The academic structure of SUTD is designed to support a curriculum that develops technically-grounded leaders who will contribute to society through technology and design and make an impact on the world. Our academic programmes are designed with an “outside-in” approach that starts with considering industry’s needs and delves deeply into the challenges the world faces today.  Based on the concept that society needs products, processes, systems and services, SUTD is structured not via traditional disciplines but into four pillars (core areas of specialisation).

Undergraduate Programme

The SUTD undergraduate programme is divided into two distinct portions, Freshmore (Terms 1 to 3) and Pillar (Terms 4 to 8). The Freshmore terms provide students with the fundamentals which prepare them for a specialisation in any of the four pillars.

Freshmore Terms

In the Freshmore terms, students receive a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences.  In Term 2, students are introduced to various design concepts in a full term subject on design, taught from the perspective of both architecture and engineering. In Term 3, they are introduced to three introductory engineering subjects that are unique to SUTD - “Modelling the Systems World”, “Engineering in the Physical World”, and “The Digital World”. Rounding off the Freshmore curriculum is the inclusion of two Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) subjects to train critical thinkers.

During these terms, students take common classes together in a cohort-based learning format.  They are grouped into “cohorts” that serve to foster collaborative learning and a sense of teamwork, ownership and belonging.  Cohort-based learning incorporates hands-on activities such as simulations, demonstrations and problem sets where students are challenged to devise solutions in context.

This novel approach provides a broad and rigorous education for all students to excel in their pillar of choice, an informed decision students make only after Term 3.

Find out more about the individual subjects in Freshmore.

Pillar Terms

Upon completing the Freshmore terms, students select to specialise in one of the four pillars, graduating with the respective degrees. SUTD’s four pillars are developed to offer a modern engineering and architectural education that crosses traditional disciplines.  They prepare students for roles that involve design, technical leadership and creative thinking.

Within each pillar, students first take pillar core subjects that provide foundational material particular to the subject.  Students progress to study advanced pillar subjects which permit greater focus and depth in applying their knowledge.  Besides the pillar subjects, students are required to take five HASS electives which provide the breadth to the curriculum.

In addition, students are required to take 1-2 technical application elective(s) depending on pillar requirements.  These electives are subjects with shared interest between pillars that have been specially developed to promote interdisciplinary interactions.  In the senior year, students participate in a two-term capstone subject which requires them to work in project teams with students from at least 2 pillars and contribute their respective expertise and skills to solving real-world challenges.  Thus, regardless of the pillar chosen, students will be constantly exposed to other pillars, resulting in a truly multi-disciplinary education that sets SUTD apart from other universities.

  • Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD)

Environmental changes, rapid urbanisation and constraints on the world’s resources are challenges faced by the modern architect. ASD prepares students for the future needs of architecture in a digital era - ecological urban architecture, leveraging on big data to design smart cities, advanced design computation, digital fabrication and more.

Find out more about ASD.

  • Engineering Product Development (EPD)

EPD prepares students for leadership in the conception, design, implementation and operation of innovative technology-intensive products and systems, with emphasis on products and systems whose development cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries. It covers products and systems in the fields of aerospace, bio-medical engineering, electronics, defence, energy, robotics, mechanical engineering, materials, transportation and more.

Find out more about EPD.

  • Engineering Systems and Design (ESD)

ESD focuses on the design, analysis, optimisation and management of large-scale complex systems. Examples include financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare delivery, transportation and aviation, security and defence, energy production and distribution, and many more. It prepares students for positions as systems analysts or project leaders in a wide range of private and public sectors, and for careers in consulting.

Find out more about ESD.

  • Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD)

ISTD integrates the traditional disciplines of Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Information Systems - focusing on the design of systems that interact with both humans and machines. It prepares students for leadership in industries including social media, banking and finance, transportation, security and defence, healthcare, and gaming.

Find out more about ISTD.

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Regardless of the pillar selected, all undergraduate students are required to take seven classes in HASS. HASS subjects complement the technical subjects to provide students with a grounding in the practice of inquiry, analysis, interpretation and presentation.

Find out more about the HASS electives.

The Degrees Awarded

Students graduate with one of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science (Architecture and Sustainable Design) (8 terms)
  • Master of Architecture (10 terms)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Engineering Product Development) (8 terms)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Engineering Systems and Design) (8 terms)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Information Systems Technology and Design) (8 terms)


Design is another critical element in our curriculum.  In addition to providing a strong technical-grounding, through the Freshmore terms and in the pillars, and cultivating creativity and a perceptive mind through HASS, design is literally everywhere at SUTD.

Students are not passive spectators in their own learning in SUTD where a vibrant design and hands-on culture within and outside the classroom is supported by the 4-Dimensional Big-Design (4D Big-D) framework.

1D: In each subject, students develop a full understanding of key “1D” concepts through hands-on and active learning activities.

2D: Once armed with 1D concepts, students begin to make connections across subjects within the same term and apply them in interdisciplinary design projects called “2D” Designettes.

3D: In the pillar years, foundation knowledge is built upon for deeper technical training and understanding of more advanced concepts. Research and data developed during one term are used and built upon in a subsequent subject in a later term. In addition, students of different specialisations bring prior years’ knowledge and training to solve “3D” Thematic Design Projects.

4D: Students make their own opportunities outside of the formal curriculum to explore their design interests, be involved in research, be entrepreneurial and innovate. Examples include Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), Electric Vehicle (EV) Club, Robotics Club, SUTD Mechanical Designer Club, Digital Design and Development Club (3DC) and many more.

The Fifth Row

The 5th Row is made up of co-curricular activities that add considerably to the learning experience of students by providing opportunities for them to develop their leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Dedicated timeslots are set aside every day in the student timetable for 5th Row activities, alongside other formal subjects.

Key Fifth Row programmes and activities include:

Graduate Curriculum

The SUTD Graduate curriculum is steeped in research, focusing on the pillars of Engineering Product Development, Engineering Systems and Design and Information Systems and Design.  It is designed to nurture entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, thinkers and experts for the 21 century.

The MIT-SUTD Dual Masters’ Programme maximizes students’ potential in the fields of technology and design with coursework at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and research at SUTD.

The PhD programme brings together the best minds in the fields and conduct breakthrough research that will make a difference to the world.