The Doctor of Design (DDes) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is a leading doctoral degree program for highly creative and motivated professionals who wish to conduct rigorous, intensive design research.
The program is geared towards applied research that advances design related knowledge in a broad range of scales from product design to buildings and landscapes to urban design and regional planning. Common to the diverse range of DDes research investigations is the belief that design research makes essential contributions to understanding, analyzing and ultimately improving the built environment in our increasingly complex world.
DDes research is often multidisciplinary and encompasses a broad range and combination of theoretical, applied and technological topics that represent the cutting edge of applied design investigation. DDes research is intimately linked to ongoing investigations of the GSD’s research labs and programs that integrate many DDes students both intellectually and operationally as investigators in ongoing research projects.
Research topics are proposed during admission and are decided upon entry into the program. Student research should align with current faculty research interests, allowing for affiliations with faculty and, possibly, the research labs. Applicants are expected to clearly articulate their research topics in the application by submitting a concise and well-structured research proposal. Typical research areas include studies in urban design and theory, landscape urbanism, novel design techniques and technologies including material systems, design computation, and building technologies, planning and real estate studies, and theoretical investigations of emerging trends in digital design culture. Thesis topics investigate more specific issues within individual or combined research areas, and do not necessarily correspond to individual academic disciplines. Instead, they are often interdisciplinary in nature, involving faculty and resources from other graduate schools at Harvard and contribute to expanding the intellectual range of design research.
The DDes program is highly regarded internationally, and DDes alumni have become thought leaders in their respective fields. Their work promotes and advances improvements of the built and the natural environment worldwide. They hold prestigious positions in private practice, industry, government and academia.