Diagram titled "Ecological Restoration"

The Master of Architecture (M.Arch) is a two-year, NAAB-accredited, professional degree program, to educate tomorrow’s leaders in architecture through a collaborative, studio-based education that centers design, research, and technology.

Program Overview

The program addresses the grand challenges of our time through an understanding of Design Ethics at the intersections of Social Equity, Technology, and Climate Change. It trains students to demonstrate a solid intellectual base in Design Thinking by participating in advanced and emerging discourses in the discipline. The program is STEM-eligible for international students.

NAAB Accreditation Information

Admission Information

Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS) Catalogs

Assistant Teaching Professor & M.Arch Track Chair

Program Curriculum

Curriculum Chart (Class of 2025)

Curriculum Chart (Class of 2024)

Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS) Catalogs

The curriculum aligns closely with the Pedagogies conversations at Carnegie Mellon Architecture to offer courses in three simultaneous tracks: Fundamentals, Design Ethics and Research. A rigorous, individualized evaluation of the previous education and experience of each incoming student, as well as a closely guided mentoring process throughout the curriculum, determines the minimum course requirements for each student needed to meet NAAB-accreditation standards for a first professional degree.

The two-year M.Arch curriculum features advanced design methods that focus on design-research, synthesis, and integration at every level through deep disciplinary and interdisciplinary engagement of sites, buildings, landscapes, ecologies, and technical systems.

  • The Praxis 1 and 2 sequence of studios in the first year are required for all incoming students: the Fall "Praxis 1: Transition Design" studio is followed by the "Praxis 2: Advanced Construction" studio. Students are also required to take courses in Architectural Theory, Situating Research, Materials and Assembly, Statics and Structures, Environment and Real Estate.

    Praxis 1: Transition Design Studio 

    Praxis 2: Advanced Construction Studio

  • The second year allows students to begin to specialize and craft a unique curriculum that reflects their emerging professional interests from a wide range of electives offered within the School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts (CFA), and CMU. Electives outside of the School of Architecture and Electives within the School allow students to establish their own areas of interest and specialization. 

    In both the fall and spring of 2nd year, students select from a diverse range of Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS). The ASOS are a set of advanced studios offered every semester on various topics chosen by studio faculty based on their research and design interests. Topics vary from year to year, and are constantly evolving to keep pace with the rapidly changing profession and global scene. “Global Studio” options allow students to travel internationally during the semester.

    Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS) Catalogs

    M.Arch students have the option of petitioning to Opt-out of the ASOS studios to pursue an individual Thesis. Students that elect to do so are required to take three preparatory courses: 1) Situating Research; 2) Pre-Thesis; and 3) Thesis Seminar. This allows students to develop an understanding of research methods and the theoretical underpinnings of architectural thesis. Students culminate their studies with a one-semester M.Arch Design-research Thesis that is included in Carnegie Mellon Architecture's Thesis exhibition.

Student Work

Program Details

  • The M.Arch is a two-year program. Students must complete a minimum residency of four (4) academic semesters with full-time status (minimum 36 units per semester). Coursework taken during the summer at CMU or at other institutions may be used to satisfy NAAB Student Performance Criteria, but do not reduce the residency requirement.

  • In addition to the standard requirements for all graduate students in Carnegie Mellon Architecture, students in the M.Arch program must satisfy the following:

    • Students must complete a minimum of 180 units of coursework relevant to the professional degree and approved by the Track Chair.
    • All course substitutions must be approved by the program Track Chair.
  • Carnegie Mellon Architecture graduate students can work towards a specialized concentration or second degree by strategically using electives to enroll in courses associated with other programs. For example, M.Arch students are eligible for a “Graduate Advanced Master's Program” (GAMP), which allows them to apply up to 48 units from their first Carnegie Mellon Architecture M.Arch curriculum to another Carnegie Mellon Architecture master’s degree. This allows M.Arch students to graduate with a special concentration or another degree, save a semester of time and tuition, and enter the job market with a unique skill set. 

