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Master of Architecture Degree

The ideal architecture graduate degree for those with or without prior experience in architecture. Learn about architecture with a focus on sustainable design, urban development and use of the latest technologies. The program’s core education will take place in the studio, and will also integrate construction technologies, material science and building systems into design.

This degree allows graduates to become licensed upon completion of internship and the architectural licensing exam. In addition, you could also become a(n):

  • Practicing Architect
  • Project Manager
  • Building Science Specialist

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About the Program

At a time of significant transition for the architectural profession, the Master of Architecture degree allows for full incorporation of the skills and knowledge critical to the 21st century architect. The program’s purpose is to 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 M.Arch. program is designed primarily for students with a broad range of interests and backgrounds who are interested in studying architecture at the graduate level, and whose undergraduate degrees were obtained in fields both inside and outside of architecture. The program’s curriculum has been shaped by the global emphasis of sustainability, factors that impact urbanism, and the hands-on application of the principles of design and technology on materials and construction.

Program Goals include:

  • Instilling critical thinking concepts in course material to produce broad-thinking architects that are well-grounded in the principles and practices of sustainability.
  • Providing a comprehensive set of tools to shape students into adept contributors that can effectively create building and planning projects that solve problems at the intersection of architecture and sustainability.

The four cornerstones of the program include:


Sustainability is not only concerned with the natural environment. The built environment shapes and can shape sustainable practice and responsible intervention in the natural world. As global civilization reaches the limit of natural resources, pragmatic and creative sustainable solutions will reign. Environmental responsibility coupled with economic feasibility and responsible attention to residents and stakeholders are the hallmarks of sustainable architecture. From the design of buildings that use energy and environmental factors more efficiently to lessen an overall carbon footprint to the design of neighborhoods that help to create safe, vital spaces to grow, the focus of RIT Architecture students is to reflect the conditions of sustainable design, thinking, and practice.


Design exploration is enhanced through the understanding of the implication of technology on both design process and product. State-of-the-art technology is available to all RIT Architecture students and allows for specialization and collaboration to explore systems of technology, engineering, digital modeling, imaging science, materials and construction, and remanufacturing as a means to developing new and different modes of architectural inquiry and thought.


Urban centers are a prime area of future growth in both developing as well as more established areas of the world. A degraded living environment has grave implications for social, economic, cultural, and environmental health, the program pays particular attention to urban settings and inclusive urban design principles. The complexity of the urban environment requires an interdisciplinary approach to architecture education—one that references economics, public policy, sociology, and regional culture—as a means to engage and include our partners in the community. The RIT Architecture program focuses on the practices and principles of preservation and adaptive reuse and Upstate New York serves as an active and engaging learning environment for our students.

Integrated Learning/Integrated Practice

Like all outstanding and leading design programs, the core of the RIT Architecture experience takes place in the studio. However, our studio curriculum integrates construction technologies, professional practice, citizen and client engagement, building science, and tectonics into the design experience. From the outset, students approach design problems collaboratively, learning to value and leverage collective intelligence and draw upon diverse experience and backgrounds. This 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 materials science. Studio-based instruction is complimented by laboratory investigation, shop work, field study, lecture, and seminar courses. All students complete a comprehensive thesis project before completing the program.

Co-op Opportunities

Cooperative Education, or co-op, gives you the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience while you are earning your degree. A co-op experience will help you further define your career path and fully realize the potential of what you are learning in the classroom. All students seeking professional registration and licensure must earn 700 "units" prior to becoming eligible to sit for the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE).

An intern works under the direct supervision of a registered architect. RIT Architecture students may begin accumulating internship units (8 hours of training = one unit) through domestic or international co-op programs offered in partnership with RIT or through summer employment obtained independently by the student.

For more information, or to get help finding a co-op, contact the Office of Career Services.

Student Resources:

Studio Culture

Studio culture is an integral part of the RIT Architecture experience.

