Sustainable Environments


The Master of Design in Sustainable Environments (M.Des.S.E.) is an advanced 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 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 (1) addressing the impact of climate change on communities and the built environment; (2) integrating informal economies within contemporary modes of urbanization; (3) developing strategies to reinvigorate waterways and enhance water quality; (4) integrating waste as a resource in contemporary infrastructures; and (5) rethinking disaster mitigation processes that promote resilience, social equity and expedited relief. The Master of Design in Sustainable Environments degree 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. Graduate students can also pursue the following double degrees in the College of Design: M Arch/MDesSE, MCRP/MDesSE, MFA in IVA/MDesSE and MLA/MDesSE.

Doctoral Degrees Offered: None

Master Degrees Offered: Master of Design in Sustainable Environments (M.D.S.)

Online Degrees: None

Master's Degree Outcomes

Career Placement Outcomes

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Contact: Meredith Foley
Phone: 515-294-0816
E-mail Address:


ISU-wide: Academic Records, GPA, Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation

Application Deadlines: February 1 for full consideration for assistantships. Applications received after February 1 will be reviewed until fall class is full.

Program Requires GRE: No

Program Requires GMAT : No

Additional International Requirements:

English Proficiency Minimum:

TOEFL Paper (PBT) 550
TOEFL Internet (iBT) 79
PTE 53
Duolingo 105

Program Will Review Without TOEFL or IELTS: No

Financial Statement: Application

Mailing Address if needed:

Mailing address: College of Design
Attn: Graduate Programs Support
146 College of Design
Ames, IA 50010