The School of Architecture
The Rice School of Architecture (RSA) focuses on speculative practice -- that is, the teaching and research of architecture and urban design as speculations that will advance professional practice as well as the built environment. Intimate student-faculty interaction, academic freedom, and unrestricted institutional cooperation within and outside the university are distinctive qualities of the architecture degree programs at Rice.
Rice’s undergraduate architecture programs maintain a balance between a design-focused study of architecture and a broad general education. In addition to formal coursework, students benefit from lectures and presentations from distinguished practitioners and scholars, symposia and other cultural events, and the unique Rice Preceptorship program, which places students in an outstanding professional office for a nine-month internship.
The School of Architecture’s graduate programs offer a design education in combination with a thorough grounding in architectural history, theory, and technology. Rice’s graduate program culminates in an independent design thesis, on the principle that an architectural education provides a complete exposure to architecture’s breadth, from which the student establishes his or her depth, or expertise, through the independent thesis.
*The MArch in Urban Design and DArch programs are currently inactive and are not accepting applications.
Upon completing the BA degree, students majoring in Architecture must complete:
For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Architecture (ARCH) must complete:
The BA in Architecture, leading to a BArch degree, is the primary undergraduate architecture program at Rice. Students who apply and are accepted into the University and the School of Architecture enter directly into this program. The required courses for the Major of a BA in Architecture leading to a BArch consist of four integrated sequences in the following areas: Design Studios, History and Theory, Technology, and Practice. Courses in these sequences must be taken in the order and semesters specified by the School of Architecture.
The curriculum for this professional degree program sequence has three two-year long stages. The first stage provides a foundation sequence in design, history and theory, and technology taken in the first and second years. Students are also expected to fulfill the majority of University general distribution requirements during these two years. The curriculum is designed to provide an intensive focus on architecture, while allowing each student to receive a broad education and to pursue other interests.
At the end of the first stage, students apply for the approval of their Major in Architecture by the School of Architecture. Approval is based on academic performance and demonstrated aptitude.
The second intermediate stage occurs in the third and fourth years. Students complete the courses required for the major of a BA in Architecture, remaining university requirements, and take electives through which each student can develop his or her particular interests in the field and in other areas. In their fourth year, students pursue a design research sequence through a seminar in the fall that is linked to the spring studio. At the end of this stage, and with the completion of all major and university requirements, students graduate, receiving the degree of a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture.
The third and final stage consists of the Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) degree (see below) and includes the year of Preceptorship. The BArch is only open to students who have completed the first four years at the Rice School of Architecture and who apply for admission into this stage of the program during their fourth year. As with the approval for Major two years prior, approval is based on academic performance and demonstrated aptitude.
In addition to these formal course requirements, students are expected to contribute to the intellectual culture of the RSA by attending public lectures and symposia and participating in the final reviews at the end of each semester where students across the school publicly present their work. Further information on policies and procedures are detailed in the RSA student handbook, which is distributed as a pdf to every incoming student.
REQUIRED COURSESStudents must complete a total of 17 courses (75 credit hours) as listed below. All courses listed below must be taken in the sequence and semester prescribed above.
1st Semester Students must complete the following 2 courses (9 credit hours):
2nd Semester Students must complete the following course (6 credit hours)
3rd Semester Students must complete the following 2 courses (9 credit hours):
4th Semester Students must complete the following 3 courses (12 credit hours):
5th Semester Students must complete the following 3 courses (12 credit hours):
6th Semester Students must complete the following 3 courses (12 credit hours):
7th Semester Students must complete the following 2 courses (9 credit hours):
8th Semester Students must complete the following course (6 credit hours):
ELECTIVESTo fulfill the remaining requirements for the BA degree with a major in Architecture, students must complete a total of 55 additional credit hours. At least 45 credit hours must be completed from coursework outside of ARCH course offerings.
Upon completing the BArch degree, students majoring in Architecture will be able to:
For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BArch degree with a major in Architecture (ARCH) must complete:
The Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) program is open to students who have completed the undergraduate preprofessional architecture program (BA in Architecture) at Rice. The BArch degree requires the successful completion of the BA in Architecture, completion of the two-semester preceptorship, and completion of two advanced option studios and approved lecture or seminar courses. Upon admission, students are assigned a preceptorship, which takes place immediately after receipt of the Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree. The preceptorship program balances academic learning with professional experience. Students are assigned to work for a minimum of nine months in the United States or abroad with leading architectural offices designated by the school as Preceptors.
The academic year immediately following preceptorship, students must return for their final year of study to the School of Architecture, taking advanced level studios and courses. In this year, students may apply to Rice School of Architecture in Paris to complete a semester abroad. The autumn studios feature the Totalization studio, in which the student’s experience from preceptorship is integrated into academic research through a comprehensive design project. At the end of this final two-year stage, students graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture (professional) degree.
