Texas Tech's Design and Health Master's Program
(via Daily Toreador)
Starting this semester, the College of Architecture will begin offering a graduate studies degree called the Master of Science in Architecture with Specialization in Design and Health.
“As the name would suggest, the program specializes in the design of health care facilities,” Saif Haq, associate dean of academics and professor of architecture, said. “Because there is so much going on in these buildings, designing them is a very complex process.”
Formerly, the college offered a health care facilities graduate certificate. The decision was made to expand the program further because of greater demand for specialized health care architects, Haq said.
“We are taking an interdisciplinary approach to these courses, meaning students will work closely with professors from the Health Sciences Center as well as other departments,” he said. “The program has two areas of concentration: health and wellness design and health care facilities design.”
Texas Tech is only the sixth university in the country to offer this specialized graduate program. Because of the close proximity of Tech’s main campus to HSC, Tech is an ideal institution for the degree program, Haq said.
“Environments, as we understand them, play a major role in the process of not only healing, but staying healthy,” he said. “Anyone who’s been in a hospital before will realize how stressful of an environment it can be, so we want our students to take that in to account and create aesthetically pleasing hospital buildings and health care centers that will help with the healing process.”
The main principle of the program is to provide design and analytic skills. These will be applicable over the course of a career, offering specialty curriculum to graduate students who desire to comprehend the role of the environment in health care and wellness, according to the College of Architecture website.
The master’s degree is, therefore, a suitable stepping stone to a career in research and as a means of becoming a more well-rounded design professional, Haq said.
“The new (Master of Science) is an important move for the college to incorporate more research into the discipline of architecture,” Julie Zook, an assistant professor in the College of Architecture, said. “Because of certain demands from the health care industry, this is something that has become worth doing now.”
The health and wellness design concentration focuses on opportunities for exercise, access to healthier food and maintaining health in general, Zook said. The health care facility concentration focuses on restoring health through methods of design.
“There are a lot of studies indicating that environmental design has a lot of influence on our health, both when we’re well and when we’re recovering from illness,” she said. “Our program is in part about educating a cohort of students about those things but also about teaching them to discover those relationships on their own and to contribute to the knowledge base that we have.”
The health care sector tends to hire design professionals more robustly and with higher salaries than other architectural sectors, Zook said. Job placement out of college is high for graduates with this degree.
“This is a great opportunity for students with the ambition to benefit society by using their skills to improve public health,” she said. “We’re still in the process of recruiting students, so we hope to see exceptional enrollment in the near future.”