Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA)
The degree is granted once all 17 General Institute Requirements (GIRs) as well as the department requirements of 192 units have been completed. A thesis is required in all the discipline areas except for architectural design.
All architecture majors, regardless of degree or discipline stream, are required to take the following core subjects. All six will be completed by the end of sophomore year:
- 4.111, Introduction to Architecture and Environmental Design (HASS-A, 12 units)
- 4.112, Architecture Design Fundamentals I (12 units)
- 4.302, Foundations in the Visual Arts & Design (CI-M 12 units)
- 4.401, Architectural Building Systems, (12 units)
- 4.500, Introduction to Design Computing, (12 units)
and either: (for Architecture Design, Building Technology, Computation, and History of Architecture streams)
- 4.605, The Global History of Architecture, (HASS-D category 3, 12 units)
or (for Art, Culture and Technology stream only)
- 4.601, Introduction to Art History, (HASS-D category 3, HASS-A, 12 units)
The Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA) is the predominant undergraduate degree of the Department of Architecture. By the beginning of junior year, students begin concentrating in one of the four disciplines:
Design and Computation
Art, Culture and Technology
History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art
Bachelor of Science in Architecture Studies (SBAS)
The degree is granted once all 17 General Institute Requirements (GIRs) and all departmental requirements have been met.
All architecture majors, regardless of degree or discipline stream, are required to take the following core subjects. All six should be completed by the end of sophomore year:
- 4.111, Introduction to Architecture and Environmental Design, (HASS-A, 12 units)
- 4.112, Architecture Design Fundamentals, (12 units)
- 4.302, Foundations in the Visual Arts & Design, (CI-M, 12 units)
- 4.401, Architectural Building Systems, (12 units)
- 4.500, Introduction to Design Computing, (12 units)
- 4.605, The Global History of Architecture, (HASS-D category 3, HASS-A)
Course 4-B is designed for students who are intellectually committed to subjects within the Department of Architecture but have educational objectives that cross departmental boundaries. With the approval of the department, a student may plan a course of study that meets his or her individual needs. The resulting program must incorporate fundamental areas within the department.
As early as possible, students should discuss their interests and intended programs with their advisors and departmental faculty members. A student who wishes to follow Course 4-B must first register as a Course 4 major.
By the end of sophomore year, the student is expected to submit to the department a proposal that includes:
- a statement of educational goals
- a list of subjects to be taken to fulfill these goals (84 units)
- a timetable listing when the subjects will be taken
Once the Department of Architecture Undergraduate Curriculum Committee has approved the proposal, the student may officially switch to the 4-B major.
All 4-B majors are required to do a senior thesis and must take 4.THT, Thesis Research Design Seminar, the fall prior to submitting the thesis.
Design studios are at the heart of architecture education, and MIT offers a broad range of studios devoted to design projects of increasing complexity. Introductory studio provides the background and vocabulary of design. It also helps undergraduates decide whether they want to continue in architecture as a major. Fundamental and advanced studios provide a progressive range of experience in form-making.
Undergraduate Architecture Design majors take six studios:
- 4.111, Introduction to Architecture and Environmental Design, 12 units, spring or IAP (4.11A, 9 units)
- 4.112, Architecture Design Fundamentals I, 12 units, fall
- 4.113, Architecture Design Fundamentals II, 15 units, spring
- 4.114, Architecture Design Studio I, CI-M, 21 units, fall
- 4.115, Architecture Design Studio II, 21 units, spring
- 4.116, Architectural Design Studio III, 21 units, fall
Two intermediate to advanced subjects in the same discipline may substitute the final studio. This option is usually made available to students who switch into the major after sophomore year and still wish to graduate within the four year undergraduate period.
Freshman who are determined to major in architecture are advised to take 4.111 in the spring of the freshman year. Only Course 4 majors and minors may advance to 4.114 and beyond.
Eligibility Requirements for Studio
Promotion from one studio to the next is not automatic. Grades lower than "C" will jeopardize advancement in the Architecture Design studio sequence.
Advancement eligibility rules ensure that students who enter intermediate or advanced studios are well prepared. No Course 4 undergraduate who enters the Department as a sophomore or first term Junior and is performing well should have to spend an extra semester at MIT to complete the program. View Eligibility List
The maximum size of the 4.114, 4.115 and 4.116 studio sections is 12 students.
At the beginning of each semester, every faculty member planning to teach a studio makes a 10-minute presentation of his/her program to the assembled department at the Preview of Design Studios. This is the opportunity for students to learn about studio offerings. The sessions are open to the department community, and everyone is encouraged to stop in.
Students' names must appear on the studio eligibility lists to ensure participation in the studio. This list is posted prior to Registration Day. Students should notify the department degree administrators if they believe there is an error in their status.
