Environmental Design

Bachelor in Environmental Design (BEnvD) Curriculum:

The Core and the Disciplinary Emphases

All students, whether freshmen, external transfer, or intrauniversity transfer students, may declare their emphasis in architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, or design studies at the beginning of their sequence. However, all students share the same core, and enrollment to some upper-division opportunities can be competitive. All graduates from the undergraduate program earn a bachelor of environmental design degree with an emphasis in architecture, landscape design, planning and urban design, or design studies.

In the core, BEnvD students take a coordinated sequence of interdisciplinary courses that emphasize the knowledge, methods, and practices common to the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning and urban design. As the established design professions are increasingly collaborating on complex design issues related to the designed environment, the mix of core courses reflects these interdisciplinary and integrative trends. The interdisciplinary core sequence is delivered in the first five semesters of the program.

Design Emphasis

After completion of the five-semester core, all students must declare an emphasis in architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, or design studies.

There are 30 required and elective credits in each emphasis. Each emphasis has been designed to prepare students for graduate studies, for entry into the workplace, or for both. The emphases in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning and urban design can lead to accelerated programs of study in professional graduate programs. Students should complete 45 credits of courses in the arts, humanities, and sciences, which is especially important for students who wish to transition into a graduate program in architecture. Completing the environmental design degree may, depending on the particular requirements of graduate professional programs at other institutions, lead to advanced standing in those programs that can shorten the number of credits required to complete those programs.

Environmental Design Curriculum: Thematic Structure

The undergraduate Program in Environmental Design encourages interdisciplinary study and collaborative work on real-world problems.

The first year of the core introduces students to fundamental design ideas and practices, to the concepts of analysis and problem solving, to human factors, to ecology, to design history and theory, and to the relationship between environmental design and ethics. The following three semesters challenge students with design problems at a different scales within the built environment: at the scales of urban design, landscape, and building. Each of these design challenges underscores the interdependency of scales upon one another and the complex connectedness which characterizes the built environment.

The final three semesters of the curriculum offer students the opportunity to emphasize architecture, landscape architecture, or planning and urban design. Students wishing to pursue academic work that crosses disciplines can pursue design studies. During the final two years of study, students may earn opportunities to engage in service learning in the community or in design-build, they may study abroad, or they may have opportunities for more individualized research.

Course codes for this program are ARCH and ENVD. 

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Design

General Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 120 semester hours subject to the maximum outlined in this catalog, meet all specified major core requirements, and maintain a GPA of 2.00 or better.

Students must complete one course from each of the following general education requirements area. Courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better.

  • Writing: WRTG 1150 or ARSC 1150
  • Humanities: one class from the following arts and sciences core areas: human diversity, literature and the arts, or ideals and values
  • Social Science: one class from the following arts and sciences core areas: historical context, United States context, or contemporary societies
  • Math: one class from the emphasis area: architecture: MATH 1150 or 1300; planning: MATH 2510 or SOCY 2061; landscape architecture: MATH 1150, 1300, 2510; or SOCY 2061
  • Natural Science: one class from the emphasis area: architecture: PHYS 2010; planning and urban design or landscape architecture: CHEM 1111, EBIO 1030 and 1050 or EBIO 1210 and 1230, PHYS 2010

Environmental Design Curriculum and Course Sequence 

Year One

  • Semester I. The first semester of the core introduces students to the broad range of issues and forces that interact to affect the shape and form of the designed environment, including human factors and land ethics.
  • Semester II. The second semester introduces critical design theories and practices which can effect change at different scales and levels of complexity. Areas of study extend to ecology, as well as to the history and theory of the built environment.

Years Two and Three

  • Semesters III to IV. The three-semester sequence focuses on issues surrounding sustainability in the contemporary urban environment. Studios address issues related to the appropriate design of the landscape at the scale of the house, the neighborhood, the city, and the region. Students are introduced to construction and building technology, how these affect design at the scale of the building, and how these choices relate back to the larger environment.

Years Three and Four

  • Semesters VI to VIII. Students must declare an emphasis by their sixth semester. During these semesters, students pursue more specialized study within their emphasis. Students may also have opportunities for praxis (applied practice), service learning within the community, research, or study abroad. The program recognizes several certificate programs, within the program and across the campus, which can substitute for praxis and for other requirements (see Certificates below).

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

First Year: Core Classes 

Fall Semester

  • ENVD 1004 Introduction to Environmental Design Theory—3
  • ENVD 1052 Design and Communication 1—3
  • ENVD 2001 Social Factors and Design—3
  • Writing requirement—3
  • Humanities (see list of options above)—3

Spring Semester

  • ENVD 1102 Design and Communication 2—3
  • ENVD 1104 Introduction to Environmental Design Methods—3
  • ENVD 2003 Ecology and Design—3
  • Natural science requirement (see list of options above) (Note 1)—3-5
  • Social science (see list of options above)—3

Second Year: Core Classes 

Fall Semester

  • ENVD 2120 Environmental Design Studio 1—6
  • ENVD 3122 Research Issues and Methods in Planning and Design—3 
  • ENVD 3124 Issues in Planning History—3 
  • Math requirement (see list of options above) (Note 2)—3-5

Spring Semester

  • ENVD 2130 Intermediate Design Studio 2—6
  • ENVD 3003 Site Planning—3
  • ENVD 3004 History of Landscape Architecture—3
  • Non-ENVD elective (Note 3)—3

Third Year: Core Classes

Fall Semester

  • ENVD 3100 Environmental Design Studio 3—6
  • ENVD 3115 Introduction to Building Materials and Systems—3
  • ARCH 3114 History of Architecture 1—3
  • Non-ENVD elective—3

Remaining Semesters

  • ENVD 3300 Selected ENVD Design Studio or Practicum, approved certificate courses, study abroad, or design studies—6
  • ENVD 3300 ENVD Seminar, approved certificate courses, study abroad, or design studies—3
  • ENVD or open electives—6
  • ENVD required emphasis courses, approved certificates, or design studies
Course Notes
1.   These are linked core courses that are corequisites and are designed to be taken together.
2.   Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a physics class.
3.   Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a pre-calculus math class.
4.   Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a total of 45 credits of general study.

Dual Degree Programs

Dual Degrees

In addition to the BEnvD degree, students may pursue a dual degree at CU-Boulder. Past students have received the BEnvD degree concurrently with undergraduate degrees in business, engineering, and various programs offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Typically, specific course requirements do not change in either program of a double degree; and additional hours (varying by college) may be required. All undergraduate students must complete the general education requirements and the requirements for their specific emphasis within the Program in Environmental Design in addition to the other requirements. Students considering a double-degree program are encouraged to speak with advisors in both units to determine requirements and procedures for application.

Certificate Program

Certificates and Minors

Students are encouraged to explore the opportunity of adding a certificate or minor to their studies. The following are a few certificates that the program supports towards its Praxis semester. Students interested in the certificate options below or in any alternative certificate or minor offered at CU, for the Praxis semester, or in addition to their primary study, should contact their academic advisor to have a plan set in place prior to their junior year.