How do we prepare for challenges that no longer conform to the boundaries of disciplines? The Master in Design Studies (MDes) program challenges students to understand and influence the underlying processes shaping contemporary life. More
Areas of Concentration
Art, Design, and the Public Domain
The program in Art, Design, and the Public Domain seeks creative and ambitious individuals from all backgrounds with a keen interest in contemporary issues of urban, historical, aesthetic and technological culture, and with a predilection for intervention, exhibition and public work.
The MDes program in Critical Conservation extends beyond issues of age, history and aesthetics to offer a framework of theory and research tools encompassing social, political and cultural meaning.
Energy and Environments
The Energy and Environments concentration focuses on buildings and landscapes as both small and large-scale thermodynamic systems that aim to maximize energy intake, use, and feedback, achieving broad design and ecological impacts.
History and Philosophy of Design
History and Philosophy of Design is a platform for scholarly inquiry into design in the disciplines of architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture and in other aesthetic, spatial and technological practices.
Real Estate and the Built Environment
In the contemporary global economy, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design must confront the complex mechanisms of finance and economics. Real Estate and the Built Environment engages both by considering design and investment as integrally connected.
Risk and Resilience
The Risk & Resilience concentration sets out to support novel approaches to socio-spatial planning through design, and prepares students to identify, articulate and propose preemptive forms of practice.
Coupling an intensive critical and theoretical approach with practical, lab-based projects, the Technology track allows post-professional students to pursue a broad spectrum of inquiries, including design computation, digital fabrication, robotics, and the exploration of responsive environments.
Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology
MDes candidates in the Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology concentration pursue advanced studies in topics related to contemporary urbanism, landscape, geography, or territory within the broader contexts of the global, social and natural environment.
Design and design research matter in new ways today. If rapidly changing climates, energy flows, material economies, and migratory populations are the emerging challenges of our time, then the design disciplines offer unique insight on how to navigate these complex, open-ended conditions.
Distinct from research in the sciences or humanities, design research involves highly interactive ways of thinking and learning, through hands-on, cross-disciplinary, multimedia practices that directly engage the technical, material, spatial, ecological, political, economic, thermodynamic and planetary dimensions of design. Seeking to empower the next generation of designers and urbanists, the program utilizes a set of novel and alternative methodologies in a collaborative, immersive, and multimedia environment. Ultimately, MDes at GSD challenges conventional ways of learning—through field work, fabrication, collaboration and dissemination—in a range of labs, seminars, workshops, initiatives, publications, and ongoing projects whose scope and diversity are unmatched by any other design school in the world.
The program consists of three semesters of coursework. 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. During their second semester students elect to complete the program in three semesters, culminating in a final Qualifying Paper, or they may elect to extend their research into a fourth semester with an “Open Project” final design research endeavor, conducted independently or in collaboration with their peers and GSD faculty. Whether it is establish a research agenda for an academic career, retool for design practice, or enter design from an adjacent, the MDes program is a nimble and flexible program designed to amplify and accelerate the cultivation of novel approaches to design for this century. Please review further information on the program’s areas of concentration and outcome throughout the GSD website. And, if possible, please join us for our Open House events at the GSD for further information about the programs.
Inside Design Studies
Holly Samuelon (MDes '09, DDes '13), assistant professor of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, been awarded a grant by Harvard’s Climate Change Solutions Fund, an initiative launched last year by Harvard University President Drew Faust
Kiel Moe (MDes ’03), associate professor of architecture and energy at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, has been awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award for the 2016–2017 academic year.
MDes Risk & Resilience Lecture: Margarita Palacios, “The Aesthetics of Memory: Ruins, Visibility and Witnessing”
Margarita Palacios will present findings of her current research—funded by the Leverhulme Trust—regarding the transformation…
Critical Conservation student Jane Philbrick (MDes ’16) featured in “Sleuthing the Mind” exhibition and publication
Jane Philbrick, artist and current student in the Harvard University Graduate School of Design's Critical Conservation program, was recently included in the Pratt Manhattan Gallery's group show, "Sleuthing the Mind."
Horizon House was developed by a team of eight students at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and was selected First Place in the 3rd LIXIL International University Architectural Competition, held on April 20, 2013 in Tokyo. The competition focused on the concept of…