Environmental Design

Environmental Design

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

This program challenges master’s degree holders to become scholars and through quantitative and qualitative research at an advanced level. Students develop and demonstrate knowledge and skills, synthesize related research findings to create new knowledge in the field, and communicate these findings to those inside and outside the field who will use and apply them.

Blurring traditional disciplinary definitions, students undertake their research in one or more areas included in environmental design. Thesis documents may incorporate detailed design interventions, policy frameworks, neighbourhood guidelines, code research or combinations of these and other results. Students will work with faculty comprised of eminent design researchers and professionals, recognized internationally for their work. Students will develop knowledge and skills as individuals and in teams, synthesize related research findings, and communicate these findings for real-world application.

Completing this program

  • Core Courses: Design Research Methods, Design Research Writing, Design Innovation
  • Additional Courses: One required elective; may include topics such as design thinking, urban infrastructure, urban design, urban systems, special topics and others.
  • Annual Progress Reports: Student progress reports must be submitted annually by the student and the supervisor.
  • Field Work and Research: Off-campus fieldwork and research may count towards the fulfillment of the full-time study and research requirement.
  • Thesis Proposal: A thesis proposal approved by the supervisor.
  • Candidacy: Students will complete both oral and written candidacy exams.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.


Academia, government/civil service, municipalities, engineering, energy resources, natural resources, environmental management, planning, urban design, research institutions, private sector.

A PhD in environmental design is usually considered a terminal degree.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Two core courses and two electives

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four 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 (https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/about/people/faculty).

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


A minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 point scale, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree. A minimum of 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 point scale for the master’s degree.


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: https://sapl.ucalgary.ca/future-students/admissions/phd.  


  • Portfolio: Provide examples of or illustrate design work, professional work, research, creative thinking, community action, planning products, or graphics and visual communication. If any of the work submitted involved collaboration with others, the applicant should clearly identify their individual contributions.
  • Examples of Writing: Provide at least one example of the applicant's previous academic or professional work such as a written essay, published research paper, major academic paper, thesis, design project, or consulting report.
  • Research Proposal: A research proposal that describes the nature of the thesis research the applicant expects to undertake. This will be used by an admissions committee as an indicator of the applicant’s ability to conduct doctoral-level research and to determine if adequate supervisory resources are available. Only if such resources are available will the student be admitted.
  • CV/Resume: A summary of your experiences in education, work, volunteering, and other relevant areas.

Reference letters


Test scores


English language proficiency

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

*Please contact your program of interest if you have any questions about ELP requirements.


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 program website

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