Master of Architecture

The MArch degree prepares students for professional registration as architects in the United States. The MIT Department of Architecture offers the MArch degree, which is a professional degree structured to educate those who aspire to licensed registration as architects. It is the centerpiece of the Department of Architecture.

Architectural design studios are the center of the MArch program. Faculty in the Design discipline group provide the core of the professional education through the studio program. Studios begin with a 'core' sequence of three studios, followed by three 'option' studios and culminating with a design thesis. The great majority of students enter the program and graduate in 3.5 years. A small number of students who have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture at another school, may be admitted with advanced entry to the program and graduate in 2.5 years.

The pedagogical approaches that faculty bring to the teaching of architectural design derive both from their years of professional (often award-winning) practice and from their engagement with design research within the environments at MIT and beyond. The 'core' sequence of studios is structured to provide students with an intense and immersive experience in the contemporary discipline of design, where the understanding of drawing, geometry, representation and fabrication is integrated with classes that bring a core understanding of building technology and sustainability, architectural culture and precedent, urban theory and computation in architecture. During this three-semester sequence, students work through a series of exercises of increased complexity which form the launching pad for further investigative design studies in the option studios.

The three semester 'options' studios engage both MIT design faculty and a series of visiting studio professors noted for their work in contemporary practice. The problems that are chosen that relate to the issues in practice and society challenging the architectural profession and include a variety of offerings that vary in scale, context and content. Studios are also offered that interface to the joint program in City Design and Development. Studios often address cultural or urban problems in other countries- and recent studios have traveled to India, Japan, Iceland, Taipei, Brazil and China. Other studios might work on sites close to MIT including downtown Boston, its greater metropolitan area, and surrounding towns and cities- or might focus on theoretical or technical issues that culminate in fabrication and assembly, or even publications. In general design problems always include an awareness of issues of ecology and the broader debates of sustainability, and urbanism that combine with the search for appropriate expression of the specific culture and locale.

Studios will address problems that may, on the surface, be more technical, dealing for example, with the development of new building envelopes that have improved environmental as well as visual performance. Others may be more experimental in nature, utilizing some of the new digitally based tools for fabrication and assembly, as well as techniques for testing and simulation.

Students in the MArch program recognize the many possible roles within the architecture profession, and therefore should develop a responsibility for structuring their own educational programs, particularly in the selection of elective classes. While the curriculum specifies that students enroll in a range of subjects in several interrelated fields, they have some choice within each study area and an opportunity to concentrate in an area which they may define. Students are urged to have the concentration be reflected in their design theses.