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Sustainable Design Degree

With rapid urbanization the appropriate designing of resource-efficient cities and metropolitan regions is becoming increasingly important. A sustainable design program helps students understand the practices, processes and materials with which they can cater to this growing need of sustainability in a healthy environment.

Various universities are now beginning to appreciate the growing market for this field. To meet this demand, they have started offering programs designed to help students understand the application of physical, biological, and social sciences in the designing of sustainable cities.

Different degree levels are available to students, depending on the amount of time and money they are willing to invest in this program. They can go for a foundational level degree in the subject, which could include a 4-year bachelors program or a 2-year associate degree. But in case of sustainable design programs, higher qualifications are usually necessary.

Sustainable Design Graduate Programs
Most professionals in this field hold higher level qualifications than undergraduate programs. The complex nature of the sustainable design courses makes the attainment of higher qualifications a near necessity for individuals in this field.
Masters in Sustainable Design
A master’s in sustainable design program offers a way for prospective students to gain in-depth knowledge about cutting edge theories, practical applications and leadership strategies of sustainable design. The program typically lasts for 2 years after your bachelor’s degree.
A sustainable design masters program exposes students to advance topics in environmental studies, and aims to close the gap between business and the environmental sciences. The coursework included in this program revolves around subject areas such as introductory level sustainable design, systems thinking, innovation tools and techniques, creative leadership, practice of sustainability design, biometric design, and visual communications and so on. Typically a master’s program would culminate with a thesis project that will test the intricacies of the knowledge gained by students throughout the program.
Through a master’s program in sustainable design, you stand to gain understanding and knowledge from a variety of perspectives. This program will aim to do the following:


  • Transform your understanding of sustainable design
  • Add theoretical and practical depths to your basic understanding of sustainable design concepts
  • Claim distinctive areas of expertise
  • Reinvigorate your love for transformation
  • Develop new skills and abilities

PhD in Sustainable Design
A PhD in sustainable design offers highly advance level studies into the concepts relevant to sustainability change. This multidisciplinary program is formulated for students who are driven to become sustainability change agents within organizations worldwide. This includes industry, executive and legislative branches of government, nongovernment departments, academic institutions, financial and investment communities, professional associations and legal professions.
The skills gained from a PhD in sustainable design degree are highly diverse in nature. Students gain a strong grasp on the concepts of development of sustainable products and manufacturing systems, economics of stability, industrial ecology and risk analysis of sustainable systems. They are also made to study concepts such as life cycle assessment, design for the environment, closed loop supply chain management, pollution prevention, environmental risk and impact assessment and so on.
For a PhD program, different universities have different requirements. There might be some universities that accept students with a bachelor’s degree while others might only accept students with a master’s degree.
With the focus on research methodologies and techniques, sustainability design students might develop standard skills such as:

  • Identifying intricately hidden problems
  • Formulating and testing hypotheses
  • Using statistical, econometric, and geographical information system techniques to create and understand datasets
  • Building and applying models

As for the coursework requirements, they will vary according to your previous educational qualification. For instance, if you enroll with a bachelor’s degree in hand, you will be required to spend more time on core area courses. Your credit hours required per semester would also be higher than in the case of enrollment with a master’s degree. With both options, though, you will be required to complete a set of core courses, workshops, research, dissertation and certain electives.
Certificate in Sustainable Design
To earn a certificate, students are typically required to complete six courses in a given program and maintain a minimum cumulative average. Different institutions offer different programs, but on a general note, around 30 courses are required to be completed in sustainable design principles and practices. To be eligible for enrollment in this program, most institutes will require a bachelor’s degree, though students who do not have a bachelor’s degree might also have some options available to them.
The subject matter studied as part of a certificate program would include sustainable design, urgent and hopeful future of sustainable design, resilient design, day-lighting and electric lighting, site design, landscaping and site water issues, environmental systems, sustainable neighborhoods, greening existing building and energy modeling in building design.
Online Sustainable Design Degree
An online sustainable design course is fast becoming a popular choice among students, especially working adults. People who are working full time jobs and do not have the time to go back to college, are finding this option, quite a convenient outlet.
An online degree in this subject is suitable for someone who is already part of the industry and wants to sharpen or develop skills in sustainable design. If not that, then people who are interested in contributing to the creation of a sustainably built environment as sustainability officers, authors, researchers, consultants or advocates, can also opt for an online program for career progression.
There are several universities that offer fully online programs in sustainability design. Many courses offered under these programs are approved by the AIA, the GBCI and the RIBA. If you are looking for an online program in sustainable design, make sure you check for the relevant accreditations.
Career Paths for Sustainable Design Majors
There are a number of career paths you could adopt with a degree in sustainable design. A large number of industries now look for individuals with a solid understanding of environmental impact of business practices. You could become a part of the product and furniture industry, graphics and illustration, branding, PR and advertising, 3D design and craft, design education, ecology and natural sciences and so on.   


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Can you tell me what are hybrid sustainable design programs?

A:A hybrid degree in sustainable design is covered on-campus and online. Students are required to cover a certain portion of the curriculum online. For hands on experience, research projects, and thesis development, students may have to take a few classes on-campus. This mode of learning is flexible and can be tailored to meet the busy lifestyles of working individuals.

Q:Can you name a few of courses covered in sustainable design graduate programs?

A:A graduate degree in sustainable design will help you learn about the practice and theory of sustainable design. You will learn about the latest practical applications used in this field and will cover important topics such as: systems thinking, innovation tools and techniques, creative leadership, global design challenge, product design, and more.

Q:What is the learning objective of a sustainable design program?

A:In a sustainable design degree program, you will learn how the applications of physical, biological, and social sciences are used in the design of sustainable cities and regions. The program will highlight implications of policy making, social justice, and the potential future of environments. sustainable design can be pursued as an academic discipline at undergraduate and graduate level.

Q:What introductory courses are covered in a masters in sustainable design degree?

A:A masters degree in sustainable design will provide students with in-depth knowledge and skills. During the initial semesters of the program, the following introductory courses are typically covered: principles and methods for sustainable design, sustainable systems, landscape ecology, adaptive design, and life-cycle assessment. Please remember that the exact curriculum may vary slightly from college to college.

Q:Are sustainable design masters programs offered online as well?

A:Yes, a number of colleges are offering online masters programs in sustainable design. The coursework is covered online through lectures, classroom conferencing, videos, and multimedia resources. Students who are working full-time and cannot manage on-campus studies are recommended to opt for online programs. This mode of learning is cost-friendly, flexible, and convenient.

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