Masters in Architectural Design: Program Information

Master's degree programs in architecture may offer a concentration in design. The most common professional degree program for students interested in architectural design is a Master of Architecture (M. Arch).

Essential Information

In most states, architects must obtain a professional degree before they are eligible for licensure. A Master of Architecture program takes about two years to complete for those with pre-professional bachelor's degrees in the field. Students who enter the program with a different baccalaureate background must generally complete three years of study. Future architects interested particularly in the design aspect of the architectural field might consider enrolling in an M. Arch. program with a design concentration, such as urban design or environmental design. Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree (architecture degree recommended), GRE scores, letter(s) of recommendation, school transcript, personal statement of intent, and a portfolio of work. Most programs require fieldwork, design studio classes, internships, and a thesis paper or final project.

Master's Degree in Architectural Design

An M. Arch. degree program includes core courses in general areas of architecture, plus specific courses in the students' design concentration areas. Allowing for a variation of concentration options, this list highlights a number of possible course topics:

  • Architectural history
  • Building physics
  • Philosophy of architectural design
  • Architectural design studio
  • Sustainable building design
  • Materials and methods

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Roughly 93,720 individuals worked as general architects in the U.S. in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most employed in the field worked for architectural design firms and engineering firms, while others worked for building companies and government agencies. The employment rate for architects is projected to grow 7% between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the median annual salary for architects was $76,100 (

Continuing Education Options

All U.S. states require that professional architects gain licensure before they are allowed to legally practice their craft. To gain licensure, individuals must earn a professional degree in architecture, such as the M.Arch., complete an internship or apprenticeship, and pass the Architect Registration Examination. Voluntary certification is also available from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Students with bachelor's degree in architecture can apply to Master of Architecture programs to continue their education in this field. These programs will allow architecture students more intensive studies in specific architectural concentrations of their choosing.

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