Joint Master's Degrees in Architecture & Structural Engineering

Sep 30, 2019

As modern structures become more and more complex, there is a growing need for professionals who can view a structure as an architect and engineer. This article describes master's degree programs in architecture and structural engineering and several career paths.

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Joint Master's Degrees in Architecture & Structural Engineering

If you have an interest in the way structures are designed and built, you may want to consider a joint master's degree in architecture (M.Arch) and structural or civil engineering (M.Eng). These programs may be split across different faculties within the same school, but they allow students to graduate in less time than If they pursue the two degrees separately. The programs can provide an in depth understanding of the design principles and materials behavior, as well as an understanding of building code specifications, allowing graduates to create effective architectural and structural designs.

Overview of Programs

Candidates must complete between 73 and 118 graduate credit hours (roughly 2.5 - 4 years) across both disciplines. Many dual master's programs in architecture and structural engineering will cover the following topics.

Design in Architecture

The fundamental element of a Master in Architecture is Design. Students will spend a large portion of the program exploring design methods, assessing how to approach design problems, exploring structures and materials and using a range of mediums such as CAD, hand-drawing and scale models. Students will gradually tackle more and more complex problems throughout this course and may cover areas of design relating to preservation, conservation and sustainability.


When designing and executing building plans, stakeholders cannot work in isolation. Integration classes will explore the nature of planning and design, considering other facilities providers and the priority some functions may have over others. Students may undertake site visits as part of this class and emphasis may be placed on health and safety regulations. Students may also learn how to create detailed plans using specific computer software.

Architectural Professional Practice & Ethics

It is important for students to learn about the professional practice requirements, legal and ethical guidelines set out for the industry. Classes will explore the professional relationships between architect, clients and other key stakeholders. Students will also be introduced to the paperwork and office management requirements. In addition, students will learn about liability requirements and potential problems that could arise.

Construction Contracting

Knowing how to project plan, communicate with contractors and troubleshoot on-site problems are also skills that are key to success in the field of architecture and structural engineering. Students will learn the skills necessary to plan and provide estimates for time and resources for projects of all sizes. This course will also give students an understanding of how to provide cost estimates and will provide valuable skills in project management.

Structures, Mechanics and Materials

A structures, mechanics, and materials course is designed for students to gain knowledge and skill in the mechanics of solids and structures that can be applied to civil infrastructure systems and other fields. Such a course concentrates on developing appropriate methodologies for tackling broad, complex issues related to civil infrastructure systems, and on implementing and applying these methodologies to actual projects.

Dual Degree Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary according to program, but candidates must meet the requirements for both programs to which they are applying. Some schools require that candidates apply to each department individually, whereas others will require students to first be admitted to one of the graduate programs: architecture or engineering, after which, their records are forwarded to the second department for consideration.

Though some programs allow candidates without a relevant bachelor's degree to apply, most of these programs require a bachelor's of science in engineering or architecture, and a portfolio of student work that demonstrates a candidate's ability to design and use software, or an academic statement of purpose. Almost all programs require acceptable scores on the Graduate Records Exam. Candidates are also asked to submit 2 or three letters of recommendations from professors or professionals who are familiar with their work.

Career Options

Urban and Regional Planner

An urban and regional planner develops plans for land use. They design programs and buildings for the community using a variety of data sources like market research studies, censuses, and environmental impact studies. Using technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), they can determine what data is most significant. Urban planners interact with colleagues and community stakeholders such as public officials and interest groups.

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design outdoor spaces such as parks and recreational areas. Landscape architects need to understand construction principles, ecology, and plant and soil science. They must consider how their designs will affect the areas in they will be located; for example, the interaction between a building's drainage system and surrounding land. Landscape architects must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE) which tests skills in project management, site assessment, design, and construction.

Civil Engineer

Civil Engineers design, build and supervise the building of public and private structures such as roads, airports, office buildings, bridges and civic centers. They also analyze data to prepare long-range plans, while considering cost estimates for materials, equipment and labor to determine whether a project is economically feasible.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Urban and Regional Planner $73,050 11% (much faster than average
Landscape Architect $68,230 4% (as fast as average)
Civil Engineer $86,640 6% (as fast as average)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A joint master's in architecture and structural engineering gives students a valuable combination. Being able to envision a potential structure as an architect and an engineer affords opportunities for graduates in may sectors: government, industry, business, real estate, and Non-Governmental Organizations.

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