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Master’s Degree Programs in Architectural Design Overview

Majors Overview September 11, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in architectural design and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Architectural Design

Most states require architects to hold a professional degree before they can obtain licensure. Students interested in architectural design most commonly enroll into a Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) program.

Students with pre-professional bachelor’s degrees in the field take about two years to complete the program while applicants for admission with a different baccalaureate background need three years of study. A Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) with a design concentration, such as environmental design or urban design, will suit the requirements of future architects with a particular interest in the design aspect of architecture.

Apart from lecture-based courses on the philosophy, physics, and business of architecture, internships, design studio classes and hands-on fieldwork are required in all professional architecture programs. Enrollees are also required to complete a thesis paper or project.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a baccalaureate degree, and advanced classes may be available for those holding undergraduate degrees in architecture. Schools also require incoming students to submit letters of recommendation, personal statements, GRE scores, transcripts, and portfolios of previous work.


Core coursework incorporates courses in general areas of architecture, apart from specific courses in the design concentration areas of students. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Urban design concepts
•Architectural design studio
•20th-century architecture
•Philosophy of architectural design
•Building physics
•Architectural history
•Architecture and technology
•Architectural analysis
•Materials and methods
•Sustainable building design

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, about 107,400 individuals were employed as general architects in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Most of these professionals were employed by engineering firms and architectural design firms while others found employment through government agencies and building companies. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, architects are expected to see a faster than average growth of 17%; in 2012, architects brought in an average annual wage of $73,090 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Professional architects in every state are required to obtain licensure. Licensure is available through earning a professional degree in architecture, such as the Master of Architecture (M. Arch.), completing an apprenticeship or internship, and passing the Architect Registration Exam. They may also avail voluntary certification offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

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