Best 5 Masters in Computational Design Programs in 2024

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Masters in Computational Design

The advent of computational design has had a huge impact on all professions and architecture is no less. From drawing with a variety of HB pencils and rulers, to now having a range of software to design and represent architecture with, the field has undergone a massive revolution. Today, with the rapid growth of artificial intelligence and programming technologies, many architecture schools have turned towards teaching computational design methods. If you are interested in this convergence of technology and architecture, then choosing the right course and the right school is extremely important. So let’s delve into understanding what computational design is and what are some of the best masters in computational design.

What is computational design?

According to the journal article ‘Computational Design in Architecture: Defining parametric, generative, and algorithmic design,’ computational design is an umbrella term that ‘entails the use of computational tools to develop designs.’ This could range from using software to design projects, or scripting programs to generate algorithmic designs. Most of the courses mentioned below focus on data-driven design, where data is used to create building simulations and to design for optimization.

Top Masters in Computational Design Programs

Now that the basics of computational design have been covered, let’s look into the top programs that offer to teach Computational Design. These courses are all Masters programs as they prefer students to have some prior knowledge to design, but not limited to architecture. A bachelors in Architecture, Design or Arts would create a good base for anyone going into these programs. Some of the top Masters programs in Computational Design are –

1. Master in Advanced Computation for Architecture & Design, IAAC

The Master in Advanced Computation for Architecture & Design or MaCAD, at the Institute of advanced architecture at Catalonia (IAAC) in Spain is a 10 months online program. The course allows students to study from wherever they are, and also allows flexibility depending on their Synchronous or Asynchronus programs. You can read more about this program at https://iaac.net/educational-programmes/masters-programmes/macad/.

2. Masters of Science in Computational Design, Carenegie Mellon University

The Masters of Science in Computational Design at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture provides a strong foundation in computational design. This is a 2 year program with a minimum in-person residency of 3 semesters. You can learn more about the course at https://soa.cmu.edu/mscd.

3. Design and Computation program, Berlin University

The Design and Computation program is a four semester interdisciplinary and research based program taught in collaborationn between the Berlin University and the Arts and Technical University Berlin. The course does not only look at computational design as a process but also looks at the capabilities of computational design in transforming societies at large. You can further delve into the course at https://www.design-computation.berlin/en. 

4. Master of Science in Computational Design Practices, Columbia GSAPP

The Master of Science in Computational Design Practices or the M.S.CDP at the Columbia GSAPP, is a 3 semester Masters program that focuses Computational Design practices at multiple scales, ranging from architecture to urban design. The course also allows part-time students to complete the curriculum in the span of 3 years. You can learn more about the program at https://www.arch.columbia.edu/programs/15-m-s-computational-design-practices. 


5. ICDCA, University of Stuttgart

The Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture at the University of Stuttgart, in Germany, dives into integrating Computational Design with construction technology. This program is great for anyone interested in research and the construction side of architecture. You can read more about this program at https://www.intcdc.uni-stuttgart.de/cluster/#id-93de817c. 

Another program that has not made it to the list but is highly recommended is the Masters of Science in Architectural Technologies at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles. The course focuses on computational design, AI and game engines. This and the courses mentioned above are some of the best courses for any designer or architect that is considering the convergence of computation and architecture.

To further understand computational design, you can go through the links below.

Most Used Grasshopper Plugins for Architects

Top 8 BIM Software for Architects

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