Enrollment in the Master of Architecture Program and studio environment is a privilege granted to students majoring in Architecture at RIT. As such, each student is bound to uphold this standard, through personnel performance as well as in concert with others. See our architecture student manual »

The term "studio" refers to a series of specific, uniquely structured courses as well as a physical place founded on the educational ideals and the belief in an environment that fosters critical thinking, explorative forming and testing of ideas, and professional development. Overall, the Architecture program at RIT is grounded in the following essential core values*:

  • A Culture of Optimism – Hopeful that architecture will make a difference to society, and confident that success within the profession or related discipline is possible.
  • A Culture of Respect – Respect for the individual, the community, ideas, diversity and the physical space.
  • A Culture of Sharing – Collaboration, interdisciplinary connections and successful oral and written communication are embraced.
  • A Culture of Engagement – Promoting leadership to foster engagement within communities, among clients and users, and around social issues.
  • A Culture of Innovation – Encouraging critical thinking, fostering risk taking, and promoting creativity.

The ideal studio goes much further than merely to establish a place of inspiration and collegiality. It upholds a mutual attitude of respect and tolerance among faculty and students, understanding that cooperation between, and discourse among diverse perspectives within the stakeholders in our program is our greatest asset. Our working model asserts a culture of respect and innovation within the RIT Architecture program by allowing ideas, processes, and products to develop freely in a supportive, diverse, and inclusive environment. Learn more »

*As referenced from AIAS "Toward an Evolution of Studio Culture: A Report of the Second AIAS Task Force on Studio Culture."

How to Apply

Before you apply, please visit and carefully read the Admissions Requirements, Admissions FAQ, and Portfolio Requirements pages on this site. These pages contain a significant amount of important information and will help to answer many of your questions about the program and the application process. Most of all, this information will help you to assemble your very best application package.

We offer a number of open house opportunities from September–May and guided tours periodically throughout the year for students interested in visiting the RIT Architecture facilities. To arrange a tour, please contact RIT Graduate Enrollment Services or click the department link below.

Once you are ready to apply, please visit the RIT Graduate Enrollment Services website to begin your application.

If you have additional questions or have a concern not addressed on this website, please contact us (link to Contact Us page – prospective student version, with Master of Architecture selected).


In the United States, most registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

The NAAB grants candidacy status to new programs that have developed viable plans for achieving initial accreditation. Candidacy status indicates that a program expects to achieve initial accreditation within six years of achieving candidacy, if its plan is properly implemented. In order to meet the education requirement set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, an applicant for an NCARB Certificate must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the NAAB; the degree must have been awarded not more than two years prior to initial accreditation. However, meeting the education requirement for the NCARB Certificate may not be equivalent to meeting the education requirement for registration in a specific jurisdiction. Please contact NCARB for more information.

The Rochester Institute of Technology Master of Architecture Program was granted official candidacy status—retroactive to fall 2011—for the following professional degree program in architecture:

  • M.Arch. (pre-professional degree + 105 ScH equivalent graduate credits)
  • Visit to establish Initial Candidacy: October/November 2011
  • Visits for Continuation of Candidacy: November 2013, November 2015
  • Projected year of Initial Accreditation: 2017

Students and prospective students may find The NCARB Handbook for Interns and Architects and Toward an Evolution of Studio Culture helpful.

NAAB Conditions and Procedures

Program Reports



Thank you to the following mentors, who played a major role in shaping our students during the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Priyanka Sondhi
  • Stacy Welch
  • Brandon Colaprete
  • Jamie Weick
  • Dustin Welch
  • Emily Johns
  • Cady Guyton
  • Zdzislaw Mazurek
  • Bud Knapp
  • Leticia Fornataro
  • Tim Geier
  • Jessica Wade

Architecture Program Advisory Council (APAC)
In pursuit of academic excellence, discovery of new knowledge, advancement of the future of the profession, and overall support of the program mission - the Architecture Program Advisory Council (APAC) serves in an oversight capacity to guide, advise, review, inform and renew the make-up and construct of the Master of Architecture professional degree program.

Current Council Members include:

Jonathan Bahe, AIA
Former Design Futures Council member and AIAS National President. Currently, Jonathan is an emerging professional at NBBJ Architects in Seattle.

