Students currently enrolled in the M.Arch. program.
The professional M.Arch. degree prepares students to become leaders in the profession of architecture. Students enroll in a two-year core curriculum focused on techniques, principles, histories, theories, and technologies related to the discipline of architecture. In the final year of the program, the students develop a thesis project.
Program Application Deadline
The deadline for applications for AY 2023–24 is January 15, 2023.
You can find more information about application requirements here
To be assured full consideration, please apply by this deadline. Review individual program descriptions for details on program and admission requirements.
Earn a Master of Architecture at Penn State
Master of Architecture (M.ARCH.)
The applicant’s baccalaureate degree may be in a field other than architecture or be a non-professional baccalaureate degree in architecture. This M.Arch. program culminates in a professional degree, accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
A minimum grade-point average [GPA] of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required.
All applicants for admission to the M.Arch. degree program must submit the following:
- a completed Graduate School application, and payment of the non-refundable application fee
- official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
- names of three faculty members or professionals acquainted with the applicant’s academic history who can be contacted and invited to provide reference letters
- a statement of intent, which should be primarily a description of the applicant’s professional goals, subjects of study, and the area(s) of anticipated architectural inquiry
- a portfolio of creative and design work executed at the undergraduate level, under professional guidance or independently, provided that such work can be evidenced as executed by the applicant, is an important part of the graduate application. A minimum portfolio representation of one project for each year of academic undergraduate study, or its equivalent, is required
other evidence of academic excellence, such as awards, design and scholarly achievements, and other recognitions that the applicant wishes to have considered by the admissions committee
Applying to the Architecture Graduate Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What are specific characteristics that distinguish Penn State graduate degrees in Architecture from other programs in the USA?
- The Penn State Department of Architecture has outstanding facilities, including beautiful studio spaces, a well-equipped architecture and landscape architecture library, a gallery, computer labs, digital fabrication labs, several workshops for wood, metal, concrete and new materials exploration.
- The Department of Architecture is structured into 4 research clusters, which allow a variety of specializations in the fields of (1) Culture, Society and Space, (2) Design Computing, (3) Material Matters, and (4) Sustainability.
- The professional M.Arch program underwent a stellar NAAB accreditation in 2019.
- The faculty-to-student ratio is about 1:10.
- Our career day has brought about 70 professional firms from architecture, landscape architecture, and graphic design on campus to engage with our students and offer internships and jobs.
- Our career adviser provides input to students regarding portfolios, applications, licensure, AXP, NCARB, etc.
Are GRE scores required for the application?
GRE scores are not required for any of the Penn State Architecture graduate degrees.
Do I need a specific undergraduate or graduate GPA?
The Penn State Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for both undergraduate and graduate degrees in order to be accepted into our graduate programs.
What are the English proficiency requirements for international applicants?
For English proficiency requirements, please consider the following Penn State Graduate School website:
Can the application fee be waived?
The application fee is required and paid to the Penn State Graduate School. The Department of Architecture is unable to waive the fee or pay it for applicants.
What is the typical tuition?
For tuition calculation, please consider the following Penn State website:
Do I have to apply for financial aid, such as a teaching or research assistantship?
All applicants are automatically considered for teaching and research assistantships. You cannot separately apply for assistantships.
Are there other financial aid opportunities and do I have to apply for them?
The Department of Architecture, in coordination with the Penn State Graduate School (https://gradschool.psu.edu/graduate-funding/), offers additional funding in form of University Graduate Fellowships (UGF), Bunton-Waller Fellowships, and Graham Fellowships, along with funding that comes from Stuckeman School endowments and faculty research grants. Applicants are automatically considered for these funding opportunities. You cannot separately apply for such funding.
Which graduate degrees of the Penn State Department of Architecture are STEM-designated?
The M.Arch degree is a STEM-designated degree. The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are not STEM-designated.
When will I be considered for “Advanced Standing” in the M.Arch degree?
