M.Arch students can expect to learn about architectural history, building design and construction technology. They may have the option to specialize in a certain area, such as green architecture or architectural technologies. Programs nearly always culminate in a thesis, which might take the form of a written document, graphical presentation, oral presentation or design project. Oftentimes, a mentor or an advisory committee is assigned to oversee students' selection of a research topic and completion of the thesis. Though not common, there are schools that offer online courses for architecture master's programs.
An M.Arch degree typically takes 1-5 years to complete, depending on the student's background. Students who already hold a professional bachelor's degree in architecture can generally earn a master's degree in less time than those who hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field.
Students who are interested in pursuing an architecture master's degree must submit standardized test scores, college transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal essay. The strongest applicants are usually those who have completed an architectural internship or have volunteer experience in the field that can be demonstrated in a portfolio.
Master's Degree in Architecture (M.Arch)
Architecture master's programs combine didactic learning, internships and design studios. Students are able to demonstrate their design skills by creating drawings and three-dimensional models. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:
- Design seminar
- Environmental control systems
- Construction methods
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicted that the employment rate for architects will grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024, which is as fast as the national average. The BLS also noted that competition for jobs is prevalent at the most prestigious firms. The successful candidates are usually those who distinguish themselves with unique ideas. Architects earned a median annual salary of $76,100 in May 2015. The lowest-paid ten percent of architects had at least $46,080, while the top-paid ten percent of architects earned $125,520 or more.
An architecture master's program allows students to combine their coursework with research, which is usually overseen by an assigned mentor until completion. This graduate level degree also encourages students to apply their skills and knowledge in their chosen specialization through design studios.