Master of Architecture

Master of Architecture

The Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree is the degree earned through several possible paths of study, depending on both a particular program's construction, and the candidate's previous academic experience and degrees. Many schools offer several possible tracks, and they range from 1 to 5 years.

  • One possible route is what is commonly referred to as the "4+2" course. This path entails completing a four-year, accredited, pre-professional bachelor of arts in architecture or a bachelor of science in architecture. This degree is not enough to qualify the student to sit for the architectural record exam, so the next step is to complete a 2 year (or sometimes 3 year, depending on the nature and quality of your undergraduate study performance, and the evaluation of your master's degree program school of your undergraduate study) master of architecture program. This route offers several advantages: your first four years are a bit more loose, allowing the inclusion of some liberal arts study; you can attend two different institutions for your undergraduate and graduate study, which is helpful in that it allows you to have a more varied architectural education, and you can pick the best place for you to complete your thesis (because chances are, you might not pick the program that has the exact focus that you will want when it becomes time for your thesis study); and you will finish the 4+2 course of study with a master's degree that will provide you the career option of teaching architecture at the collegiate level.
  • The other path you can take to obtaining an accredited master's degree is to do it all in graduate school--this will take about 3.5 years. The advantage to this route is that you can study something else you're interested in in your undergraduate study (anything else). The disadvantages are that you'll be in school a lot longer (7.5 years with your undergraduate degree), and you will have a very short time to cover the extremely broad scope of subject areas of which architects are expected to have a working knowledge.

(Please note that there is another possible route to becoming an architect--the continuous 5 year professional degree program. Under this course, after five years of study, students area awarded with a professional bachelor's degree in architecture, a degree that qualifies those who complete it to sit for the ARE (the Architectural Registration Exam, the architecture equivalent of the bar exam). This degree, however, as it is not a master's degree, does not qualify the recipient to teach architecture at the collegiate level (you can, however, pursue a 1-1 1/2 year master's degree to obtain this qualification).)

Graduate-level architecture programs consist of course work in design, building science, structural engineering, architectural history, theory, professional practice, and elective courses. For those without any prior knowledge of the field, coursework in calculus, physics, computers, statics and strengths of materials, architectural history, studio, and building science is usually required. Some architecture programs allow students to specialize in a specific aspect of architecture, such as architectural technologies or digital media. A thesis or final project is usually required to graduate.

Something to consider in choosing the school(s) you will attend for your architectural education is their overall "focus". Architectural schools usually, by virtue of the history of the school and the interests of the faculty, will approach the instruction of architecture from a technical, historical, or artistic bent--or a combination thereof. This is not something that will be spelled out for you in the school's literature, but will be more or less apparent if you look at the lists of classes offered and the study areas of the faculty. While it may not seem important at first, in retrospect it will probably be a major factor.

An architectural thesis is the culmination of a student’s research. Submission of the thesis represents the completion of the final requirement for the degree and may be presented as graphic representations, a written work, or physical forms. According to Groat and Wang, Architectural Research Methods, the scope of the research inquiry must not be too broad or too narrow. A good topic will clearly and simply identify a body of literature to which the topical question can be referred. Additionally, a thesis question must have significance to not only the student, but his or her peers, and to the field of architecture.

In the United States, The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is the sole agency authorized to accredit US professional degree programs in architecture. Since most state registration boards in the United States require any applicant for licensure to have graduated from a NAAB-accredited program, obtaining such a degree is an essential aspect of preparing for the professional practice of architecture. Visit their website at to search for accredited programs.

Again, first time students matriculating with a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree can also qualify for registration, without obtaining a master's degrees. Some programs offer a concurrent learning model, allowing students the opportunity to work in the profession while they are earning their degree, so that they can test for licensure immediately upon graduation.

In Canada, Master of Architecture degrees may be accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), allowing the recipient to qualify for both the ARE and the Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC).

As of March 2006, there were eighty-four accredited Master of Architecture programs in the United States, including Puerto Rico. In Canada, there were ten accredited programs.

Master's Degree programs

Colleges and universities in the United States with accredited Master of Architecture degree programs are listed below.

Note: Schools where a Bachelor of Architecture can also be earned are marked with *

Colleges and universities in Canada with accredited Master of Architecture degree programs are listed below:

Universities in Australia with accredited Master of Architecture degree programs are listed below:


Four United States schools are candidates for accreditation, meaning that their newly-created programs may be accredited to offer the M.Arch. degree upon proof of meeting NAAB standards. This usually occurs after the school has graduated its first class of students.

Schools and Universities in Europe

See also

Search another word or see master of architectureon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature