The biomimicry undergraduate certificate


Biomimicry is an emerging discipline that seeks to emulate life’s strategies for human design with a particular emphasis on sustainability. This 18-credit certificate provides students a comprehensive introduction to biomimicry and the skills to innovate inspired by nature. The certificate is designed to empower future change agents from a wide variety of disciplines who are passionate about learning from the natural world and want to bring the practice of biomimicry into their chosen field. The certificate offers an opportunity for students to foster sustainable solutions by asking the question:

What would nature do?

The structure of the undergraduate biomimicry certificate allows students to gain a specialization that complements their current field of interest. The program is designed to prepare students to bring biomimicry to their discipline and career path upon graduation, enhancing skills and increasing employment opportunities.

The Biomimicry Center and College of Global Futures administer this program. For more detailed information and instructions on how to enroll, please visit ASU’s biomimicry certificate degree page.


(online graduate certificate)

This online graduate certificate is the first of its kind in the emerging field of biomimicry, the emulation of the models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems, such as sustainability.  The certificate is offered through ASU’s College of Global Futures, School of Complex Adaptive Systems, ASU Online, the Biomimicry Center and by the leadership of Biomimicry 3.8,  a globally-recognized social enterprise in the field of biomimicry.

The graduate certificate in biomimicry is an educational program designed for professionals who want to add the practice of biomimicry to a current or planned career.

Through biomimicry, designers, engineers and business professionals come together with biologists and others to tackle sustainability challenges with inspiration drawn from biological strategies and mechanisms.

Professionals with at least 3-5 years experience in another discipline benefit most from the biomimicry certificate training. They will develop a hybrid specialty that includes:

  • An in-demand skill set for innovation, creativity and collaboration.
  • An avenue for contributing to meaningful work.
  • The ability to understand and generate sustainable solutions.

Graduates will be able to integrate biomimicry principles and tools into their primary disciplines and become leaders in the emerging network of biomimicry researchers and practitioners.

If you have determined this is the right program for you, we highly recommend you contact an enrollment coach through the “Request Information” button at ASU Online to assist with your application.

Program details

Students pursuing the graduate certificate can expect to finish in as few as three semesters (including summer), taking one class per semester, but if continuously enrolled, may take up to five semesters.


All coursework is delivered online in conjunction with Biomimicry 3.8, the internationally recognized leader in the field.

The certificate consists of 15 credit hours in the following courses.

Essentials of Biomimicry (BMY 501) | Discover the core values that define biomimicry and its true practice: Ethos, Emulate, (Re)Connect. 1 credit

Life’s Principles (BMY 502) | Investigate life’s operating conditions on Earth and the universal rules for surviving and thriving. Students learn the value of these principles as design guidelines. 4 credits

Biology Taught Functionally (BMY 503) | For nonbiologists and biologists alike, this course introduces function as the starting point for discovering biomimetic value. Learn to work with biologists and biological research to translate concepts into strategies for human application. 4 credits

Biomimicry Thinking (BMY 504) | This course teaches the methodology for incorporating biomimicry into any design process. Students learn the steps to defining a taxonomy of design principles and creating innovative functional solutions. 4 credits

Virtual Design Lab Practicum (BMY 530) | Dive deep into the biomimicry tools and resources presented during the program. Through dedicated time and mentorship with instructors, students apply the practice of biomimicry individually to projects of their choice. 2 credits

*BMY 502, BMY 503, and BMY 504:  These courses can be taken in any order depending on when you begin your studies at ASUOnline. Additionally, these are intense courses and you will get the most out of them if they are the only course you are taking in a given semester. 

**For graduate certificate students, completion of BMY 501, 502, 503, and 504 is required before enrolling in BMY 530 (VDL) (this is your culminating class). You can petition for co-enrollment in 530 and your final course, but only in extenuating circumstances will an exception be granted. 

Learning objectives

  • Integrate biomimicry thinking into any sphere-specific opportunity resulting in biomimetic outcomes.
  • Apply Life’s Principles to specific needs within one’s sphere.
  • Facilitate the integration of biology into design within one’s sphere using biomimicry thinking.
  • Guide processes in one’s sphere toward sustainability.
  • Interpret observations in nature with a functional lens for design applications.
  • Abstract design principles from biological observations for application to one’s sphere.
  • Communicate effectively through verbal and visual means how the process of biomimicry works in one’s sphere.
  • Initiate or transform one’s practice to specialize in biomimicry.
  • Engage and lead others within one’s current organization to begin practicing biomimicry.
    [Note: A sphere references the specific discipline or area of interest a student may have and to which they wish to apply biomimicry.]

