Master of Environmental Design

A research-based master’s degree tailored to recent graduates of professional architecture, planning, or landscape architecture programs — those who want to develop an area of specialization early in their career. 

As a research-intensive, thesis-based degree, emerging professionals are enabled to extend their education beyond the basic professional degree to explore an area of expertise or practice specialization that will build their CV, increase their value to prospective employers, and accelerate their career objectives.


Message from the Graduate Program Director

The Master of Environmental Design is a research-intensive degree that enables recent graduates of a professional architecture, planning, or landscape architecture degree to explore an area of expertise or practice specialization that will build their cv, increase their value to prospective employers, and accelerate their career objectives. The MeDes typically involves 4 semesters of study and can be completed in two different formats. The first is 16-months of continuous study starting in the Spring term (to coincide with a spring graduation from a first professional degree program with graduation the following September. The second format extends the four-semester program over two years with a fall start, summer break, and spring graduation the following year. 

Students in the 16-month stream typically undertake projects that contribute to one of the School’s larger industry-partnered research endeavors within the City Building Design Lab. They are also eligible to participate in the Mitacs Accelerate program, which pairs graduate research students with partner organizations for half of the duration of their degree program. The partner organization, the student, and the supervising professor develop a research project for the student to work on for one or two four-month paid internships. Students spend 50% of their time with the organization, and 50% with the university. Partner organizations are typically leading consulting firms interested in empowering their professional practice with leading design-based research.

During the application process, students identify their area of research interest and are admitted into the MeDes program under the supervision of a faculty member whose research focus aligns with the student’s interests. 

If you have specific questions or want to be on the mailing list to find out more about the program, email admissions.

 

Barry Wylant, Associate Professor, Interim Graduate Program Director


Program Structure

The MEDes involves four semesters of study and can be completed in two different formats. The first is 16-months of continuous study starting in the Spring term (to coincide with a spring graduation from a first professional degree program) with graduation the following September. The second format extends the four-semester program over two years with a fall start, summer break, and spring graduation the following year.

Students typically undertake projects that contribute to one of the School’s larger industry-partnered research endeavours within the City Building Design Lab. They are also eligible to participate in the Mitacs Accelerate program.

MEDes Requirements

Required courses address the fundamental principles and conceptual paradigms of design-based research. These courses establish a context in which students define their research project. 

Course Work

  • LAND 680.01 Design Research Methods

  • LAND 680.02 Design Research Writing

  • LAND 680.03 Design Innovation

  • Minimum two half-course electives, selected in consultation with the supervisor

Other Requirements

  • Supervisor who is a regular SAPL full-time faculty 
  • Thesis proposal approved by the supervisor
  • Submission of a thesis document describing the research
  • Satisfactory completion of the Thesis Oral Examination

For details of thesis format, submission and other regulations and forms, visit Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Mitacs Accelerate program

The MEDes can be done through the Mitacs Accelerate program. The program pairs graduate research students with partner organizations for half of the duration of their degree program. Students spend 50% of their time with the organization, and 50% with the University. Partner organizations are typically leading consulting firms with an interest in one of the School’s research themes.

During the application process, students identify an area of research interest within the Faculty’s broader research program and are admitted into the MEDes program under the supervision of a faculty member whose research focus aligns with the student’s interests.

A paid internship is part of the program. To establish the internship, the student, supervising professor and organization jointly develop a research project that the student will work on. Internships are four months long, and there may be one or two terms.

Applicants admitted to the MeDes program start in either the Spring or Fall terms. The program takes 16 months to complete, and the student spends eight months with a firm, and eight months with the university.

Student spotlight:

Digital analysis + design = award-winning sculpture

Guy Gardner of UCalgary design lab tackles innovative commission on behalf of Calgary software firm.

A shoe as a thesis project? That’s different.

Kristine Vodon

Class of 2019: Design grad takes deep dive into sustainable shoe design

Kristine Vodon successfully blends academic and athletic in her wakeskate shoe concept

Seyi Arole, Kristen Forward and Hayden Pattullo graduated with MEDes degrees as part of the Mitacs Accelerate program

Seyi Arole, Kristen Forward and Hayden Pattullo graduated with MEDes degrees as part of the Mitacs Accelerate program

Class of 2019: Students envision practical, low-carbon ways to build cities
Mitacs Accelerate program celebrates first graduates


Explore other SAPL programs

If you're interested in this program, you might want to explore other SAPL programs.

Master of Architecture
Master of Planning
Master of Landscape Architecture
PhD in Environmental Design
Doctor of Design

Explore other graduate programs

The UCalgary Future Students website provides a handy tool for comparing degrees. Learn more about this program and explore related programs.

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