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Through participatory practice as the best way to advocate for just, equitable communities, you will gain the experience-driven, knowledge-enhanced, holistic understanding of the complex interactions that lead to environmental problems, and draw from a range of disciplines and engage diverse stakeholders to identify and implement sustainable best strategies and solutions that serve the many and not the few.

A professor stands in front of a group of students as they listen to him describe the construction site they are surveying.

The Master of Science in Sustainable Environmental Systems (SES) is one of the nation’s most innovative, interdisciplinary, systems-based sustainability programs. The 40-credit, STEM-designated Master of Science in Sustainable Environmental Systems, offered in the evenings at Pratt’s School of Architecture on the Brooklyn campus, is designed to meet today’s increasing demand for environmental professionals. Students learn the interdisciplinary skills and systems-thinking approach needed to assess contemporary environmental issues; catalyze innovative environmental problem-solving; uphold environmental and social justice; and engage diverse stakeholders in designing and developing sustainable plans, policies, and communities. Graduates are prepared to take on a range of roles as environmental designers, policy analysts, sustainability consultants, low-impact developers, researchers, and advocates, collaborating with environmental scientists, policymakers, and communities. The SES program is unique in its combination of science, design, and policy. By uniting a foundation of theoretical and technical core courses with innovative mini-courses, the program offers a uniquely comprehensive curriculum that fosters exposure to cutting-edge practicing professionals. The program encourages students to closely examine the relationships between the environment, policy, and systems design. 

About the Program

The Sustainable Environmental Systems program is unique in its emphasis on the urban environment. As integral members of the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE), students are exposed to land use, transportation, preservation, development, and economic planning strategies. Through this exploration, students understand the complexities of the urban context and can analyze global, federal, state, and local policies accordingly. Students learn the skills needed to build and preserve sustainable urban communities. The SES program welcomes students with a variety of undergraduate degrees, recognizing that sustainability is most effective when integrating a number of disciplines. Students entering the program with relevant professional experience, or with a Bachelor of Architecture or a BS/BE in civil engineering or environmental science, may receive up to 10 credits of advanced standing.

Professional Practice
The MS in SES is perhaps the most practice-based program in the United States. Top sustainability practitioners in the NYC region, rather than full-time academicians, teach virtually all of the courses. They are generally innovative civic, community, and government leaders who are active in promoting best practices in environmental management, policy, and design. Students learn from one another and the faculty, who serve as a diverse and powerful professional network for our students. Most of our classes meet at night to accommodate students who work full-time and those participating in internships.

The curriculum culminates with the Demonstration of Professional Competence, or Capstone, course. During this course, students complete a demonstration fulfilling an approved scope of work, showing the analytical capacities and creative skills expected of a professional in the sustainability fields. As a capstone to the program, the demonstration can involve original research, a work-related project or an extension of course-related work. Students are expected to complete distinct deliverables to a client and interact with classmates and faculty advisers to develop research that can propel them to a new career in sustainability-related fields.

Fellowships and Internships
Most students are assured a fellowship or internship with an organization, agency, or professional practice during their time in the SES program. In the past, fellows and interns have been placed with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Waterfront Alliance, Stormwater Infrastructure Matters (SWIM) Coalition, Resilience Education Training and Innovation (RETI) Center, New York Industrial Retention Network, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), and Pratt Sustainability Center. Internship examples include modeling energy efficiency efforts in Bedford-Stuyvesant with the Pratt Center for Community Development, working with local businesses to develop sustainability plans, and collaborating with NYC-EJA and member organizations on advocacy for the Waterfront Justice Project.

Multidisciplinary Experience
The MS in SES program is one of four graduate-level programs in the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, a unique, interdisciplinary alliance with shared values of urban sustainability and community participation, defined by the “triple bottom line” of environment, equity, and economy. Each program—including City and Regional Planning, Historic Preservation, and Urban Placemaking and Management— maintains its independence, degree, and depth of study. Students can explore electives within and outside of GCPE, including in Facilities Management, Real Estate Practice, Industrial Design, and Interior Design, and have the option for extended study in GCPE beyond the 40-credit Master of Science in SES, as follows:

  • Courses in City and Regional Planning expose students to land use, transportation, and economic development planning strategies.
  • Courses in Historic Preservation allow for a focus on the “least carbon footprint” approach of preservation and reuse, and an emerging dialogue on climate heritage. 
  • Courses in Urban Placemaking and Management develop skills in community engagement and public space design and management.

The SES program operates closely with sustainability-focused stakeholders across campus. SES administrators, faculty, and students occupy roles in Pratt’s Sustainability Coalition, Sustainability Committee, and Department Sustainability Coordinators team, and research collectives, and have formed long-lasting partnerships with the Pratt Sustainability Center and the Institute’s Facilities Office. Together, we assess campus sustainability, collaborate on institutional priorities, coordinate events such as Pratt Earth Action Week, and develop campus living laboratory projects.

Acting Academic Director
Leonel Ponce


Faculty Bios

  • Through their studies in the Sustainable Environmental Systems program, students will:
  • Develop the ability to assess and critically examine environmental issues related to water and air quality, solid waste management, urban energy systems, and building performance.
  • Demonstrate a foundational understanding of the legal, economic and regulatory framework of federal, state, and New York City environmental policy and review.
  • Learn stakeholder engagement and uphold social and environmental justice while demonstrating the ability to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary, environmental problem solving.
  • Develop an understanding of sustainable community development.
  • Design sustainable environmental policies and plans with verifiable indicators and metrics.
  • Understand and argue the cost of environmental externalities associated with current economic policy and development.
  • Develop a baseline level of technical proficiency and professional communication skills: written, oral, and visual.
A group of Pratt student stand for a group photo during a rally in support of further action against climate change.

Upcoming Information Sessions and Open Houses

Banner for a graduate admissions info sessions on Thursday March 9.

March 9, 2023 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM