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Sustainable Design & Construction Master’s Degree Tracks

Master of Science Degree

Graduating from Stanford’s Sustainable Design & Construction program means you have the expertise to pursue various career paths in the built environment.  Alumni have gone on to join top tier companies in the AEC industry or start their own.

Many apply with existing civil and environmental engineering degrees, but our highly interdisciplinary MS past graduates include students who majored across physics, economics, business management, public policy, industrial relations, philosophy and music. Each incoming class also varies widely in that they include students coming directly from a bachelor's degree as well as some who have worked for several years or more in industry. To support the diverse interests of our students, we offer four distinct tracks that focus on various aspects of the built environment, all of which can be completed in 1 year (3 academic quarters). The four tracks share a curriculum guide that trains students in important fundamental skills like modern project management techniques and life cycle assessment strategies, but offer unique electives within the program to allow students the flexibility to pursue the topics that most interest them. Click on the title of each track below for more information:

  • Management (SDC-M): Emphasizes management techniques that are useful in organizing, planning, and controlling the activities of diverse specialists working within the unique project environment of the construction industry throughout all phases of development, and it covers construction engineering aspects of heavy, industrial and building construction
  • Structures (SDC-S): Includes courses from construction engineering and management and the Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG) program to prepare students for careers in design and construction firms that provide integrated design-build project delivery, construction management and pre-construction services
  • Energy (SDC-E): Includes courses on the energy efficient design and construction of buildings and infrastructure systems to produce, distribute and consume energy sustainably from the building scale to grid-level utilities management
  • Sustainable Urban Systems (SDC-SUS): Applies multiple knowledge fields in an integrated approach to the many complex issues -- old and new -- faced by modern cities and their built environment

This program is intended for students with undergraduate degrees in architecture, engineering,  construction management, economics or business who wish to pursue careers that enhance the sustainability of the built environment. Students with other backgrounds are encouraged to apply, though may require extra prerequisites to attain the degree. If you are considering applying, first visit our Detailed Admissions Information Page! There you will find answers on our application process and admission requirements. Once you have decided to apply, please visit the Graduate Admissions Website for detailed instructions.

Management (SDC-M)

The SDC-Management (SDC-M) track downloadable as a pdf) prepares students for engineering and management roles in all phases of the development of major facilities, including heavy, industrial, and building construction. It emphasizes management techniques useful in organizing, planning and controlling the activities of diverse specialists working within the unique project environment of the construction industry.

 

SDC-M offers courses across multiple programs within and outside the Department of Civil and Envrionmental Engineering, covering topics such as:

  • Building information modeling
  • International construction projects
  • Planning and control techniques and technology
  • Industrialized construction
  • Project and company organizational strategy
  • Innovative contract mechanisms
  • Building systems integration
  • Project finance
  • Real estate development
  • Labor relations
  • HVAC design and construction
  • Equipment and methods of construction

Additional related course work is available from other programs within the department, from other engineering departments and from other schools in the university such as Earth Sciences and the Graduate School of Business. The Management track allows students substantial flexibility to tailor their program of study for careers with general contractors, specialty contractors, real estate or infrastructure developers, or facility owners and operators.

Structures (SDC-S)

The SDC-Structures (SDC-S) track (downloadable as a pdf )includes courses from construction engineering and management and the Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG) program to prepare students for careers in design and construction firms that provide integrated design-build project delivery, construction management and pre-construction services.

 

 

This track prepares students for multidisciplinary collaborative teamwork in an integrated design and construction process. The subprogram extends a student’s design or construction background with core courses in each of these areas while developing the background needed to understand the concerns and expertise of the many project stakeholders. It also includes an intensive and comprehensive project-based learning experience.

SDC-S offers courses across multiple programs within and outside of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, covering topics such as:

  • Building information modeling
  • Risk and hazards analysis
  • Structural resilience strategies
  • Innovative contract mechanisms
  • Industrialized construction
  • Building systems integration
  • International design and construction projects
  • Equipment and methods of construction

The Structures track is intended for applicants with backgrounds in engineering and science. Applicants should also have a background in the planning, design or construction of facilities by virtue of work experience and/or their undergraduate education. Knowledge in subjects from the traditional areas of civil engineering is necessary for students to receive the degree and to satisfy prerequisite requirements for some of the required graduate courses due to the technical nature of the structural engineering course components.

