Program

The College’s Masters of Science in Sustainable Design degree (MSD) is taught by faculty from all five of our college’s programs, namely Architecture, Building Construction, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning. We use the latest e-Learning tools to enhance collaborative learning between faculty, students and visiting experts along with weekly video conferences and three intensive workshops delivered on the UF campus, and international locations to create a dynamic and highly charged learning environment.

Course Structure

Semester 1 (Fall) 13 CR
International Sustainable Development
Provides an overview of international trends in reducing the environmental impacts of land development and construction. The course introduces basic sustainability principles, reviews ethical frameworks regarding sustainability, examines sustainability principles and decision-making frameworks, looks at sustainable design and construction practices, and covers international agreements in the field of sustainability. Syllabus
4 CR
Sustainable Design Problem Solving
Sustainable design can best be accomplished by learning and applying the principles of ecological systems. Present day challenges to the design professions range in scale from designing living architectural envelopes to urban and regional design at the continental scale. Learning a design process, based on the science of ecological system functions, starts with the study of how sustainable systems work in nature and adopting that model to inform our design process and the resulting patterns. Syllabus 
4 CR
Ecological Issues in Sustainability & the Built Environment (pt. 1)
This course is organized in two sections, which set the stage for the following Ecological Issues 2 course. The first portion of the course is focused on landscape ecology and conservation principles, as they relate to understanding the broader functions of natural systems, landscapes, and potential impacts from human activities.  Syllabus
3 CR
Research Design in Sustainability
Research Design in Sustainability is the first of two courses that help students in the Masters in Sustainable Design Degree Program develop the foundations for a research topic for their Thesis or Masters Research Project (MRP). This course provides a structured environment that encourages students to establish a line of research into topics that supports their particular interests in sustainability that can be successful completed in the allotted time. It emphasizes the research thinking, a review of previously completed theses, and how to develop a research topic. Thus, the course focuses on understanding what is a thesis versus a project, defining planning problems and suitable research question, understanding the types of study designs and data collection methodologies that others have used, and overall strategies for the design and conduct of research. Syllabus
2 CR
Semester 2 (Spring) 14 CR
Design Studio in Sustainability
The Sustainable Planning and Design Studio introduces design thinking and problem solving through research and the development of design proposals for a large urban site. Studio projects begin at the scale of urban watersheds and end with an understanding of issues that direct more detailed design work. The studio emphasizes the application of sustainability theories with special attention to water quality, urban scale and density, mixed-use development, infrastructure, ecosystems, and habitat preservation.
The course includes a significant research component, allowing the analysis of design precedents and site conditions to inform the design work that follows. Students are encouraged to use the studio as a foundation for their Capstone Research Project.
The studio has a required field trip to an international city known for its application of excellent sustainability practices. Syllabus
6 CR
Ecological Issues in Sustainability & the Built Environment (pt. 2)
This is the second part of a two-part course. The goal of the first course (fall semester) was to learn about 1) landscape ecology and conservation principles, as they relate to understanding the broader functions of natural systems, landscapes, and potential impacts from human activities, and 2) identifying and analyzing the natural and human characteristics of a site, and identifying opportunities and constraints for land use and development to mitigate human impacts. These topics form a critical foundation for sustainable site planning and design choices that incorporate an understanding of ecosystem processes and suitability.

In this second course (spring semester), the direct and indirect impacts of the built environment on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and landscapes are examined in more detail. Cutting edge approaches to planning, design, governance, and management that can be used to reduce negative impacts from human activities and restore ecological health at the regional, metropolitan, neighborhood, and site scales are also presented.  Syllabus

3 CR
Research Project Proposal Development
The primary objective of this course is to introduce you to research methods that support your efforts to complete a Master’s Research Project or Thesis at the University of Florida. We cover identification of topics and development of research questions; preparation of a literature review; and the identification of appropriate data sources, as well as how to collect and analyze said data. By the end of the course, you will have prepared a thesis proposal and identified committee members to serve your efforts. Please visit the Portfolio page on our website for examples of previous research by our alumnae. Syllabus
2 CR
Elective (varies, subject to instructor availability)
International Development Planning OR
Introduction to Information Systems (GIS) OR
Sustainable Urbanism in Europe
3 CR
Semester 3 (Summer) 9 CR
Capstone Research Project
The MSD program is a “Thesis or Masters Research Project (MRP) in lieu of Thesis” degree. This means that you have two equally valid formats for your Capstone research topic (our program does not differentiate between the two formats). The thesis format is strictly controlled by the UF Graduate School. The deadline for final submittal of a thesis is also one month prior to that of the MRP. The student in consultation with their committee can determine the Capstone format e.g., dimensions, typeface, placement of illustrations. Due to the format flexibility and later deadline, the MRP is the recommended format.
6 CR
Greening New Construction & Major Renovation
This is a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilizes the built environment design and construction to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders and sustainability-focused citizens. This course will arm students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to be effective communicators, project managers, critical thinkers, problem solvers, engaged leaders, and team players in the field of sustainability. Students will learn about the tools and green building technologies application for design and construction of high performance building, economics and market development associated with the application of green building rating
systems with the focus on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and successful course completion can prepare the students for LEED™ V4 Green Associate and BD+C specialty exams credentials. Syllabus
3 CR
TOTAL 36 CR

*CR = Credits
**Elective courses are subject to change