Master of Design in Ecologies

The Master of Design in Ecologies (MDes) program is comprised of four semesters of coursework in which applicants select one of four domains of study and complete a core set of related topical courses. The MDes curriculum focuses on collaborative advanced research through open projects. Students develop a unique trajectory, drawing on course offerings from the GSD and other schools. The coursework is structured to help students build on their interests while maximizing the value of the program.

Master of Design in Ecologies

The Master of Design in Ecologies programme develops critical thinking about the complex socio-ecological systems. It emphasizes the need for a collaborative design approach between social and ecological systems. The modules will introduce students to the concepts, principles and practices of ecological design thinking. They will also learn how to apply design principles and practices to a given project. The course will also help students develop their own ecological philosophy.

The MA programme consists of five modules. Four taught modules are timetabled, while the dissertation module is a research-based project. Students must live on-campus and participate in a learning community. The dissertation research and writing period lasts four months. Some students choose to spend the dissertation period in their home country.

The curriculum combines design and ecology and focuses on the intersection of urban and ecological systems. Students learn about the forces that affect cities and develop design strategies that benefit communities. The coursework is also interdisciplinary, allowing students to explore a variety of subjects. Students will work with local communities and design solutions that improve the local environment.


The first step in applying to the MDES program is a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. While post-baccalaureate work experience is not required, prospective students are encouraged to have at least one to three years of relevant work experience before they begin their degree program. A strong applicant for the program will have extensive prior experience in a relevant field, as well as a demonstrated interest in human-centered design. Other desirable prerequisites include a background in an engineering discipline or business.

The University of California Berkeley’s MDES program has specific admission requirements and is not a rolling admissions process. Applications are accepted only once per academic year and should be submitted by the application deadline. The University of California Berkeley Graduate Admissions office will publish the application opening date on their website. The application process will require an interview, during which students should be prepared to explain their qualifications and motivation for pursuing the program.

The MDES program emphasizes interdisciplinary work and research-driven design practice. Students develop individual research agendas and study plans. During their first year of study, students identify topics for their thesis, conduct research on possible research methods, and secure a thesis advisor. Second-year students write the thesis proposal.


The MDes program consists of four semesters of coursework, during which applicants choose one of four domains to specialize in. Within that domain, students complete a core set of courses, including research methods and related topical courses. This individualized track builds upon course offerings at the GSD and other schools, as well as the individual interests of the student. Coursework for the MDes focuses on collaborative advanced research in the form of open projects.

The MDes program’s pedagogical objective is to prepare students to design interventions in the built environment. It provides students with the tools and knowledge needed to think critically about design. In the first semester, students study the principles and practice of design, before moving on to more advanced topics, such as social innovation and service design. Students will also take studios and labs, and are given ample autonomy to develop their projects.

The MDes curriculum, which is offered by the Institute of Design, aims to prepare students to address complex challenges and issues. Graduates of the program are prepared to tackle these challenges with sharp insight, tangible options, and actionable directives. The curriculum is broken down into three stages, each consisting of groups of courses that are designed to provide the greatest educational impact.

Design thesis

The Design thesis for the MDes program consists of a research project, and students are expected to conduct interdisciplinary research in the subject area. Students engage in research methods during the first semester in collaboration with faculty and fellow students at the Ullman School of Design. The research project culminates in a written thesis and an exhibition of the design realisation. The topic of the research project is up to the students’ imagination and interest, but it should be relevant to their career goals. Throughout the entire process, students are provided with full support and guidance from their faculty supervisor.

The MDes Interaction Design program is an intensive one-year program, and students gain valuable experience in sustainable, ethical, and research-driven design. During this year, students create and present prototypes of projects that they have completed as part of their thesis. They are expected to present their research and ideas to an audience of peers.

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