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Architecture M.Arch.

Program overview

At a time of significant transition in the profession, RIT's architecture program allows for full incorporation of the skills and knowledge critical to the 21st century architect. The program will produce broad-thinking architects well grounded in the principles and practices of sustainability who can apply their knowledge and talents to the architectural problems posed by the modern city.

The program is designed for students with a broad range of interests and backgrounds who are interested in studying architecture at the graduate level, but whose undergraduate degrees were obtained in fields outside of architecture. The curriculum has been shaped by the global emphasis of sustainability, factors that impact urbanism, and the application of the principles of design and craft; along with a focus around building technology, materials, construction, and systems.


With a global need for a more sustainable world, including buildings and their impact on energy consumption and carbon footprints, the focus of many courses reflect the conditions of sustainable design and practice.


Design exploration is enhanced through the understanding of the implication of technology on both design process and product. The program enables students to focus and collaborate in many specialized areas of technology, including engineering, computer science, imaging science, materials and construction, and products and remanufacturing.


Because a degraded urban environment has grave implications for social, economic, cultural, and environmental health, the program pays particular attention to urban settings and urban principles. The complexity of the urban environment requires an interdisciplinary approach to architecture education – one that references economics, public policy, sociology, and regional culture. The program focuses on the practices and principles of preservation and adaptive reuse. The city of Rochester, New York, serves as an active learning environment for students.

Integrated learning/integrated practice

Like all strong design programs, the program’s core education will take place in the studio. However, our studio curriculum integrates construction technologies, material science, and mechanics into design. From the outset, students will approach design problems within teams, learning to value and leverage collective intelligence. The integrated learning model prepares students for the increasingly integrated practice of architecture, where integrated project delivery is fast becoming the dominant model, and architects are orchestrating teams of professionals from a variety of fields, including engineering, management, science, and computer science.


Students are required to complete 105 credit hours. Designed as a full-time program, courses are offered on campus, primarily during the day. Much of the course work is studio-based and includes technical courses, sustainability courses, and some elective. In addition to three required sustainability courses, students will take one sustainability elective. All students prepare a thesis, during their final year of study. Students take four graduate electives, drawn from courses offered by the colleges of Applied Science and Technology, Business, Engineering, Imaging Arts and Sciences, and Liberal Arts.

Architecture, M.Arch. degree, typical course sequence

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ARCH-611 Architectural Representation I 3
ARCH-621 Architectural History I 3
ARCH-631 Architectural Design I 6
ARCH-761 Understanding Sustainability 3
ARCH-612 Architectural Representation II 3
ARCH-622 Architectural History II 3
ARCH-632 Architectural Design II 6
ARCH-641 Fundamentals of Building Systems 3
Second Year
ARCH-731 Architectural Studio I: Site 6
ARCH-741 Integrated Building Systems I 3
ARCH-751 Architectural Theory 3
ARCH-732 Architectural Studio II: Tectonic 6
ARCH-742 Integrated Building Systems II 3
ARCH-752 Urban and Regional Planning 3
ARCH-762 Industrial Ecology Fundamentals 3
  Graduate Elective 3
Third Year
ARCH-733 Architectural Studio III: Adaptive 6
ARCH-743 Integrated Building Systems III 3
ARCH-753 Research Seminar/Thesis Prep 3
ARCH-763 Sustainable Building Metrics 3
ARCH-734 Architectural Studio IV: Urban 6
ARCH-744 Integrated Building Systems IV 3
ARCH-771 Professional Practice 3
  Graduate Elective 3
Fourth Year (fall only)
ARCH-790 Thesis Studio 6
  Sustainability Elective 3
  Graduate Electives 6
ARCH-699 Cooperative Education Co-op
  Global Experience 0
Total Semester Credit Hours 105

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the M.Arch. program in architecture, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (other than a B.Arch.) from an accredited institution,
  • Have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of B (3.0) or higher,
  • Successfully complete at least one semester each of college-level math (e.g. algebra, pre-calc, calculus) and science (e.g. physics, earth science, chemistry).
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit a one page personal statement and a 90 second video (maximum length) explaining your interest in studying architecture at the graduate level.
  • Submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Submit three letters of recommendation (one from a current or former teacher or academic adviser; one from a current or former supervisor; and one from someone familiar with your creative abilities).
  • Submit a PDF digital portfolio (see portfolio guidelines) of creative work, which may include sketches, constructions, graphics, and/or photographs. (While student portfolios will likely not include examples of architectural drawing/design, evidence of creative talent will be important in determining admission).
  • Complete a graduate application.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum scores of 600 (paper-based) and 100 (Internet-based) are required. 

Applicants who exceed the general admission requirements may be considered for conditional acceptance before GRE scores are available.

Portfolio Guidelines

All applications must be accompanied by a PDF digital portfolio. Print or bound portfolios or digital portfolios in formats other than PDF will not be accepted or reviewed. Please note, all PDF portfolios should be less than 6.0mb. Files larger than this will not be accepted or reviewed. In the event the review committee requires additional information or higher resolution images, the applicant will be notified.

Guidelines for portfolio preparation:

  • Image quality: A medium quality image setting on a digital camera is sufficient. No images should be pixelated.
  • File size: The total size must be 8.5"x11” format and cannot exceed 6.0mb. Alternatively students may use the PDF portfolio feature (found under FILE, in more recent versions of Adobe Acrobat) to create a portfolio.
  • Orientation: Landscape orientation is preferred.
  • Cropping: Crop out unnecessary objects from the images so that there are no distractions from work presented.
  • Image enhancement: If the image files of your work are not accurate after photographing, image-editing software is allowed to correct the appearance of the files submitted. Please use caution. It is important to maintain the integrity of the original artwork.
  • File name: Only one PDF portfolio file is allowed. It should be labeled using the following format: UARC_XX_LASTNAME.PDF, (XX is equal to the code for the academic year to which you are applying, ex: 2013 would be 13, 2014 would be 14, etc.) Enter last name in all capital letters in place of LASTNAME. Do not enter given names or middle names in this field.
  • Submission: All PDF portfolio files must be submitted via email to Students should Include their name in the subject line of the email. Files delivered on CD/ROM or USB drives will not be reviewed or accepted.

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