in good academic standing as defined by Columbian College of Arts and Sciences standards.

Students will be required to take one policy course as they enter the program and then can choose among a large number of electives, which fall into either policy or culture categories.  By special permission, depending on students’ backgrounds, students may also enroll in graduate courses in the sciences.

Students may try a blended learning approach to the certificate program. Students based outside the DC area would need to arrange with their management to be in the DC area for approximately six to seven months. The blended approach requires employees to be in the DC area for either the Spring and Summer semesters (mid-January through early July) or the Summer and Fall semesters (mid-May through early December). While students are in the DC area for the six to seven month period, they would need to enroll in three courses at the GWU DC campus. The one remaining course can be completed online and could be complete at the individual’s local area.

Admissions Process

The admissions process for this program is a two-tiered review:

  • The first level of review will be conducted by a NPS Review Panel, ensuring NPS employees meet all eligibility requirements and are appropriate candidates to be considered for participation.  The NPS Review Panel will rank each nominee based upon the information provided in his/her application package.  The ranking process will consist of an evaluation of the nominee’s education, work experience, personal and professional goals, and writing ability.
  • The second level of review is conducted by a CCAS Admissions Committee.  This committee will make the final selections and conduct their selections based on the Admission policies of CCAS and GW.  Applicants who move on to the CCAS review will need to sign up and complete GWU’s graduate application using GW Student Portal, the online application system.
  • Applications will be notified via email of their admission status in early July. 


Tuition costs will be covered by GW out of funds raised by the Friends of Roger Kennedy group.  The number of students admitted will depend on the level of funding available.

Students will be responsible for University and course fees, such as a matriculation fee of about $300 and the Student Association fee of about $3.00/credit hour.  Book costs will vary from $50 to $250 per course.

How to Apply

This application packet must include the following documents:

  • Proof of completion of Bachelor’s Degree and Official Transcript with a GPA 3.0 or above. If you plan to apply, be sure to contact the Registrar’s Office at each of the colleges or universities from which you will be requesting official sealed transcripts at your earliest convenience, in order to ensure that you receive your transcripts in time to submit them no later than June 1.
  • A personal statement of at least 300 but no more that 800 words that includes the purpose for undertaking graduate study, academic objectives, research interests, and career plans/accomplishments.
  • Resume that includes nominee’s current position, and minimum overall work history of at least 5 years.
  • Signed letter of recommendation from the applicant's supervisor, specifying how the certificate would benefit the applicant and the organization and agreeing to support his/her participation for the duration of the program.
  • Current SF-50 (Standard Form 50, Notice of Personnel Action) proof of being in a Competitive Service Permanent Position 

Optional Document Requested:

  • DI-Form 1935, Applicant Background Survey.  Providing this demographic information is voluntary, and no individual personnel selections are made based upon this information.

Each applicant must submit the supporting documents by the June 1 deadline set by NPS. 

Satisfactory Participation Requirement

As the Program constitutes a graduate-level professional development opportunity, participants must demonstrate sustained progress in course work and work assignments sufficient to predict successful completion of the program.  Failure to pass any course taken, or to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, may result in termination from the program.

Frequently Asked Questions