Jul 24, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Environmental Design

115 Seaton Hall
Fax: 785-532-1086

Director of graduate studies:

David Sachs

Graduate Faculty:

*Wayne “Mick” Charney, Associate Professor of Architecture, M Arch, University of Illinois; PhD, Northwestern University
*Gary Coates, Professor of Architecture, MS, North Carolina State University
*Robert Condia, Professor of Architecture, MS, Columbia University
*Huston Gibson, Ph.D., Florida State University
*Timothy D. Keane, Professor of Landscape Architecture, MLA and PhD, University of Michigan
*John W. Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Planning, MS and PhD, Rutgers University
*Hyung Jin Kim, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
*Stephanie A. Rolley, Professor of Landscape Architecture, MCP, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
*David R. Seamon, Professor of Architecture, PhD, Clark University
*Lee R. Skabelund, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, MLA, University of Michigan

*Denotes graduate faculty that are certified to serve as the major professor for doctoral students


Since the founding of the College in 1963, the faculty has based their relationships on the mutually held realization that the practice of any one of the design professions benefits from the interaction of their varied approaches to (re)shaping the built environment. The interdisciplinary doctoral program takes advantage of the diverse but interrelated nature of the college’s design and planning disciplines. This program represents the comprehensive nature of our professional community and reflects the manner by which our faculty and the profession actually interact in practice.

A central aim of this doctoral program is to support advanced graduate research utilizing a comprehensive interdisciplinary view of design and planning to better contribute to a more livable and ecologically sustainable society. This program provides an advanced, interdisciplinary doctoral degree supported by faculty members from the Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Product Design, and Landscape Architecture / Regional and Community Planning.

The major academic objective of this doctoral program is to prepare professionals and researchers who wish to teach at the graduate level or conduct research, design, and/or policy for private or public institutions, including governmental agencies, design and planning firms, and corporations. In various ways, student research will examine how the various aspects of design and planning knowledge and skills contributing to a more livable and sustainable environment and society for Kansas, the United States, and the world at large.

Areas of Emphasis

To draw on the wide-ranging expertise of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design (APDesign) faculty, the PhD offers the following design and research concentrations: design; planning; sustainability; and place making. The areas of specialization will focus students on developing new bodies of knowledge and applications through research, conceptual and problem-solving skills that have application to professional situations involving design and planning.

The four concentrations of the doctoral program are broad and encompass the interdisciplinary and complex nature of the design and planning professions. By their very nature, these four concentrations are interconnected, and this interconnection provides a topical and educational venue for interdisciplinary participation and collaboration between doctoral students and the diverse core and graduate faculty of APDesign.

  • Design emphasizes the role of the designed environment in contributing to human well being and provides opportunities, through practice and research, to explore issues that range from design pedagogy to design production, history, and theory.
  • Planning considers the theory and methods of public decision-making and the development of models and tools to understand and improve decision-making processes, both public and private.
  • Sustainability explores ways by which the design and planning professions can better provide peoples’ environmental and resource needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Place Making explores the importance of place in human life and considers ways by which design and policy might better make physical environments that work as robust human environments and evoke a powerful sense of place.

Admission procedures

Along with the K-State Graduate School application, each potential PhD student needs to submit three letters of recommendation (these should be a mix of professional and academic references), Graduate Record Examination scores, official transcripts, a one- to two-page statement of PhD study intent of interests and objectives which explicitly states your area(s) of emphasis, including a non-returnable portfolio of the student’s work to the College of Architecture, Planning & Design. The portfolio may include design projects, research projects, samples of written work, or other examples of creative and research efforts.

PhD applicants should have attained a score of at least 1100 on the combined verbal and quantitative components of the GRE. Regular admission to K-State’s Graduate School and the APDesign doctoral program requires a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.  Prospective international students are required to take the TOEFL examination, with a paper-based essay score of at least 600 or an internet-based score of at least 100. An IELTS score of at least 7.0 on all test components or a PTE with all sub-scores of at least 70 are also acceptable.