Full course descriptions and academic course calendar
[Download as PDF]

Course descriptions

Essentials of Biomimicry BMY 501 | 1 credit
The Essentials of Biomimicry is a one-quarter class (7.5 weeks) offered as an introductory sampler to the various topics (discipline, emulate, ethos, (re)connect and iSites, human-nature connection, Biomimicry Thinking, and Life’s Principles) within the discipline of biomimicry. Each week is devoted to a specific topic and is led by a different instructor. The course is intended to provide a basic overview of each aspect of the discipline with ample opportunity for conversation and dialogue around the specific components.
Faculty: Baumeister, D., Arhon, Rovalo, Baumeister, T.

Life’s Principles BMY 502 | 4 credits
Life’s Principles are nature’s universal design guidelines based on 3.8 billion years of successful strategies across all life. This 12-week course takes participants on a deep dive, including the review and study of life’s operating conditions on Earth, six primary principles, and their related sub-principles. This course gives participants the knowledge necessary to bring these design guidelines into practice and provides the opportunity to integrate them into one’s discipline.
Faculty: Baumeister, D.

Biology Taught Functionally BMY 503 | 4 credits
Biomimicry teaches biology through the lens of function, thereby providing a core understanding in biology for all students, no matter their background. This 15-week course explores how biologists gather and research information and how that knowledge can inform other disciplines. It also introduces the art of translating biological concepts into strategies for application, which is then carried throughout all the courses. You will learn how to work with biologists on a biomimicry team and how to weave biology and biomimicry together. You will learn to look at nature through the function lens, and how to identify subject matter experts needed for interdisciplinary teams.
Faculty: Allen, K.

Biomimicry Thinking BMY 504 | 4 credits
Biomimicry Thinking is the practice of biomimicry from a methodology-based approach. This 15-week exploration into the biomimicry methodology reviews how biology and biomimicry can be incorporated into the four major phases of any design process: scoping, discovering, creating and evaluation. It introduces the art of translating biological concepts into strategies for application and building a taxonomy of design principles. The course includes a practicing tools component and a final multiweek group project.
Faculty: Baumeister, D.

Biomimicry Virtual Design Lab BMY 530 | 2 credits
This practicum is designed to allow participants to dive deep into the biomimicry tools and resources presented during the program and selectively apply them to a specific and unique opportunity of the student’s choosing. Projects should have a meaningful outcome achievable within the semester and engage the scoping, discovering, creating and evaluation phases of Biomimicry Thinking. Deliverables are milestone-based, and the final deliverable should have application in a real-world setting.
Faculty: Fehler, M.

To begin the Graduate Certificate in Biomimicry, apply to ASU Online.

For more information, call The Biomimicry Center at 480-727-0478 or email [email protected]

Complex adaptive systems science (PhD certificate)

The new interdisciplinary graduate certificate in complex adaptive systems science (CASS), offered at ASU’s Tempe campus, trains the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for identifying connected phenomena in the social and life sciences as complex adaptive systems. The PhD certificate in complex adaptive systems science is open to any student in good standing in an ASU doctoral program. 

The complexity science certificate is closely related to the interdisciplinary PhD concentration in complex adaptive systems science (CASS). The CASS educational program is tightly integrated with diverse, ongoing university-wide research on complex adaptive systems, providing scholars with new perspectives and offering a more active role in seeking solutions to a broad array of critical issues facing our society today.

Learning outcomes

Complex adaptive systems science concepts and tools can serve as a common language to promote interdisciplinary collaborations needed to come to grips with 21st-century intellectual and societal challenges. This certificate helps students become fluent in the common language of complexity while ensuring they receive a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines. By embedding an understanding of CAS-relevant approaches into scientific research and development, this program seeks to transform science. It also promotes the development and testing of more robust theory and more sophisticated methods by applying CAS-enabled science in a wider array of research settings. This is needed to develop a deeper understanding of the nature and dynamics of CAS, grounded in concrete examples and applications rather than abstract theory.

