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Sustainable Environments Graduate Degree


The Master of Design in Sustainable Environments (MDesSE) is an initial interdisciplinary degree that focuses on holistic design strategies for the production of sustainable, resilient environments and artifacts. MDesSE students and faculty constitute a highly interactive multi-disciplinary community that is deeply engaged in understanding, promoting and conceiving sustainable practices in design, planning and artistic production. Students engage in faculty-led research projects and are challenged to develop individual sustainable design strategies for issues of current relevance that conserve resources, ameliorate ecological problems and promote social, political and economic justice.

Coursework focuses on developing skills in modes of representation and information dissemination, foundational and emerging theoretical discourse, research methods and design interventions. The degree concludes with an integrated capstone experience through a student-defined thematic project. Capstone projects are situated in different parts of the world and include themes such as:

  • addressing the impact of climate change on communities and the built environment;
  • integrating informal economies within contemporary modes of urbanization;
  • developing strategies to reinvigorate waterways and enhance water quality;
  • integrating waste as a resource in contemporary infrastructures; and
  • rethinking disaster mitigation processes that promote resilience, social equity and expedited relief.

The Master of Design in Sustainable Environments consists of 35 credits, typically distributed over three semesters (fall, spring and summer); however, students may choose to distribute these credits over four or five semesters.

The degree is geared toward students with professional degrees in art (BFA, MFA), architecture (BArch, MArch), graphic design (BFA, MFA), interior design (BFA, MFA), industrial design (BID, MID), landscape architecture (BLA, MLA), planning (BSCRP, MCRP, MUP) or engineering. Students with an interest in this program but without an undergraduate background in these disciplines/degrees are encouraged to apply. Admission will be considered on an individual basis.

Graduate students can also pursue the following double degrees in the College of Design: MArch/MDesSE, MCRP/MDesSE, MFA in IVA/MDesSE and MLA/MDesSE.

Application Requirements
Curriculum *Note: Students may choose to distribute the credits over additional semesters beyond three
Course Descriptions


Seda McKilligan, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Interim Program Director
Melissa Stenstrom, Graduate Student Recruiter