Students with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering who expect to pursue careers with design or construction firms that emphasize design-build, EPC or turnkey projects should consider the Structural track.

Energy (SDC-E)

The SDC-Energy (SDC-E) track (downloadable as a pdf) includes courses on design and construction of buildings and infrastructure systems to produce, distribute and consume energy sustainably.

 

 

SDC-E prepares students for careers in design and construction of building energy systems, renewable power generating systems and smart power grids connected to smart buildings and infrastructure. Other topics available to explore include cleantech entrepreneurship, sustainability-focused public policy, green real estate development, and sustainability management positions within organizations.

SDC-E offers courses across multiple programs within and outside of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, covering topics such as:

  • Building information modeling
  • Energy efficient building design and technology, including Zero Net Energy structures
  • Small- and large-scale HVAC design and construction
  • Energy modeling of building performance (theoretical and actual)
  • Sustainable facilities management
  • Project finance
  • Sensing and control technologies to link integrated smart grids with intelligent buildings, data centers and infrastructure systems
  • Public policy incentives for green buildings
  • Environmentally-friendly material resourcing
  • Planning, design and construction of renewable power systems

Additional related course work is available from other schools in the university such as Earth Sciences, the Graduate School of Business, and the Public Policy School. The Energy track allows students substantial flexibility to tailor their program of study for careers with energy consultants, general contractors, specialty contractors, real estate or infrastructure developers, or facility owners and operators. It also prepares them for serve as technically-inclined workers in the fields of policy and advocacy, or as internal consultants for businesses looking to improve their environmental profile.

Sustainable Urban Systems (SDC-SUS)

The SDC-Sustainable Urban Systems (SDC-SUS) track (downloadable as a pdf) applies multiple knowledge fields in an integrated approach to the many complex issues — old and new — faced by modern cities and their built environment.

 

 

The historic compartmentalization of urban and infrastructure planning decisions often creates inflexible systems that can be difficult to manage, impose high environmental costs and largely ignore interactions with the people they serve. Yet with advances in information systems, engineered technologies and improved understanding of human behavior, we can design cities that respond better to the needs of the inhabitants and adapt more readily to changing climatic and environmental pressures and demands. The SUS emphasis thus merges traditional data analytics with complex systems analysis to better inform decisions around the wicked problems of urban development like socioeconomic inequality and affordability.

SDC-SUS offers courses across multiple programs within and outside of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, covering topics such as:

  • - CEE 218X/218Y/281Z - This is a three-quarter, project-based, community-engaged course series organized by the Future Bay Initiative. Each quarter, students have the option to participate in the intro track, which introduces urban systems concepts and data analytics in R, or the project track, which pairs student teams with industry or city partners on real-world urban systems challenges. SDC-SUS students are required to take two quarters: the intro track followed by the project track. Questions about this course series can be directed to Lecturer Derek Ouyang at douyang1@stanford.edu.

    - Life Cycle Assessment (CEE 226) 

    - Managing Fabrication and Construction (CEE 241

    - Watson Seminar (CEE 258

 

Curriculum Guide

Below is the Curriculum Guide for the SDC Master of Science Program (downloadable as a pdf ) Each of the 4 tracks — Management, Structures, Energy, and Sustainable Urban Systems — have unique unit requirements across the 7 categories listed on the left of the table, amounting to 30 units of Core coursework.  Additionally, each track has several required classes listed in the text below the table.  Once these are satisfied, students must take up to 15 additional units for a total of 45 units to complete the degree.  These elective courses do not have to be within the SDC program or even the School of Engineering, encouraging interdisciplinary learning and exposure.  There is no thesis required for the SDC degree program. 

(Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree (M.A., M.F.A., M.A.T., or M.S.))