Master of Design

The Master of Design is an advanced degree in architecture and design, designed for mid-career professionals seeking further study of a particular area of technical or scholarly interest, or new graduate students who do not seek a professional architecture degree but, rather, advanced interdisciplinary study in architecture and related fields. The interdisciplinary program introduces students to knowledge in a specialized area as well as to modes of research/practice in architecture, design, and related disciplines. It also provides mid-career professionals, as well as graduates with degrees in fields related to architecture (such as history or engineering) the opportunity to pursue advanced architectural design and scholarship.

The degree is a 36-credit-hour (minimum) intensive course of study. Students can elect a concentration in Historic Preservation or Design Studies, or develop an independent “area of knowledge.” A faculty adviser affiliated with that area or option guides the student.

The program requires each student to develop a research focus that draws from disciplines and departments across the university and the Five Colleges, working in concert with the Program Director, the Graduate Program Director and/or a faculty member who is the student's designated advisor. The program, designed as a terminal degree, should take a full-time student four semesters. Some exceptionally well-prepared students may be able to transfer in up to six credits of previous course work, and finish the program in three semesters. Funding opportunities are limited, and most students should be financially able to complete the program without relying on assistantships.

Historic Preservation Concentration

This concentration affords an opportunity for advanced study in traditional building materials, preservation theory, and building systems. Applicants to the Master of Design Historic Preservation are required to submit transcripts, a personal statement, GRE scores and three letters of recommendation and three letters of recommendation. All application materials must be submitted by January 1st for fall admission only.

Design Studies Concentration

This concentration allows those with professional degrees in architecture, interior design or closely related areas the opportunity for advanced practice and research that is expected to add to the body of knowledge in the discipline of architecture and design. Potential research areas include design practice, computer applications in architecture and interior design, and environmental factors related to design.

Applicants to the Master of Design are required to submit transcripts, a research proposal outlining a proposed area of study and three letters of recommendation. The research proposal may be supported be a portfolio or representations of work.


For the Master of Design degree, students must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours. All students must complete coursework in history, technology, practice or research methods, studios, and electives related to the concentration. All course selections are made on the basis of area specialization and in consultation with the student’s major adviser.

Depending on the concentration and the requirements of the adviser or the advisory committee, students in the Master of Science in Design program may choose between options: 1. Coursework only (non-thesis option) and 2. Coursework with a Master’s Thesis (thesis option).

Master’s Thesis students work under the guidance of a project adviser who, along with an advisory committee, will approve the plan of study, assist with the project, and form the examination committee. The Master’s Thesis includes both a written document and a project that demonstrates the ability of the student to creatively apply research to a design situation. The final examination is based on coursework and/or project work as determined by the examining committee.