The Master of Design for Sustainable Urban Environments (MDES-SUEN) combines the fields of environmental design, urban planning, urban ecology and landscape architecture. By bringing together technical and design-focused courses, the MDES program helps students understand the fields of landscape and urban design with a focus on ecological well-being and social justice – and there has never been a better time to do so. As today’s landscapes rapidly urbanize and industrialize, experts in green, just and healthy communities are increasingly in demand.

The program focuses on a number of key topics, including urban resiliency, environmental justice, and innovative approaches to public space design, and offers diverse opportunities for students to engage in related research. The City of Boston is the perfect backdrop for these fields of study and research, with its long history of global leadership in environmental design and urban redevelopment. Throughout their time at Northeastern, students have access to a number of educational, professional, recreational and cultural opportunities in the city and both inside and outside the university’s campus.

The MDES program is executed through a variety of class formats. In addition to traditional courses covering subject matter such as visualization, urban planning policy and design implementation, students will also engage in fully immersive studio-based courses. These include advanced research studios, professional seminars and ecology and technology workshops.

Program Length

The program offers two different curriculums depending on the educational background of the student. For those with a professional degree (bachelors or masters) in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Planning, there is a one-year, 36 credit hour track available. For those holding undergraduate degrees in other fields, the program is taken as a two-year, 64 credit hour track.


1-Year Program

The program offers a core sequence of introductory and advanced studio, lecture, and seminar courses in design, graphics, technology, history/theory and policy complemented by electives in related fields.

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2-Year Program

For students entering the two-year program, the first year of study focuses on mastery of core skills sets including: design; site analysis, implementation and visualization.  This includes introduction to basic earthworks, water and plants systems as well as the principles of landscape and urban ecology.

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8 credit hours of 5000-level or above electives are required for both the one-year and two-year MDes-Sustainable Urban Environments degrees.  Other electives are allowed with advisor approval.  Please read course descriptions on the Banner Class Schedule carefully to determine if a course has pre-requisites or is restricted – in general, 5000 and 6000-level courses are the most open to students from other disciplines.


ARCH 5310 Design Tactics and Operations (4)

ARTG Information Design & Visualization – Information Design History (4)

ARTG 5120 Information Design Research Methods (4)

ARTG 5130 Visual Communication for Information Design (4)

ARTG 5330 Visualization Technologies (4)

ARTE 6210 Theoretical Approaches to the Visual Arts (4)

BIOL 5499: Plant Biotechnology (4)

BIOL 5501: Marine Botany (4) plus BIOL 5502: Lab (1)

BIOL 5517: Oceanography (2) plus BIOL 5518: Lab (1)

BIOL 5519 Ocean and Coastal Processes (2)

BIOL 5527 Marine Conservation Biology (3)

CIVE 5270 Environmental Protection and Management (4)

CIVE 5271 Solid and Hazardous Waste Management (4)

CIVE 5321 Geoenvironmental Engineering (4)

CIVE 5536: Hydrologic Engineering (4)

CIVE 7262 Watershed Management (4)

CIVE 7311 Soil and Foundation Dynamics (4)

CIVE 7322 Engineering Geology (4)

CIVE 7380 Traffic Simulation, Performance Models and Signal Control (4)

ENVR 5105 Geophysics – coastal marine processes (4)

ENVR 5110 Coastal Sedimentation (4)

ENVR 5115 Advanced Topics in Environmental Geology (4)

ENVR 5120 Advanced Topics in Geology: Intro to GIS (4)

ENVR 5210 Environmental Planning (4)

ENVR 5230 Structural Geology (4)

ENVR 5248 Marine Geology (4)

ENVR 5250 Geology and Land-Use Planning (4)

ENVR 5260 GIS (4)

ENVR 5280 Groundwater Modeling (4)

ENVR 5290 Engineering Geology (4)

ENVR 6220 Applied Hydrology (4) plus ENVR 6221 Lab (1)

ENVR 6255 Introduction to Remote Sensing (4)

ENTR 6214 Social Enterprise

LPSC 6313 Economic Analysis for Law, Policy and Planning

LPSC 7312 Cities, Sustainability and Climate Change

PHIL 5001 Global Justice

PHIL 5003 Ethics, Justice and Global Climate Change (4)

PHTH 5214 Environmental Health (4)

PHTH 6200 Principles and Histories of Urban Health (3)

PPUA 5260 Ecological Economics (3)

PPUA 5262 Big Data for Cities – Visual Data Mining Strategies (3)

PPUA 5265 Urban and Regional Policy in Developing Countries (3)

PPUA 5266 Designing Participatory Urban Infrastructures (3)

PPUA Food Systems and Public Policy (3)

PPUA 6201 The 21st Century City (3)

PPUA 6215 GIS for Urban and Regional Policy (3)

PPUA 7230 Housing Policy (3)

PPUA 7231 Transportation Policy (3)

PPUA 7233 Contemporary Community Development (3)

PPUA 7234 Land Use and Urban Growth Policy (3)

SBSY 5100 Sustainable Design and Technologies in Construction (4) requires permission of instructor

Student Work


Thomas Klein
North Shore Regional Movement


Muge Undemir
Community Waterfront Initiative: East Boston

Migdalia Colon
East Boston Urban Forest Initiative

Pankti Sanganee
Hidden Valley


Brian Park
Ocean Acidification

Please visit the CAMD Graduate Studies website for detailed admission information including a listing of required application and portfolio materials as well as answers to frequently asked questions.


As an international leader in cooperative education (co-op), Northeastern offers unique experiential learning opportunities for its master’s degree students. Students in our Masters in Design for Sustainable Urban Environments program have recently worked at the following organizations:

Sasaki Associates
Studio V Architecture, NYC
Boston Harbor Association
RND Consultants, Boston
Boston University Planning and Design