Graduates can expect to be able to: 

  • Integrate complexity thinking into a sphere-specific opportunity resulting in adaptive outcomes.
  • Facilitate the integration of dynamical systems into design within their realm of interests.
  • Work theoretically and practically with key concepts in collective behavior, including emergence, scaling laws, dynamical modes and coarse-graining.
  • Translate abstract research questions into a precise language using theoretical and computational approaches.
  • Communicating effectively through verbal and visual means how complexity science can offer real-world applications.
  • Apply practically foundational principles of complexity in physical, biological and social systems.
  • Incorporate complexity into education for the next generation of scientists.
  • Develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the most pressing global challenges.


A total of 15 credit hours are required to complete this program: 12 credit hours of coursework and three credit hours of research.

Requirements and electivesCredits
Core course3
Mathematics complexity3
Methods complexity3
Methods application3
Dissertation or research3
Total credits required15


Required core course (3 credit hours)

  • CAS 570 (also cross-listed as ASM/BIO/SOS 570) Fundamentals of Complex Adaptive Systems Science (fall)

Choose one from the following mathematics of complexity courses (3 credit hours):

  • AML 591 Probability Theory 
  • AML 610 Topics in Applied Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences
  • APM 598 Mathematical Methods for Complex Adaptive Systems (spring)
  • ASM 591 Dynamic Modeling in Social and Ecological Systems

Choose one from the following complexity methods courses (3 credit hours):

  • ABS 560 Ecological Modeling (spring)
  • AML 520 Agent Based Modeling
  • AML 591 Modeling in Game Theory (spring)
  • AML 612 Applied Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences Modeling Seminar (spring)
  • ASM 591 Dynamic Modeling in Social and Ecological Systems
  • CSE 561 Modeling and Simulation Theory and Application (spring)
  • GIS 598 Local Statistical Modeling (fall)
  • PAF 591 Introduction to Policy Informatics
  • PUP 598 Modeling and Simulating Urban Environments
  • SOS 591 Agent-Based Modeling for Sustainability (fall)
  • SOS 591/AML 591/BIO 591 Ecological Modeling
  • CDE 598 Special Topics: Social Network Analysis

Choose one course in applying CAS approaches (3 credit hours):

  • ANB 602 Current Issues in Animal Behavior (spring)
  • ASM 591/BIO591 Readings in Complexity (spring)
  • BIO 522 Populations: Evolutionary Ecology
  • BIO 545 Populations: Evolutionary Genetics
  • BIO 591 Topics in Mathematics for Life and Sustainability Science
  • GLG 495/598 Environmental Systems Biology (spring)
  • PAF 591 Complexity in Public Policy & Management (spring)
  • PAF 691 Social Dynamics and Policy Informatics (fall)
  • PSY 576 Dynamics in Psychology
  • PSY 598 Dynamics in Perception, Action and Cognition (spring)
  • SES 591 The Origins of Life (spring)
  • SES 598 Environmental Systems Biology
  • SES 598 Fundamentals of Complexity (spring)
  • SOS 591 Adaptation Resilience Transformation
  • SOS 591 Applied Robustness Analysis in Social-Ecological Systems
  • SOS 598 Social Network Analysis 

Choose dissertation or research with CASS graduate faculty member (3 credit hours):

  • AML/ASB/BIO/ESS/SOS 792 Research
  • AML/ASB/BIO/ESS/SOS 799 Dissertation

PhD supervisory committee

  • Certificate: At least one member of the supervisory committee must be a CASS graduate faculty.

Specific course descriptions can be found in the ASU course catalog here: https://webapp4.asu.edu/catalog/courselist [First you need to log on to My ASU.]

Plan of Study (iPOS)

The interactive plan of study (iPOS) is the student’s official contract with their faculty advisor(s), SCAS and the university. It lists all the classes the student plans to take to complete the degree and members of the student’s supervisory committee. The academic unit’s graduate support staff should be the primary contact regarding iPOS and degree requirements. It contains specific degree requirements such as core and elective coursework, as well as any culminating experience that must be included before it can be approved. 

Example plan of study for a graduate certificate in complex adaptive systems science

Each program is designed to meet complex graduate students’ specific educational and professional goals. 

Required core (12 credit hours)

TermSessionCourseClass #DescriptionHRGrade
2021 fallCSOS 57055555Fundamentals of CAS3.00B
2022 fallCAML 59155555Modeling Game Theory3.00A
2022 springCASM 50355555Evolution & Medicine 3.00A+
2021 fallCAPM 53555555Math Models in Medicine3.00A

Electives (3 credit hours)

TermSessionCourseClass #DescriptionHRGrade
2023 springCPSY 57655555Dynamics in Psychology3.00A-

Program requirement (15 credit hours) total hours (15)