Master of Permaculture Design, MSPD.



Rak Tamachat Permaculture Institute and The Sustainable Agriculture Institute have joined forces to allow for the Permaculture Design Master’s Degree in Sustainable Systems to be offered to a wider range of Permaculturists.

The Master’s Degree in Sustainable Systems allows for Permaculture Design Diploma holders the opportunity to further their studies of the Permaculture Design Science.

The Permaculture Design Master Degree Program is designed so that Permaculturists are afforded the most conducive learning pathway for them to concentrate on their Permaculture Research.

Permaculture Design Research is at the heart of what makes the Rak Tamachat and S.A.I. Permaculture Design Master’s Degree Program stand-out.

For any questions about our Permaculture Master’s Degree Program, feel free to contact us:

Fee Structure – Masters Degree in Permaculture Design of Sustainable Systems


The Master’s Degree Program has two main options which can be pursued by the respective candidates:

Learn more about our Permaculture Education Grant Program and check your Eligibility:

Online Only Option: Distance Learning with S.A.I.

Master’s Degree Educational Cost:  Only 1,250 USD

Eligibility – Permaculture Design Master’s Degree Program

Who Can Apply?

The Masters of Permaculture Design Program is open to any Permaculture Design Degree Diploma Holder (all Permaculture Institutes Degrees accepted), as well as Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Engineering, Bachelors of Sustainability.

The program Acceptance Criteria:

  • A Permaculture Design Diploma, Dip. Perm. Des. (providing an UNDERGRADUATE transcript, which states that a degree has been awarded or conferred – the name on the transcript must match your current legal name or proof of name change is required).


  • A Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Engineering, Bachelors of Sustainability (providing an UNDERGRADUATE transcript, which states that a degree has been awarded or conferred – the name on the transcript must match your current legal name or proof of name change is required).


  • A Permaculture Design Course (PDC) followed by 3 months of Permaculture Applied Field Work Projects: either one project or multiple projects cumulating a total of 528 hours (22 days per months at 8 hours per day for 3 months amounts to 528 hours).


Masters of Sustainability in Permaculture Design Fees

Most college graduates have one major thing in common: Student Debt.

Today, 70 percent of college students graduate with a significant amount of loans. Over 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. That means that roughly one in four American adults are paying-off student loans.

When they graduate, average student loan borrowers have $37,172 in student loans, a $20,000 increase from 13 years ago. With that money, borrowers could put a down payment on a home, purchase a new car or Bootstrap their own Sustainability Business.

As the size of student debt owed has increased, so have monthly payments. The US Federal Reserve estimated that the average monthly student loan payment increased from $227 in 2005 to $393 in 2019.

Beau, one of the founders of Rak Tamachat and S.A.I., believes that all education should be:

“More Affordable and is a Basic Right”

While everything has a cost, the cost should reflect the amount to provide the education. S.A.I. was founded to provide a low-cost platform in order to disseminate education to a Global Audience.



Schedule – Permaculture Design Masters Program

Master’s Degree Schedule – Typical Week

* Meals & Meals Preparation: Every month, Rak Tamachat hosts Natural Building and Permaculture Design Courses for two weeks. During that time, Master’s Degree Students can – but are not compelled to – help for meal preparation. During the other two weeks, we expect you to be responsible and convene with other interns, diploma or master’s students how to share the tasks of meal preparation and cleaning. As our Institute is also home to an Intentional Permaculture Community, we strongly suggest you share communal meals with staff, interns, and students of other programs.

 ** Sundays: Sundays are free time. You can either enjoy a few hours of down-time, get out of the farm to visit the region or work on your Thesis.

Permaculture Design Masters Degree Distance Education

Our flexible approach offers you a range of study options. You can study by online and flexible learning, which allows you to combine your studies with work or other commitments.

What are some of the advantages of distance education?

The main advantage of distance learning is that it allows you to fit your learning around your work and home life.
  • You can usually set your own pace of study.
  • It is your decision as to when and where you study.
  • It doesn’t matter where you live – you can gain a degree from anywhere in the world.
  • As with a full-time degree, students may find that they gain useful, transferable skills, such as planning and research.
  • A distance learning course often costs less than a full-time degree.


