Master of Arts in Environmental Design Degree Specifics - 2019/2020

Program Overview

The purpose of the Master of Arts in Environmental Design (MED) is to train prospective or practicing professionals to address the complex interdisciplinary nature of Environmental Design. Students will develop a highly individualized plan of study with a focus in design areas such as: design process, historic preservation and conservation, environment and behavior, design communication media, lighting, healthcare design, universal design, culture and design, golf course architecture, landscape reclamation, visual quality modeling, landscape restoration , interiorscapes, wellness/therapeutic garden design, landscape development systems, plant management systems, adaptive reuse facilities for tourism and recreation, site design safety, park and tourism development, design with ecological systems, green roof design and sustainable design.

The MED addresses four areas of professional development:

  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge in the area of Environmental Design Theory.
  • Development of problem solving skills within an interdisciplinary professional context.
  • Development of technological expertise and a knowledge base in a selected area of Environmental Design.
  • Advanced ability in graphic, written, and oral communications skills.

The program is planned to provide an alternative to traditional Professional Degrees by addressing the needs of students with undergraduate design backgrounds who wish to work in an interdisciplinary setting while pursuing an area of individual interest. As part of the program requirements, all MED applicants must identify a faculty member to serve as their Major Professor for the length of their studies. A list of approved faculty may be found at the end of this document or on the SPDC website.

Program Components/Plan Options

Both Thesis and Non-Thesis options are available. The purpose of the Plan A Thesis is to facilitate student endeavors related to environmental design science, conducting a research investigation, and publishing results. Plan A Thesis will also prepare the student for pursuing a Ph.D. The Non-Thesis option will allow students to explore, through planning and design, the creation and practical application of precedents, normative theories processes, technology, ordinances, philosophies, and related ideas. Such studies facilitate specialization in a planning and design topic and prepare the student with a professional area of expertise. The typical paths for the Master of Arts in Environmental Design are as follows:

Plan A – Thesis Option

Students who choose this option will develop an academic program of study with their Major Professor. The student will then present a Thesis proposal to their Major Professor and Guidance Committee. They will complete all required course work and research then write and orally defend the Thesis. To graduate, students are required to pass an oral defense covering their Thesis topic. Plan A students must complete 6 Master’s Thesis Research credits (899) in one of the following; Horticulture, Interior Design, Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, or Landscape Architecture.

Passing will determined by consensus among the committee members. Students who fail the initial report presentation may be re-evaluated the next semester after recommended changes are made. The student must meet the minimum enrollment requirement for the University during this additional semester. Students who fail a second attempt will be dismissed from the program.

Plan B Report Option

Students who chose this option will develop an academic program of study with their Major Professor. The student will complete all required course work and research then write and orally present a Report. To graduate, students are required to pass an oral presentation covering their research topic. Plan B students must complete 6 Master’s Research credits (898) in one of the following; Horticulture, Interior Design, Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, or Landscape Architecture.

A Plan B Exam option is not available for the Masters of Environmental Design.

Degree Requirements

The student must complete a total of 33 course credits for the degree under either Plan A (Thesis option) or Plan B (Report option). The student’s academic program of study must be approved by the student’s Major Professor, Guidance Committee, Associate Director and the Dean of the College. It’s in the student’s best interest to have a completed academic program of study submitted to the Graduate Secretary by the end of their first semester.

Requirements for Plan A – Thesis Option

A minimum of 17 credits at the 800 level or above, distributed as follows:

  • IDES 892: Research Fundamentals (3 credits);
  • LA 816: Environmental Design Theory (3 credits);
  • LA 817: Environmental Design Studio (3 credits);
  • LA 883 Environmental Design Seminar (3 credits);
  • Approved Elective (12-15 credits);
  • 899 Master’s Thesis Research (6 credits);
  • Complete and defend a Master’s Thesis acceptable to the student’s Major Professor and Guidance Committee.

Requirements for Plan B Report Option

A minimum of 17 credits at the 800 level or above, distributed as follows:

  • IDES 892: Research Fundamentals (3 credits);
  • LA 816: Environmental Design Theory (3 credits);
  • LA 817: Environmental Design Studio (3 credits);
  • LA 883 Environmental Design Seminar (3 credits);
  • Approved Elective (12-15 credits);
  • 898 Master’s Research (6 credits);
  • Complete and present a Master’s Research Report acceptable to the student’s Major Professor and Guidance Committee.

