M.S. in Sustainable Design

Philadelphia University

Program Description

M.S. in Sustainable Design

Philadelphia University

M.S. in Sustainable Design

The M.S. in Sustainable Design is an award winning graduate program where students and faculty work to make the world better through smart, desirable, feasible and marketable innovation. The MSSD curriculum features original courses developed by leading sustainable designers and engineers. Students work with faculty to apply their creativity to real world sustainability problems. We now offer on campus and fully on line options.

Degree Options

The program’s curriculum is a combination of lectures, labs and studios, where students build their knowledge base and then synthesize their learning in large complex, and oftentimes, real-world sustainability projects.

Once you are accepted into the program you can review what option that is the best fit for you with your advisor. Below are brief descriptions of the degree options for your consideration.

Online Program

The fully online MS in Sustainable Design program at Philadelphia University features the same learning outcomes as the award winning on-campus program with a flexible and convenient course structure while offering experience in collaborating in online digital environments.

12-Month Accelerated Full-Time Program

This 12-month accelerated full-time degree program allows students to focus on green building design in an intensive educational experience. Due to the course sequencing requirements to achieve this degree in 12 months, only those with degrees and some experience in the design or engineering of the built environment will be admitted to this program. This program is not for those students wishing to work while attending school.

2-Year Full-Time Program

This 2-year full time program allows students to spend the time needed to delve deeply into the more detailed aspects of sustainable design, engineering and architecture. Students in this track will be encouraged to plug into ongoing research projects at the Engineering and Design Institute as well as other grant funded projects at the University. This track is most suitable to those students who are accepted as graduate research assistants or for international students seeking educational opportunities in this country.

18-Month Hybrid On-Line/On-Campus Program

This track is ideal for those who live far away or for those who would like to lessen the workload of the accelerated program. Students take 6 - 12 credits on-line starting in the January before attendance on-campus in the fall semester. In this way, the on-campus experience is limited to 9 credits each semester or less - a normal graduate level course load. This allows international students to spend one calendar year away from home, which saves time and money. stundets wishing this track should apply to the on-line program and then transfer into the on-campus program.

2-Year Part-Time Option

The 2-year part-time program is ideal for the working professional who is seeking to gain specific expertise in sustainable design and who wants to add credentials in this rapidly growing field. This program typically entails two nights per week of classes totaling six credits. Classes begin in late afternoon or evening with 3:30 p.m. as the earliest start time. Students may elect to take one course per semester.

Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Practices

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Practices Program is geared towards working professionals seeking to build their knowledge base and credentials in the field of sustainable design, engineering and construction of the built environment. This 12 credit program offers a wide array of critical skills including the LEED® rating system, development aspects of green building, the basics of energy modeling and life cycle assessment.Credits earned in the Certificate Program can be transferred into the MS in Sustainable Design program. Interested students must submit an application to the appropriate master’s option (campus-based or online) and meet all admission criteria.   

Core Values

Transdisciplinary Learning

The curriculum reflects the range of skill sets needed to attack the complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability projects. Our diverse faculty also reflects this interdisciplinary environment and have backgrounds ranging from architecture to engineering to design to construction management.

Equity and Diversity

The program seeks to build an equitable learning environment, one that acknowledges that there is no "norm," no "cultural fabric" to "fit into" but rather a diverse learning environment that encourages students to find comfort in being different. Students are free to pursue their full potential as individuals ready to transcend traditional ethnic/cultural borders.

Integrated Design Education

The Program challenges the status quo of standard design and engineering education, by immediately introducing students to experts, design options and creativity through the integrated design process. Open source learning is encouraged and “ownership” of ideas is downplayed so collective solutions to complex sustainability problems can be the focus.


The program features hands-on, active learning by challenging students to design, quantify and build their ideas.

Activism and Leadership

Today, the world is searching for people who can demonstrate leadership, people who can initiate and maintain projects that will positively impact the world. Sustainability requires action, but not without a context of purpose. Activism can be a powerful tool when applied to grassroots movements. Students in the MSSD Program can use their thesis project as a springboard for future career based initiatives.

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

The program focuses itself on teaching the importance of relevant creativity, applied engineering and economic feasibility. Students are prompted to think as sustainability professionals must, and are required to consider the realities of prevalent economic structures as a basis to for building a new green economy focused on the environment, equity and enterprise.

Authentic Sustainability Curriculum

Unlike many programs, which cobble together a series of existing non-green courses to resemble a sustainability program, the MSSD curriculum was developed from scratch by a team of experienced sustainability professionals and educators.

A Center of Green Activity

The program is taught in a dynamic environment that is deeply connected to the green community. Students routinely find opportunities for internship, volunteer activities and job placement.

Tuition fee - 2011-12 academic year: $892 per credit

Financial Aid: At Philadelphia University, we are committed to making a high-quality, professional education affordable for every qualified student. If meeting educational costs is a concern, we encourage you to apply for financial aid, regardless of family financial circumstances. Many of our graduate students receive aid in the form of loans, assistantships and/or scholarships.

This school offers programs in:
  • English
Duration & Price
This course is Campus or Online
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
1 - 2 years
Part time
Full time
892 USD
Start date Sept. 2017
USA Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 - 2 years
Price 892 USD
per credit