Best Environmental Design Schools

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: April 8, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Are you passionate about environmental design but feeling overwhelmed by the search for the right school to nurture your “green dreams”? We understand the challenge of finding the best environmental design schools that align with your vision. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a carefully curated list of top environmental design programs in the United States. Our goal? To offer you a clear path to kickstart your journey toward making a meaningful impact through sustainable design.

Best Environmental Design Schools

With a job market that’s expected to grow 4% by 2028, earning an environmental design degree is a smart choice.

Aerial view of lush green roof on building

Our list of the best environmental design schools is not necessarily based on prestige or tradition – but instead consists of schools that stand out for their unique approach to education. 

Each school on our list offers a distinctive blend of academics, research, and community. These programs prepare students to excel in the field and champion sustainable practices and advocacy.

North Carolina State University 

North Carolina State University’s robust Environmental Design Program is backed by a sustainable practice institute and leadership in energy and design labs. 

The doctoral degree program immerses students in cutting-edge research areas, propelling them to the very forefront of the field. NC State is not just a place of learning; it’s a catalyst for change, with sustainability woven into the fabric of its campus and community projects.

Program Highlights

Unique Features

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is considered a top school due to its range of professionally accredited degree programs, including architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture, and interior design. 

The university’s programs are recognized for producing highly hired graduates and are accredited by reputable organizations such as the National Association of Kitchen and Bath Design. 

Program Highlights

Unique Features

A building with a lush green roof covered in thriving plants

University of Hawaii at Manoa

With a strong emphasis on comprehensive education and favorable rankings in environmental architecture and design, the University of Hawaii at Manoa is a leading force in nurturing the next generation of design professionals. 

Coupled with its ideal location in Honolulu, you really can’t beat everything this program in the School of Architecture has to offer!

Program Highlights

Unique Features

Clemson University 

Clemson University prides itself on cultivating innovative thinkers, and its design programs reflect this spirit. The school’s strong ties to architectural and environmental research create fertile ground for aspiring designers to grow. 

Students also have the opportunity to engage in the Charrettes, challenging design workshops funded by private endowments, which offer real-world problem-solving experiences.

Program Highlights

Unique Features

The stunning glass dome of the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay

University of California – Berkeley

This university’s graduate program in architecture stands as a hallmark of excellence and innovation, attracting aspiring designers from around the world. 

UC Berkeley’s strong emphasis on environmental sustainability and hands-on learning experiences, particularly in the Bay Area, further solidifies its position as a leading force in nurturing future professionals.

Program Highlights

Unique Features

University of Colorado Boulder

With a strong emphasis on real-world experience, critical framework, and innovative education, CU Boulder consistently ranks among the best schools for environmental design. 

It offers an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach that prepares students for the practice of architecture, landscape architecture, product design, and sustainable planning. 

Program Highlights

Unique Features

A man working on a blueprint layout at a table

Boston Architectural College 

Boston Architectural College is a gateway to hands-on experience in urban environmental design. 

From working on local community projects to accessing Boston’s rich professional network, students benefit from an immersive approach that practically implements the theoretical foundations they learn.

Program Highlights

Unique Features

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia balances its rich heritage in classical architecture with a forward-looking approach. 

The school’s undergraduate and graduate programs offer a varied and in-depth curriculum, while its commitment to sustainability is reflected in its dedicated research centers and student-led projects.

Program Highlights

Unique Features

Key Factors That Can Impact Your Decision

When choosing the right school for you, consider these key factors:

Two people standing in front of a plant-covered wall

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Environmental Design Majors Do?

Environmental design majors learn to create spaces that are not only aesthetically appealing but also functionally efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially responsive. They may work on designing sustainable urban areas, green buildings, ecological parks, or public spaces that champion environmental stewardship.

What Is Architecture and Environmental Design?

Architecture and Environmental Design is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles of architecture with a focus on the environment. It encompasses sustainable architecture, ecological planning, environmental psychology, and other related disciplines, aiming to create designs harmonizing with nature and human well-being.

Is Environmental Architecture a Good Career?

Environmental architecture offers several promising career options, thanks to the increasing demand for sustainable design solutions and the growing emphasis on environmental consciousness in the built environment. You’ll have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by creating aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly spaces that contribute to a more sustainable future.


With a focus on sustainability and cutting-edge design, these institutions not only provide an outstanding education. They also showcase an unyielding commitment to creating a more harmonious relationship between humans and the environment. 

Are you ready to be part of the transformation?