A candidate who enters the program will be recommended for the Master in Design Studies degree upon satisfactory completion of 48 units of academic work. Each student is required to complete a Master's Thesis in the form of either a Qualifying Paper or Qualifying Project (if selecting the three-semester option) or participation in MDes Open Projects (if selecting the four-semester option). All theses involve conducting independent or collaborative research in the student's area. No more than 8 units from the total of 48 may be from independent study courses and no more than 16 units from non-GSD courses.

None of the required units may be fulfilled by courses credited toward another degree.

The Area Head must approve a student's course of study and can waive requirements or make exceptions to the maximum number of units allowed through independent study or non-GSD courses.

Specific course requirements are subject to change or substitution each academic year and the MDes Degree Requirements document in place at the time of matriculation serves as the official guideline for degree requirements. Requirements by Area of Concentration are available under each area's page.

The Three-Semester Option (48 units): Qualifying Paper/Qualifying Project

  • In the spring of the first year, the student chooses the 3-semester option (deadline in April).
  • A Qualifying Paper must adhere to the protocols set out in Guidelines for the MDes Qualifying Paper. A student producing a Qualifying Paper must:
    • (a) secure a GSD faculty advisor at the end of the second semester and file a Declaration of Advisor form by the add/drop deadline in September of the third semester (For Academic Year 2017-2018: September 15, 2017);
    • (b) meet periodically with that advisor; and
    • (c) submit the paper to the advisor by the end of fall semester in January (For Academic Year 2017-2018: January 19, 2018)
    • (d) submit the final paper and signed cover sheet by the deadline in February (For Academic Year 2017-2018: February 2, 2018).
  • A Qualifying Project must adhere to the protocols set out in Guidelines for the MDes Qualifying Project. A student producing a Qualifying Project must:
    • (a) secure a GSD faculty advisor at the end of the second semester and file a Declaration of Advisor form by the add/drop deadline in September of the third semester (For Academic Year 2017-2018: September 15, 2017);
    • (b) meet periodically with that advisor; and
    • (c) secure a panel of reviewers, consisting of at least 3 GSD faculty, and present the project prior to the end of fall semester in January (For Academic Year 2017-2018: January 19, 2018);
    • (d) submit a written thesis and signed cover sheet by the deadline in February (For Academic Year 2017-2018: February 2, 2018).
  • If the student cannot secure an advisor for the Qualifying Paper/Qualifying Project then he/she must enroll in the Open Projects/Four-semester option.

The Four-Semester Option (56 units): Open Projects

  • In the spring of the first year, the student chooses the 4-semester Open Projects option (deadline in April).
  • The student must enroll in the 4-credit fall course ADV-9306 MDes Open Projects I.
  • The student must enroll in the 8-credit spring course ADV-9307 MDes Open Projects II.
  • The student may secure a GSD faculty advisor and file a Declaration of Advisor form by the add/drop deadline of the fourth semester (For Academic Year 2017-2018: February 9, 2018).
  • If no advisor is chosen, the student works within the Open Projects advising structure (OP Instructor, OP Research Tutors, Area Heads).
  • The student must present and defend the project at the MDes Colloquium in May (For Academic Year 2017-2018: May 10, 2018).
  • The student must submit a written thesis by the deadline (For Academic Year 2017-2018: May 12, 2018).

 

Preparation for Admission

Applicants to the MDes program normally hold a professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning and design. Applicants with a degree in a related discipline such as engineering, geography, computer science, or industrial design also qualify for admission. The program seeks applicants who have demonstrated overall academic and/or professional achievement in the design fields and who have the potential for advanced work in the area selected for study.

Applicants must specify which of the offered eight areas of study they wish to pursue. Each area has specific course requirements and electives and is under the guidance of an area academic advisor. The specific course work is customized to each student’s qualifications and academic and professional objectives and is constructed by the individual student in consultation with his or her academic advisor.

Residence

Three terms of full-time study in residence is required for students entering into the program during the 2017-18 academic year. During their second semester, students may elect to complete the program in three semesters (culminating in a final Qualifying Paper), or to extend their research into a fourth semester by participating in Open Projects. Students pursuing a concurrent degree are able to complete the program in 2 semesters. Requirements should be discussed with the Area Head and Program Administrator.