Master of Science in Sustainable Design

DANA cUPKOVa Track Chair

The Master of Science in Sustainable Design (MSSD) is a post-professional research-based graduate program focused on enabling deep expertise, critical thinking, and investigation of innovative sustainable strategies for the design of the built environment.  

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

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

Edible Wallscapes (S17) | Shannon Iacino (MSSD 2017)

Program Overview

The MSSD program has long led the world in advanced building technologies that sustainably reshape the built environment. It critically engages and investigates environmental issues related to architecture and urban systems at the intersection of building science, design, and technology. 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.


  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 his or her research focus to a topic of personal and professional interest. The program welcomes applications from both research and practice-oriented candidates and currently offers two curricular options to complete the study, that can be achived in three or four semesters: View the MSSD curriculum here.


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. 

Students assisting with faculty research projects


Program Application Requirements

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. 

Application materials include a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, a CV, and a portfolio. Note that GRE scores should be received by the School of Architecture prior to the application deadline. Additionally, applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to send their TOEFL score. See full program application guidelines.

Non US-citizens may wish to review CMU’s specific provisions and policies regarding language and registration requirements for foreign students.

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.


  Ecodistricts for the Future of Mumbai  | Prerna Damani (MSSD'17)

Ecodistricts for the Future of Mumbai | Prerna Damani (MSSD'17)

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

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