  • Carnegie Mellon’s M.Arch is a two-year, first professional degree program designed for individuals who hold a pre-professional baccalaureate degree in architecture or closely related field, a professional architecture degree from an international university, or the equivalent in professional experience. We are looking to enroll a diverse group of self-motivated students from around the world who are comfortable working in innovative ways and who seek to push the boundaries of the discipline. This four-semester track is configured to provide all the coursework, including design studios and ancillary courses, required for the fully-accredited M.Arch degree.

    Scholarships are available to the most qualified candidates.

    We encourage prospective applicants to pursue broad, interdisciplinary undergraduate studies before enrolling in order to develop critical thinking about architecture’s rich and complex connections to other fields. We recommend: 

    1. Design-related experience of any kind, especially design studios related to buildings and physical environments; 
    2. Engaging critically with art, both studying and making;
    3. Developing a fascination in making things and in how things go together, especially the construction of buildings; 
    4. Reading and writing about architecture, engaging the discipline and the profession as a culturally constructed, diverse set of ideas; and 
    5. A critical understanding of Modern Architecture and its histories.  

    Previous coursework or experience in global architectural history, environmental science related to building performance, as well as structures and construction systems will allow students to opt out of some requirements and instead pursue electives of their choice.

    A rigorous, individualized evaluation of the previous education and experience of each incoming student, as well as a closely guided mentoring process throughout the curriculum, determines the minimum course requirements for each student needed to meet NAAB-accreditation standards for a first professional degree.

    Complete applications will be evaluated as they are received. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit complete applications well in advance of the February 1 application deadline for evaluation by our graduate admission committee.

    For statements, documentation, and information on Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture’s NAAB Accreditation, visit The School.

Student Experience

What Distinguishes the M.Arch at CMU?

  • The M.Arch locates "Design Ethics" as a central tenet in its mission of training architects to become leaders in architecture and related fields. If Design is a broad framework that entails a form of expertise and various modes of disciplinary and interdisciplinary intelligence, Design Ethics problematizes architectural design to consider emergent questions of architectural ethics as these intersect with core notions of design. In recent years, there has been a major realignment of pedagogy toward questions of architectural ethics, driven by the pressing socio-planetary challenges of our time that affect and are affected by the built environment. Design Ethics references a discursive set of values that drive architectural thinking at the intersection of these challenges—Care Repair & Maintenance, Adaptive Reuse, Biomaterials, Decarbonization, Urban Informatics, Participatory Practices, Design for Disassembly, and combating Obsolescence in the built environment.

  • Considering social, ecological, and technological challenges of our time, the M.Arch program engages with research across territories including sites in the Global South. Through seminars, design studios, thesis, and summer travel programs, students work across a range of issues to consider material ecologies, labor, craft, housing, infrastructure, and urbanity—their overlaps, hybrids, and peculiar manifestations in place. In doing so they consider the uneven impacts of planetary transformations on specific locales and landscapes.

  • Our small, focused program promotes close interactions among faculty and students, easy access to our state-of-the-art research and fabrication facilities, and personalized mentoring, learning, and research. Our curriculum delivers both the required expertise and allows students to follow their own agendas in the studios, in the SoA’s research labs, and across the university.

  • Set within one of the world’s preeminent research universities focused on advanced technologies, and within a College of Fine Arts, the M.Arch constructs leading-edge learning experiences at the intersection of the arts and technology, often connected through computation. We encourage students to use their architectural education to create successful futures in careers only they can envision.

  • Where better to study architecture than in a venerable city with both an industrial heritage and a tech-driven future, with rich cultural institutions and a dynamic start-up culture? The buzz you’ve heard is true: Pittsburgh is one of the USA’s most livable, affordable, green innovation hubs that provides the perfect home and laboratory for research, design, working, and living.

  • In the M.Arch program, technology is more than a technique or tool: we emphasize digital workflows and the seamless integration of computation, systems analysis, and data into our creative design and invention processes. M.Arch students have access to a host of learning and research spaces, including the Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace (IW), Computational Design Lab (Code Lab), Design Fabrication Lab (dFAB Lab), the SHOP, Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, IDeATe labs, and others across the campus.

