Jul 20, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 Previous Edition

Architecture, M.Arch.

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The professional Master of Architecture degree (M.Arch.) is comprised of three tracks: the M.Arch. I (96 credit hours / 3-1/2 years), M.Arch. II (60 credit hours / 2 years), and M.Arch. A.S. (Advanced Standing) (40 credit hours / 1-1/2 years) tracks.  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 has offered summer travel and study programs in Italy, Central Europe, Japan, China, and elsewhere to broaden students’ global understanding to further inform their academic experience. 

M.Arch Options

The M.Arch. is a NAAB-accredited program that prepares students for professional practice and other career paths in architecture.  There are three points of entry to the M.Arch. program based on a student’s previous degree, including the M.Arch I, M.Arch. II, and M.Arch. A.S. (Advanced Standing). Prospective students should indicate to which track they are applying in their application.

M.Arch. I

The three and a half year M.Arch. I curriculum is open to students whose previous degree is outside the field of architecture.  The M.Arch. I curriculum involves three primary components: 1) the first year (including a 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.

M.Arch. II

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, computation, 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. A.S.

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.

Dual Degree Options

Students in the M.Arch II or A.S. tracks, and occasionally in the M.Arch I track, may wish to combine their professional architecture studies with graduate work in other programs. These dual degrees typically add a calendar year to student’s course of study.

Options include the M.Arch/MSIT Dual Degree , with a research-based specialization in computational design, and the M.Arch./M.U.D Dual Degree , for a specialization in urban design.  The M.U.D program includes one summer with a required study abroad experience and is housed off the main campus in the Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City.

Admission Requirements

The following requirements are expected of applicants to the M.Arch. program:

  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.  
  • All UNC Charlotte Graduate School application requirements, including a statement of purpose of objectives relative to graduate study in architecture, a current curriculum vitae (CV), transcripts from all other colleges and universities attended, GRE scores (where applicable), and three letters of recommendation.
  • School of Architecture application requirements, including 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 interested in pursuing a dual degree must simultaneously submit a separate applications to the M.U.D. or M.S.I.T. program and meet the admissions requirements for those programs.
  • Applicants to the M.Arch. I curriculum are expected to have completed introductory, college-level physics and pre-calculus courses.
  • Applicants to the M.Arch. II curriculum are expected to have a minimum of six semesters of architectural design studios, two semesters of architectural history/theory, and four semesters of architectural technology equivalent to the following UNC Charlotte’s School of Architecture courses:

Automatic Recommendation for Admissions for M.Arch II or A.S. 

The School of Architecture Graduate Admissions Committee will automatically endorse applications from UNC Charlotte four-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree holders with a GPA of 3.5 or above for courses in the major for acceptance to the M.Arch. A.S or M.Arch II programs. UNC Charlotte B.A. in Architecture students with a GPA of 3.5 do not need to submit the full School of Architecture application; however, they should do so if they wish to be considered for Graduate Assistantships. 

Applicants, including those automatically recommended by the School of Architecture, must still apply to and be accepted by the UNC Charlotte Graduate School.

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.

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.  

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.

Year One


* 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 and/or ARCH 4065 should substitute architectural electives for ARCH 5604  and/or ARCH 5605 .

Year Two

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.

Summer (10 credit hours)


* ARCH 5000 , ARCH 5204 , ARCH 6050 , ARCH 6306 , ARCH 6400 , or ARCH 6890  can be substituted for ARCH 5050 .

Degree Total = 40 Credit Hours

Grade Requirements

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.

Architectural Elective Courses

Architectural Elective Courses are available in a wide variety of topical subjects, and are listed under the general course number ARCH 5050  or ARCH 6050 , the technology topics number ARCH 6306 , or the history/theory topics number ARCH 5204 

These courses complement the core courses and studios and allow students to pursue their specific interests.  Architectural History Topics 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.  

Current elective offerings can be viewed in Banner Self Service or the School of Architecture website.  Recent offerings have included:

History and Theory (ARCH 5204 )

  • Humanitarian Architecture
  • From Auschwitz to Zapruder: Mapping the Mid-Century
  • Histories of Latin American Architecture
  • Architecture and Production
  • Museums and Memorials
  • Theories of Architectural Space
  • Brave New Worlds
  • Critical Heritage Studies

Architectural Technology (ARCH 6306 )

  • Sustainable Facade Systems
  • Sustainability and Climate Responsive Architecture
  • Atmospheric Animations
  • High Performance, Low Tech
  • Build, Test, Iterate, Repeat

Computation (ARCH 5050 /ARCH 6050 )

  • History of Computational Design
  • Computational Theory
  • Computational Research Methods

Urbanism (ARCH 5050 /ARCH 6050 )

  • Engaging Urban Futures
  • Community Planning Workshop
  • Dilemmas of Modern City Planning
  • Modern City: Theories and Forms
  • Urban Form: Race and Place
  • Hip Hop Urbanism

General Architecture Electives (ARCH 5050 /ARCH 6050 )

  • Mark
  • Structure of the Everyday
  • Humanitarian Design
  • Equity and Social Justice in Architecture
  • Japanese Conceptions of Space
  • Good Fast Cheap
  • Public Transportation
  • Airport Terminal Design
  • The Material Landscape
  • Detailing

Capstone Experiences

Integrated Project Design

The Design Studio: Integrated Project Design (ARCH 7103 ) serves as the requisite studio experience for all M.Arch. students.  Taken in the penultimate semester, the Design Studio: Integrated Project Design is 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 M.Arch. I, M.Arch. II, and M.Arch. AS students occurs in their final semester 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.

Graduate Advising

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. 

Transfer Credit

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 B.A. graduates only). The Associate Director and Graduate Program Director oversee all requests for such transfer credit.

Waiver 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 their 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.

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