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Model plane in architecture studio


Sustainability concerns are changing the way we look at architecture, and the way architecture looks to us. Buildings account for large percentages of the world’s energy expenditures and greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s led to greater demand for more sustainable architecture. In RIT’s accredited Master of Architecture program, we’re moving sustainability forward to create better architecture. Here, you’ll learn how to design with context and substance in areas such as positive energy, performance building, climate-responsive designs, passive resiliency, and more.

Program Overview

A graduate architectural degree created inside of a sustainability school, this accredited Master of Architecture program brings a smarter, more resilient approach to architecture and the complexity of designing buildings with people, space, and the environment in mind. Whether you have a background in the industry or are new to the field, RIT’s Master of Architecture will prepare you for a path to professional licensure and job readiness.

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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 preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Master of Architecture Program is what is often referred to as a Type I program whereby students enter with a non-architecture related undergraduate degree and normally earn the degree with 3+ years of study. Those with undergraduate backgrounds in architecture may qualify for some advanced standing status.

The RIT Master of Architecture Program offers the following NAAB Accredited degree:

Master of Architecture
(pre-professional degree + 105 ScH graduate credits)
Initial Candidacy granted: 2011
Initial Accreditation: 2017
Next Accreditation Visit: 2020

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.

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


These incredible donors have made this program what it is today, and continue to support us and our students:

  • 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


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.

True innovation is born from diverse backgrounds and ideas.

Superior architecture requires constructive collaboration and a breadth of skills and viewpoints, so we value and celebrate everyone’s differences and strengths here at RIT. The Master of Architecture degree is suited for those with or without a background in the architecture or sustainability fields; our students and graduates are former art teachers, film students, engineers, interior designers, lawyers, and more. 

One commonality that you will find among our students is a desire to push themselves to succeed. Here, you’ll be part of a community of original thinkers, innovative problem-solvers, and high achievers. Plus, with our flexible curriculum, some students choose to complete their degree while continuing to work, often in building or architectural firms around the Rochester area.

What Our Students Say

  • Catherine Lange

    What Our Students Say

    The M.Arch. program provided a well-balanced foundation so I was ready to hit the ground running when I started my first job. Collaborating with scientists, designers, and the Rochester community on projects provided a very interesting and rich education that I continue to draw from in my architecture career.

    Catherine Lange
    Intern Architect at Freeman French Freeman, Architects
  • 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

Gain applicable skills employers are seeking.

RIT’s Master of Architecture program is proud of our 100% job placement rate among our graduates. Because of our accreditation status, you will be well prepared after graduation to take on the next steps to gain your professional license as an architect.

Our graduates are employed in sustainable architecture areas around the world, from community development to smart growth to green building materials. They are architectural designers, research scientists, sustainability consultants, planning engineers, start-up entrepreneurs, and more.

Plus, our professional co-ops with architectural firms and in related design fields, such as construction, urban design, facilities management, and more, are a compelling program requirement that often lead to employment offers.

This is the place where virtually any idea can become reality.

The Master of Architecture degree’s experiential learning components give you the chance to put classroom theory into practice and look holistically at real-world challenges in sustainable architecture today. You’ll tackle hands-on projects, such as creating a net zero hotel in downtown Rochester or helping to design a high school in South Sudan where students can not only live and learn, but flourish.

Through a required professional co-op with organizations including architectural firms, major construction firms, and city agencies, you’ll consistently engage with the local community—both professional and public—working with local architects and presenting neighborhood improvement ideas to planning boards.

You’ll also complete individual and group projects in your classes, a global study abroad experience, and a culminating thesis project that integrates everything you’ve learned, such as creating an urban master plan for Rochester’s downtown or designing a turbine system to turn roof run-off into energy. Opportunities abound, especially with access to our own LEED platinum building, a living, learning laboratory that will allow you to see, observe, test, and evaluate state-of-the-art and novel high-performance building ideas.

Community is at the heart of what we do.

Rochester, NY location on map of USA

RIT’s relationship with Rochester, NY, and the region is a crucial part of your classes and your education. Not only will you learn first-hand what it means to integrate your designs into the context of a larger, multi-faceted community of people and industry, but you can also take these skills back to your own city in the U.S. or abroad to bring positive change.

You’ll engage with the needs of local neighborhoods through classes like “Healthy Housing,” in which you create a plan for much-needed improvements in underserved communities and present them at City Hall. You can also show off your research and connect with the city at conferences and innovation festivals; recent student work included topics such as low-income housing that goes beyond net zero and energy analyses of various building components.