Transfer Credits

Students may transfer no more than 9 approved semester credits of course work, excluding research and Thesis credits. To do so, access the “Transfer Credit Administrative Forms” online at the Office of the Registrar Online Forms Menu. Credits transferred are established through the Program of Study as agreed upon by the student’s committee. Credits must be verified through official transcripts. Transferred credits must have been earned at a 3.0 or above to be included.

Good Standing

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing and avoid being placed on probation.

Sample Academic Program of Study

Fall Semester, Year I

Plan A and Plan B Students

• IDES 892 (3 credits);
• LA 816 (3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits).

Spring Semester, Year I

Plan A and Plan B Students

• Approved Elective (3 credits);
• LA 883 (3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits).

Fall Semester II

Plan A Students

• LA 899 (3 credits);
• LA 817 (3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits).

Plan B Students

• LA 898 (3 credits);
• LA 817 (3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits).

Spring Semester II

Plan A Students

• LA 899 ( 3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits);
• Oral Thesis Defense.

Plan B Students

• LA 898 (3 credits);
• Approved Elective (3 credits);
• Oral Report Presentation.

Required Academic Program of Study

All students are required to complete and submit a formal plan called the academic program of study. The academic program of study with approving signatures from the Major Professor and all Guidance Committee must be submitted to Graduate Secretary, preferably by the end of their first semester. It is strongly suggested and in the students best interest to develop their program of study as early as possible. Once submitted, any and all changes to the program must be approved by the student’s Major Professor, Guidance Committee, Associate Director of SPDC and the Associate Dean of The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The program of study may include courses related to statistical methods and research techniques. In addition, the program of study may include technology classes such as Bio-Engineering, Geographic Information Science/Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and remote sensing. Other program of study choices may include courses concerning topics addressing the student’s area of specialization and interest. Interdisciplinary seminar classes are strongly recommended. Directed independent study, readings, and term papers related to highly specialized topics also are suitable.

Advising and Guidance Committee

In both Plan A and Plan B, a student’s Guidance Committee is composed of the student’s Major Professor and other members of the Environmental Design faculty or other approved MSU graduate faculty. Plan A students are required to have at least three faculty members on their committee with at least two from MED, while Plan B students are required to have at least two faculty members. Members of the committee act as consultants, advisors and evaluators for the student’s program and research. They’ll approve the academic program of study, and approve the Thesis or Report.

It is in the student’s best interest to compose a Guidance Committee by the end of their first semester of classes so that the committee may give advice concerning course work. In forming the committee, the student is encouraged to meet with their Major Professor and develop a list of potential committee members. Students should then set up a time to meet the potential committee members. The process involves the consensus of both the student and potential committee members. The composition of the Guidance Committee will be submitted to the Graduate Secretary for approval no later than the end of the second semester of study.

The composition of the Guidance Committee (excluding the Major Professor) can change providing a member is willing to step down and a new member is found. This should be accomplished with the approval of the student’s Major Professor. A request to change the academic program of study must be submitted to the Graduate Secretary for approval from the Associate Director and the CANR Dean’s Office.

If a student’s Major Professor leaves the University or is unable to continue advising the graduate student, the student must search for a new Major Professor. If another faculty member in MED accepts the student, the student may continue their existing program of study. However, if a new Major Professor cannot be found, the student will be advised to complete their degree under the supervision of a MED faculty member assigned by the Associate Director.

Degree Calendar & Progress Checklist

Prior to Attending the First Semester of Classes

  • Activate your NetID and MSU E-mail account. MSU E-mail will be the official mode of communication. Students are advised against forwarding their MSU E-mail to other outside accounts. MSU uses e-mail for a variety of official communications related to employment, student, and safety concerns. For instance, notices regarding a tuition bill are sent to a student's MSU e-mail account. It is important to activate your NetID because your MSU account is the only e-mail account to which official notices are sent. Students use their PID and PAN for activation.
  • Attend the required SPDC new graduate orientation. Students are encouraged to participate in orientation activities offered by the Graduate School (and for international students, by the Office of International Students and Scholars).
  • Contact the Associate Director or assigned Major Professor when you arrive on campus to discuss degree requirements, plan your courses (especially those for the first semester), and to discuss other student-related concerns.
  • Register for classes. Master’s students must be registered for a minimum of 9 credits per semester (6 if hired as a Graduate Assistant) to be considered "full time". International students must register for a minimum of 9 hours to fulfill Visa requirements.