James B. Durfee, AIA
Principal, Bergmann Associates - Architects and Engineers, Rochester, NY. Jim is the recipient of the 2013 AIA Rochester Medal of Distinction for lifelong service to and advancement of the profession.

Jessyca Henderson, AIA
Managing Director, Policy and Community Relations, AIA National Headquarters. Jessyca oversees Code Advocacy, State Relations and Community Resilience. She works closely with the AIA Strategic Initiatives in Sustainability.

Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, Honorary AIA
Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health, 2013. Richard is a professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UCLA. He is also the host of a PBS Series: Designing Healthy Communities.

Guests Critics
Guests critics are invited to student presentations to help lend a different perspective on student work. Our current list of guest critics includes:

Jim Durfee, AIA
Bergmann Associates

Stephen Thompson, AIA
Clark Patterson Lee

Zdzislaw Mazurek, AIA
Sole Practitioner

Rick Hauser, AIA
In-Site Architecture

Paul Tankel, AIA
SUNY Brockport

Jim Argenta, AIA
HBT Architects

Maria Furgluele, AIA
Rochester Community Design Center

Dan Gladding, AIA
SWBR Architects

Ben Deuel, Assoc. AIA
Clark Patterson Lee

Chris Costanza, AIA
9x30 Design

Joy Carlson, AIA
Alfred State College

Brook Denison
SUNY Delhi

Janet Ho
SUNY Delhi

Donor Appreciation
Thank you to our amazing donors, whose support has made this program what it is today!

  • Bergmann Associates
  • Christa Construction
  • SWBR Architects & Engineers
  • The Pike Company
  • Welliver McGuire, Inc
  • HBT Architects
  • IBC Engineering
  • Chantreuil Jensen Stark Architects
  • Dr. Wesley L. Hicks, Jr
  • Peter Drago Fund
  • FXFowle Architects
  • Hunt Engineers Architects and Land Surveyors
  • Rochester Area Community Foundation
  • Charles G. Woodcock
  • American Institute of Architects – Rochester
  • Frank S. Grosso
  • Edge Architecture
  • T. Budgeon-Bakeer
  • EBS Architecture

What Our Students Say

  • What Our Students Say

    The complex problems of our generation call for trans-disciplinary and multi-faceted solutions, and the GIS program certainly offered a highly interactive and creatively stimulating environment to develop the skills necessary to be successful.

    JD Harper
    Architectural Designer, HYL Architecture
  • What Our Students Say

    Coming from a technical mechanical engineering background RIT Architecture department has played a transformative growth role in the last two years in bringing the best of me as a design individual by pushing me to new limits every day and bringing life to my visions.

    Sabyasachi Das
    M.Arch. Student
  • Samuel Elliot, alumnus, Rochester Institute of Technology

    What Our Students Say

    My architectural education at RIT helped to give me a solid foundation in the principles of sustainability and the design process. Even prior to graduation, I felt comfortable applying my knowledge within a professional setting as an intern. The faculty and staff have gone above and beyond to create a challenging and rewarding sustainable architecture program.

    Samuel Elliot
    Architectural Designer, SWBR Architects
  • What Our Students Say

    The RIT GIS Master of Architecture degree will help me to better evaluate current processes and trends in my building designs.  Its emphasis on the fundamentals of architecture combined with technology and life cycle analyses, will help me to design more efficiently and more conscientiously of our ecological systems.

    Joseph J. Nicholson III
    Assistant Manager of Virtual Design and Construction, The Pike Company

Student-Centered Research

About Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY location on map of USA

Rochester, New York is a metropolitan area near Canada inhabited by a little more than one million people. Small enough to be welcoming, but large enough to be lively, Rochester is known for its many lakes, festivals and craft brewers, as well as its low cost of living and sizable high-tech startup community. Get to know the area »

Most classes will take place in our state-of-the-art LEED platinum building, a living, learning laboratory, where pioneering R&D is happening with some the biggest names in business and industry. Tour our building »