Application Requirements

  • A 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in all higher education work to date
  • Complete the K-State Graduate School application
  • Pay the application fee (domestic $90 and international $100)
  • Statement of intent:  Statement of intent should be one to two pages and should include the prospective student’s interest and objectives as well as explicitly state area of emphasis.
  • Letters of recommendation:  Three letters of recommendation, with a mix of professional and academic references.
  • Transcripts:  Please include transcripts from any institution of higher education you have attended.
  • GRE score report:  PhD applicants should have attained a score of 1100 or better on the combined verbal and quantitative components of the GRE.
  • Portfolio:  This electronic portfolio should include the prospective student’s work or other examples of creative and/or research efforts.
  • TOEFL/IELTS/PTE report (international students):  Prospective international students are required to complete the TOEFL examination, with an essay score of at least 600 (paper-based) or an internet-based test score of 100. An IELTS score of at least 7.0 or a PTE score of at least 70 are also acceptable.
  • Financial statement (international students only)
  • Application for graduate assistantship, if desired.

PhD requirements

Applicants to the APDesign PhD program are expected to have earned a master’s degree. Students without a previous degree in the design or planning fields are encouraged to apply, although they may be required to complete a set of courses that will provide the appropriate professional background, as determined by the core PhD faculty in the student’s selected area of concentration. Courses taken to strengthen the student’s background in design and/or planning may count toward the 30 credit hours of course work required for the PhD, but only if approved by the student’s graduate committee.

The PhD requires at least three years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree, equivalent to at least 90 semester hours.

Admission to the PhD program is contingent upon the willingness of an APDesign faculty member to serve as the student’s advisor. The application deadline for all student applicants is January 1.

All international students applying to the PhD program must meet the same level of achievement as U.S. students.

Students will complete a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, with at least 30 credit hours of course work and 30 credit hours of dissertation research. Students will complete a research tool requirement, pass a preliminary written examination, submit an approved dissertation, and complete an oral dissertation defense. Students will be expected to complete at least one full academic year in residence.

To enhance program coherence, all first-year doctoral students will take two research core courses - ENVD 900 (Conceptual Approaches to Design and Planning Research) and ENVD 901 (Research Methods in Design and Planning) - as well as two research tools courses, and a cross-disciplinary elective seminar.

In concert the program director and the doctoral student’s committee chair will counsel the student in selecting two research tool areas, appropriate course work to develop competency in each emphasis, as well as guide them in developing their course of study. Tool areas include but are not limited to: foreign languages; quantitative methods; qualitative methods; GIS; remote sensing; cultural and contextual perspectives; communication skills; graphic and digital media or representational skills; design-development methods; and instructional techniques.

PhD preliminary examination. Students who have filed their program of study with the Graduate School and have completed at least 21 of the 30 hours of course work with a grade point average of 3.0 or better are eligible to take the preliminary written examination, which covers the student’s fields of specialization, as defined by the student’s doctoral committee. Performance on the examination must provide evidence of the student’s mastery of the subject matter, knowledge of related literature, and an understanding of research theory and methods. Successful completion of the preliminary examination is required for the student to become a doctoral candidate.

Writing the dissertation. The PhD student will complete 30 credit hours of ENVD 999 (Dissertation Research). The dissertation will be a cohesive, original, and an independent contribution to scholarship. The research is to be performed under the guidance of the major professor and the supervisory committee and must be acceptable to them. The dissertation must follow guidelines outlined by the Graduate School.

Dissertation defense. A final oral examination in defense of the dissertation will be conducted and evaluated by the doctoral committee. Two weeks prior to the dissertation defense the written dissertation will be available for review by the doctoral committee, other faculty, and graduate students. Other faculty and students are encouraged to attend the defense.


Doctor of Philosophy


Environmental Design and Planning