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Our built environment consumes the majority of the energy and resources we use as a society; it is imperative that we design and implement approaches and practices of spatial design that cease to degrade the natural systems upon which we rely. The Master of Design Studies in Sustainable Design is a 4-semester degree that teaches students the current practices, processes and materials with which a sustainable built environment can be realized. The BAC is a national leader in online sustainable design education and the curriculum is built around whole systems thinking-the philosophy that design of the built environment should be engaged with the larger systems of nature and society.

The core curriculum covers subjects ranging from sustainable regional and community planning, healthy and green building design, sustainable policy and advocacy. With a large suite of elective course offerings, the program is highly customizable, examining energy and resource use, water and air quality and healthy materials, preservation, construction management and land use. The thesis sequence allows students to explore an independent design or research project related to their specific area of interest and their career goals.

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Master of Design Studies Sustainable Design Curriculum

is the program right for me?

If you are already part of the building industry and want to sharpen or develop your skills in sustainable design, or if you are interested in joining the effort to create a sustainable built environment, this flexible program can help you reach your goals. 

While in school and after graduation, students pursue careers as sustainability experts at design, construction and real estate firms; in sustainability roles in governmental, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations; in academia and as part of research organizations. 

Alex Wilson, founder of Building Green and a national leader in the field of sustainable design research and education, serves a senior mentor for the program. He provides guidance to students pursuing an in-depth design or research project of personal interest. 

Learn more about our curriculum

Classes that fit your schedule

The Master of Design Studies is delivered in an innovative distance format that allows students to work full time while they study. The BAC uses a range of digital tools to support and enhance online learning, including Skype, VoiceThread, and WebEx desktop sharing. Students can study from anywhere in the world, working at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Students contribute to a vital online studio culture, exchanging comments and critiques with colleagues, working together on projects, and supporting each other throughout the program. Students can continue to advance their careers while earning their master's degree, and their professional work informs their studies as their coursework feeds their professional growth.

In-person intensives bring your coursework to life

Each August, students come to Boston to study in residence for 8 days of in-person instruction, field trips, and hands-on studios. From the BAC’s central urban location, the buildings and neighborhoods of Boston serve as the student's classroom. These innovative intensive weeks give students and faculty the opportunity to build strong personal network, setting up a positive and a connected studio culture that enhances the online learning throughout the rest of the semester.

Study at a leading college of design with 125 years of experience in design education

Located in the heart of Boston's historic Back Bay, the BAC was founded in 1889 and is the largest independent, accredited college of spatial design in New England. Joining the Master of Design Studies program places you in a network of colleagues exploring careers in a common field, a cohort surrounded in turn by a faculty of experienced professionals who have established careers in design.