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.

The main criterion for admission to the program is a well-defined research proposal for independent study that engages one or more of the study areas listed below. The proposal should outline a study plan that the candidate can accomplish in four academic terms and that can be supported by faculty expertise available to students in the MED program. Students are chosen to be one in a collegial cohort that pursues rigorous inquiries with inventive methodologies.

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

First Year (Spring)

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

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.

  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 2020-2021 school year is due on January 2, 2020.
Apply to the MED Program

Design and Visualization 2

Spring 2020
Books and Architecture
Luke Bulman
Spring 2020
Rendered: Art, Architecture, and Contemporary Image Culture
Brennan Buck

Technology and Practice 6

Spring 2020
Structuring Architecture: Form and Space
Kyoung Sun Moon
Spring 2020
Design Computation
Michael Szivos
Spring 2020
Regenerative Building: Horse Island
Alan Organschi
Spring 2020
Exploring New Value in Design Practice
Phillip Bernstein, Brittany Olivari
Spring 2020
The Mechanical Artifact
Dana Karwas
Spring 2020
Building Disasters
John D. Jacobson

History and Theory 12

Spring 2020
Architectural Theory
Marta Caldeira
Spring 2020
Abstraction and Architecture: A Critical History
Pier Vittorio Aureli
Spring 2020
Sustainability: A Critical View from the Urban History of Amazonia
Ana María Durán
Spring 2020
Landscape, Film, Architecture
Fatima Naqvi
Spring 2020
Renaissance and Modern II
Peter Eisenman, Kurt Forster
Spring 2020
Francesco Casetti
Spring 2020
Exhibitionism: Politics of Display
Joel Sanders
Spring 2020
After the Modern Movement: An Atlas of the Postmodern, 1945–1989
Robert A.M. Stern
Spring 2020
Architectural History/Theory of the Anthropocene
Esther da Costa Meyer
Spring 2020
The Polychromatic Reconstruction of Architecture
David Gissen
Spring 2020
The Idea of an Avant-Garde in Architecture: Reading Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth
Joan Ockman
Spring 2020
New York as Incubator of Twentieth-Century Urbanism: Four Urban Thinkers and the City They Envisioned 
Joan Ockman

Urbanism and Landscape 7

Spring 2020
Globalization Space: International Infrastructure and Extrastatecraft
Keller Easterling
Spring 2020
Port Cities
Alan Plattus
Spring 2020
Introduction to Commercial Real Estate
Kevin Gray
Spring 2020
History of British Landscape Architecture: 1600 to 1900
Bryan Fuermann
Spring 2020
Ghost Towns
Elihu Rubin
Spring 2020
Case Studies in Urban Design: Hudson Yards—Why, How, and What Else?
Michael Samuelian
Spring 2020
Cartographies of Climate Change
Joyce Hsiang