The professional Master of Architecture degree (M.Arch.) is comprised of M.Arch. I (96 credit hours / 3-1/2 years) and M.Arch. II (60 credit hours / 2 years) tracks. Students who complete all 128 credit hours of the four-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at UNC Charlotte (i.e., all in-major School of Architecture undergraduate courses) may be considered for Advanced Standing in the M.Arch. A.S. track (40 credits / 1-1/2 years) program. Full-time academic status is expected in all programs.
Each curricular program offers full use of the School’s facilities and labs, a close working relationship with accessible faculty and staff, and a wealth of knowledge and backgrounds given the diverse interests of the graduate student population. The School stresses the importance of making in addition to theoretical discourse; hence students have full use of wood, metal, computer, and digifab workshops; equipped with the latest equipment to allow research, exploration, and innovation.
Contact with the profession is also emphasized, and the School maintains various programs and visits from local and national practitioners. An extensive lecture series involving recognized designers and thinkers further enhances the educational environment as well as provides exposure to contemporary issues. The School is one of the first NAAB and NCARB approved programs to offer the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (iPAL) pathway to its graduate students.
Graduate study in the School of Architecture includes not only on-campus coursework, but also travel and research opportunities. Many studios take field trips during the semester to learn from regional and national cities, such as New York, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and Los Angeles. The School of Architecture also participates in several international exchange programs and offers summer travel and study programs in Italy, Germany, India, China, Brazil, and elsewhere to broaden students’ global understanding to further inform their academic experience. In addtion, the School conducts a spring semester program in Rome, Italy.
The three and a half year M.Arch. I curriculum accommodates students whose previous degree is outside the field of architecture. The M.Arch. I curriculum involves three primary components: 1) the first year (including one summer session that follows the first year) focuses on establishing a strong foundation in fundamental design skills, architectural history and theory, building-to-site relationships, and introductory building and computational technologies; 2) the second year focuses on advanced and topical design issues and their relationship to building systems as well as advanced studies in history, theory, and building technology; and 3) the third year emphasizes integrated design, professional practice, and electives. The concluding experience incorporates a design research diploma project.
The two-year M.Arch. II curriculum serves students who have already completed a four-year degree program in architecture at a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited institution. The courses and options within M.Arch. I and M.Arch. II are similar, but the prior education in an NAAB program for M.Arch. II students allows the completion of the degree in two years.
The M.Arch. II curriculum is tailored through the advising process to the previous educational background of the students and to their individual professional and research goals. The program involves two primary components: 1) the first year focuses on advanced building design and topical design studios, as well as advanced studies in history, theory, computaton, and building technologies; and 2) the second year focuses on building design integration, specialization through electives, and a final design research diploma project.
M.Arch. II students may wish to combine their professional architecture studies with graduate work in Urban Design for a M.Arch./M.U.D Dual Degree completed in three calendar years, including one summer involving a required study abroad experience. The M.U.D. program is housed off-campus in the University’s Center City Building (CCB) and utilizes the City of Charlotte itself as a laboratory for urban design exploration and research.
The M.Arch. A.S. (Advanced Standing) curriculum at UNC Charlotte is designed for School of Architecture undergraduate degree holders who have established a strong record of academic achievement in their four years of study. The track is earned in three semesters (40 credit hours) and, paired with the UNC Charlotte B.A. in Architecture degree, designed to meet National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited standards.
The program involves two primary components: 1) an intensive first semester summer program that acts as a threshold to graduate level inquiry, and 2) a final year that focuses on building design integration, specialization through electives, and a final design research diploma project.
The following requirements are expected of applicants to the M.Arch. I and M.Arch. II curricula:
- A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
- GRE is optional, except in cases where a candidate’s undergraduate GPA is below a 3.25.
- All UNC Charlotte Graduate School application requirements, including a statement of purpose, a current curriculum vitae (CV), transcripts from all other colleges and universities attended, GRE scores (where applicable), and three letters of recommendation.
