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Environmental Design Degree

What is environmental design?

If the deteriorating environment concerns you and you also have a creative streak, you are likely to find environmental design degree an exciting option. Environmental design is concerned with the impact of buildings and architecture on individuals and the natural world. The field includes planners, architects, interior designers, researchers, preservationists, and building technology specialists who collaborate to positively impact buildings, products, communities and landscapes. In today’s world, individuals face a multitude of challenges in living sustainable and healthy lives. The field of environmental design addresses these concerns of individuals and communities, so they can live a better life.

What are the degrees available in environmental design?

A number of campus based institutions and online schools offer degrees in environmental design. Following are the major degrees available in the field.

Bachelor’s degree in environmental design

The bachelor’s degree in environmental design is considered a pre-professional program for individuals who wish to enter the fields of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture. With the degree, graduates could also find some entry level positions in areas such as planning and design. The degree can have different focus areas such as urban design and planning or building architecture. Most programs cover topics related to natural designs, environmental issues, and landscaping. Although, admission requirements vary, depending on institutes, some of the major admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED. Some institutes require students to complete a year of college courses before enrolling in an environmental design program. The coursework of the degree program also varies from one institute to another, but some commonly offered courses are as follows.

  • Sustainable design strategies
  • Topics in landscape architecture
  • Master plans in urban design
  • Computing tools for environmental design
  • Construction material and methods

Master’s degree in environmental design

The master’s degree in environmental design covers a number of design theories. Students learn different approaches to make interior and architectural spaces more aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. Typically, degree programs do not cover all aspects of environmental design. Instead, each degree program has a different focus. Students can choose to specialize in areas such as urban planning, landscape, interior design, or architecture. These programs include research and also have a thesis option. Some programs have very specific specializations such as designing of offices or educational institutions. In order to acquire admission to the master’s degree, students need to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as interior design, architecture, or landscape architecture. Some master’s programs include a lot of research and require applicants to present a research proposal. Although, not all master’s degree programs have the same coursework, some major courses offered in the degree are as follows.

  • Theories in environmental design
  • Creating healing spaces
  • Strategies and analysis in research
  • Evolution of American architecture and landscape
  • Seminar in environmental design concepts

Ph.D. in environmental design

The doctorate programs in environmental design are for professionals working in building design, urban planning, or architecture. Individuals enroll in the doctorate degree to acquire further knowledge while keeping in mind the environmental factors. A major portion of the program depends on research and students are trained to conduct research in a variety of environmental design areas. Generally, a relevant master’s degree is required to get admission in the program. Those programs which do not require a master’s degree typically require students to complete certain prerequisite courses before enrolling in the program. Besides a strong focus on research, the degree also requires students to complete a dissertation. Course topics in the program differ from one institute to another, but some major topics are as follows.

  • Problems in environmental design
  • Historical perspectives of architecture, design and planning
  • The use of statistics in research
  • Methods in building design, landscape architecture and interior design
  • Research in environmental design and planning


How can I select an online environmental design degree?

If you plan on enrolling in an environmental design degree online, you will need to follow the steps below.

  • Only look for accredited online programs that are recognized by an authentic accrediting agency.
  • Shortlist the accredited programs according to your desired degree level.
  • Also research on the coursework, method of instruction, and overall cost of the degree.
  • Make sure you take alumni feedback to find out about their experience and also research on the overall repute of the school.
  • Select a school whose coursework meets your education requirements, is accredited and reputed, and offers an affordable program.

What will be my career options after getting an environmental design degree?

After getting a degree in environmental design you could pursue a number of careers related to architecture, urban planning, and development. With a bachelor’s degree program, you may qualify for entry level positions with local government. You can work as associate environmental planner, assistant planner, or a community developer. After acquiring some experience or more qualifications, you could also work as an architect, city planner, or an urban designer. Other than these, you may find a job in areas such as real estate, public administration, historic preservation, and environmental policy. Some environmental designers also work in the field of conservation, where they devise ways to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

Some common positions after acquiring environmental design degrees are as follows.

  • Environmental designer
  • Environmental planner
  • Architect
  • City planner
  • Urban designer

Important skills for environmental design:

  • Communication skills
  • Group work
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Research and presentation of findings
  • Problem solving skills
  • Understanding of planning practices and processes
  • Expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Proficiency in Computer Aided Design (CAD)

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Environmental Design Degree?

Educational institutes such as Yale University, Syracuse University and Texas Tech University are offering programs in Environmental Design. Students can enroll in a 4-year long Bachelor of Environmental Design or a 2 year long Master of Environmental Design. After completing these programs, students will be able to demonstrate application and knowledge of spatial design, space-planning and programming skills for interior and environmental design.

What Are the Requirements to Complete an Environmental Design Degree?

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Environmental Design have to complete around 120 credit hours and those enrolled in the Master of Environmental Design have to complete around 72 credits. The coursework incorporates a range of modules such as History and Theory of Sustainable Design and Planning, Theories and Designs of Urban Settlements, Planting Design and Ecology and Analog Design Tools.

How Much Can I Make after Completing an Environmental Design Degree?

After completing an Environmental Design degree, individuals can launch their careers as Architects, Environmental Planners or Community Developers. As per the income statistics published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Architects made a lucrative yearly median salary of $79,380 in May 2018. Job outlook figures reveal that job opportunities for Architects will increase by 8% from 2018 to 2028.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:I am planning to pursue an environmental design major. Can you tell me what subjects il be covering this program?

A:If you are pursuing a degree program in environmental design, you will come across a wide range of subjects that explore the field in detail. Some of the commonly studied subjects are: Urban environments, environmental planning, visions of the city, research projects, graphic communications, methods of design inquiry, and more. The curriculum will vary and depend on the degree-level you are pursuing.

Q:Can environmental design programs be pursued online easily?

A:Many colleges are offering online degree programs. You can check with prospective schools to find out what program option suits you best. The coursework of an online degree is usually covered via online lectures, videos, and conferencing. Some colleges are offering hybrid programs which entail both online and on-campus classes.

Q:How many years does it take to complete a PhD in environmental design?

A:You will need around 4 to 8 years to complete a PhD in environmental design degree. This is a post-graduate program. Alongside the coursework, you will have to take part in an independent research study and develop a dissertation. The exact duration will depend on your area of research and the institute you choose to enroll in.

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