The Bachelor of Architecture program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and qualifies graduates to take the state professional licensing exams after completing the required internship in an architectural office.
CORE REQUIREMENTS Students must complete a total of 5 courses (53 credit hours) as listed below to satisfy the BArch degree's Core Requirements. All courses above must be taken in the sequence and semester prescribed by the School of Architecture and completed with a grade of C or higher.
Practice Students must complete a total of 3 courses (33 credit hours) from the following. By accepting a place in the BArch and Preceptorship, each student agrees to all the terms specified by Rice and/or the assigned Preceptorship office, including: registration fees, start and end dates, work responsibilities, performance expectations, etc. Failure to meet these expectations will result in an unsatisfactory grade evaluation and may prevent further progress in the program. Students' concerns while on Preceptorship should be brought to the attention of the Director of External Programs as soon as possible. While on Preceptorship, a student remains a Rice student and is governed by applicable student codes of conduct, rights and responsibilities.
DesignStudents must complete the following 2 courses (20 credit hours):
Students enroll in ARCH 620: Architectural Problems as their studio course if attending Rice School of Architecture in Paris.
ELECTIVESTo fulfill the remaining BArch degree requirements, students must complete a total of 9 credit hours at the 300-level or higher as electives.
RSA ParisBArch students in their fifth year may apply to FSAP to complete one semester in Paris.
Pei, Cobb, Freed & PartnersNew York
Bohlin Cywinski JacksonSan Francisco
Pelli Clarke PelliNew Haven
Diller Scofidio & RenfroNew York
Ennead ArchitectsNew York
Renzo Piano Building WorkshopGenoa
Johnston MarkleeLos Angeles
Rogers PartnersNew York
Thomas Phifer & AssociatesNew York
Machado and Silvetti AssociatesBoston
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Los Angeles
Upon completing the BA degree, students majoring in Architectural Studies will be able to:
For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Architectural Studies (ARST) must complete:
The BA in Architectural Studies degree provides a foundation in architectural ideas and design while allowing a broader pursuit of other fields as an undergraduate. Enrollment is restricted to students admitted into the architecture program who have completed the first two years of required courses.
CORE REQUIREMENTSStudents must complete a total of 8 courses (36 credit hours) as listed below to satisfy the Architectural Studies major's Core Requirements.
Design Studios Students must complete the following 4 courses (24 credit hours):
History and Theory Students must complete the following 2 courses (6 credit hours):
Technology Students must complete the following 2 courses (6 credit hours):
ELECTIVESTo fulfill the remaining Architectural Studies major requirements, students must complete a total of 4 additional courses (or 12 credit hours) from departmental (ARCH) course offerings.
Note: Internally, the university uses the following abbreviations (4-digit codes) to identify the Architecture undergraduate degrees and majors. The following is a quick reference:
Course Catalog/Schedule - Course offerings/subject codes: ARCH Department Description and Code - Architecture: ARCHDegree Descriptions and Codes - Bachelor of Arts degree: BA - Bachelor of Architecture degree: BArch Major Descriptions and Codes - Major in Architecture (attached to the BA and BArch degrees): ARCH - Major in Architectural Studies (attached to the BA degree): ARST
Students graduating from this program will:
The Master of Architecture program understands architecture to be a generalist practice, while encouraging each student’s freedom to forge a specific trajectory within this generalist milieu. We prepare students to engage an ever more ambiguous world—one that can no longer simply be flattened by such binaries as local and global, quantity and quality, mind and nature, form and function, or standards and exceptions. The challenge we pose to our students is to transgress the obsolescence of opposing values and to navigate the tricky waters of a world no longer organized around presupposed notions of solidity, permanence, rootedness, centrality, protection, and identity. Our program is the very place where visions of the future are tested and where students are asked to understand the world’s complexity in order to focus on the tangible, the legible, and the relevant.
Individuals who possess a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline can apply to the Master of Architecture program. Our curriculum offers a set of core courses (in Design, History and Theory, Technology, and Practice) and many free electives, both in the School of Architecture and across campus. In studio courses, strong emphasis is given to the very means by which architecture is able to change the world through program, form, and technology. Such fundamental aspects to design can, when mobilized, produce a practice of architecture that is as speculative as it is realist. Every fall, advanced “Totalization” studios are conducted in such a way as to have students rigorously weigh all aspects of building design while nonetheless biasing their engagement so as to produce highly specific architectural projects. In their final thesis semester, students are asked to face the world and engage it through architectural speculation and a precise understanding of historical, political, economic, and physical dimensions, which can together define a better future.
The Master of Architecture program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and qualifies graduates to take the state professional licensing exams after completing the required internship in an architectural office.
