Approximately 265 students register in the department each year, about 230 of them at the graduate level. The department offers over 120 courses annually (graduate and undergraduate) taught by a faculty of 55. The Department of Architecture offers degrees at the Master's level and a doctorate degree (PhD in Architecture) in multiple areas of concentration.
In addition, students have the opportunity of studying in two degree programs simultaneously, plus a joint program with the Department of Urban Planning by awarding two degrees or a Certificate in Urban Design.
Master's degree programs
The following is an overview of the four master's degree programs inside the Department. Each degree is described in further detail under the corresponding discipline section:
The Master of Architecture (MArch) is a professional degree program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The pedagogical approaches that faculty bring to the teaching of architectural design derive both from their years of professional practice and from their engagement with design research within the environments at MIT and beyond. The core sequence of studios is structured to provide students with an intense and immersive experience in the contemporary discipline of design, where the understanding of drawing, geometry, representation, and fabrication is integrated with classes that bring a core understanding of building technology and sustainability, architectural culture and precedent, urban theory and computation in architecture. The three semester options studios engage both MIT design faculty and a series of visiting studio professors noted for their work in contemporary practice. The problems that are chosen relate to the issues in practice and society challenging the architectural profession and include a variety of offerings that vary in scale, context, and content.
The great majority of students enter the program and graduate in 3.5 years. A small number of students who have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture at another school may be admitted with advanced entry to the program and graduate in 2.5 years. Students in the MArch program recognize the many possible roles within the architecture profession, and therefore should develop a responsibility for structuring their own educational programs, particularly in the selection of elective classes. Students are urged to have the concentration be reflected in their design theses.
The Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) is a two-year program of advanced study founded on research and inquiry in architecture as a discipline and as a practice. Students pursue work in one of six areas of concentration, with opportunities to explore connections across these areas and beyond to other programs and departments at MIT. More...
The Master of Science in Building Technology (SMBT) provides a focus for graduate students interested in the development and application of advanced technology for buildings and cities. Students in this program take relevant subjects in basic engineering disciplines along with subjects that apply these topics to the built environment. The program is open to qualified students with a degree in engineering or in architecture.
The program concentrates on the development of the next generation of technology for the built environment as well as the innovative application of state-of-the-art concepts to building and urban systems. Research programs, in many cases jointly carried out with faculty and students in the School of Engineering, include energy efficiency, sustainable building design, controls, natural ventilation and indoor air quality, innovative materials and structures, and computational simulation of building behavior.
The program is run jointly by the Departments of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.
The Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology (SMACT) degree program focuses on the development of critical and visionary positions of artistic practice in the context of an advanced technological and scientific community.
The program focuses on the development of artist-thinkers advancing their critical and production practices. Strong emphasis is placed on critical thinking, knowledge mining, and creative engagement, along with explorations of changing public and private spheres. Participation in faculty research, collaborations within the Institute, connections with visitors, and an ongoing studio seminar provide students with many opportunities to develop and exchange ideas.
Doctoral degree programs (PhD)
The Department of Architecture offers the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture (PhD), which may be pursued in any of three disciplines:
Admission and degree requirements vary in the areas listed above, and may be obtained from the website or in correspondence with the separate areas. The minimum residence required by the Institute for the doctorate is two full academic years. Completion of all of the requirements for the doctorate, including the dissertation, is usually accomplished in five or six years.
Each student admitted into the doctoral program will work closely with one faculty advisor in his or her area to develop a plan of study. Progress toward the PhD follows required coursework, minor and major declaration, qualifying paper, general examination, and dissertation research, writing, and defense. Students are encouraged to take relevant courses in other departments at MIT and at Harvard University.
Dual and Simultaneous Degrees
Students interested in the dual degree program should apply to the department most fitting their qualifications, and once admitted and enrolled, apply to the other program as a dual degree student. Students already registered in Architecture may participate in a dual degree program if they meet admissions criteria in the second department. At least two regular terms prior to completion of the Architecture degree program, the student must submit to both departments a statement of educational objectives and a detailed program plan, including a description of a thesis topic.
The total program must meet with the approval of both departments and a petition describing the program must be signed by appropriate officers in both departments, approved by the Dean for Graduate Education, and filed with the Registrar. The petition must be submitted immediately upon acceptance to the second degree program.
Some period of residence (registration) is required by both degree-granting departments. Students should attend carefully to this requirement and see that they are registered appropriately. Students expecting to receive two advanced degrees must submit all thesis materials to the department in which they register during their final semester at MIT and are bound by the thesis specifications and deadlines of that department.
Simultaneous Degrees In Architecture And DUSP (Department of Urban Studies and Planning)
Students admitted to the Department of Architecture can propose a program of joint work in Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning that will lead to the simultaneous awarding of two degrees. Degree combinations may be MArch/MCP or SMArchS/MCP. All candidates for simultaneous degrees must meet the requirements of both degrees, but may submit a joint thesis.
A student must apply by January 3 before the beginning of the last full year of graduate study in Architecture. Applications, submitted to Sonny Oram in Room 10-485, should include a detailed schedule of course work for both degrees.
Upon approval for the dual degree, approved copies of the petition, with the required programs, are submitted to both department degree administrators: Cynthia Stewart in Architecture and Sandra Wellford in DUSP.
Neither the Department of Architecture nor the Department of Urban Studies and Planning supports petitions for the simultaneous award of two masters degrees with less than six regular semesters (fall and spring terms only) of residence and registration.
The Department of Architecture and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning offer a joint graduate program in urban design, and recognize the completion of this program by awarding a Certificate in Urban Design. The purpose of the urban design program is to provide the fundamental knowledge and special skills required to design urban and suburban environments. These abilities are rooted in architecture and planning. They combine this creativity and critical eye for quality of the environment usually associated with architecture, with the mastery of the process of decision-making among multiple clients that planners generally possess. Students who complete the program should have the skills to begin work as professionals in designing, regulating or managing the development of extensive environments.
Students in the Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Science in Architectural Studies (SMArchS), Master in City Planning (MCP), or Master of Science in Urban Studies and Planning (MS) degree programs are eligible for a Certificate in Urban Design if they complete curriculum subjects drawn from the two departments. Students must, of course, complete the other requirements for their degrees, and may count subjects in the urban design curriculum toward the requirements for their degrees. For example, the Urban Design Studio may be counted toward the studio requirement for the MArch degree or towards the requirements for the MCP degree.
To earn the Certificate in Urban Design students must first be admitted and enrolled in the MArch, SMArchS, MCP, or MS degree programs and complete at least one subject in each of six curriculum areas. At least one subject must be at an advanced level. The Urban Design Seminar, covering key issues and trends in city design, is a required subject for all certificate students, providing a common experience and base of knowledge.
Students pursuing the Certificate in Urban Design will be expected to complete a thesis on a topic substantially related to urban design, and at least one member of their thesis committee must be a member of the City Design and Development faculty. Students’ theses proposals must also be approved by the Certificate committee.
Students wishing to pursue a Certificate in Urban Design need to declare this at least two semesters before graduation, and must complete a program form that indicates which of the Certificate subjects they intend to take. They are assigned a faculty advisor in the area, and through discussions with the advisor, make subject choices, modifying the program as necessary in the course of studies.