Within the Architectural Design discipline, there are two areas of study for SMArchS students:

  • Architectural Design
  • Architecture and Urbanism


SMArchS in Architectural Design

The SMArchS Architectural Design program offers both a theoretical foundation in the history and development of architectural design pedagogy and praxis and a platform for applied research into new design methodologies. To nurture independent theses related to the notion of design, the program aims to equip students with a critical understanding of different modes of creative synthetic production with particular focus on emerging modes of design activity, conceptual or technical, and on the potential for radicalizing current modes of architectural and building praxis.

The program encourages interdisciplinary engagement with other areas of specialist research within the Department and across the entire Institute, seeking to benefit from the remarkable academic and research environment of MIT. We see Design as a potentially integrative activity and support work that is collaborative or that bridges to other domains of knowledge.

The rich graduate design studios and workshops in the Architecture Department and Media Lab are open to SMArchS students, but the program intends to offer a distinctly post-graduate opportunity for individual design enquiry structured by seminars and lectures that give critical depth to such independent research work



SMArchS in Architecture and Urbanism

Architecture and Urbanism is a special degree program for students interested in the development of critical urban design, as well as its history, and theory. Consciously locating itself in the contemporary debate about what constitutes good city form, the program encourages the development of intellectually articulated and grounded positions. Students are expected to question, and/or defend current views in order to explore critical alternatives to existing paradigms of urbanism. The assumption is that design is an intellectual act embodying both a critique and alternative possibilities.

The program aims to nurture well-versed, intellectually grounded and historically conscious architects, who understand the relationship between architecture and urbanism – not merely as a question of taste and fashion, but as form with meaning. The program emphasizes both design and scholarship, and students are unique in their capacity to relate to both.

The emphasis in work by faculty and students may vary, but the goal is always the achievement of the most advanced and effective methods of shaping the form, sustainability, and social condition of the built environment. The design, theory, and elective subjects are organized to achieve this.

The first year of the program is a core year, with a required sequence of two studios: an Introductory Urban Design Studio for all incoming students in the fall, and a choice of Urban Design Studio options in the spring; and a required sequence of two theory courses: Urban Design Theory in the fall, and Theory of City Form in the spring. In the fall of second year an optional studio may be taken, but a Thesis Preparation course is required, and in the spring, a thesis is required. Students may tailor their work within a large array of elective options, and are encouraged to extend their studies into other areas.

Students may also work within the Joint Program for City Design and Development, and the Center for Real Estate. Some students choose to follow a sequence leading to the Urban Design Certificate obtained with their degrees; others choose to extend their study period to seek dual degrees.



Admissions for SMArchS

Deadline and Submissions

SMArchS Admissions Requirements

Online Application

NOTE: the newSMArchS program in Architectural Design is not yet added to the online application. It should be added soon.

Application Fee



Statement of Objectives

English Proficiency Requirement

The minimum score required for SMArchS candidates is 7 and the minimum TOEFL score is 600 (250 for computer-based test, 100 for Internet-based test). While either test score is accepted, the IELTS score is preferred.

Graduate Record Examination

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for SMArchS applicants.


A non-returnable portfolio is required of all SMArchS applicants, including those who do not have a previous architecture degree or background.


Interviews are not required for SMArchS applicants. All prospective students are welcome to visit the Department. If you would like to visit the campus for a student tour of the Department, please contact in advance of your trip:

Annette Horne-Williams

Decisions and Notifications



Degree requirements for SMArchS