Programs of Study—There are two program options at the Master of Architecture level: Options 1 and 2. They differ according to the Bachelor’s degree received prior to entering the graduate program. MARCH students in Options 1 and 2 complete the degree requirements by either submitting a thesis or by taking alternative coursework. Thesis students are required to take Design Thesis Studio (ARCH 703, 10 credit hours) and Written Thesis (ARCH 729 or 730, 3 credit hours). Students who pursue the non-thesis MARCH degree are required to take the Totalization Studio (ARCH 601, 10 credit hours) in lieu of the thesis studio and an additional elective (worth 3 credit hours) in lieu of the written thesis course. All students are required to take the pre-thesis seminar, even if they pursue the non-thesis track.
Offered to individuals who hold a four-year undergraduate degree with a major in a field other than Architecture or a major in Architecture with fewer than five semesters of architectural design studio. Preference for admission is given to those who have completed a balanced education in the arts, sciences, and humanities. A minimum of two semesters of college-level courses in the history of art and/or architecture and one semester of college-level courses in mathematics or physics is recommended. Previous preparation in the visual arts is also desirable, as are courses in philosophy, literature, and economics. In order to graduate, students in this program must complete, in addition to 6 semesters of design studios, a curriculum of 43 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 27 credit hours.
Optional Additional SemesterStudents who wish to remain enrolled as a registered student for an eighth semester will register for ARCH 703 in their seventh semester and ARCH 730 in the eighth semester. Students who wish to take this extension must decide at the beginning of their seventh semester.
Offered to individuals who hold a four-year undergraduate degree with a major in Architecture. Advanced placement into Option 2 is at the discretion of the admissions committee, but generally preference for admission is given to those who have successfully completed five semesters or more of undergraduate design studio as well as undergraduate courses that are analogous to those given in the first year of Option 1. A minimum of two semesters of college-level courses in the history of art and/or architecture and one semester of college-level courses in mathematics or physics is expected. In order to graduate, students in this program must complete, in addition to 4 semesters of design studios, a curriculum of 37 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 15 hours.
Optional Additional SemesterStudents who wish to remain enrolled as a registered student for a sixth semester will register for ARCH 703 in their fifth semester and ARCH 730 in their sixth semester. Students who wish to take this extension must decide at the beginning of their fifth semester.
**Students who have previously taken courses equivalent to Technology I and II at another institution may instead take electives with permission from the director of graduate students.
Notes for the MArch
Thesis is payback time—it is when students build upward and outward from what they’ve learned over the years, giving back to the school by providing new disciplinary fodder. More immediate than a crystal ball, some of the common threads underlying a Rice thesis might well reveal tomorrow’s future. Despite working in the context of Texas’s vast horizon, Rice thesis students do not envision an endless frontier. Rather than turning away from the discipline, our students have found new territories embedded within architectural and urban paradigms, breathing into them new life and vitality. All Master of Architecture candidates are required to propose an independent thesis, articulating an ambition and envisioning its architectural specificity. Students develop their individual thesis proposals during their penultimate semester in a required, pre-thesis seminar. Thesis design evolves from the honing of that proposal and continues through the final semester, under the guidance of an individual advisor. In early January, thesis projects are reviewed publicly by a panel of eminent invited guests. In short, the school starts each new year with a batch of new visions.
MArch (Option 1 and Option 2) students may apply to RSAP to complete one semester in Paris: Option 1 students may do so in their fifth or sixth semester, Option 2 in their third or fourth semester. BArch students may apply to RSAP in their final year of study.
Present Future is a concentrated undertaking culminating in a Master of Arts in Architecture degree. The program is structured around a three-semester-long exploration of a topic led by a Rice School of Architecture faculty member. A select group of students forms the core: a collective intelligence responsible for developing a discourse that synthesizes theoretical, historical, and design ambitions. Subjects will be of contemporary importance and will be framed by a 3-credit pro-seminar the first term, a 12-credit collective thesis in the second term, and a concluding seminar in the third term. In addition to free electives, each semester will include additional required credits that are appropriate to the selected topic, bringing the total credit hours to 39. The program's student body will include those with backgrounds in architecture as well as other fields: individuals with B.A., B.S. equivalent, or more advanced degrees in architecture or other disciplines are invited to apply. Coursework will include offerings from the School of Architecture and other departments across Rice University.
**With permission, elective may be taken as thesis or a design studio.
Doctor of Architecture*
*The MArch in Urban Design and DArch programs are currently inactive and are not accepting applications.
Note: Internally, the university uses the following abbreviations (4-digit codes) to identify the Architecture graduate degree programs. The following is a quick reference:
Course Catalog/Schedule - Course offerings/subject code: ARCHDepartment Description and Code - Architecture: ARCHDegree Descriptions and Codes - Master of Arts degree: MS - Master of Architecture degree: MArchDegree Program Description and Code - Degree Program in Architecture: ARCH
The official course offerings, including course descriptions, for Architecture can be found in Rice's Course Catalog.
To view the most recent course schedule for the 2016-2017 academic year, see Rice's Course Schedule.
For additional information regarding Architecture, see the department's website: http://architecture.rice.edu/.