- A digital portfolio of creative work. Applicants to the M.Arch. I curriculum should submit examples of work that offer evidence of creativity, self-motivation, analysis, and critical thinking. Such examples are not expected to be architectural in nature. Visual work such as painting, sculpture, furniture making, photography, etc., are acceptable, as are fiction writing, poetry, and any other reasonable evidence of sustained creative endeavor. Applicants to the M.Arch. II curriculum should offer significant evidence of a mastery of architectural skill and knowledge as well as other creative work. Applicants for the dual M.Arch./M.U.D degree must meet the requirement for M.Arch. II curriculum plus clear evidence of an interest in urban studies.
- Applicants to the M.Arch. I curriculum are expected to complete introductory, college-level physics and pre-calculus courses.
- Applicants to the M.Arch. II curriculum are expected to have a minimum of: six architectural design studios (equivalent to six semesters), one year of architectural history/theory, and two years of architectural technology.
UNC Charlotte four-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree holders with a GPA of 3.25 or above for courses in the major will receive an endorsement by the Admissions Committee for acceptance to the M.Arch. A.S. The in-major 3.25 GPA endorsement is not to be confused with the standardized test score option mentioned above.
Early Entry Program
Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements. Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.
Accelerated Master’s Program
Academically talented high school seniors and UNC Charlotte undergraduate freshmen are encouraged to apply for the Accelerated Master’s Program to begin work toward both undergraduate and graduate degrees in their Freshman year. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements. Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Accelerated Master’s Programs.
Master of Architecture I Curriculum
The M.Arch. I curriculum requires a minimum of 96 credit hours to be completed during three academic years and one summer session. The curriculum is offered for those having a undergraduate degree in other disciplines that are outside of architectural design.
Optional Summer Session Courses
Degree Total = 96 Credit Hours
Master of Architecture II Curriculum
The M.Arch. II curriculum requires a minimum of 60 credit hours to be completed during two academic years. If applicants accepted to the M.Arch. II curriculum are evaluated and found deficient in entry-level competencies, curriculum substitutions and/or additional courses will be required. Below is a list of expected entry-level competencies for M.Arch. II candidates:
- A minimum of six semesters of architectural design studios;
- A minimum of three semesters of architectural history and/or theory courses;
- A minimum of four semesters of building technology courses equivalent to the following UNC Charlotte’s School of Architecture courses:
To ensure that incoming students are evaluated appropriately, the School of Architecture may require candidates for the M.Arch. II curriculum to furnish the Architecture Graduate Admissions Committee and Graduate Program Coordinator relevant course descriptions, syllabi, and course materials (where necessary) of all architecture courses passed and completed that may satisfy entry-level competencies.
* UNC Charlotte undergraduates who have previously taken ARCH 4203 should substitute ARCH 4205 for ARCH 5203.
** UNC Charlotte undergraduates who have previously taken ARCH 4604 should substitute ARCH 6050 for ARCH 5604.
Optional Summer Session Courses
The combined dual degree of Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design (M.Arch./M.U.D) requires a minimum of 74 credit hours to be completed in three calendar years of full-time study, including a summer studio in a foreign country. Details of this dual degree are listed under the dual Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design section. This three-year dual degree is only available to students in the Master of Architecture II curriculum. Applicants for this dual degree must meet all the admission requirements and entry-level competencies for the M.Arch. II curriculum.
Degree Total = 60 Credit Hours
Master of Architecture - Advanced Standing Curriculum
Highly qualified applicants from UNC Charlotte’s Bachelor of Arts in Architecture program may be considered for Advanced Standing in the Master of Architecture program. The M.Arch. A.S. (Advanced Standing) is a 40 credit hour graduate degree path leading to an accredited professional degree in Architecture. The program builds upon a set of intensive summer experiences that bridge the undergraduate and graduate programs at UNC Charlotte.
