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 final degree.

At a glance

Thesis-based program

Blended delivery

Online and classroom delivery

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.


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. Paul Galpern

    Paul Galpern

    Accepting Inquiries
    Conservation in prairie agroecosystems, Landscape connectivity and spatial genetics, Pollinator status, Urban informatics
  3. Caroline H-Vermette

    Caroline H-Vermette

    Accepting Inquiries
    Energy efficent/ energy producing buildings and neighborhoods
  4. 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
  5. Noel Keough

    Noel Keough

    Accepting Inquiries
  6. David Monteyne

    David Monteyne

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

    Alicia Nahmad Vazquez

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

    Brian Sinclair

    Accepting Inquiries
  9. Mauricio Soto-Rubio

    Mauricio Soto-Rubio

    Accepting Inquiries
  10. Joshua Taron

    Joshua Taron

    Accepting Inquiries

Admission requirements


A minimum of 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

A professional design degree from an accredited school

Work samples

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.


  • A research proposal that describes the applicant's professional work to date and the nature of the research they expect to undertake. 2,500 word maximum, including researcher's background, context of the research proposal, research questions, and broader impacts of the proposed research.
  • A funding plan that demonstrates that financial resources are available for the entire program of study
  • CV

Professional experience

5-7 years of professional experience in their discipline.

Additional requirements

Applicants may be required to participate in a formal interview.

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: Feb. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Feb. 1 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 SAPL website