Design, Environment and the Arts (Healthcare and Healing Environments), PhD

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The health care and healing environments concentration under the PhD program in design, environment and the arts focuses on the integration of evidence-based design, sustainable science and best practices benchmarks when planning health care facilities. Facility-related responsibilities supported by this area cluster into seven functional work units:

  • facilities analysis (physical and environmental)
  • human factors and user needs
  • interior planning and design
  • programming (long-range planning)
  • research methodologies
  • space management and planning
  • strategic planning

This multidisciplinary program integrates the principles of medical and clinical innovations, interior architecture, human health services, communication studies, architecture, and behavioral and engineering sciences. Students in this program will be mentored by local health care design consultants, teaming with nursing students and working directly with real clients and corresponding with forward-thinking health care research centers. Graduating students will be able to address contemporary issues facing the health care industry, address health care environments on multiple levels, apply evidence-based research techniques and effectively communicate with clinicians.

Upon graduation, students may pursue advanced positions in the following arenas:

  • elite consulting firms as facility programmers
  • large health care systems and corporations as strategic planners
  • leading manufacturers and vendors as expert representatives
  • planning divisions in architectural and planning firms as medical planners
  • research centers as decision-makers

At A Glance

Design, Environment and the Arts (Healthcare and Healing Environments), PhD

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a master's degree in the field of design, interior design, architecture, nursing or other related fields from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. GRE scores
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. a statement of purpose summarizing career objectives and the reasons for pursuing doctoral education
  6. an indication of proposed area of concentration (design, history, theory and criticism, digital culture in design, or health care and healing environments)
  7. an indication of a potential mentor
  8. a sample of sole-authored written work in English or any other evidence relevant to admission to the program (i.e., master's degree thesis, research paper or published articles)
  9. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency. A TOEFL score of at least 100 iBT or 600 PBT or an overall International IELTS band score of 7.50, with no individual band below 7.00, is required of all applicants whose native language is not English (

International applicants who are interested in receiving funding as teaching assistants must take the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit, administered at ASU, and become certified. Additional information is available on the department website.

Ideal candidates must already hold a master's degree in design, interior design, architecture, nursing or other related fields. A statement of intent will express interest in the health care research/design concentration. If students enter the program with no design or health care background, they must take certain deficiency courses.

The letters of recommendation preferably would be academic, although they could be professional. Applicants will provide the names and contact information of three recommenders at the time of their online application. Recommenders will receive an email with a link to the online letter of recommendation to complete. Applicants are able to see which recommenders have already completed their recommendation by logging into the My ASU system and viewing their "To Do" list. Once a recommender has submitted the letter of recommendation, the recommender's name will be removed from the "To Do" list. All letters must be in English.

Applicants should identify a proposed research topic, or list of possible topics, that aligns with the research mission of the program and the research interests of faculty.

Applicants must have identified a doctoral program faculty member who has agreed to serve as a mentor. The faculty mentor should be from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Applicants are recommended to introduce themselves by email to the faculty members who they feel have related research interests and to inquire about their availability to be mentors.

The application will be considered incomplete if any of the application items is missing.

The doctoral executive committee evaluates the applications and supporting materials. Admission decisions are based on the ability of the potential mentor to devote time to the student; the compatibility of the applicant's career goals with the purpose of the degree program; GRE scores; previous academic training and performance; recommendation letters; and the research mission of the institute and the research interests of faculty. The recommendations of the committee are forwarded to the program director for approval. Upon the written recommendation from the program director, the dean of the Graduate College will notify all applicants in writing of the admission decision.