Degree Total = 40 Credit Hours
The School of Architecture’s degree requirements follow those stated in the Graduate Catalog. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or greater to qualify for degree conferral.
Additionally, the M.Arch. requires that students: 1) may not receive more than one C in a design studio. If more than one C is assigned in required studios, then one studio (as determined by the Associate Director and Graduate Program Director) must be retaken with an earned grade of B or above.
Retaking a course may extend a student’s time to degree status. No more than two (2) courses may be retaken in the program.
Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (iPAL)
In 2015, the School of Architecture at UNC Charlotte was selected by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) as one of 14 architecture programs in the U.S. to offer an inaugural “Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure” (iPAL) pathway as part of its NAAB-accredited M.Arch. programs. The iPAL curriculum integrates academic coursework, Architectural Experience Program (AXP) internship, and Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) as part of one’s professional architectural education.
The core of the program features a structured full-time internship during summer terms, part-time internship during the academic year and a one-year, full-time internship prior to one’s final year of study. The iPAL curriculum adds one year of office placement for those pursuing the M.Arch. II and M.Arch. A.S. tracks. Successful participants in the program are eligible for all six sections of the ARE prior to graduation. Candidates must have a record of at least 1250 hours of documented AXP credits prior to starting there M.Arch. curricula. Participants must submit their interests and qualifications via an application process after admittance to the M.Arch. Contact the Graduate Program Director for additional information about the iPAL pathway.
Dual Degree with Tongji University, Shanghai, China
M.Arch. degree students may qualify for a second architectural master’s degree conferred by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. This dual degree pathway constitutes an additional year of study prior to the final year of the M.Arch. curricula. For more information about this dual degree option, contact the Graduate Program Director.
Architectural Elective Courses
Architectural Elective Courses are available in a wide variety of topical subjects, and are listed under the general course number ARCH 6050. These courses complement the core courses and studios and allow students to pursue their specific interests. Some subjects include: Computation, Theory, Representation, Making, Urbanism, and Technology. Current elective offerings can be viewed in Banner Self Service or the School of Architecture website. Recent offerings have included:
Computation and Theory
- Building Information Modeling
- Digital Fabrication I & II
- Digital Methods I & II
- Digital Theory
- Introduction to Urban Design
- Community Planning Workshop
- Dilemmas of Modern City Planning
- Planning, Law, and Urban Design
- Post-CIAM Discourse on Urbanism
- Public Space in Cities
- Real Estate Development Students: Introduction to Real Estate Development
- Shaping the American City
- Strategies for the Public Realm
- The Changing Urban Landscape: The Development of Uptown Charlotte, 1875-Present
- Urban Form, Context and Economics
- Architectural Luminous Environment
- Bio-Climatology and Cross Cultural Assessments of Traditional Built Form
- Building Shapes and Skins for Daylighting
- Parametric Methods: Notes on Sustainable Design Decision Making
- Site Sustainability and Planning
- Sustainability and Climate Responsive Architecture
- Sustainable Design: Ecology, Technology, and Building
- Trend or Truth: Sustainability in Architecture
General Architecture Electives
- Furniture Making
- Methods and Meaning
- Objects and Analysis
- Watercolor and Representation
Architectural History Topics Courses
Architectural History Topics Courses offer a focused study of issues in specific areas of history. These courses complement the architectural history survey courses (ARCH 5201, ARCH 5202, ARCH 5203), and serve to inform and develop in-depth research, writing, and presentation skills. Entering MArch II students who have previously satisfied ARCH 5203 will be required to take an Architectural History Topic to satisfy their degree requirement. Recent offerings have included:
- An Architecture of Questionable Effects
- Architecture and National Identity
- From Auschwitz to Zapruder: Mapping the Mid-Century
- Histories of Latin American Architecture
- History of the 19th and 20th Century City
- Layered Berlin
- Modern Perception: Linear Perspective and Motional Pictures
- Offices in the Sky: The History of the Skyscraper from 1870 to the Present
- Popular Modernism: Charlotte Architecture in the ‘50s and ‘60s
- Post-CIAM Discourse on Urbanism
- Renewing the Modernist Debate: The Theory and Works of Adolf Loos
- Representation: Exploits of the Architectural Image
- The Changing Urban Landscape: The Development of Uptown Charlotte, 1875-Present
- The Public Space of Cinema: Transformation of the City 1850-1940
- Urban Design in Global Perspective
- Urban Design of Capital Cities
Requisite and Capstone Experiences
Integrated Project Design
The Design Studio: Integrated Project Design (ARCH 7102) serves as the requisite studio experience that advances foundational studios and topical studios for all MArch students. Taken in the sixth semester of enrollment for MArch I students and in the third semester of enrollment for MArch II students, the Design Studio: Integrated Project Design is defined as an architectural building design project that comprehensively demonstrates the student’s ability to conceptualize, prepare, organize, and design a building having a specific programmatic type. All students must demonstrate competency before they engage in the final semester of study.
