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Sustainable Design (M.S.)

Program Director: Rob Fleming, AIA, MARCH, LEED AP BD&C

www.PhilaU.edu/green 

Mission 

Building on the University’s mission to provide professional skills combined with a broad general education, the Sustainable Design program seeks to prepare students for the built environment industry by teaching specific skill sets necessary to conceptualize, measure and construct a sustainable environment. This is balanced by broader, theoretical avenues of study that emphasize systems thinking, which place the technical knowledge gained in the program into context. The program culminates with a two-semester thesis project that is meant to provide a component of depth in a specific built-environment discipline or a particular subset of sustainability.

The M.S. in Sustainable Design is a post baccalaureate master’s degree program that serves students from a wide array of disciplines that range from architecture to engineering to design to construction. The faculty members of the program are drawn from similar disciples to underscore the transdisciplinary nature of the program. The emphasis of the program is on the sustainable built environment with students exploring different avenues of study including design, entrepreneurship and policy development. This approach is supported by a curriculum that comprises four “platform” courses, followed by a collaborative studio and culminating in the thesis project. Electives are used to provide opportunities to explore related topics involving sustainability, or for a short study abroad experience. The total credit requirement for the degree is 33-36 credits and features multiple pathways for completion including part-time, full-time and online study. The program features a unique set of faculty that reflects a balance between those actively pursuing the practice of sustainable design and those who are exploring the more theoretical aspects of the discourse.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the M.S. in Sustainable Design will:

  • Apply the core skill sets necessary to accomplish an effective sustainable design project as a response to environmental, social and economic forces.
  • Provide leadership, team building and organizational skills for diverse groups through the integrated process.
  • Work effectively within groups of varied disciplines.
  • Synthesize theories of sustainability into comprehensive research and design projects.
  • Develop diversity initiatives that are integral to the sustainability problem-solving process as a reflection of an emerging global marketplace.
  • Apply ethical values to the integrated design process and to the selection of systems and materials for a built project.
  • Embrace the realities of prevalent societal structures as a base to build new enterprises focused on the optimization of environment, equity and economic goals.

Curriculum Design

The Curriculum of the MSSD Program features three teaching/learning strategies:

Lectures build an overall knowledge base about sustainability while providing detailed information on materials, construction systems, life-cycle analysis and green-building documentation metrics such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. 

Labs will develop an “informed intuition” about the relationship between the natural and built environments as a means to think and design in standard design and construction projects. 

Studios will synthesize the knowledge-base and informed intuition into larger, more complex projects that draw upon creativity, ingenuity and innovation as key approaches to problem-solving and design conceptualization. Studio-based learning incorporates one-on-one communication with faculty, group projects with other students from diverse disciplines, and a student-driven final thesis project that allows each student to conduct a specialized research or design project.

Foundation Course Requirements and Advanced Standing

Foundation course requirements will vary according to the applicant’s completed undergraduate major as well as his/her professional experience. The foundation courses are geared toward students without a background in the built-environment professions. Credits earned in the Foundation courses do not count toward the requirements for graduation. For those applicants with extensive experience in the field advanced standing of 3 credits may be awarded at the discretion of the Program Director. Applicants will be advised on an individual basis by the graduate program director prior to enrollment concerning prerequisites, required foundation courses, or the granting of advanced standing.

Degree Options

The MSSD Program offers students four ways to complete their degree: a 2-year part-time program; a 12-month accelerated full-time program; an 18-month hybrid program; and a 2-year full-time research-oriented program.

2-Year Part-Time Option

This part-time program is ideal for the working professional who is seeking to gain specific expertise in sustainable design and who wants to add credentials in this rapidly growing field. This program typically entails two nights per week of classes for a total of 6 credits. Classes begin in late afternoon or evening with 3:30 PM as the earliest start time. It is recommended that students inform their employers of their academic schedule in order to maintain a balance between the demands of coursework and office responsibilities. Students may elect to take one course per semester.

12-Month Accelerated Full-Time Program

This accelerated full-time degree program allows students to focus on green building design in an intensive educational experience. Due to the course sequencing requirements to achieve this degree in 12 months, only those with degrees and some experience in the design of the built environment will be admitted to this program. This program is not for those students wishing to work while attending school.

18-Month Hybrid Program

This hybrid on campus/online program is ideal for students who want to shorten their time away from home by completing 6 to 12 credits online prior to coming to campus. This program also relieves some of the pressure that is associated with the 12-month accelerated program because some of the credits will be already completed prior to coming to campus. The program starts online in the spring semester and summer semesters followed by 12 months on campus.

2-Year Full-Time Program

This full-time program allows students to spend the time needed to delve deeply into the more detailed aspects of sustainable design, engineering and architecture. Students in this track will be encouraged to plug into ongoing research projects as well as other grant-funded projects at the University. This track is most suitable to those students who are accepted as graduate research assistants or for international students seeking educational opportunities in this country.

2-Year Part-Time Program
Year I
Fall Semester
SDN 601 Sustainable Design Methodologies 3
SDN 603 Sustainable Systems 3
Spring Semester
SDN 602 Adaptive Design 3
SDN 604 Green Materials 3
Summer Semester
SDN ___ Elective 3
Year II
Fall Semester
SDN 611 Sustainable Design Studio 6
Spring Semester
SDN 900 Thesis in Sustainable Design I 3
SDN ___ Elective 3
Summer Semester
SDN 901 Thesis in Sustainable Design II 6

Total credit hours: 33 Credits

12-Month Accelerated Full-Time Program
Year I
Fall Semester
SDN 601 Sustainable Design Methodologies 3
SDN 602 Adaptive Design 3
SDN 603 Sustainable Systems 3
SDN 604 Green Materials 3
Spring Semester
SDN 611 Sustainable Design Studio 6
SND___ Elective 3
SDN 900 Thesis in Sustainable Design I 3
Summer Semester
SDN___    Elective 3
SDN 901 Thesis in Sustainable Design II 6
18-Month Hybrid Program

(33 graduate credits)

Year I
Spring Semester
SDN 601 Sustainable Design Methodologies 3
SDN 604 Green Materials 3
Summer Semester
SDN 603 Sustainable Systems 3
SDN 6__ Elective 3
Year II
Fall Semester
SDN 602 Adaptive Design 3
SDN 611 Sustainable Design Studio 6
Spring Semester
SDN 900 Thesis in Sustainable Design I 3
SDN ___ Elective 3
Summer Semester

SDN 901

Thesis in Sustainable Design II 6

Total Credit Hours: 33 Credits

2-Year Full-Time Program
Year I
Fall Semester
SDN 601 Sustainable Design Methodologies 3
SDN 602 Adaptive Design 3
SDN 603 Sustainable Systems 3
Spring Semester
SDN ___ Elective 3
SDN 611  Sustainable Design Studio 6
Year II
Fall Semester
SDN 900 Thesis in Sustainable Design I 3

SDN 604

SDN ___

Green Materials

Elective

3

3

Spring Semester
SDN 901 Thesis in Sustainable Design II 3

SDN ___

Elective

3


Total Credit Hours: 33 Credits