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Environmental Design


Environmental design programs prepare people to design public and private spaces that take into consideration environmental factors. This program is sometimes called environmental planning.

Environmental design programs include topics such as:

People with a degree in environmental design often work for consulting, architecture, or planning firms.


Several colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree program in environmental design. Some environmental design programs are offered as a concentration in an architecture program. A bachelor's degree in environmental design usually takes five years to complete.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in environmental design. Master's degree programs are common. A master's degree typically takes two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree in environmental design or architecture. For those who have a bachelor's degree in another subject area, a master's degree may take longer than two years. Doctoral (PhD) programs require two or more years of study beyond a master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

For this program, schools recommend that you know how to use a computer and the Internet. Proficiency with graphic design software is especially helpful.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

In addition, most schools encourage you to participate in internships with local architecture or design firms. Opportunities with city and state government planning agencies are also usually offered.

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

Things to Know

Summer sessions and study abroad options are available in many programs in environmental design and architecture.

When undergraduate programs require applicants to submit a portfolio, it can include various types of creative work from high school, hobbies, clubs, volunteer work, and community projects.

Environmental designers and architects begin to develop their professional portfolio during college. You can include samples of work from team or independent projects. Usually the senior project is completed independently and becomes an important part of the portfolio.

Many states require that architects work as interns for a period before taking the licensing exam and claiming the title of architect. Project work during internships also becomes important to your portfolio.

Sometimes, a master's degree in environmental design can be combined with master's degrees in landscape architecture, urban planning, or law.


East Side Area

Washington State University - Pullman

King-Snohomish Area

University of Washington - Seattle

West Side Area

Evergreen State College, The

Western Washington University