Program in Environmental Design
Stacey Schulte
Director, Program in Environmental Design
314 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0552
T: 303-492-8010

Built on strong traditions within the design fields, the Program in Environmental Design (ENVD) offers an integrative approach to education and research. The program offers the Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEnvD)—a four-year, pre-professional degree that prepares students for the practice of, and advanced study in, four majors: environmental product of design, architecture, landscape architecture and sustainable planning & urban design. From analyzing the design of individual buildings to the planning of entire regions, the majors within ENVD offer coursework and projects addressing the diverse scales of environmental design. Course content ranges from building materials and prefabricated building systems to open space issues, political systems and institutional arrangements.  

Building on an underlying philosophy of environmental awareness, students in ENVD work within their majors to: 

  • Design solution-based approaches that blend technical, ecological, economic, social, cultural, aesthetic and ethical concerns 
  • Employ evidence-based knowledge to help inform design and planning decisions 
  • Participate in interdisciplinary dialogues that integrate core design disciplines with the sciences, humanities, arts and other professions 
  • Obtain a disciplinary foundation that prepares them for careers in both traditional and emerging design fields 

Graduates from the Program in Environmental Design are uniquely qualified to confront significant environmental challenges. Students become adept at complex problem solving, analytical thinking, and leadership through coursework in theory, history, ecological impact, materials and methods and systems thinking. Students enroll in studios, lectures and seminars taught by faculty with both academic and professional expertise. Students employ state-of-the-art educational technology, including computing tools, fabrication equipment and advanced media. 

Sharing in the diverse resources of Boulder campus—from natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts and technology fields—the ENVD program offers an educational opportunity like no other. The program’s cross-disciplinary collaborations with colleagues in closely affiliated CU programs enhance the curriculum and research within ENVD. 

Preparing for a Professional Career 

The program prepares undergraduate students for entry directly into the design profession or to enter graduate study in the design professions. As with other four-year degrees, such as the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, the BEnvD prepares students for study in a Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), Master of Urban Design (MUD) or Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree program, or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in design or Master of Industrial Design (MID).  

It is common for Bachelor of Environmental Design graduates to receive advanced standing for the work they have done in our program, which allows them to complete a graduate degree at other design schools in a shorter time.  

Preparation for a Career in Architecture 

The program prepares undergraduate students for graduate study in architecture or to practice as an architectural designer in the professional field. In the United States, architecture licensure is granted by each state’s regulatory agency. The National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB) will grant a Master of Architecture (MArch), five-year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch), and Doctorate of Architecture (DArch) as accredited degrees that are then typically recognized by dtate regulatory agencies as a traditional path to architecture licensure. Most regulatory agencies also recognize alternative paths to licensure that include other non-accredited degrees like the BEnvD. Colorado is one such state that has codified a licensure pathway for the BEnvD, specifically.  

Preparation for a Career in Planning 

The program prepares undergraduate students for graduate study in planning or to enter the professional field as a designer. The practice of planning is currently not licensed in most states. Professional membership and certification are overseen by the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)  

Although students interested in entry-level positions in planning may find the BEnvD degree adequate, an advanced degree (MURP, PhD or other graduate planning focus) is often desirable. Students primarily interested in professional practice often obtain a graduate degree in urban planning, in urban and regional planning, in urban planning and community development or in urban design. Students interested in teaching or research in planning should complete a PhD.  

Preparation for a Career in Landscape Architecture 

The program prepares undergraduate students for graduate study in landscape architecture or to enter the professional field as a designer. In the United States, licensing is overseen both at the state level and nationally by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Accreditation of educational programs is voluntary. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) evaluates programs and provides an assessment. Advanced standing for graduate study is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, according to the standards of each graduate program as demonstrated by and in accordance with a student's prior academic accomplishments in the application, portfolio and the transcript. 