MIT's Communication Requirement is designed to ensure that all undergraduates learn to write and speak effectively. All undergraduates receive substantial instruction and practice in general expository writing and speaking as well as in the forms of discourse common to their professional fields.
MIT undergraduates must complete two Communication Intensive subjects in the humanities, arts and social sciences (CI-H) and two Communication Intensive subjects in their major (CI-M). By the end of freshman year, students should have completed one CI-H subject. The second must be taken prior to graduation. A current list of available CI-H subjects can be found on the MIT Undergraduate Communication Requirement website.
The following subjects fulfill the CI-M requirement for Course 4 majors:
- 4.114, Architecture Design Studio I (fall term)
- 4.302, Foundations in the Visual Arts & Design for Majors (spring term)
- 4.THT, Thesis Research Design Seminar (fall term)
4. 302 is normally completed by the end of the sophomore year. 4.114 is taken by architecture design students in the junior or senior year. 4.THT is taken in the senior year by all students except for those following the Architecture Design discipline stream.
Course 4 Minor Programs
A minor is a coherent program providing significant experience in the discipline. Students who successfully complete minor programs will have their fields of study specified as part of their Bachelor of Science degrees, thus giving public recognition of focused work in other disciplines.
The Department of Architecture offers three minor programs:
- Minor in Architecture
Minor advisor: Les Norford
This minor provides students with an opportunity to explore architecture design as well as one or two of the related discipline areas.
- Minor in the History of Architecture and Art (HASS Minor)
Minor advisor: Kristel Smentek
This minor program is designed to enable students to concentrate on the historical, theoretical and critical issues associated with artistic and architectural production. Introductions to the historical framework and stylistic conventions of art and architectural history are followed by more concentrated study of particular periods and theoretical problems in visual culture and in cultural history in general.
- Minor in Art, Culture and Technology (HASS Minor)
Minor advisors: Azra Aksamija + Gediminas Urbonas
This minor program expands the opportunities available to undergraduates to pursue an interest in hands-on artistic practice and critical debate. Students will gain skills and critical understanding in new genre art, including time based media, public art, interrogative design, photography, networked cultures, the production of space, and artistic research and transdisciplinary study.
Students majoring in Course 4 may not also minor in Architecture. However, they may minor in either the History of Architecture and Art (HTC) or Art Culture and Technology (ACT) if not following the Course 4 HTC or ACT discipline streams respectively.
Course 4 HASS Concentrations
MIT provides a substantial and varied program in the humanities, arts, and social sciences that forms an essential part of the education of every undergraduate. This program is intended to ensure that students develop a broad understanding of human society, its traditions, and its institutions. The HASS requirement enables students to deepen their knowledge in a variety of cultural and disciplinary areas and encourages the development of sensibilities and skills vital to an effective and satisfying life as an individual, a professional, and a member of society.
The HASS Concentration is comprised of three or four approved subjects in a single field. The Concentration field advisor helps interested students develop a program of related subjects and approves the proposal prior to submission to the Office of the HASS Requirement. It is expected that the proposal will be submitted prior to the start of the junior year.
The Department of Architecture offers two different but inter-related HASS concentrations:
History of Architecture and Art
Art, Culture and Technology
Course 4 majors are encouraged to select one of the above HASS concentrations. The only restriction is that students following the History of Architecture and Art discipline stream may not select a HASS concentration in the same area. The same is true for those following the Art, Culture and Technology discipline stream.
It is not unusual for a concentration to develop into an established HASS minor. The Minor in the History of Architecture and Art or the Minor in Art, Culture and Technology may be an extension of the concentration in the same area.
Foreign Exchange Programs
Course 4 Undergraduate Exchange Program with Hong Kong University and Delft University of Technology
Study abroad offers an opportunity for enrichment that goes beyond formal classroom education. Each fall, three MIT undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study architectural design at either Hong Kong University (HKU) or Delft University of Technology (TUD) in The Netherlands for one semester.
The architecture programs at MIT, HKU and TUD are similar in many ways. Each enjoys a high reputation, exists within an institution with strong commitments to technology and engineering, and conducts its courses in English. BSA Architecture Design students enroll in an advanced level studio at HKU or TUD during the first term of their senior year.
Only students who can easily complete all Institute and Department requirements in time for graduation are eligible. While attending HKU or TUD, MIT students take a program that includes their final Architecture Design studio requirement (21 units) plus 27 units of unrestricted elective.
- Enrollment as Course 4 Architecture Design discipline stream student
- Completion of 4.115, 4.302, 4.401, 4.440, 4.500, and 4.603, 4.605
- No more than 48 units of coursework can be needed upon returning to MIT for the final semester (after completion of Delft program)
- Completion of all phases of the Communications Requirement or a plan in place for completion during final term
- Submission of the HASS Concentration Proposal
- No more than 4 physical education points remaining
Students may apply early in the spring of junior year if they will have met these criteria by the end of that term. For more information, download the Department's foreign exchange program handout.
