Graduate Program

Master of Science in Architecture

The Master of Science Architecture (MS ARCH) program prepares graduates for specialist and consultation positions in the broad field of Environmental Design within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. The MS ARCH program provides opportunities for specialization and interdisciplinary collaboration through coursework and research. The program welcomes applications from candidates holding bachelor degrees, including graduates with a Bachelor of Architecture seeking post-professional specialization and those with a degree outside of architecture.  The post-professional Master of Science in Architecture (MS ARCH) Degree is not a NAAB-accredited professional degree in architecture. Read more about the differences between professional/non-professional degrees and requirements for licensure at NCARB.

Blended Program 

Students currently pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture at Cal Poly have a unique opportunity to enter the MS ARCH as a a blended program starting in the 4th or 5th year of the B ARCH. Click here for more details.

University and Program Application and Deadlines

Please find information about the application process here: 
MS Architecture Application Process and Deadlines

For more information, contact the MS ARCH program at

Graduate Study Areas

The MS ARCH provides three focus areas of study and each student selects one of these areas to focus coursework and individual scholarship. Regardless of the selected research area, however, students are expected to develop knowledge about fundamental building design and building science principles, and advanced information technology concepts. Graduate students are encouraged to build on the knowledge that they have gained from their previous academic studies and/or professional experiences, as they acquire and contribute new knowledge in their chosen research specialization within one of the following broadly defined research areas:

  • Innovative Materials Practice: This practice specialization focuses on design integration through innovations in materials and material assemblies enabled by contemporary modes of digital fabrication and their impact on design and construction processes. Associated with the Digital Fabrication Laboratory, physical prototyping and material testing are integrated into the course of study and research. In addition, of particular interest are sustainable practices in digital fabrication from material economies and cradle-to-cradle methodologies to responsive envelopes. The Innovative Materials Practice research area promotes interdisciplinary work as essential to innovation in design and construction with connections to other disciplines including: Architectural Engineering, Landscape Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Construction Management, Material Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Study and research areas include but are not limited to parametric design and fabrication of material systems, prefabrication, responsive envelopes, and material performance.
  • Sustainability and Resilient Design: Study of the built environment as a low impact, necessary enhancement of the natural environment in the service of humankind. Study and research areas include, but are not limited to, renewable energy systems, waste recycling, energy conservation concepts and practices, self-contained biospheres, materials of construction and embodied energy considerations, green buildings, and unhealthy building environments.
  • Interdisciplinary Building Design: The study of best practices for multidisciplinary design with connections to other disciplines including, but not limited to, Architectural Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management, and Mechanical Engineering. Study and research areas include, but are not limited to, collaborative projects involving two or more disciplines, collaborative workflow strategies and advanced tools for collaboration.

Curriculum Overview

The MS ARCH degree involves a master’s research project as the principal component. Forty-five (45) total units are required for completion of the degree. A research proposal is prepared by each student, based upon their scholarship interests formulated during the first year of the program.

Professional Practice Interdisciplinary Building Design Focus

This course of study is designed for applicants holding an accredited architecture degree or a degree outside of architecture wishing to pursue advanced studies with a strong professional practice focus. The first year of the curriculum immerses students in multi-disciplinary design teams on professionally-oriented projects. Students learn best practices of collaboration, and skills are developed through partnerships with students in other disciplines and with industry professionals.

Environmental Design Focus

This course of study is designed for applicants holding a bachelor's degree in an environmental design or allied discipline wishing to pursue advanced studies with a strong cross-disciplinary focus. Students have opportunities for coursework and engagement with the four other departments in the College, which include City and Regional Planning, Architectural Engineering, Construction Management and Landscape Architecture. The common curriculum aims to establish a central core of advanced studies and research, while directed electives provide an opportunity for in-depth study in one of the contributory disciplines of Architecture, including City and Regional Planning, Architectural Engineering, Landscape Architecture and Construction Management.

Graduate Program Curriculum

MS ARCH Flow Chart (click on chart to enlarge)

    Graduate Scholarships

    For information on scholarships available to MS ARCH graduate students, see Architecture Department Scholarships & Awards.


    updated 05.02.20

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