The capstone for both MArch I and MArch II students occurs in their final year in ARCH 7104. This is defined as an architectural design diploma project that demonstrates the students’ ability to apply research to identify and engage a specific set of issues, a building design construct, and a site or contextual condition.
Diploma project students, in conjunction with their studio professors, will identify the issue(s) to be engaged and the research and/or design methods through which this engagement will take place. Design research is defined as an architectural project that engages and explicates primary source material leading to project work possessing an original argument. This diploma project includes design-related materials as part of the final submission. Materials from data and information gathered from original texts and documents, data resulting from experiments, demographic data, interviews, etc. are the means to base and launch the design activities of the diploma project.
For students in the M.Arch./M.U.D dual degree program, the diploma project may have a focus on the integration of architectural and urban design issues.
A critical component of any successful graduate program is academic advising and guidance during the course of a student’s program of study. The primary advisor for all graduate students in the School of Architecture is the Associate Director, in consultation with the appropriate Graduate Program Director. Students entering their final year are asked to complete a Plan of Study and identify committee members from the faculty to serve as advisors for their thesis.
Transfer credit may be possible up to a maximum of 20% of the overall course credit hours required for the Master of Architecture I and Master of Architecture II degree programs. Transfer credit is not accepted into the Master of Architecture II Advanced Standing (UNC Charlotte School of Architecture Graduates only). The Associate Director and Graduate Program Director we oversee all requests for such transfer credit.
Waiver credit may be allowed if a student can demonstrate that a course (or courses) taken at the post-undergraduate level equals or exceeds in both content and rigor of a course or courses required in the graduate curriculum. Grades received for such courses must be B or above. In such cases, credit is permitted by examination. If a required course in the curriculum is waived, the student is allowed to fill those credit hours with another course as advised by the Associate Director, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.
Application for Degree
In order to meet UNC Charlotte’s Graduate School requirements for degree candidacy, all graduate students must receive a written certification from their department confirming successful coursework completion. This report requires approvals from the Graduate Program Director as well as Graduate School administrators. The completion of this report results in the granting of the degree. In addition, each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.
Assistantships, Tuition Differentials, and Scholarships
A number of teaching and research assistantships, scholarships, tuition awards, and graduate tuition assistantship program support (GASP), are available to both high performing M.Arch. I, M.Arch. II, and M.Arch. A.S. candidates. No separate assistantship application is required; awards are based on application materials to the program, and award decisions are made based on the applicant’s academic merit or promise of academic merit, and/or on demonstration of need. Portfolio and the merits of prior design work are extremely important in such award determinations. Tuition awards are typically paired with teaching and/or research assistantship stipends. School of Architecture scholarships supported through private endowments are available to students enrolled in the program pending an application. In addition, other awards are available under independent faculty or research center grants.