Applications to the program must be made by Add Date of the spring semester of the junior year.
The senior thesis is intended for students who wish to culminate their education with a challenge that would demand advanced work and reward them with portfolio material and developed viewpoints on a topic of importance. It is required for all of the discipline streams except for Architecture Design, where it is optional and can be used to fulfill 12 units of unrestricted elective requirements.
The nature of the work may be an original research or design project that involves additional learning of a substantive nature. The work must be documented with a written thesis, completed to institute specifications, within the final term of the senior year.
Thesis preparation subjects are taken the fall prior to registering for thesis and will assist students in preparing a thesis proposal and choosing a supervisor.
- 4.119, Preparation for Undergraduate Architecture Design Thesis, a 3-unit class, is for Architecture Design stream students
- 4.THTJ, Thesis Research Design Seminar, a 12-unit, CI-M class is required of students in the Building Technology, Computation, History of Architecture and Art, or Art, Culture and Technology stream. It is joint with DUSP 11.THTJ.
- The supervisor may be a faculty member, lecturer, visiting faculty, or research scientist from within Course 4 (preferred), or from another department within MIT. If chosen from a department other than Architecture, a faculty member within Course 4 willing to work in conjunction with the supervisor will need to be added to the proposal as a reader. Normally, readers are not required, unless your thesis advisor requests one.
After the thesis proposal is approved and before registration for thesis, students must complete the Thesis Proposal Form and attach a thesis proposal, which includes a timetable for completion. The form must be signed by the thesis supervisor. If she/he is not a member of the Department, the proposal must also be signed by the Course 4 faculty reader. Submit the completed form to Renée Caso in Architecture Headquarters, room 7-337, by the completion of the fall term in which 4.119 or 4.THT is taken. Students who submit the completed form on time may register for 12 units of 4.THU. Students may not register for thesis after Add Date.
Upon satisfactory completion of the thesis, the supervisor will assign a grade. The grade will not be submitted to the Registrar until a copy of the final signed thesis document is submitted to Renée Caso in Headquarters by the published thesis deadline. Thesis presentations will be scheduled at the end of the spring term in coordination with graduate thesis presentations.
Thesis Guidelines and Deadlines
- The Department must receive one copy of the thesis in accordance with the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the MIT Libraries Institute Archives to assist students in the preparation of the thesis document.
- The Department upholds the requirements of the Institute specifications. In addition, the Department of Architecture requires that each thesis contain a page listing the names and titles of the thesis advisor and any readers. This page is to be inserted between the title page and the abstract. (If you only have a thesis advisor, there is no need for this page.) Students should review the thesis checklist before submitting the thesis to the department degree administrator. The "Accepted by" signature on the title page should be J. Meejin Yoon, Director of the Undergraduate Architecture Program.
- The deadline for submitting the approved, archival copies of the thesis is set by the Department and is just prior to the Institute's deadline for the last day to go off of the Degree List noted in the Academic Calendar. Only minor corrections in formatting and proofing will be accepted after this date and only at the discretion of the department undergraduate administrator.
- All theses are submitted to the Course 4 Undergraduate Administrator, Renée Caso
IAP and Summer Coordinator: J. Meejin Yoon
Every January during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), the Department of Architecture, organizes an internship program for juniors and seniors to work in local architectural offices. Recently, the same opportunity has been organized for the summer. This experience provides students with valuable hands-on training, an opportunity to improve skills and an inside look at the workings of an everyday architectural practice.
Internships require full-time work for at least one month. Student interns earn six to twelve pass/fail units that can be used toward elective credit. All qualified students (4.114 is a prerequisite) are encouraged to participate. Participating students must register for 4.280, Undergraduate Architecture Internship, during fall term for summer internships and IAP for the January term. An internship planning meeting takes place in November, prior to IAP. (Graduate students who wish to participate register for 4.287, Graduate Architecture Internship.)
The Undergraduate Program provides both a deep and broad education in the field of architecture within the context of a leading school of science and technology. Situated in MIT's rich and intense educational environment, the program emphasizes the interconnected relationship between architectural design; building technology; computation; history, theory, and criticism; and art. The Department's extensive offerings reflect the program's commitment to the cultural, social, political, technological and ecological issues of the built environment. Committed to a rigorous and interdisciplinary approach throughout the program, our students are challenged to be creative, innovative, and responsible leaders in the field.
Freshman Pre-Orientation Program (FPOP)
A Freshman Pre-Orientation Program (FPOP) is offered in August as a way for incoming freshman to get a sneak preview of MIT's Department of Architecture and sister department Urban Studies and Planning.
