Master of Architecture

The graduate architecture program provides rigorous, accessible, and affordable professional preparation for a variety of careers.

Program Description

MassArt's Master of Architecture Program combines professional requirements with hands-on design and build experience focused on community-based teaching and working spaces. The program educates socially aware artisan-architects who, as future leaders in the field, are versatile problem-solvers and skilled collaborators, dedicated to sustainable improvement of the built environment. Students develop a personal language of form and a responsible design ethic from the study of current, visionary, historic, and vernacular architectures and experimentation with the intrinsic properties and geometries of materials and building systems. Frequent critiques by faculty, guests, and visiting design/construction professionals help students further refine their designs and their vision. MassArt encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply.

The full-residency Master of Architecture program (M.Arch) offers two tracks starting in the summer term.

Track I (102 credits) – eight terms of coursework (three pre-professional terms and five professional terms) for applicants with previous bachelor's degrees in disciplines other than architecture, or those students with coursework in architecture who are honing their skills through the integration of structural and environmental systems in their designs. Track I students start in the summer term, in June, unless they have been granted advanced placement during the program placement and transfer credit evaluation. Students in Track I join the Track II sequence after up to three semesters – summer, fall and spring – of pre-professional coursework.

Track II (60 credits) – five terms of coursework for applicants with previous bachelor's degrees in architecture with portfolios that show their experience in architectural design that includes the ability to manipulate structural and environmental systems that reinforce their design ideas. Track II starts in June with a community design and build summer studio semester, continues through fall and spring, and concludes with a research and design thesis which is completed in two terms (summer and fall, or fall and spring). Thesis focuses on individual research leading to expertise in their topic through a design exploration that builds on coursework, experience and personal vision. Track II students complete the equivalent of Track I pre-professional requirements prior to entering Track II, or occasionally may complete remaining Track I requirements while enrolled in the Track II program.

Program Placement and Transfer Credit Evaluation

MassArt's M.Arch Program Coordinator evaluates all applicants to the M.Arch Track I (pre-professional and professional coursework) and Track II (professional coursework) programs for placement into the appropriate track and for transfer credit or course waivers towards advanced placement. For more information and to submit documentation for this evaluation, see placement and transfer evaluation.

Program Features

The Master of Architecture program is designed to provide rigorous and accessible professional preparation for a variety of architecture centered careers, in a world facing serious global challenges. Grounded in energy-conscious building and site design, studio coursework promotes conceptual theory with practical application in building systems, construction technology, ethical practice and cultural traditions in architecture.

MassArt's extensive fabrication shops provide a unique opportunity for students seeking a hands-on architectural education. The curriculum combines professional requirements in architectural planning and environmental concerns with hands-on design and build experience focused on community-based and teaching and working spaces, so that students develop as socially aware artisan-architects who are versatile problem-solvers and skilled collaborators, dedicated to sustainable improvement of the built environment. The community design and build studios are particularly helpful preparation for those whose ultimate goal is to practice as design and build architects or in the construction industry.

Frequent critiques stress sensitivity to built form in the urban context, client's needs, ergonomic requirements, structural design, and cultural and environmental considerations.

Students are expected to develop a personal language of form and a responsible design ethic through the study of "green," modern, historic, and vernacular architectures, and experimentation with the intrinsic properties of materials and building systems.

Building Social Awareness

The M.Arch curriculum includes a community project that promotes interaction between community members, architects, builders, and engineers. The students experience the design and construction of habitable spaces within a local environment, and solve diverse requirements for an actual client.

Individual studio coursework and research complements the M.Arch curriculum. Seminars in architectural history and the building traditions of different cultures widen students' frames of reference and introduce techniques they may later require, working in preservation or adaptive re-use of historical buildings or cultural districts. Individual theses allow students to focus on personal research topics solved through design, leading to mastery. A board composed of the student's adviser and professional readers reviews each thesis.

Community-based Design and Build Studio

In their second summer, Track I students join with incoming Track II students to participate in a community-based design and build studio. The initial community design and build studio in summer 2009 worked with faculty, staff and students at the William E. Carter School in Boston's historic South End neighborhood. In the summer of 2011, MassArt graduate students designed and built an outdoor classroom for a pilot elementary school in the Boston Public School system.

2011 Haley School Project (PDF)
2010 Drumlin Farm Project
2009 Carter School Project

Visiting Professionals

The department lecture series brings in architects, engineers, and fabricators to talk about their own work. Many local architects and related professionals also enrich the discussions in design critiques.

Collaborative Approach

Students work together in shared design studios where classrooms, computer laboratories, and construction workshops are located, providing media and fabrication tools to complement their design work.

NAAB Accreditation

In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted a 6-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

NAAB grants candidacy status to new programs that have developed viable plans for achieving initial accreditation. Candidacy status indicates that a program should be accredited within 6 years of achieving candidacy, if its plan is properly implemented. In order to meet the education requirement set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), an applicant for an NCARB Certificate must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the NAAB; the degree must have been awarded not more than two years prior to initial accreditation. However, meeting the education requirement for the NCARB Certificate may not be equivalent to meeting the education requirement for registration in a specific jurisdiction. Please contact NCARB for more information.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design was granted candidacy for the following professional degree programs in architecture:

Master of Architecture
Track I Program – 102 credits (Students from programs other than architecture - 42 credits which match the MassArt pre-professional program plus 60 graduate credit hours.) - 2007

Track II Program – 60 credits (Students from BArch, BS Arch and BA, and BFA Arch programs, including MassArt would start no later than the fourth semester of Track I for a minimum of four semesters – some may require additional specific courses from the earlier three semesters of the program based upon extensive review of their coursework, including review of portfolios for design studios and professional studio electives, and all course descriptions, syllabi, papers and other learning outcomes.) - 2007

Accreditation Review
A visiting team reviewed Massachusetts College of Art and Design for initial accreditation in the fall of 2011 and recommended continued candidacy for NAAB accreditation for the degree of Master of Architecture (M.Arch).  A copy of of the NAAB Visiting Team Report is available online. See NAAB Accreditation Information.  A NAAB visiting team review for initial accreditation will occur during calendar year 2013.

Next accreditation team visit: 2013
Projected year of initial accreditation: 2013

Accreditation Conditions and Procedures
Students may review the Conditions for Accreditation (2009 edition) paying particular attention to the "Student Performance Criteria", and Procedures for Accreditation (2010 edition) at the National Architectural Accrediting Board website

MassArt is a member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). The ACSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership organization founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. The association maintains a variety of activities that influence, communicate, and record issues of import to education and architectural profession that include scholarly meetings, workshops, publications, awards and competition programs, support for architectural research, policy development, and liaison with allied organizations.

Architects must be licensed before they can practice as an architect or call themselves an architect. There are three main steps to becoming an architect: education, internship and examination. The National Council of Architecture Boards (NCARB) regulates reporting through an internship program, and through the state boards, administers the licensing examination. In Massachusetts, the Board of Registration of Architects protects the public through regulation of the practice and the title of Architect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in accordance with the statutes. The Board establishes the conditions and qualifications required for architectural registration and determines eligibility for admission to examinations.

Read more about licensure.

Interested in learning more? Request a graduate catalog.

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