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Master in Design Studies
Postgraduate Design Research Program

Design as Research

How do we prepare for challenges that no longer conform to the boundaries of disciplines? 

If rapidly changing climates, energy flows, material economies, and migratory populations are the emerging challenges of our time, then research and design is urgently needed to enact change in new ways. The Master in Design Studies (MDes) program challenges students to understand and influence the underlying processes of what supports life today as a new generation of research-based creators, innovators and designers. Distinct from the sciences and the arts, the design research methodology involves interactive, paradisciplinary ways of learning through hands-on, cross-over research that engages the material, social, spatial, infrastructural, ecological, political, thermodynamic and planetary dimensions of design. Seeking to empower the next generation of designers and urbanists, the MDes is a research-based program that utilizes a set of novel and alternative methodologies in collaborative, immersive, and multimedia environment of students, researchers, scholars, and practitioners. The Program challenges conventional ways of learning—through action, engagement through iteration and interaction through application—in a range of labs, seminars, workshops, initiatives, books, and projects. The program is structured around a final research project: a substantial research project, addressing complex, open-ended questions, across a range of scales, that are relevant to urban life and the future of design for the 21st century. To prepare for the ambitions of this research, students in each area undertake a core set of courses including a discursive proseminar in the first semester, followed by research methods and related topical courses in the second semester.

Program Directors 
Pierre Bélanger, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Kiel Moe, Associate Professor of Architecture and Energy

How to Apply

To learn more about the admissions process, please visit Applying to the GSD. 

Contact Us

For more information on the Design Studies Program or help in identifying a concentration, contact designstudies@gsd.harvard.edu.

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2014 Prize Winners 

Gerald M. McCue Medal for highest overall academic record
Melany Sun-Min Park, History and Philosophy of Design

Dimitris Pikionis Award for outstanding academic performance
Ashley Mendelsohn, Art, Design and the Public Domain

Daniel L. Schodek Award for Technology and Sustainability 
Ana Garcia Puyol, Technology

Urban Project Prize 
Adriana Chávez Sánchez, Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology
Ashley Mendelsohn, Art, Design and the Public Domain

Digital Design Prize
Michael Degen, Technology
Jason Tucker, Technology

Peter Rice Prize
Juhun Lee,Technology
Ana Garcia Puyol, Technology

Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship
Thomas Sherman, Energy and Environments

Leadership in Real Estate Award
Thomas Schneider, Real Estate and the Built Environment

Ferdinand Colloredo-Masfeld Prize
Dan Malone, Real Estate and the Built Environment
Thomas Schneider, Real Estate and the Built Environment



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