Two-Year Graduate Program

Program Philosophy

The research tradition within the Human Environment Relations major is based in the social sciences, and particularly on environmental psychology and human factors/ergonomics. Evidence-based design is fundamental to the major. The research conducted in D+EA contributes to the knowledge base that guides design solutions. The underlying premise is that systematic, empirical research based in the social sciences--when combined with imagination--can contribute to the planning, design, and management of environments that enhance the individual and organizational effectiveness.

Program Focus

The M.S. program brings together faculty and students with expertise in the fields of interior design, industrial design, graphic design, architecture, art, building technology, environmental psychology, human factors/ergonomics, engineering, geography, and facility planning and management to work on problems related to the interior environment.

The M.S. in Human Environment Relations major rests on the following basic premises:

  • Development of the knowledge base guiding the planning, design, and management of physical settings requires systematic, empirical research.
  • Individual and organizational behaviors are affected by the form of the environment.
  • The users of environments are diverse and have different needs. Individual characteristics such as gender, stage in life cycle, family structure, role or task affect our environmental needs. In addition, organizational characteristics such as organizational culture, goals, and structure help to shape building form and use.
  • The planning, design, and management of good environments require consideration of all users, from owners, managers and administrators, to clerks, tenants, patients, and students.
  • Understanding organizational and human needs is no less critical than understanding financial, technological and aesthetic factors influencing the planning, design, and management of our physical surroundings.
  • The processes through which environments are planned, designed, and managed are as important as the physical designs themselves.



There are five concentrations within the Human Environment Relations major:

  1. Environmental Psychology and Human Factors is a multi-disciplinary concentration that focuses on the inter-relations between humans and the physical environment at various scales.
  2. Facility Planning and Management focuses on the planning, design, and management of facilities for complex organizations such a corporations, health care institutions and universities.
  3. Sustainable Design Studies examines the development of a new worldview founded on a skeptical, critical approach to reasoning, a deep sensitivity for things living, and a broad understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the human/nature relationship.
  4. Emerging Technology for Design explores the development and application of various technologies -- from virtual and augmented reality to architectural robotics -- to foster the creation of beautiful environments that support/augment human activity and well-being.
  5. Design + Health focuses on the many ways that environments we design can affect human physical health, mental health, and health-related behaviors. These explorations span various settings from home and community to schools, workplace, and healthcare settings.


M.S. Requirements

Please click below to view the curriculum requirements for each of the five concentrations within the M.S. in Human Environment Relations.

Environmental Psychology and Human Factors
FacilitY Planning and Management
Sustainable Design Studies
Emerging Technology for Design
Design + Health

Who should apply?

The M.S. degree is a two-year, post-professional degree program intended for students with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees who want to study the relationship between people and their physical surroundings, some aspect of facility planning and management, human factors, and design.

M.S. candidates must also select a minor from fields throughout the University. Students should identify their minor committee members early on in the program to ensure they have time to take the minor’s required courses, typically 1-2 courses total.

Prospective students are encouraged to check out our frequently asked questions below. If you have a question that you can't find the answer to, please contact the Graduate Field Assistant at

FAQ's for Prospective Master Students


Application Deadline

Applications are due December 1st. Application are accepted for Fall Admission only.

Application Requirements

In addition to the online application via the Graduate School website, the following required documents must be submitted online:

  • Academic Statement of Purpose (within 500 words)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE general test (The desired combined score should be greater than or equal to 310—for the new scoring system effective November 2011—or, a combined score of 1200 for the old scoring system.)
  • English Language Proficiency Requirement, As an international applicant, you must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by taking a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam. (See exceptions)
  • TOEFL - test for International students (DEA overall minimum: 105, plus Graduate School minimums must be met for each section: writing: 20; listening: 15; reading: 20; speaking: 22)
  • OR IELTS - The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS


Costs and Funding:

Funding is not provided for the M.S. degree. Please refer to the Graduate School Tuition and Cost web page for information.

Any questions, please contact the Graduate Field Assistant:

For additional information on how to apply, please visit the Graduate School Admissions web page.