The Master of Science in Sustainable Design (MSSD) is a post-professional research-based graduate program focused on enabling innovative design solutions through deep technical expertise and critical thinking.

Associate Professor & MSSD Track Chair

Program Overview

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Pittsburgh's Storm Waters (F17) | Amy Rosen (MSSD 2017)
Pittsburgh's Storm Waters (F17) | Amy Rosen (MSSD 2017)

The MSSD offers an integrated education that strives to prepare its graduates for careers that will reshape the built environment. The MSSD program engages socio-ecological and environmental issues related to architecture and urbanism at the intersection of design, building science, and technology. This program welcomes applications from both research and practice-oriented candidates.

The MSSD program explores technical and multicultural aspects of ecological thinking, while enabling actionable expertise in sustainable design methodologies. Based in the legacy of sustainability teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, the MSSD program investigates research-based design innovation strategies, prepares students to excel in research methods, and to become experts in integrative design thinking for the future of the built environment.

Resources

Graduate students in MSSD and sustainability-focused programs work side-by-side in the Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace, benefiting from one another's experiences—as those experiences are specialized and distinct. MSSD candidates have access to the School of Architecture and Carnegie Mellon University’s world-class research environment and facilities, including state-of-the art Design Fabrication and Applied Architectural Robotics Lab. This facility operates within the Design Fabrication Lab (dFAB) and serves as a hub for faculty and student collaborations. 

Educational & Professional Qualifications

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Sentient Concrete | Dana Cupkova & Daragh Byrne (Faculty Research Project)
Sentient Concrete | Dana Cupkova & Daragh Byrne (Faculty Research Project)

The MSSD program welcomes applications from both research and practice-oriented candidates with backgrounds in such areas as architecture, engineering, computer science, landscape architecture, interdisciplinary studies, biology, design, and planning. Qualified candidates must demonstrate a familiarity with the basic concepts of sustainability. We seek students who are critical thinkers, are intensely curious about the built environment, are committed to positive change, and who are not afraid to push the envelope and take risks. This program is designed to accompany and enhance degrees related to the built environment, including architecture, landscape architecture, ecology, engineering, construction, interior architecture/ design, and others. 

The MSSD Advanced program welcomes applications from both research and practice-oriented candidates and features a four-semester (two academic years) curriculum. For candidates with extensive professional experience in design practice of eight years or more we offer the MSSD Applied program, which can be completed in three semesters.

Interested applicants should feel free to contact Dana Cupkova, the track’s chair, for questions concerning academic aspects of the program. Applicants interested in obtaining information about financial aid packages should visit the Carnegie Mellon Financial Aid website.

Program Details

Residency Requirement

The MSSD Advanced program is a two-year (4 semesters) program with a minimum residency of three (3) academic semesters at full-time status (36 units). The MSSD Applied program is a 1.5-year (3 semesters) program with a minimum residency of two (2) academic semesters at full-time status (36 units).

Graduation Requirements 

In addition to the standard requirements for all graduate students in the School of Architecture, students in the MSSD program must satisfy the following:

  • MSSD Advanced students must complete a minimum of 159 units of coursework.

  • MSSD Applied or (G)AMP students must complete a minimum of 135 units of coursework.

  • All MSSD students must take at least one (1) selective from each category as noted on the curriculum chart, with a cumulative total of 36 units.

  • All MSSD students are limited to a maximum of 54 units per semester.

  • All course selectives and substitutions must be approved by the program Track Chair.

Program Curriculum

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Algae Bioreactor as an Integrated Building Facade (S17) | Fauzan Wassil (MSSD 2017)
Algae Bioreactor as an Integrated Building Facade (S17) | Fauzan Wassil (MSSD 2017)

MSSD's intensive curriculum is structured as a combination of critical thinking inquiry with technical skills and design-research classes based in the School of Architecture and offered across Carnegie Mellon University. The curriculum stresses the importance of design and technology integration, value of total-building performance, human-centered design, large scale ecology, and natural systems knowledge within the design processes. Classes provide both depth and breadth, while the culminating Synthesis Thesis Project allows each individual student the opportunity to narrow their research focus to a topic of personal and professional interest. 

The program welcomes applications from both research and practice-oriented candidates and offers a four semester / two academic years curriculum to complete the study. For candidates with extensive professional experience in design practice of eight years or more, this degree could be achieved in three semesters.

MSSD Advanced Curriculum

MSSD Applied Curriculum

Program Faculty

Assistant Teaching Professor

Associate Teaching Professor

Assistant Professor, DEI Director & DDes Track Chair

Associate Professor & MSSD Track Chair

Professor Emeritus

Professor & Head

Teaching Professor

University Professor

Assistant Professor & PhD-Arch Track Chair

Assistant Professor in Building Technology & BPD Track Chair