Master of Architecture (MArch) Degree

Program Learning Outcomes for the MArch Degree

Upon completing the MArch degree, students will be able to:  

  1. Innovate the knowledge and practice of architecture through advanced critical thinking, experimentation, and research.
  2. Develop or augment a comprehensive knowledge of the technical aspects of design and construction including an understanding of their impact on design and the environment at a level commensurate with advanced study.
  3. Develop a comprehensive knowledge of diverse, advanced building technologies and their application to the design, construction, and operation of buildings, including environmental, material, structural, and mechanical systems, using leading computer applications and tools.
  4. Develop or augment a comprehensive understanding of architectural practice and foster the development of innovative forms of practice at a level commensurate with advanced study.

Requirements for the MArch Degree

The MArch degree can be either a thesis or a non-thesis master's degree depending on the option the student pursues. For general university requirements for thesis master's degrees, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. For general university requirements for non-thesis master's degrees, please see Non-Thesis Master’s Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. Students pursuing the MArch degree programs must complete:

  • A minimum of 93-95 credit hours or 131-133 credit hours, depending on option pursued, to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level study (coursework at the 500-level and above).
  • A minimum of 24 credit hours must be taken at Rice University.
  • A minimum residency enrollment of one fall or spring semester of full-time graduate study at Rice University.
  • The requirements for one degree program option (see below for options). The MArch degree program offers two options:
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.67.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.00 in required coursework with a minimum grade of B- (2.67 grade points) in each course.

The Master of Architecture (MArch) degree 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 MArch degree 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 MArch degree 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 (MArch) level: Option 1 and Option 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 ARCH 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 enroll in Thesis Proposal (ARCH 701), even if they pursue the non-thesis track.

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this degree program. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the program's academic advisor, or where applicable, the department or program's Director of Graduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the department or program's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Option 1 - MArch Degree Program

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 (70-72 credit hours), a curriculum of 34 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 27 credit hours.  

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the MArch Degree131-133

Option 1 Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
ARCH 501CORE DESIGN STUDIO I10
ARCH 502CORE DESIGN STUDIO II10
ARCH 503CORE DESIGN STUDIO III10
ARCH 504CORE DESIGN STUDIO IV10
ARCH 507TECHNOLOGY I3
ARCH 509TECHNOLOGY II3
ARCH 514TECHNOLOGY III3
ARCH 516TECHNOLOGY IV3
ARCH 525 / HART 525INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL THINKING3
ARCH 601ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS: STUDIO 110
ARCH 602ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS 110-12
ARCH 623PROFESSIONALISM AND MANAGEMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE3
ARCH 645 / HART 645FOUNDATIONS AND THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE I (1450-1850)3
ARCH 646 / HART 506FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE II (1850-1950)3
ARCH 652FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE III (1950-2000)3
ARCH 655CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES IN ARCHITECTURE3
Thesis Requirements
ARCH 701THESIS PROPOSAL 2,31
ARCH 703DESIGN THESIS STUDIO 2,310
ARCH 729THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (FALL) 2,33
or ARCH 730 THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (SPRING)
Elective Requirements
Students must complete 9 additional courses27
Total Credit Hours131-133

 Footnotes and Additional Information

Option 1 Plan-of-Study 

Plan of Study Grid
1st SemesterCredit Hours
ARCH 501 CORE DESIGN STUDIO I 10
ARCH 507 TECHNOLOGY I 3
ARCH 525 / HART 525 INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL THINKING 3
Elective one Elective one3
 Credit Hours19
2nd Semester
ARCH 502 CORE DESIGN STUDIO II 10
ARCH 509 TECHNOLOGY II 3
ARCH 645 / HART 645 FOUNDATIONS AND THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE I (1450-1850) 3
Elective two Elective two3
 Credit Hours19
3rd Semester
ARCH 503 CORE DESIGN STUDIO III 10
ARCH 514 TECHNOLOGY III 3
ARCH 646 / HART 506 FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE II (1850-1950) 3
Elective three Elective three3
 Credit Hours19
4th Semester
ARCH 504 CORE DESIGN STUDIO IV 10
ARCH 516 TECHNOLOGY IV 3
ARCH 652 FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE III (1950-2000) 3
Elective four Elective four3
 Credit Hours19
5th Semester
ARCH 601 ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS: STUDIO 1 10
ARCH 623 PROFESSIONALISM AND MANAGEMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE 3
Elective five Elective five3
Elective six Elective six3
 Credit Hours19
6th Semester
ARCH 602 ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS 1 10-12
ARCH 655 CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES IN ARCHITECTURE 3
ARCH 701 THESIS PROPOSAL 1
Elective seven Elective seven3
Elective eight Elective eight3
 Credit Hours20-22
7th Semester
ARCH 703 DESIGN THESIS STUDIO 2,3 10
ARCH 729 THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (FALL) 2,3 3
Elective nine Elective nine3
 Credit Hours16
 Total Credit Hours131-133
Footnotes and Additional Information 

