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Doctor of Design (DDes)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

The Doctor of Design (DDes) creates a place for professionals to explore design solutions to major societal issues: the climate crisis, automation and digitization, social inequality and other challenges emerging in our urban environments. 

The DDes is a terminal academic credential catering to mid-career professionals with at least five years' experience in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and related disciplines. Graduates of the program will bring an enhanced skill set with valuable, fresh expertise to their disciplines and practices, ultimately benefiting their clients and society as a whole. The DDes credential will also prepare design professionals to explore opportunities teaching in a post-secondary program.

The DDes is designed to meet the needs of busy professionals interested in pursuing an academic credential without having to step away from their practices for extended periods. Students may carry on their professional activities while completing the program. Symposia are held over long weekends every spring and fall, giving students opportunities to engage with colleagues and a wide range of experts. 

Applicants should apply early. Significant professional experience will be considered in lieu of a graduate academic degree.

Completing this program

  • Core Courses: Design practice research project, Contexts of design practice research and Strategies for design practice research.
  • Thesis research proposal: Students must submit a written proposal describing the project and its relation to professional practice.
  • Candidacy: Students will complete a Field of Study (FoS) oral exam.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.
  • Exhibition: The thesis will be presented through a public exhibition along with an oral presentation and thesis defence.


Architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, government/civil service, municipalities, planning, research institutions, private practice.

A DDes in design is usually considered a terminal degree.

At a glance

Thesis-based program

Time commitment

Three years full time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, but is not required prior to the start of the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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For our thesis programs, we can only offer admission to applicants who we can match with a supervisor. We don’t require applicants have a confirmed supervisor upon application, however it’s strongly recommended to reach out to any professors whose research interests match yours. You will be asked to list the names of a few professors you feel are a good fit in your online application form.

Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Enrica Dall'Ara

    Enrica Dall'Ara

    Accepting Inquiries
    Landscape Architecture
  2. Thomas P Tom Keenan

    Thomas P, (Tom) Keenan

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social Implications of Technology, Privacy and Security, Smart Communities, Technocreepiness, Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare, Non-financial Applications of the Blockchain
  3. David Monteyne

    David Monteyne

    Accepting Inquiries
    architectural history, history of architecture, urban history, urban studies, environmental design theory
  4. Dr Alicia Nahmad

    Alicia Nahmad Vazquez

    Seeking Students
    Computational Design, Robotic Fabrication, Human-Robot Collaboration, Machine Learning, Digital Design and Fabrication
  5. Brian Sinclair

    Brian Sinclair

    Accepting Inquiries
  6. Mauricio Soto-Rubio

    Mauricio Soto-Rubio

    Accepting Inquiries
  7. Joshua Taron

    Joshua Taron

    Accepting Inquiries
  8. Sasha Tsenkova

    Sasha Tsenkova

    Accepting Inquiries
    housing policy and housing market performance, planning sustainable communities
  9. Placeholder Profile Image

    Barry Wylant

    Accepting Inquiries

Admission requirements


An admission grade point average (GPA) above 3.50 on a four-point scale. In some circumstances, alternate means of demonstrating academic capacity will be accepted for mature applicants who have been away from academia for an extended period of time.

Minimum education

A professional design degree from an accredited school


All documents should be submitted in digital form (.PDF files), uploaded by the applicant to their Student Centre, following submission of their online application. Additional descriptions, specifications, and details about the application documents can be found on the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape website at:


  • Portfolio: A digital portfolio providing examples of or illustrating the applicant's design work, professional work, consulting reports, policy reviews, research, creative thinking, community action, planning products, or graphics and visual communication.
  • Research Statement Outlining the applicant's ability to conduct doctoral-level, creative, design practice-based research. 

    The research statement (max 2,500 words) should include:

    • the applicant's reasons for pursuing the DDes degree;
    • description of the area of practice the applicant is interested in and the opportunity or problem within that area that the applicant wants to explore;
    • a description of the researcher's professional background and how it prepares them to undertake their research;
    • a description of the potential impact of the proposed research.

The research statement will be used by the Admissions Committee to determine if adequate supervisory resources are available. In no case will a student be admitted if an appropriate supervisor is not expected to be available.

  • CV/Resume: A current copy of curriculum vitae (CV).

Professional experience

Minimum 7 years of professional experience in their discipline.

Additional requirements

Applicants are required to participate in a formal interview (either in person or online) with the Graduate Program Director or their designate.

Reference letters


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on September 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: May 31 application deadline
  • International students: May 31 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Professional Faculties Building, Room 2182
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the program website

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