During 1985 and 1986, under the leadership of Dean Gerald McCue, and with the guidance of Professors William A. Doebele, Carl Steinitz, and Peter G. Rowe, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design introduced a professional doctorate in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design and planning – the Doctor of Design (DDes) program.  From its first graduate in 1988, over 200 students have successfully graduated since then, contributing with original work to the growing body of knowledge in the design fields.  Senior faculty of the GSD served as program directors and many more professor at all ranks served on thesis committees, guided the doctoral research, and served as readers and mentors.  DDes thesis topics show the preoccupations of the design community during a period that witnessed fundamental shifts in education and practice, triggered in part by the emergence of the digital age.

Today the DDes program continues to thrive, offering advanced study and research in the design disciplines.  It is intended for individuals who have already mastered professional skills and now seek to make original research contributions to their fields.  The areas of study are increasingly diverse and interdisciplinary, a trend also represented in the background of the students who choose this path.

While historically a doctoral degree is one that qualified the degree holder to teach, today’s Doctor of Design alumni amply demonstrate that the value of doctoral education extends far beyond the University.  The DDes alumni occupy leadership positions not only in the academy, but also in the private sector, and in government.

DDes Program Directors

Ali Malkawi, 2021-present
Martin Bechthold, 2014-2021
Michael Hays and Antoine Picon, co-directors, 2008-2014
Antoine Picon, 2005-2008
Hashim Sarkis, 2000-2005
Spiro Pollalis, 1995-2000
José Gómez-Ibáñez, 1989-1995
Carl Steinitz, 1985-1989