First Semester

  • Select Guidance Committee members with your Major Professor.
  • Schedule and hold a meeting with your Guidance Committee to discuss your academic and professional goals and the courses you intend to take. You may wish to discuss preliminary ideas for a Plan A Thesis or Plan B Report.

Second Semester

• Finalize your academic program of study and circulate for approval. Once you have signatures from your Major Professor and Guidance Committee the program should be submitted to the Graduate Secretary. It will then be reviewed by the Associate Director and sent to the Dean of CANR for approval. The original form will be placed in your permanent academic file.
• Prepare a written draft of your Plan A Thesis or Plan B Report. Discuss with your Major Professor and secure his or her approval prior to submitting it to your Guidance Committee.

Second or Third Semester

• Revise your proposal based on the feedback from your Major Professor and schedule a meeting of your Guidance Committee to discuss your proposal. Provide each member of your Guidance Committee with a copy of your proposal at least two weeks prior to the committee meeting.
• Schedule and hold a meeting of your Guidance Committee to discuss and approve your proposal and review progress on your academic program.
• Secure approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), as appropriate to your research by submitting the application form found online at the Human Research Protection Program.

Last Semester

Prepare for Thesis defense or Report presentation:

  • Check deadline dates for the semester as they pertain to completing the Master’s Degree at The Graduate School website.
  • Register for a minimum of 1 credit for the semester in which you plan to defend your Thesis or present your Report.
  • Check STUINFO to be sure all DFs (deferred grades) have been converted to numerical grades and that your GPA is 3.0 or above.
  • Complete and submit the on-line application for graduation at the beginning of the semester. You must apply for graduation even if you do not plan to attend the ceremony. This will circulate the appropriate paperwork to the Graduate Secretary that is needed to approve and confer your degree.
  • Obtain a copy of the Thesis/Dissertation submission packets from The Graduate School EDT website. Although it is not required that the Plan B Report be submitted to the Graduate School, it should be formatted in the same manner as the Plan A Thesis.
  • Prepare for commencements; see guidelines and checklist provided by the University.

Completion of Thesis/Report

  • Complete all required forms in the Thesis formatting guide found online at The Graduate School website (Plan A students).
  • Submit a draft of your Thesis or Report to your Major Professor and Guidance Committee at least two weeks before your defense.
  • Edit your draft, as needed.
  • Schedule a time with your Major Professor and Guidance Committee for defending or presenting your work. This will be an open session to which students and faculty in the School of Planning, Design and Construction may attend.
  • Once student has confirmed a date and time that will work for their Major Professor and Guidance Committee they should contact the Graduate Secretary to reserve a conference room. At this time the student will also provide the title of their Thesis or Report so the appropriate announcements may be sent out to SPDC faculty and students.
  • Provide your Major Professor and each member of your Guidance Committee a copy of your Thesis or Report at least two weeks prior to the defense or presentation.
  • Orally defend Thesis/Report.
  • Modify Thesis/Report as instructed by your Guidance Committee.
  • Prepare an abstract of your Thesis to be filled with “Dissertation or Thesis Abstracts”:
    • Submit a copy of your Thesis to the Graduate School via the process described at Theses and Dissertation Submissions. If Plan B Report students do not need to send a copy to the Graduate School.
    • Distribute copies of the Thesis/Report to your Major Professor, and Guidance Committee. Individual committee members may request an alternative format, such as softbound, unbound, or digital.

Final Logistics

  • Read and comply with the MSU’s Thesis/Dissertation electronic submissions to ensure that you have met all requirements and submitted all forms necessary, paperwork can be found at Theses and Dissertation Submissions.
  • Pay all final fees and complete questionnaires required by the Graduate School.

Faculty Available to Act as a Major Professor