A diversity of formats have been used to integrate the 72-hour permaculture design course into university programs with success.There are benefits and drawbacks with each format. For students choosing a program or teachers designing one, it’s important to think about what’s right for your unique context. Learn more

Type Benefits Drawbacks Examples to check out

Most common way to fit PDC into 1 academic course

Span from 12 full days to 7 weeks in academia; 15 days over 2-3 weeks is most common

Historically how PDCs usually taught

On campus or involves travel/ residential immersion on a farm

More focused time for sinking into material

Stronger bonding, community participation & group energy

Can be closer to natural systems for observation

Encourages deeper transformative learning

Can see permaculture practiced in different contexts

Less accessible for parents & full-time workers

Long days difficult to sit through during summer

Less time for extra reading & writing

Travel-based & residential courses can be financially inaccessible

Prescott College, Env. Studies

University of Vermont, Env. Studies

Indiana University, Collins Living-Learning Centre

Maharishi University, Sustainable Living

University of British Columbia, Land & Food Systems

CU Boulder, Env. Studies

Paul Smith’s College, Env. Studies

St. Michael’s College, Env. Studies

Sterling College, Applied Sciences


Full PDC fit into 1 course on campus

All students can easily finish full PDC

Often the least expensive option for students

Fits more easily into student schedules

Evening classes more accessible for parents or full-time workers

Time constraints can necessitate a “no-frills” PDC

Short classes make field trips difficult

Field trips outside of class time often needed to hit 72 hours, requiring instructors to volunteer their time & students to juggle their schedules

Oregon State University, Horticulture

Pacific University, Art & Env. Studies

UC Santa Cruz, Kresge College

Cornell University, Horticulture

Colby-Sawyer College, Env. Studies

Greenfield Community College, Science


PDC spread over 2 semester-long courses on campus

Easily hitting 72+ hours & including extra content

More time to digest material & apply to other courses

Projects with community partners can be developed

Allows study over different seasons

PDC must be sliced into 2 self-contained units

Some won’t be able to take both courses, losing out on certificate

More expensive to take 2 courses

Energy constrained by classroom environment

Naropa University, Env. Studies

Santa Barbara City College, Env. Horticulture

North Carolina State University, Horticulture

University of Vermont, Env. Studies

UMass Amherst, Agriculture


Often involves a semester-long course plus a 5-7 day intensive course

‘Best of both’: accessibility of a semester-based on-campus course combined with group energy of an intensive Same as 2-course series University of Victoria, Env. Studies

Plymouth State University, Env. Planning

Appalachian State University, Sustainable Development


PDC earned through accumulation of several courses

Leads to completion of academically-recognized certificate

Best if you’re not looking for a 4-year degree

May not count toward university degree credit on transcript Bastyr University, Holistic Landscape Design

Merritt College, Landscape Horticulture

UMass Amherst, Agriculture

Lorain County Community College, Sustainable Agriculture


Courses taken at a distance, usually online

Often offered via Extension/ Continuing Studies

More affordable

More accessible for parents and those not living near a school

Can choose the school that suits you

Can greatly expand enrollment limits

May not count toward university credit on transcript

Less opportunity for bonding & community

Goddard College

Oregon State University

UMass Amherst

Prescott College

Cornell University

North Carolina State University

Gaia University (UK)

Last updated December 2016