Master of Architecture (M. Arch) in Architecture


Read more about this programme on the institution's website

Programme Description

The Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program prepares the student through the process of critical thinking, designing, and making to provide meaningful contributions to our built environment through the practice of architecture and urban design. We work to develop each student's individual capacity through critical thought, rigorous exploration, and personal design vision.

Course Description

Semester 1

  • ARH 602: Graduate Design Technology 1: Structures
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 609: Intermediate Design Studio 1
    Major / 6 Units
  • ARH 620: Digitally Generated Morphology
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 641: Architectural History: Modernism and its Global Impact
    Major / 3 Units

Semester 2

  • ARH 604: Material and Methods of Construction: Building Detailing
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 608: Advanced Design Studio 1 - Concept, Context, & Typology
    Major / 6 Units
  • ARH 642: Architectural Theory
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 659: Digitally Generated Fabrication
    Major / 3 Units

Semester 3

  • ARH 601: Spatial Composition
    Major Elective / 3 Units /Recommended for summer
  • ARH 903: Architecture Foreign Study
    Major Elective / 3 Units / Recommended for summer

Semester 4

  • ARH 605: Graduate Design Technology 2: Environmental Controls
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 606: Construction Documents and Building Codes
    Major / 3 Units
  • ARH 619: Advanced Design Studio 2 - Concept & Comprehensiveness
    Major / 6 Units
  • ARH 690: Thesis Preparation & Development
    Major / 3 Units

Semester 5

  • ARH 810: Master of Architecture Thesis
    Directed Studies /6 Units

Semester 6

  • ARH 614: Architectural Professional Practices
    Major / 3 Units
  • GR 700: MA Portfolio Seminar
    Elective / 3 Units

Unit Requirements

Degree Requirements

M. Arch Track 1 Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of the Final Thesis Project
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units 

For information on the Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) and Intern Development Programme (IDP) requirements go to

Track 1 and Track 2 Placement 

The NAAB accredited Master of Architecture is a holistic professional program offered in two tracks. Dedicated to the relationship of theory, up to date technical developments, advanced architectural design and the practice of making and building, the program has an exceptional profile. Through knowledgeable and practicing faculty, we enable our students to become responsible leaders in their field, who have the skills to envision, design and construct a desirable and viable future, and therefore actively contribute towards the evolution of society.

A portfolio is required for applications to the School of Architecture. The Graduate School of Architecture at the Academy of Art University is unique in that there are many advanced standing options for applicants with a background in architecture or a related field. The advanced standing is determined on an individual basis through a portfolio review and transcript evaluation.

Both the 63-unit (Track 1) and 87-unit (Track 2) degree program tracks are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole authority for accredited professional degree programs for architecture in the United States.

Note for English as a Second Language Students: We have an open enrollment policy and operate on a rolling admissions basis. We do not require a TOEFL test but all placement into architecture classes is pending ESL evaluation, ESL 604 placement necessary to start architecture classes.

Academy of Art University / Academy of Art University

Programme Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:


  • Demonstrate development of design exploration and understanding throughout the program

Visual Communication:

  • Visually communicate ideas through hand sketching/ drawing, including hand-drawn concept sketches, design process sketches, and diagrams
  • Visually communicate ideas through architectural drawings (digital or otherwise): site plan, plan, section, elevation, and 3D representation
  • Produce accurate physical models of design ideas

Written Communication:

  • Effectively summarize the project and process in a well-crafted proposal and thesis book

Presentation Skills:

  • Professionally present the thesis proposal and final project

Building Systems, Materials and Methods:

  • Demonstrate understanding of material systems and construction details
  • Demonstrate understanding of building systems (including structural systems, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems)
  • Demonstrate understanding of environmental control systems
  • Demonstrate understanding of building codes and accessibility
  • Apply sustainability concepts in their project

Thesis Proposal Development:

  • Clearly define the mission of their project
  • Present research that defines the need and desirability of the project
  • Provide a profile of the user group
  • Comprehensively define and analyse the proposed site area and its context
  • Present and analyse relevant precedents for the project
  • Develop a general project concept related to the site analysis and program
  • Effectively present the suitability of the proposed program on the proposed site
  • Produce a spatial/ functional program outline

Thesis Project:

  • Produce a comprehensive architectural and building solution to the mission statement

Academy of Art University Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Academy of Art University will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Produce a body of work suitable for seeking professional opportunities in their chosen field of art and design.
  2. Solve creative problems within their field of art and design, including research and synthesis of technical, aesthetic, and conceptual knowledge.
  3. Communicate their ideas professionally and connect with their intended audience using visual, oral, and written presentation skills relevant to their field.
  4. Execute technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on an understanding of art and design principles.
  5. Evaluate work in their field, including their own work, using professional terminology.
  6. Recognize the influence of major cultural and aesthetic trends, both historical and contemporary, on art and design products.
  7. Learn the professional skills and behaviors necessary to compete in the global marketplace for art and design.
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

For nearly 90 years, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned since 1929, it is the largest private art and design university i ... Read More

For nearly 90 years, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned since 1929, it is the largest private art and design university in the nation. Read Less
San Francisco