Master of Science in Building Technology

The Master of Science in Building Technology (SMBT) provides a focus for graduate students interested in the development and application of advanced technology for buildings. Students in this program take relevant subjects in basic engineering disciplines along with subjects which apply these topics to buildings. The program accepts students with undergraduate degrees in a variety of engineering disciplines, in the physical sciences, or in architecture with a suitable background in technology. Students also come to the program with diverse job experiences, from the design of space-conditioning equipment for buildings to the Peace Corps. All share both a keen interest in buildings and a thorough education in mathematics, physics and other technical subjects.

Each student admitted to the SMBT program will take part in a research project. A major contribution to the student's education in this program comes from the experience gained carrying out research and design on the fundamentals of new technologies and their application to buildings. The research project will normally be on a subject under current investigation by an interdepartmental team of faculty and students from the Departments of Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering or by an individual faculty member. This research is used to fulfill the thesis requirement for the degree. The research projects, sponsored by industry and the government, give the students exposure to practitioners dealing with important issues in the building field.


Admissions for SMBT

Candidates compete for the few places available each year in the Department of Architecture's Master of Science in Building Technology (SMBT) program. Admission is based on a careful examination of the applicant's previous academic record, including relevant samples of completed academic and research work; a statement of purpose; and letters of recommendation. The applicant should demonstrate superior intellectual achievement and the ability to initiate and complete independent academic work in the Building Technology area. Successful candidates will have previous degrees in engineering or a closely related discipline.

Deadline and Submissions

Online Application

Application Fee



Statement of Objectives

English Proficiency Requirement

The minimum score required for SMBT 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


Research papers or a portfolio of the applicant's work (maximum of 30 pages) may be uploaded to the Architecture Graduate Application to aid the admissions committee but are not required.


Because of the small size of the program, interviews with faculty are recommended, but not required. It is advantageous for applicants to meet with the Building Technology faculty member doing research most closely aligned with the research interests of the applicant. Faculty schedules vary, so it is best to contact the Building Technology office several weeks prior to an intended visit.

Arrangements can also be made to sit in on final reviews (mid-May) or attend an Open House (mid-November).

Decisions and Notifications



Degree requirements for SMBT


The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMBT program is three terms, one of which may be a summer term. However, many take two academic years to complete all the requirements.

Faculty Advising

Each student in Building Technology is assigned a faculty advisor at matriculation. The advisor weighs in on the student's initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact; changes can be made to make this possible. The advisor monitors the student's progress through completion of the degree.

A Report of Completed SMBT Requirements is kept by the degree administrator in the headquarters of the Department of Architecture. It is the student's responsibility to work with the thesis advisor to keep this report updated and on file.

Download Report of Completed SMBT Requirements

Subjects and Credit Units

A minimum of 66 units of coursework, 42 of which must be H-level graduate credits, is required. Credit received for thesis (4.THG) registration does not count toward this minimum.

Subjects to be taken include:

  • 4.481, Building Technology Seminar, taken in the fall of the first year of registration. It is expected that the thesis proposal will be a product of this subject.
  • 2 subjects in a single field of specialization (major), chosen from thermal science, structures, materials, controls, lighting and systems analysis.
  • 1 subject from another field of specialization (minor) in Building Technology. Other fields may also be accepted for specialization with advisor approval.
  • 1 subject in applied mathematics.
  • Thesis registration, 4.THG, is allowed only if the thesis proposal has been approved and the Report of Completed SMBT Requirements has been submitted.


A thesis is required for the SMBT degree. The topic is selected from a subject currently being investigated by the faculty, and research is carried out under the direct supervision of a faculty member in the program. This faculty member will be the student's advisor and must approve the thesis proposal prior to thesis registration. Thesis readers are optional.

The SMBT is awarded after two copies of the defended, approved, archival-ready thesis have been submitted to Department of Architecture headquarters by the Institute deadline for master's theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar. Students must adhere to the Specification for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

English Proficiency Requirement

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in English as a Second Language (ESL), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units but will prove valuable in helping students develop the skills necessary to comfortably write a thesis.