Books written by MED alumni
Books written by M.E.D. alumni, many the result of M.E.D. research.

The Master of Environmental Design program is a two-year research-based program culminating in a Masters thesis. Started in 1967, the MED program remains one of the first and most intensive of its kind with a history that is particularly relevant today.

The program has long addressed environment as the aggregate of objects, conditions, and influences that constitute the constructed surroundings. Today that environmental scope informs many crucial contemporary issues from climate change and global inequality to digital ubiquity and the influence of large socio-technical organizations. A return to the origins of the program also energizes an activist conception of design. Positioned beyond client consumption or the cultural production of galleries, to design, in this context, is to create conditions for change that address urgent situations in the present.

The MED program prepares students for a critical practice in writing, teaching, curatorial work, and experimental design. It may also provide a foundation for future Ph.D. studies in architecture and related fields. The very intention of the program is to assert fresh applications of spatial practices in the broader culture and even in global governance.

The program culminates in a Masters thesis. While a scholarly text accompanies each thesis, students and advisors can tailor the final project document to accommodate the specifics of the inquiry (e,g, experimental design proposal, mapping, web archive, field guide, exhibition, etc.).

Situated to cross reference all the programs at YSOA and all the disciplines within the university, MED students have a special agency within the school. They generate a rich interdisciplinary discussion of social, political, economic, technical, and aesthetic material. During their studies, students take advantage of an extensive array of resources at Yale University. Researchers may teach and take part in symposia as well as join in collaborative projects that exercise design, curatorial, editorial, and archival skills.

Eligibility and Admissions

The MED program is intended for qualified applicants with a graduate or undergraduate degree in architecture or a related discipline who exhibit a strong capacity for independent research. The final degree of Master of Environmental Design (MED) is a nonprofessional degree that does not fulfill prerequisites for licensure.

Areas of study

In the over fifty-year history of the program, a diverse inventory of MED projects has included everything from prescient speculations about architecture and computing to studies of global infrastructure networks and landscapes to the intersections of architecture, art, and media among many other things. Students are encouraged to engage in a wide variety of methodologies, tools, and topics. Below are some recurring areas of research.

Ecologies and Economies of the Built Environment

Study of the ecological, economic, and cultural forces that shape the environment including among other things climate change, inequality, globalization, infrastructures and socio-technical organizations, settlement patterns and urban geography.

History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Urbanism

History and theory of architecture and urbanity; intersections between aesthetics and politics; architectural criticism; study of design methods; contemporary architectural culture.

Multimedia Research

Digital ubiquity; study of network geography and infrastructure; digital media as a tool and subject of research; use of digital tools in fabricating building components and visualizing data.

Visual Studies

Visual communication and representation; exhibition technologies and curatorial strategies; the role of various media in shaping architectural culture; notation and mapping techniques; design research.

Course of study and requirements

In course titles, a designates fall term, and b designates spring term. The School reserves the right to change the prescribed course of study as necessary.

The program of study is a combination of required classes, electives, and independent research. A total of 72 credits is required for completion of the M.E.D. program, allocated as 18 credits each term. A minimum of 21 credits is assigned to electives and 6 to the required M.E.D. courses. A maximum of 45 credits is assigned to independent research (3092a or b). The electives and course distribution are determined in consultation with the student’s primary adviser and the director of the program.

Course requirements for the M.E.D. Program

M.E.D. students are required to take a course in research methodologies (3091a) in the fall term of their first year and a course in architectural theory (3022b) in the spring term of their first year. All other course work is distributed among electives chosen from School of Architecture and other Yale University courses. (See descriptions of courses in the M.Arch. curriculum as well as in the bulletins of other schools of Yale University and online at Yale Course Search.) All M.E.D. students are required to take 3092a or b each term to develop their independent project.

Note: Design studios offered in the M.Arch. program are closed to M.E.D. students. Exceptions are considered only if the design studio is directly related to a student’s research, and are subject to approval by the M.E.D. chair, the dean, and the studio instructor.

