Master of Architecture

The Master of Architecture program at Knowlton has the common value of rendering visible the invisible aspects of society and the environment.

Master of Architecture

The Master of Architecture (MArch) degree is an accredited, professional degree program that prepares its students for careers in architecture. Demonstrating the broad impact of the discipline, career opportunities range from practicing as a licensed professional to ones that leverage architecture’s expanded modes of practice. ­­­An exemplary faculty with diverse perspectives offers students a range of approaches to define their own disciplinary—or interdisciplinary—direction. These directions are connected by a common value: an architecture education that renders visible the invisible aspects of society and the environment. Seeing the world differently is the initial act of architecture. This act is followed by designing for better futures.

The graduate program of Knowlton Architecture is a place to ask questions and to think deeply about that which is lesser known. Students design to reimagine our current realities. This involves embracing uncertainty, developing ideas to speculate on the future. Establishing the program’s cultural voice, the studio curriculum builds on Knowlton’s longstanding integration of design culture and technology. A sequence of history/theory courses stimulates critical thinking with a global perspective. A building technology curriculum combines technical expertise with a renewed focus on climate and society.

In addition to the Architecture Section’s esteemed faculty, students also learn from distinguished visiting professors. National and international practitioners teach in the school and interact with students. They are at the forefront of their field and provide insights at the intersection of the academy and practice. Since 1998, the Herbert Baumer Memorial Seminars lead students through in-depth research on the visiting practitioner’s work and engage them in a discussion about their motivations. The Baumer Seminar practitioner also delivers a school-wide lecture during their visit and the seminars are the basis of the Source Books in Architecture Series. These engagements invite the Baumer professors to provide insight into the contemporary discourse of the architecture discipline.

The Master of Architecture degree at the Knowlton School has a single three-year degree with two entry points. Students with non-architecture undergraduate degrees and some continuing students enter the first year of the program, which focuses on the development of the student’s critical, technical, and aesthetic sensibility within the domain of architectural design. Students who have completed a four-year undergraduate degree from an NAAB-accredited program may be granted advanced placement to enter the second year on the basis of academic performance and portfolio review. The students then advance to the third year of the program which concentrates on developing disciplinary expertise through advanced research.

The Master of Architecture program culminates with the degree project, which combines a research seminar with a design studio. The degree project synthesizes knowledge and abilities gained in the program, with a focus on combining students’ in-depth research with speculative design. Each student in the research seminar is asked to render visibility to invisible aspects of society or the environment. This research is mobilized in a studio; organized as directed research, students situate design proposals in a broader cultural context. They develop design arguments and proposals that critically examine and expand upon the seminar research. A multi-day presentation marks the conclusion of the degree project and the beginning of MArch graduates’ impact on society.


The Master of Architecture curriculum couples advanced professional knowledge with a speculative disciplinary agenda. The G1 year is the foundation year and develops a student’s critical, technical, and aesthetic sensibilities. The G2 year grounds students in professional competency, and the third year cultivates disciplinary expertise through advanced research. Students admitted with advanced standing bypass the G1 year unless otherwise notified.

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Year One (G1)

The first year of the MArch program immerses students in the issues pertinent to the discipline and profession of architecture with studios and support courses that focus on the development of the student’s design sensibility and critical thinking.

The G1 studio sequence (ARCH 6410 and 6420) introduces and develops disciplinary and representational fundamentals with a focus on aesthetics, ordering systems, drawing conventions, diagrammatic analysis, and the use of historical precedents. Basic issues of site, program, and building tectonics are also introduced.

An autumn-term course, Representing Architecture (ARCH 6210), introduces incoming students to contemporary architectural arguments and representation, providing them with the knowledge and techniques to orient themselves within the design studio. G1 students take a full year of architectural history (ARCH 5110 and 5120), a full year of materials and building envelopes (ARCH 5510 and 5520), and the first of two courses in environmental systems (ARCH 5810).

ARCH 6410 Accelerated Arch Design I 6
ARCH 5110 History of Architecture I 4
ARCH 6210 Representing Architecture 3
ARCH 5510 Materials and Envelopes I 3
Total   16
ARCH 6420 Accelerated Arch Design II 6
ARCH 5120 History of Architecture II 4
ARCH 5810 Architectural Environments 3
ARCH 5520 Materials and Envelopes II 3
Total   16

Year Two (G2)

The second year of the MArch program immerses students in contemporary architectural culture while providing rigorous technical training in building tectonics, structures, mechanical systems, and sustainability.

The first G2 studio (ARCH 7410) develops the disciplinary and representational fundamentals introduced in the first year and establishes a common vocabulary for rising G1 and G2 students with advanced placement. Technical issues related to site, program, structures, building tectonics, and environmental systems are introduced in the fall term and developed with increasing rigor in the spring comprehensive studio.

History of Architecture 3 (ARCH 5130) provides G2 students with a firm grounding in contemporary architectural culture, with a focus on architectural history and theory of the past fifty years. Technical instruction is provided with a full year of structures (ARCH 5710 and 5720) and the second of two courses in environmental systems (ARCH 5820). In the spring term, students take a course in architectural theory (ARCH 7220) and the first of three elective seminars, choosing from offerings in architectural history and theory (ARCH 5290), and representation and technology issues (ARCH 5590).

ARCH 7410 Advanced Arch Design I 6
ARCH 5710 Architectural Structures* 3
ARCH 5130 History of Architecture III 3
ELECTIVE Elective 3
Total   16
ARCH 7420 Advanced Arch Design II 8
ARCH 7220 Architectural Theory 3
ARCH 6710 Integrated Architectural Structures 3
ARCH 6810 Integrated Environmental Systems 3
Total   17

Year Three (G3)

The third year of the MArch program develops all aspects of previous years in the program and positions students to take a leading role in shaping the future of the field. The fall studio (ARCH 7310) is an advanced topic-driven studio led by Knowlton faculty and distinguished visiting faculty. In these studios, speculative design agendas are the norm, with recent studios focusing on topics including experimental approaches, environmental futures, distributed architectural labor, artificial intelligence, and virtual/augmented reality.

In the fall, MArch students participate in the Baumer Seminars, a long-standing series of discussions with major practitioners and theorists in contemporary architecture and related fields (recent participants include Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston, Tatiana Bilbao, and Ryue Nishizawa). Students also take a research seminar (ARCH 8220) for their spring degree project (ARCH 8420). Through consultation with architecture faculty, the degree project seminar takes the form of a speculative research and a design project, culminating in a group exhibition and multi-day presentation. G3 students also take a course in professional practice (ARCH 7310) and two additional elective seminars (ARCH 5290, 5390, or 5590) that support their individual interests and ambitions.

ARCH 8410 Advanced Arch Design III 8
ARCH 8210 Baumer Professor Seminar 3
ARCH 8220 Degree Project Seminar 3
ELECTIVE Elective 3
Total   17
ARCH 8420 Degree Project 8
ARCH 7310 Professional Practice 3
ELECTIVE Elective 3
Total   14


Need more information? Please contact:

Beth Blostein
Professor of Architecture,
Graduate Studies Chair