The downside is that you will not enjoy the conviviality of being on the Rak Tamachat Permaculture campus and rubbing shoulders with fellow students on a daily basis.

Don’t worry though: our online Learning Managment Systems (LMS), which we like to call the eCampus, has been designed to provide the distance learner with all the tools and support they need to assure the success of their online studies.



  • You can study undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level courses via distance learning.
  • The Sustainable Agriculture Institute ensures that its distance learning programs and qualifications are of the same high quality as campus-based programs.

Permaculture Design Master of Sustainability in Design Systems

The Master’s of Sustainability builds on the Permaculture Design Graduate Diploma with a capstone experience that will put you to work on researching current sustainability problems in collaboration with the industry (including your own job, if appropriate).

Offering excellent flexibility, the sustainability program lets you tailor your subjects to suit your background and career interests.

By joining the sustainability program at the Sustainable Agriculture Institute, you will be part of a truly multidisciplinary experience.

You will gain both a theoretical understanding and applied skills to connect sustainability processes to specific areas of business, development, health, and policy-making, among others. With this new understanding of sustainability, you’ll have the tools to change your approach to your current work or embark on an entirely new career.

Environmental Science and Permaculture Design Master’s Degree

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary academic field that draws on:

  • ecology,
  • geology,
  • meteorology,
  • biology,
  • chemistry,
  • engineering,
  • and physics

to study environmental problems and human impacts on the environment.

Environmental science is a quantitative discipline, with both applied and theoretical aspects, and has been influential in informing the policies of governments around the world. Environmental science is considered separate from environmental studies, which emphasizes the human relationship with the environment and the social and political dimensions thereof.

For example, whereas a researcher in environmental studies might focus on the economic and political dimensions of international climate-change protocols, an environmental scientist would seek to understand climate change by quantifying its effects with models and evaluating means of mitigation.

Thus, Environmental Science is very important because it studies the connection and implication of seemingly disconnected phenomena, enlightening to the consequence of our actions, such as the effect of technology on the destruction of the natural resources and the ecosystem, and what we can do to reverse some of these destructive forces and heal the environment, saving ourselves in the process.

Permaculture Design: Sustainability Education Changing the World

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illnesses, and to fostering peace. And, in a knowledge economy, education is the new currency by which nations maintain economic competitiveness and global prosperity.

Education is an investment, and actually one of the most critical investments we can make.

By attaining your Permaculture Design Master’s Degree you will be working to broaden the level of Permaculture Research, which will allow for other Permaculturists access to more knowledge of Sustainable Design, helping to bring Sustainable Change to the World.

Sustainability is an exciting and dynamic field to work in!


There are many career opportunities that are directly tied to Sustainability throughout the private, public, and non-profit sectors. There are also many ways to integrate Sustainability into your existing work.


What makes Sustainability such an Appealing Field to Work In?

I suspect one of the major attractions is this industry’s highly multi-faceted nature. Sustainability practitioners are rarely confined to just one area of expertise – instead, they must draw upon a range of different disciplines to come up with solutions that address environmental, economic and social needs.

Sustainability’s focus on interdisciplinary problem-solving might be a tall order to meet, but it’s also an exceptional opportunity. How many other professions allow you to make a positive difference across so many diverse areas?


Who employs Sustainability Professionals?

About half of Sustainability Professionals are employed in private industry, while the other half are employed by governments and non-profit organizations.

The top employers of Sustainability Professionals are governments (employing 27% of sustainability professionals), research institutions and non-profit organizations (24%), large companies in manufacturing, oil & gas, mining, forestry and utilities (10%) and businesses in retail, finance, and insurance (10%).


How much is the Average Starting Salary?

This question is a major deciding factor when it comes to choosing a career that is not only rewarding but also financially viable. Keeping in mind that salaries vary significantly depending on the type of employer, experience level and occupation, we developed salary estimates through a series of interviews with Sustainability Practitioners.

For those working as Sustainability Specialists, the average starting salary was about $40,650, with a high-end starting salary for more experienced workers at $50,700.

Sustainability Consultants typically started at a higher rate – $55,760 was the average base starting salary for this role.

General Instructions for Master Thesis in the area of Permaculture Design

The purpose of these instructions is to help you in starting with and working on your Permaculture Design Thesis project. Since each thesis project involves some common characteristics as well as some unique ones, the idea is not to follow all the instructions given here literarily.

It is assumed that you have read and tried to understand the instructions in the context of your Permaculture Design Thesis project before a meeting with the supervisor. Any unclear issues are then discussed and clarified in the meetings.

Summary of Important Action Points

Here is a list of the main action points related to doing your thesis project. They are presented in an order that may differ from the order you do them.

  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant instructions;
  • Summarise your idea(s) about the topic and problem on one page;
  • Gain a basic understanding of the research methods potentially relevant to your thesis;
  • Refresh your knowledge of technical scientific writing;
  • Discuss your research approach with the supervisor;
  • Outline your study design;
  • Do the actual research work and write the thesis;
  • Keep the supervisor and instructor(s) up to date with your progress;
  • Do all things officially required following the instructions (not repeated here).



Supervisor / Instructor(s)

The instruction process has different areas of concern. The Thesis Supervisor will ensure that the thesis complies with the requirements from the university’s point of view, including the theoretical and methodological research basis, quality and style of technical reporting, etc.


A Permaculture Design Master’s Thesis is not a job for life but, when well planned and implemented, becomes somewhat larger and more demanding than a typical exercise. That is, you simply need to set your thesis clear (sub)goals, turn those to action items, schedule them and keep the schedule! Making progress and keeping the schedule is your responsibility… Well, in addition to also doing the actual work and writing the thesis!

It is also your responsibility to maintain the status of the project clear and communicate the status with your supervisor. Therefore, it makes sense to follow the required practice of making notes and writing a short memorandum on each meeting with the supervisor, summarising what was discussed and agreed upon.

Starting your Permaculture Design Thesis Project

First of all, familiarise yourself with the relevant instructions. In particular the instructions of the study programme and the official forms required in the process. Think about the topic you would like to address in your Permaculture Design Thesis Project. You will discuss with your Instructor about the topic, schedule, goal and general conditions for the project. Summarise your idea(s) about the topic and problem on one page.

Arrange the first appointment with the Supervisor. In the first meeting with the Supervisor, you will then discuss the topic and its suitability for a Permaculture Design Thesis Project, go through the first steps in starting the work, agree on a kick-off meeting with the instructor, if needed, and any other practical matters relevant at that point.

In the kick-off meeting with the instructor, the following topics will be addressed:

  • the goals of the Permaculture Design Thesis;
  • the schedule and milestones for the project;
  • instruction and guiding practices to be followed;
  • the criteria for judging the success of the project;
  • the required paperwork;
  • and any other business related to the thesis project.


Meetings with Supervisor

The supervisor and the student agree on the practices for the Permaculture Design Thesis Project, for example, regular status meetings and such. The meetings with the supervisor are organized as needed. Typical meetings, in the beginning, are the first discussion on the topic and the kick-off meeting with the instructor. During the project, there can be a first meeting, for example, after the theory (literature) and research methods, and a second one when the results are there and it is time to start analyzing them in detail.

These are just examples, and sometimes no meeting is required as an email may be sufficient. Typically, a meeting is in place when the manuscript is read, and the instructor agrees this is the case. Before this meeting, the manuscript is delivered to the supervisor and the purpose of the meeting is to go through the supervisor’s comments. In each meeting, the next steps are discussed and agreed upon. The student writes a short memo on each meeting, most importantly the action points, and emails the memo to the supervisor.

Working on your Permaculture Design Thesis Project

In the following, the phases of a Permaculture Design Thesis Project are roughly described and some general good practices and potential pitfalls are addressed. Read through all the instructions, as they are not necessarily in the order you might apply them.

Basics for doing a Permaculture Design Thesis Project

In the beginning, you need to gain a basic understanding of the relevant research methods you’re going to apply. This is important to have as a solid background for the later phases of the project, as it is impossible, for example, to correct the research methods after the actual work has been done and while writing the thesis if you then realize that something should have been done differently.