Option 2 - MArch Degree Program

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 (50-52 credit hours), a curriculum of 31 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 12 hours. 

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the MArch Degree93-95

Option 2 Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
ARCH 503CORE DESIGN STUDIO III10
ARCH 504CORE DESIGN STUDIO IV10
ARCH 507TECHNOLOGY I 13
ARCH 509TECHNOLOGY II 13
ARCH 514TECHNOLOGY III3
ARCH 516TECHNOLOGY IV3
ARCH 525INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL THINKING3
ARCH 601ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS: STUDIO 210
ARCH 602ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS 210-12
ARCH 623PROFESSIONALISM AND MANAGEMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE3
Select 2 courses from the following:6
FOUNDATIONS AND THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE I (1450-1850)
FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE II (1850-1950)
FOUNDATIONS IN THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE III (1950-2000)
ARCH 655CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES IN ARCHITECTURE3
Thesis Requirements
ARCH 701THESIS PROPOSAL1
ARCH 703DESIGN THESIS STUDIO 3,410
ARCH 729THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (FALL) 3,43
or ARCH 730 THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (SPRING)
Elective Requirements
Students must complete 4 additional courses12
Total Credit Hours93-95

Footnotes and Additional Information

Option 2 Plan-of-Study 

Plan of Study Grid
1st SemesterCredit Hours
ARCH 503 CORE DESIGN STUDIO III 10
ARCH 507 TECHNOLOGY I 1 3
ARCH 525 INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL THINKING 3
Elective one Elective one3
 Credit Hours19
2nd Semester
ARCH 504 CORE DESIGN STUDIO IV 10
ARCH 509 TECHNOLOGY II 1 3
History and Theory 5 History and Theory 
Elective two Elective two3
 Credit Hours16
3rd Semester
ARCH 514 TECHNOLOGY III 3
ARCH 601 ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS: STUDIO 2 10
ARCH 623 PROFESSIONALISM AND MANAGEMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE 3
History and Theory 5 History and Theory 
 Credit Hours16
4th Semester
ARCH 516 TECHNOLOGY IV 3
ARCH 602 ARCHITECTURAL PROBLEMS 2 10-12
ARCH 655 CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES IN ARCHITECTURE 3
ARCH 701 THESIS PROPOSAL 1
Elective three Elective three3
 Credit Hours20-22
5th Semester
ARCH 703 DESIGN THESIS STUDIO 3,4 10
ARCH 729 THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (FALL) 3,4 3
History and Theory 5 History and Theory 
Elective four Elective four3
 Credit Hours16
6th Semester
Optional Additional Semester:  
ARCH 730 THESIS WRITTEN DOCUMENT (SPRING) 3,4 3
 Credit Hours0
 Total Credit Hours87-89
Footnotes and Additional Information 

Notes for the MArch Degree Program

All courses above (for both Option 1 and 2) must be taken in the sequence and semester prescribed by the School of Architecture and completed with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 in required coursework and a minimum grade of B- (2.67 grade points) in each course

Policies for the MArch Degree

School of Architecture Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the school of Architecture publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:
http://gradhandbooks.rice.edu/2018_19/Architecture_Graduate_Handbook.pdf

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities.

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Architecture website: https://architecture.rice.edu/

Opportunities for the MArch Degree

Master of Architecture (MArch) Thesis Requirement

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 MArch degree 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. Students in Options 1 and 2 complete the degree requirements by either submitting a thesis or by taking alternative coursework. 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.  

RSA Paris

MArch degree (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.  

For additional information, please see the Architecture website: https://architecture.rice.edu/