M.E.D.: Total Requirement: 72 credits
First Year (Fall)

3091a, Methods and Research Workshop 3
3092a, Independent Research and Electives 15
___
18

First Year (Spring)

3012b, Architectural Theory 3
3092b, Independent Research and Electives 15
___
18

Second Year (Fall)

3092a, Independent Research and Electives 18

Second Year (Spring)

3092b, Independent Research and Electives 18

Summer preparation courses for incoming M.E.D. students

In the week before the beginning of the fall term, the School offers two preparation courses that are required for incoming M.E.D. students. (These courses are offered online during the fall term for 2020–2021.)

  1. Summer Digital Media Orientation Course. This half-day orientation covers accessing the School’s servers, use of the School’s equipment, and the School’s digital media policies and procedures.
  2. Arts Library Research Methodology Course. This course covers research methodologies and tools specific to the M.E.D. curriculum.

Advisors and M.E.D. Program Committee

Students work closely with one or two advisers on their independent project. Advisers are primarily drawn from the School of Architecture faculty. Additional advisers are drawn from other departments at the University as appropriate to the field of study. The following faculty members serve on the M.E.D. committee, which reviews all independent work each term.

Keller Easterling, Chair

Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen
Alan Plattus
Elihu Rubin

Additional Faculty from around the university who frequently serve as MED advisors and readers include:
Kishwar Rizvi, History of Art
Craig Buckley, History of Art
Fatima Naqvi, History of Art
Francesco Casetti, Film and Media Studies
William Rankin, History of Science

Academic rules and regulations

Four terms must be spent in residence. Under exceptional circumstances, and with permission of the dean and the School’s Rules Committee, students may apply for half-time status (9 credits per term), after successful completion of the first term (18 credits). The in absentia tuition fee is $250 per term. Additional procedures and restrictions for the M.E.D. program can be found in the School’s “Academic Rules and Regulations” section of the School of Architecture Handbook.
Hastings Hall
Application Deadlines
The application for the 2021-2022 school year is due on January 2, 2021.
Apply to the MED Program

Design and Visualization 3

1219a
Fall 2020
Designing Social Equality: The Politics of Matter
Mark Foster Gage
1223a
Fall 2020
Formal Analysis I
Peter Eisenman
1289a
Fall 2020
Space-Time-Form
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen

Technology and Practice 3

2018a
Fall 2020
Advanced Building Envelopes
Anna Dyson, Mohamed Aly Etman
2222a
Fall 2020
The Mechanical Eye
Dana Karwas
2242a
Fall 2020
Fighting Slavery in the Building Supply Chain
Phillip Bernstein, Luis C.deBaca

History and Theory 11

0551
Fall 2020
Approaches to Contemporary Architectural Theory
Joan Ockman
3011a
Fall 2020
Modern Architecture
Craig Buckley
3091a
Fall 2020
Methods and Research Workshop
Keller Easterling
3092a
Fall 2020
Independent M.E.D. Research
Keller Easterling
3100a
Fall 2020
The Plan
Brennan Buck
3101a
Fall 2020
Textile Architectures
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen
3102a
Fall 2020
Topics in the History of Architecture after 1945
Joan Ockman
3240a
Fall 2020
Spatial Concepts of Japan: Their Origins and Development in Architecture and Urbanism
Yoko Kawai
3267a
Fall 2020
Semiotics
Francesco Casetti
3280a
Fall 2020
Medium Design
Keller Easterling
3290a
Fall 2020
Body Politics: Designing Equitable Public Space
Joel Sanders

Urbanism and Landscape 7

4011b
Fall 2020
Introduction to Urban Design
Alan Plattus, Andrei Harwell
4209a
Fall 2020
Territorial Cities of Pre-Colonial America
Ana María Durán
4222a
Fall 2020
History of Landscape Architecture: Antiquity to 1700 in Western Europe
Bryan Fuermann
4224a
Fall 2020
Out of Date: Expired Patents and Unrealized Histories
Anthony Acciavatti
4242a
Fall 2020
Introduction to Planning and Development
Alexander Garvin
4246a
Fall 2020
Introduction to Urban Studies
Elihu Rubin
4247a
Fall 2020
Difference and the City
Justin Garrett Moore