These programs of study lead to a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in the Sustainable Building Systems Concentration in Environmental Conservation (ECo).


This concentration is designed for students who want scientific training in the multi-disciplinary field of building systems. The focus of this concentration is broadly on building systems but encompasses specialized training in fields such as building sustainability, green building, structural timber design, energy systems, material strength modeling, management/marketing of building materials, construction management, and digital design. The diverse nature of the concentration is intended to allow students from different backgrounds to shape their own education under the guidance of a faculty advisory committee.

Why Enroll in these Programs?

Excel in Your Field

Become an expert in a topic of your choice in the field of sustainable building systems and construction.

Get Published

Create peer-reviewed published research that sets you on a trajectory towards successful jobs in research, development, and academia.

Pursue Advanced Careers

Research-based graduate degrees typically lead to higher lifetime earnings through availability of specialized careers that require these credentials.

About Us

Faculty affiliated with this concentration (see Areas of Study below) have expertise in environmentally sensitive building materials & systems (green building); bio-based composite mechanics; timber engineering and design; computer applications in building design; building energy modeling and systems design; clean energy; building evaluation and efficiency retrofitting; sustainable construction management; and 3D CAD and BIM.

A major strength of our program is the unique interdisciplinary tie of both faculty and students to related departments and programs of building on campus. Building systems faculty also serve as core or adjunct faculty in departments like Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and others. We are also co-located with Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning in the John W. Olver Design Building. This interdisciplinary culture encourages joint research and funding as well as instruction. Students and faculty with backgrounds in material science, building science, planning, architecture and engineering share research projects, labs and valuable expertise.

Research projects of graduate students in the Building Systems Concentration are varied (see our Publications for examples). Through their research projects, graduate students often employ or provide volunteer opportunities for interested undergraduates. Graduate students are also encouraged to participate in projects and activities of their colleagues to broaden their experience and to provide and receive ideas and suggestions for improvements.

Areas of Study

BCT currently specializes in the following areas of study in our research graduate program. Follow the links below to learn more about the topics and see a list of the respective faculty advisors:

Degree Requirements

M.S. Thesis Degree: Sustainable Building Systems Concentration in Environmental Conservation

GridshellStudents in this concentration are expected to meet all of the requirements for an M.S. degree in the Department of Environmental Conservation, as outlined in the graduate student handbook, including the following:

  • A minimum of 30 credits is required,
  • 3  of these credits will be ECO 692C Sustainable Building Systems Seminar (1.5 credits each semester).  Note: 692C is not included in 600 level credit requirements.
  • 3 of these credits will be ECO 692S Readings in Sustainable Building Systems  (3 credits). Note: 692S is included in 600 level credit requirements.
  • 21 credits must be in the major field (ECO and BCT), 6 of which must be at the 600 level or above (excluding ECO 692C), and 6 of which must be a thesis [699] specific to this concentration and approved by the student’s advisory committee.
  • Up to 6 credits can be transferred from previous course work from UMass or another university subject to approval of the Graduate School.
  • Successful completion of a comprehensive evaluation based upon the student’s academic training, with the format and extent determined by the students’ faculty advisors;
  • Successful final defense of the thesis; and
  • A minimum of one publishable-quality scientific paper resulting from the thesis research project (with a draft submitted to the advisory committee at the time of graduation).

Ph.D. Degree: Sustainable Building Systems Concentration in Environmental Conservation

Solar modelingStudents in this concentration are expected to meet all of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Environmental Conservation, as outlined in the ECO graduate student handbook, including the following:

  • A minimum of 10 dissertation credits are required, based on a research project specific to this concentration and approved by the student’s advisory committee; no other course credits are required other than those determined by the student’s advisory committee;
  • Complete two consecutive, full time semester residency
  • Successful completion of a comprehensive exam based upon the student’s academic training in environmental conservation, encompassing all three “core” topic areas (See BCT Graduate Studies website for a complete and up-to-date course listing.
  • Successful final defense of the dissertation; and
  • A minimum of three publishable-quality scientific papers resulting from the dissertation research project (with at least one submitted for publication by the time of graduation).

More information:

 Sustainable Building Systems Concentration (section from the ECo Graduate Handbook)

 Building Systems Graduate Studies Course Listing

 ECo Graduate Student Handbook

 Environmental Conservation (ECo) Graduate Program

 UMass Grad School Student Handbook

Admission and Deadlines

Apply by:

February 1st (priority), March 1st (latest) for a Fall Semester start
October 1st for a Spring Semester start

Visit the How to Apply page for information on the application process. We also have information about financial aid on this site.


This program has been classified as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program (under CIP code 3.0101 “Natural Resources/Conservation, General”). This designation, determined by the Department of Homeland Security, allows international students to extend their training (Optional Practical Training – OPT) in the United States by working in their field of study. More information regarding the Extended STEM OPT process can be obtained through the university’s International Programs Office (IPO).


We are happy to answer any questions. Use our contact form to send us a note or contact directly:

Sustainable Building Systems Graduate Concentration Coordinator

Dr. Peggi Clouston, P.Eng.

R: 316 Design Building
P: +1 (413)  545-1884