Sustainable Design FAQ

collage camera students

What is “sustainable design”?

In MCAD's master of arts in sustainable design program, we define sustainable design as traditional design that takes a truly integrated systems thinking perspective. This means:

  1. Balancing the important factors of environment, ethics, and economy in every design.

  2. Designing appropriately for the system in which the design will exist for its entire life cycle.

  3. Designing with global and positive changes in mind: where the design leads to more opportunities, better conditions, and more innovative solutions, no matter what the design challenge may be.

About the master of arts in sustainable design

Do I need to be a designer to apply?
Absolutely not! One of the best aspects of this program is that it brings people from traditionally disparate industries together to work toward collective change.

What are the defining features of the program?
Designed for emerging and working professionals who practice sustainability in their own work, this unique program was designed by leaders in the sustainable design field. At the heart of the program lies the goal of helping people create real change now, while generating strategic plans for long-term change. This was the first sustainable design education program developed for and offered in an online format, and we continue to be pioneers with our rigorous, accredited program.

Can credits earned from sustainable design courses taken prior to being accepted into the program be applied toward the MA degree?
Yes, up to six credits may be applied.

How long do I have to complete the MA degree?
You have four years.

Are non-U.S. citizens eligible to enroll in this program?
Of course! Our program strives to foster a diverse student body that crosses disciplines, cultures, geographic boundaries, ages, gender, and perspectives. Since all courses are taught in English, international students must demonstrate a standard level of proficiency in English (TOEFL). Minimum scores required for admittance to the program are 550 (paper), 213 (computer), and 79 (IBT).

About the courses

Can I enroll in just one course?
Yes, you may enroll in single courses for college credit or non-credit. However, to qualify for MCAD’s programs, students must apply and register for a program and take all courses for credit.

How are classes typically structured?
As students participate from all over the world, our classes are asynchronous. There may be due dates throughout the week, but there are no specific meeting times for chatting. Topics, discussion, and questions about the week’s material are posted to a discussion board.

What is the largest class size?
There is a maximum of eighteen in a single class.

What is the typical workload?
Students should expect about eight to ten hours of effort per course per week.

How many courses do I need to take to qualify for financial aid?
Only U.S. citizens enrolled in the master of arts program are eligible for financial aid. Eligible students must take six credits each semester to qualify.

What advice do you have for those who are new to online learning?
We encourage people who are new to online education to take one of our introductory courses to get a feel for this type of learning environment.

About the students

In what ways are the students of the sustainable design program diverse?
In a single class you'll have students logging in from around the world. Our students are also at a variety of stages in their careers and in their lives.

How will I communicate with my instructors?
Instructors are typically reached via online meeting platforms, email, or phone. Most instructors designate “office hours” when they are available to meet virtually.

How much contact will I have with other students?
Depending on your instructor’s expectations, you may interact often or very little with your classmates through discussion boards or other platforms.