Preparation for a Career in Environmental Product of Design

The program prepares undergraduate students for graduate study in industrial design, architecture or entering the professional field as a designer. The practice of product design does not require licensure in the United States, and professional membership is overseen by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Degrees in the field are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)  

Most students interested in working as a product designer will find the BEnvD degree adequate; an advanced degree (Master of Industrial Design (MID) may be desirable in relation to design management and is considered the terminal industrial design degree. Students with a BEnvD will find themselves prepared to work for a company, attend graduate school in a variety of disciplines or start their own businesses. 


Facilities for the program are provided in the Environmental Design Building and at the Center for Innovation and Creativity (CINC) facility. 

Environmental Design Building

Located in the heart of campus, the ENVD building houses administrative and faculty offices, studio spaces, conference rooms, lecture rooms and exhibit spaces, as well as an academic research center, high-end computing lab classroom and an academic support center specializing in digital outcomes. 

ENVD is a studio-based design program, where students participate in no less than 36 credits of lab setting instruction. Studio instructional spaces provide large open areas with individualized worktables available to students 24 hours a day during their course. Studios are located on the third floor and sublevel of the ENVD building.

The Digital Media Center, (DMC) an ENVD Academic Support Center housed in the ENVD Building, offers students digital imaging computer workstations, a printing and production lab with state-of-the-art large format printers for professional-style presentation boards, a photographic studio for portfolio creation and in-house 3D printing, electronics and basic maker tools. The DMC has expanded and offers a 24-person workshop area where students can learn imaging-based software and other programs. The center also includes a student lounge area where ENVD students can walk in to ask questions or use the flexible, creative space to work on projects. 

Creative Lab Center (CLC) 

The CLC is located in the university's Center for Innovation and Creativity (CINC), housed on East campus. The CLC is an approximately 15,000 square-foot facility that houses makers spaces, classrooms, studio spaces, fabrication shops and a high-end computing lab. 

The Creative Lab Center provides students access to studio space along with specialized fabrication facilities where students learn technological design skills and fabricate components for their projects. In addition to teaching, learning, and assembly spaces students have access to various design and fabrication resources at the CLC supported by a state-of-the-art wood lab, metal lab, laser cutting machines, 3D printers and CNC milling machines.

A mandatory basic safety orientation is conducted for all students before access to the shops is granted. This course offers an introduction to ENVD’s safety policies as well as the proper use of personal safety equipment and safety practices with the fabrication equipment. Specific technological training is also offered and required prior to lab use.

The CLC also offers a virtual reality (VR) lab where students can test their designs and ideas in the digital world before building them. These labs enhance the ENVD curriculum by providing students with the technological resources for design visualization, scale modeling and full-scale prototyping, turning ideas into tangible objects. 

Living and Learning Communities

The Environmental Design (ENVD) Living Learning Community (LLC) is a unique community where students accepted into the Environmental Design program live together in Willard Hall and participate in First-Year Experience (FYE) programming. Students in the LLC create meaningful connections with their cohort, engage in social and academic events and gain the tools to continue their design education in confidence beyond the first year.  


The ENVD LLC is run by an architecturally licensed teaching professor with the intention of supporting students both academically and socially as they journey through their first year of a design education. Additionally, a team of friendly and highly skilled upper-level mentors are matched with first year students to create peer-to-peer partnerships assisting students in navigating their first year. 


Willard Hall is home to ENVD’s Living Learning Community. Built in 1955, Willard Hall is a four-story dorm just south of Farrand Field on CU’s central campus. Willard Hall houses 450 students and the Environmental Design first-year class lives on the top floor. 

First-Year Experience Structure

Designed to engage all incoming students in establishing a formative connection to the profession while addressing skill variables, our First-Year Experience events target competencies that expose students to the design world. Programming includes field trips, social activities, site visits and hands-on experiences all aimed at building proficiencies of our first-year students.


  • Environmental Design student retention from year one to year two is ten percent higher than CU Boulder campus average.
  • Four-minute walk from the Willard residence hall to the Environmental Design Building. 
  • Fifteen $500 first-year engagement scholarships awarded at the end of the academic year.
  • Ten first-year mentors available for one-on-one mentoring alongside first year activities. 
  • Over thirty events and activities throughout the year that explore design, target skills and make connections. 

For more information, visit Living and Learning Communities.