Outcomes

Program Outcomes

At the successful completion of this program students will be able to…

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M.Arch group

Demonstrate Core Professional Competencies

Apply the knowledge gained in the program to engage in the practice of architecture in its various multivalent capacities, including a path toward professional licensure in the United States.

Define, conceptualize, represent, and communicate design solutions that encompass multiple social, political, and ecological challenges, that are meaningful contributions to the built environment.

Generate integrated design solutions through a multidimensional process (research, prototyping, interaction, evaluation, redesign), that promotes an understanding of design as the primary means of synthesizing many forms of expertise and knowledge.

Solve complex problems through the use of advanced, future-oriented, computational design techniques in the design process.  

Describe the role of architecture in working with community groups, diverse stakeholders, and divergent cultural perspectives through participatory design practices (e.g., acknowledging the impacts of regional geography, complex histories). This includes an understanding of the Greater Pittsburgh and the Appalachian region, as a geography for study considering its complex histories, layered challenges, and potentials for design and research.

 


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Students operate a robotic arm

Understand architecture as an Ethical Praxis that considers the grand challenges of our time

Apply specific skills in Design Ethics toward addressing the grand challenges of our time at the intersections of Social Equity, Technology, and Climate change.  

Advocate and adopt core design values for buildings including but not limited to Care Repair & Maintenance, Adaptive Reuse, Biomaterials, Decarbonization, Urban Informatics, Participatory Practices, Design for Disassembly, and combating Obsolescence in the built environment.

Describe transdisciplinary, creative, and scholarly nature of Design Research at Carnegie Mellon through collaborations with related subdisciplines with the Graduate programs at the School of Architecture, or through interdisciplinary interaction with CMU's renowned programs in the sciences, humanities, business, and engineering. 

 


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Wooden architectural model

Demonstrate Global Disciplinary Knowledge and Critical Thinking

Demonstrate critical thinking by participating in advanced and emerging discourse within the discipline through design, representation, oral, and written skills.

Demonstrate a solid intellectual base in the history and theory of architecture, including the parallel and divergent histories of indigenous, vernacular, regional, nonwestern cultures.

Understand, use, and critique architectural precedents in advancing Global Disciplinary knowledge.

Program Faculty

For more information about CMU's M.Arch program and the generous financial support available to the most qualified candidates, please contact Sarosh Anklesaria, M.Arch Track Chair. For more information about instructors of the ASO studios and electives, visit the main Faculty & Staff page.

Assistant Teaching Professor & M.Arch Track Chair

Assistant Teaching Professor

Associate Professor & Associate Head for Design Research

Special Faculty

Associate Professor & MSSD Track Chair

Associate Professor

Associate Professor, MAAD Track Chair & dFAB Lab Director

Associate Professor

Associate Professor & Associate Head for Design Ethics

Studio Professor

Special Faculty

Professor & Head

Associate Studio Professor

Assistant Teaching Professor

T. David Fitz-Gibbon Assistant Professor of Architecture & Regenerative Structures Laboratory Director

University Professor

Visiting Special Faculty

Lucian and Rita Caste Assistant Professor in Architecture & Situated Computation + Design Lab Director

Ann Kalla Visiting Professor

Assistant Professor in Building Technology & BPD Track Chair

Ann Kalla Visiting Professor

Visiting Special Faculty

Travel Awards

The Master of Architecture program grants travel awards each spring for selected students to support work grounded in architectural design research. Recovering from the lockdown the covid pandemic, the travel awards facilitate research as it relates to a range of diverse contexts, practices and cultures. Students are encouraged to take on research projects on areas of their choice that will be further developed through research papers or through a thesis or an independent study.

The proposed dates of the travel are during the Spring or Summer Break. The grant amount is per the applicant's need but does not exceeding $3000. Students are responsible for their own travel plans and accommodations. Upon completion of the travel students deliver a "PechaKucha" style presentation of their travel study and ongoing research.

Travel Award Recipients