The program provides a brief overview of both majors, combined with a four-day whirlwind tour of Boston from the inside out. Students actively engage with the places visited by asking questions about how the buildings and neighborhoods were made or changed over time, how they are used by residents and visitors, and how they interact with other features of the city around them. There is a lot of walking, a lot of sampling local cuisine and some kayaking on the Charles River. On the final day of the program, students apply what was learned “in the field” through a hands-on project — building an inhabitable shelter on the MIT lawn, using cardboard, duct tape, assistance from current majors, and a lot of creativity.
- 4.A22, The Physics of Energy — A collaboration among three faculty in different departments that work on projects that involve energy. The hands-on seminar explores systems that make, use, and convert electric power.
Recommended Course 4 Subjects for Freshman
- 4.100, Architecture Workshop: Form and Material — A fun way to explore the Architecture Department during IAP. Join in an intensive design and fabrication workshop where you create models and half-size prototypes that explore the characteristics of concrete and wood. Study how architectural detail can impact the perception and creation of larger built structures and environments.
- 4.110J, Design Across Scales, Disciplines and Problem Contexts, Scales and Problem Contexts — This joint subject with Media Arts and Sciences explores the reciprocal relationships between design, science, and technology. It covers a wide range of topics, such as industrial design, architecture, visualization/perception, design computation, material ecology, environmental design and environmental sustainability. Students examine how transformations in science and technology have influenced design thinking and vice versa, and develop methodologies for design research by collaboration on design solutions to interdisciplinary problems. It satisfies the HASS/Art requirement.
- 4.111, Introduction to Architecture and Environmental Design — This studio class is for students who are intending to major in architecture, or students who want to get a taste of what architecture is about. It is the first in a series of required architecture design studios, and combines hands-on with design theory. The class meets twice a week for three hours each session and students will receive HASS/Art credit. 4/11A is an intensive IAP version of the same subject for 9 units.
- 4.605, A Gobal History of Architecture — This popular introductory class is a survey on the history of architecture and urbanism from Ancient Egypt to the present. It will satisfy the HASS/Art requirement, and provides a solid background for other classes in architecture history. It is offered in the spring and is one of the required classes for the major.
A list of current Department of Architecture subject offerings can be found on our Subjects site.
Awards and Fellowships
Ennis Research Award for African-American Women
The family of Rosalia Elisa Ennis, (MArch '76) has established a research award in her memory in the MIT Department of Architecture. The annual award of $1000 will be given to an African-American woman student in any Department program (including undergraduate) for research and research-related travel in the field of architecture. It is hoped that the final product of the research will be of publishable quality. Projects need not only be written. The award might, for example, support the preparation of a final competition submission, travel in support of archival research, or visual documentation of a building, set of buildings or place.
African-American women in any architecture department program.
The application process consists of
- A completed application cover sheet
- A statement of the research topic, maximum 5 pages
- A description of how the grant would be used to contribute to the applicant's research, including a brief resume of the applicant
- A budget, up to a maximum of $1,500
Deadline for proposals: November 25, 2013 by 5pm in 7-337
Announcement of winners: December 6, 2013
Leon B. Groisser Undergraduate Travel Fellowship
Gifts of friends and alumni/ae of Leon B. Groisser ('48 and '70), and MIT Architecture Faculty member from 1968 through 1996, established a travel fellowship award to a Department of Architecture undergraduate major for thesis research-related travel during IAP.
Any Course IV undergraduate major in his or her senior year who will complete a thesis in the Spring term immediately following the proposed IAP period of travel.
A committee of Architecture faculty members appointed by the Department Head of Architecture administers the award. Selection will be on the basis of the promise of the proposal as it relates to developing the Architecture thesis.
The application consists of:
- A completed application cover sheet
- A statement of the research topic, maximum 5 pages, including a description of how the grant would be used to contribute to the applicant's research
- A brief resume of the applicant
- A budget, up to a maximum of $1,500.
Submission should be unbound, page numbered, and reproducible by black-and-white copier.
Deadline for proposals: November 25, 2013 by 5 p.m. in 7-337
Announcement of winners: December 6, 2013
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)
The Department of Architecture has many Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) projects, ranging from research in building technology (indoor air quality, building energy analysis, thermal comfort, ventilation systems, etc.) to computer graphics (visualization, image synthesis, computer-aided design, etc.) to architecture and art (public art projects, creating electronic media, museum installations, etc.)
The Course 4 UROP coordinator is Lawrence Sass. For more information, contact the UROP Office at MIT. Tips on how to secure opportunities can be found on this site. Many students find success by inquiring directly with faculty in the Department that they are interested in working with.