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Chicago Universities Offering a Masters of Architecture Program

Dec 27, 2018

There are four schools in and around Chicago that have architecture master's degrees available. To find out which one is right for you, read an overview of the admission policies and program requirements at three colleges located within five miles of the downtown area.

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Chicago Schools with Master of Architecture Degrees

The three institutions profiled in this article offer accredited degree programs that are required for students who want to eventually become licensed architects. Explore the required courses and learning experiences available at these schools -- all of which are located within 10 minutes of downtown Chicago. Also included is a table of statistics on the schools and info about another area program option.

  • The only public school on the list, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers two master's-level degrees in architecture. It has the largest student enrollment and the campus is located about 1.5 miles from the city's center.
  • Students who are looking for a smaller private school can enroll at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is also roughly three miles from central Chicago. The school offers not only a Master of Architecture, but also a Master of Science in Architecture and a master's degree in landscape architecture.
  • Another option is the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which is the smallest school on this list. The private school, located less than a mile from downtown, offers two master's degrees in architecture. One of the programs is focused on interior architecture.

Comparison of Schools

Compare the costs, acceptance rates, student enrollment figures and more at the profiled institutions by taking a look at the table below. The stats and facts could help a particular school stand out.

University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois Institute of Technology School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School Type 4-year; public 4-year; private; not-for-profit 4-year; private; not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 30,539* 7,164* 3,648*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Graduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $16,622 in-state, $26,862 out-of-state* $30,287* $49,610*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 84%* 100%* 88%*
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017) 77%* 54%* 70%*
Undergraduate Retention Rate (2016-2017) 80% for full time students* 90% for full time students* 81% for full time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (Students began in Fall 2011) 57%* 72%* 66%*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

University of Illinois at Chicago

The School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago provides students with degree programs that are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The school is open to students with and without backgrounds in architecture. In general, students have the opportunity to learn about building design in historical and modern contexts through studio classes. Because the school is located in Chicago, students have numerous opportunities to appreciate the city's architecture through class projects. Throughout the program, students develop portfolios of their work.

Master of Architecture

Students in this 3-year degree program take classes that explore architectural technology, methodology and theory and how to apply them to the real world. In addition, students take part in research so that they can understand the future of architecture and the issues that need to be addressed in the field. Students who do not have a previous background in architecture will likely need to take prerequisite classes before starting the program. There's also an advanced placement option for students who have prior experience.

Master of Science in Architecture

This degree program, which begins in the summer, takes a year to complete and is designed for students who have extensive experience in architecture. This program allows students to take higher-level classes that explore concepts like contemporary theory and criticism in architecture. Students spend part of the school year taking studio classes to understand themes and issues in architecture. Students also take part in a research project as one of the final requirements for the degree program.

Illinois Institute of Technology

The College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology is designed for students who are new to the field and those who are ready to advance their skills with management-level training. The NAAB has accredited the degree programs, which are required for architecture licensure. It's common for students to take part in studio classes where they practice their design skills. Students who have an interest in international architecture can apply to the study abroad program. In the past, students have traveled to Europe to learn about building design in foreign countries.

Master of Architecture

This degree program typically lasts 3 years and provides students the opportunity to engage in the creative process while understanding design concepts, construction, visual judgment and planning. Students will learn about theories in the field, as well as common vocabulary used by professionals. All students take part in a final project where they apply their classroom skills to the real world through the design of a product that meets specific guidelines. Students with undergraduate experience in architecture can apply to the advanced standing program.

Master of Science in Architecture

The Master of Science in Architecture program is open to students who already hold a Bachelor of Architecture degree. The master's degree program is advanced and can be completed in one year. As part of the degree requirements, students take in-depth classes that focus on environmental design, information systems and design methods. Students must complete a research class and submit a thesis.

Master of Landscape Architecture

Students in this program learn about architecture and its application to the outdoors. It's common for students to learn about issues like climate change and population growth and its effect on landscape design. Classes cover landscape architectural history, ecology and contemporary design. The program takes 3 years to complete and students take numerous studio classes so they can practice their design and landscape architecture skills.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The institute's Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects provides students with NAAB-accredited degree programs. The programs vary depending on the students' previous education and work experience in architecture. Students in these degree programs have the opportunity to take part in real-life projects with clients and companies in Chicago.

Master of Architecture

Students begin this 3-year program by building an understanding of design, architecture and engineering. From there, students are encouraged to build their analytical skills through classes that teach them about issues in architecture and how to design modern projects. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on studio classes, as well as seminars and case studies where students explore readings and actual projects. A thesis is also part of the degree program. Students with undergraduate experience in architecture can apply to the 2-year accelerated degree program.

Master of Architecture with Emphasis in Interior Architecture

Students who earn this degree take classes in interior architecture theory, structures and networks. There's an emphasis on sustainable design, as well as an understanding of different types of columns and walls. Much like the Master of Architecture program, students take part in studio classes where they get to apply their skills to projects and case studies. There are also specialized classes that take students away from the campus and allow them to explore Chicago's buildings and interior architecture. In general, the program takes 3 years to complete. However, there is a 2-year advanced program for students who already have interior architecture experience.

Other School Options

The number of Chicago schools that offer Master of Architecture programs is limited. One other school with this degree program is Judson University in Elgin, IL, which is about 41 miles away from downtown Chicago.

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