It is also highly recommended to visit the library or do some online searching and find some good theses on a related topic or similar research setting, read them and try to understand how they have been done, what makes them good and on what aspects you could improve. At the same time, find out some material and refresh your knowledge on technical scientific writing. This includes the general style and language of writing, typical structural issues as well as guidelines and conventions, e.g., for literature references and such. Read the S.A.I. Thesis Guidelines

Selecting the Research Approach

Selecting the research approach for your Permaculture Design Thesis requires some attention. You should familiarise yourself with the typical choices of research approach for a thesis project (e.g., design science / constructive research, case study, action / participatory research, or perhaps a literature survey). Then you discuss your research approach with the supervisor before starting the actual work. Before the discussion, outline your study design, i.e., the particular instantiation of the research approach in your thesis project.

Doing and Reporting

The actual work in your Permaculture Thesis project may consist of building a prototype, testing a particular method in a company or gaining an understanding of something relevant by means of interviewing people, for example. The work is mainly independent work of the student. With the supervisor, the student can have separate discussions about research methods, writing the thesis, and such. It is advisable to start writing the thesis already in the early phases of the project.

The Work

According to your study design, you do your work. Iteratively, adjusting the research questions and fine-tuning the study design as needed. As a result, you get your results. It is important that you follow the advice for your research approach so that you that your results stand on a solid methodological foundation, maintaining the chain of evidence from any data you collect to the conclusions you make. In most cases, it is a good practice to keep a research diary and write reflective memos during the research. Furthermore, if you interview people, whether it is for example, for understanding the problem, collecting data as a part of your main research activity or validating your results within the company, it is important to record the sessions. On the other hand, if your approach is more constructive, it is good to make notes on the rationale for your design decisions.

Big Picture of Research Process

The figure below gives a general idea of a process for research in Permaculture Design, which you can use as a backbone for your research project.

You need to familiarise yourself with the previous work on the topic or close to it. In scientific research, the role of the previous work is to give background for the work and especially explicate the scientific novelty of the work. However, in a Permaculture Design Master’s Thesis, scientific novelty is not required. Therefore, the purpose of previous work is often somewhat different. It may be the source of existing methods for addressing a particular problem, used as a means to show what is reported in different sources and analyzed here and used as a basis for this work.

And, to make sure you are not repeating exactly what someone already has done. So you need to understand the problem both from the perspective of Sustainable Agriculture and the perspective of the previous work. On this basis, you then conceptualize the problem and express it in the form of your research questions.

Research Questions

Coming up with good research questions is demanding. It is also typical that the research questions evolve towards the final form during the Permaculture Design Thesis Project, and that is ok. However, that does not mean that you should start without any research questions and only write them afterward, as by doing so you would most probably have a poor focus during your work and your results would be more accidental than anything else.

The research questions define what exactly you are looking for in your Permaculture Design Thesis Project. More about formulating your research questions can be found from the S.A.I. Guide to Thesis Writing.

To answer your research questions, you need to select a suitable research approach from the literature on research methods. Before committing to any particular research method, discuss the potential approaches with the supervisor. Be careful with your wording of the research questions, because your results are judged against them. In fact, you are in a good position, as you can yourself set the exact criteria for judging your work. Of course, you the research questions need to be interesting and relevant, not just easy to fulfill.

The the whole point in your Permaculture Design Thesis is to build a consistent line of thought from the problem to the results and conclusions you make. The goals of your research can also be set in the form of hypotheses. However, the research questions are used in these instructions, as it is generally very hard to prove much anything right or wrong in software engineering.

Nevertheless, if you are, for example, planning to conduct a controlled experiment, the use of hypotheses would be natural. Nevertheless, many issues with exact wording and accuracy are similar to those with research questions. In both cases, it is about clearly stating what your research is about.

Study Design

Once you know your research approach, you need to design the details of your research. This is called here the study design. In short, the study design is your instantiation of the research approach describing the details of what you do in your research project in order to answer the research questions. When describing your study design in your thesis be concrete.

That is, describe what you did, how did you collect the data, e.g., you can mention the sources of information and number of informants, give an overview of their roles, show the artifact created etc. The idea is to describe your instance of the research approach and methods you use as the basis.

A common mistake is to leave the description at the high level of abstraction, which only summarises the research methods from the literature and does not to actually describe your own study at all.