Master of Architecture
The Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) is a professional degree program that prepares graduates for the practice of architecture. The program balances core disciplinary competency with design experimentation, to explore creative architectural and engineering solutions that address societal and environmental concerns and opportunities for the built environment and the making of buildings. Emphasis is placed on the completion of a design thesis where students learn to synthesize the social, environmental, and technical thinking through informed design practice. The thesis project is supported by coursework that emphasizes the broadening of technical and theoretical exploration of design and supporting topics. Students develop a tailored curriculum in close collaboration with a faculty advisor.
Integrate your Passions for Architecture and Engineering
The practice of architecture and engineering typically follow two distinct education pathways that lead to different forms of licensure in the US, however, there is substantial and increasing overlap in the knowledge base and skills essential to either discipline. Global challenges, such as climate change and growing energy dependencies are intensifying the need for professionals astute to both fields. The professional Master of Architecture program at WPI is designed for students seeking to embrace their passions for both architectural and engineering design.
This admission track is designed to work in conjunction with our existing 4-year undergraduate BS degree in Architectural Engineering. The combined BS-AREN/M. Arch program has a total expected residency of 5 years, which is on a par with traditional accredited undergraduate programs in architecture but offers the unique benefit of dual accreditation. Upon graduation, you can decide to become a registered architect or engineer, or both, depending on your career goals and aspirations. WPI is the only institution in the US offering such integrated 5-year program, admission to the M. Arch program is decided by the program committee during your 3rd year of the undergraduate program.
This admission track is designed for applicants that earned a baccalaureate degree in other fields, in which case the duration of study will depend on your previous education and experiences. Admission to the M. Arch program is decided by the program committee on a case-by-case basis.
The Master of Architecture program offers a unique interdisciplinary experience, one that includes coursework in subjects including architectural and engineering design, the history and theory of architecture, and professional practice. The curriculum is designed to produce graduates that have sufficient breadth and depth in all aspects important to the practice of architecture. The program culminates in a graduate design thesis that entails creating and advancing a comprehensive architectural project that exhibits adequate scope and intricacy. Thesis topics are developed in close collaboration with a thesis committee, which is composed of a primary thesis advisor and an advisor in a focus area. The design thesis is underpinned by elective courses that are thematically aligned with a focus area, allowing students to broaden their skills and develop a meaningful grasp of a thematic area of interest. To ensure this depth, students complete at least three courses of thematically related work. Different focus areas are possible and currently include a focus on structures, and climate adaptation. Other focus areas can be developed, and students can propose alternative thematically related coursework with sponsorship from a thesis advisor and approval of the program committee.
The graduate curriculum is composed of 2 professional practice courses (6 credits), a thesis research seminar (3 credits), 3 concentration courses (9 credits), and a design thesis (12 credits):
Professional Practice Courses (6 Credits)
- CE 501. Professional Practice (required - 3 credits)
- CE 580. Advanced Project Management
- CE 584. Advanced Cost Estimating Procedures
- CE 583. Contracts and Law for Civil Engineers
Thesis Research Seminar (3 Credits)
This seminar prepares students to conceive and develop a graduate thesis project proposal that is rooted in the originality and innovation of research and design practice. The course is structured with seminars of invited speakers, discussions of readings, workshops, student presentations, and thesis proposal development. The seminar may include a travel component. The topics vary each year with the focus on research methodologies and broad issues relevant to the discipline of architecture.
Design Thesis (12 Credits)
The graduate design thesis involves creating and advancing a comprehensive architectural project that exhibits adequate scope and intricacy. Thesis design topics are developed in close collaboration with a thesis committee, which is composed of a primary thesis advisor and an advisor in a focus area. A formal thesis rational and plan is developed during the thesis research seminar. The design thesis is required of all graduate students in the Master of Architecture program. Students register for 6 credits during the fall semester and 6 credits during the spring semester of their master’s year.
Focus Area (9 Credits)
The design thesis is underpinned by elective courses that are thematically aligned with a focus area, allowing students to broaden their skills and develop a meaningful grasp of a thematic area of interest. To ensure this depth, students complete at least three courses of thematically related work. Different focus areas are possible and currently include a focus on (1) structures, and (2) climate adaptation. Other focus areas can be developed, and students can propose alternative thematically related coursework with sponsorship from a thesis advisor and approval of the M. Arch program committee. The focus area is seen as an important mechanism to connect the graduate program with faculty from other research domains and programs across campus. A list of recommended courses for two exemplary focus areas is included below:
Focus Area: Structures
- CE 524: Finite Element Method and Applications
- CE 510: Structural Mechanics
- CE 511: Structural Dynamics
- CE 514/ME 5383: Continuum Mechanics
- CE 519: Advanced Structural Analysis
- CE 531: Advanced Design of Steel Structures
- CE 532: Advanced Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures
- CE 534: Structural Design for Fire Conditions
- CE/ME 5303: Applied Finite Element Methods in Engineering
Focus Area: Climate Adaptation
- IGS 501: Theorizing Place, Community, and Global Environmental Change
- IGS 505: Qualitative Methods for Community-Engaged Research
- IGS 510: Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
- IGS 545: Climate Change: Vulnerability and Mitigation
- IGS 590: Capstone Seminar: Comparative Climate Action