The Penn State M.Arch. program is a three-year (seven semester) program for students who wish to pursue a professional career as a practicing architect. The following applicants are considered for “Advanced Standing” during the application process, which allows them to directly enter into the second year of the M.Arch degree:
- Applicants with an international professional 5-year B.Arch degree.
- Applicants with a 4-year B.S or B.A in Architecture or Architectural Studies degree from institutions who also offer an accredited B.Arch or M.Arch degree.
What does “Advanced Standing” in the M.Arch degree mean?
The Penn State M.Arch. program is a three-year (seven semester) program for students who wish to pursue a professional career as a practicing architect. Applicants with specific degrees (see question above) are evaluated by a faculty committee on their eligibility to waive first-year studios (Arch 531/532) and visual communications (Arch 521/522) courses. Applicants who have been evaluated by an admission committee for potential advanced standing into the second-year studio (Arch 533) must further verify components of their undergraduate education during the summer before starting in the program. Of the six required “preparatory” courses listed below, students must earn waivers for four of the courses in order to enter directly into Arch 533 (second-year studio): Arch 503+504 Materials and Building Construction I and II; AE 421+422 Architectural Structural Systems I and II; and Arch 380+381 Building Environmental Systems I and II. For the verification of coursework and grades in previous degrees, candidates must submit: (1) syllabus for each course; (2) samples of the student’s work for each course; (3) potentially an in-person oral/written exam. Each applicant will be assessed individually before classes start. When deficiencies are apparent, additional course work will be recommended.
What increases my chances to be accepted to the Ph.D. in Architecture and M.S. in Architecture programs?
Of crucial importance in the application process is your M.S. or Ph.D. essay (statement of purpose). The essay should clearly describe your research interest and focus. It is worthwhile to examine what academic research questions look/sound like, which you can find in any peer-reviewed architecture journal such as Design Studies, Frontiers of Architectural Research, Journal of Architecture, etc. (e.g., look for Architecture in the Scopus database). These articles are your goal for publishing success as a student and graduate. Therefore, your essay/SoP should sound like a legitimate research project—including Intro that states your Research Question and what the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the work are/will be; Theoretical Background discussing the existing research on the topic, and where the gaps in knowledge are that you will address; and Methodology stating how you will study the Research Question.
The online application also requires you to identify at least two faculty members that you would like to work with. It is best if these faculty are already familiar with your application before you apply. Your statement of purpose is the most critically judged element when evaluating admissions, so it has a better chance of success if it aligns with existing faculty expertise and research program. You might want to send your essay to potential advisors prior to your submission (at least six weeks in advance of the deadline, January 15th), so that faculty can gauge their interest in supporting your application. We strongly encourage you to be specific about both your research topic, as well as be limited in which faculty you contact for interest. Blanket emails to multiple faculty dilute your message, and risk being ignored.
Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.
The professional M.Arch. may be completed in three years (seven semesters, with the fifth semester being a summer semester) of course work. The M.Arch. degree requires 40 credits of preparatory course work, plus 57 credits of core graduate course work for a total of 97 credits. Some or all of the preparatory course work may have been completed previously, in which case the total credits required for the degree may be reduced in an equivalent manner to a minimum of 57 credits of core courses. At least 36 credits must be at the 500 level, and at least 57 credits must be taken in residence at University Park. There will be a review of transcripts to assess the completion of materials covered in preparatory course work. Faculty will assess each accepted applicant’s transcripts for possible course equivalents. If courses have been fulfilled with equivalent undergraduate or graduate course work, students will be eligible for advancement. Accordingly, time to complete degree requirements may be reduced.
The culminating experience of the M.Arch. degree is a master’s design project, requiring the student to identify and formulate an area of inquiry and then to complete a research-intensive design project, documented in a volume that includes the design and the research. The capstone course ARCH 536 Design Inquiry is associated with this culminating experience, and students are required to complete two semesters of ARCH 536 for six credits each, for a total of 12 credits.
|PREPARATORY COURSE WORK|
|AE 421||Architectural Structural Systems I||3|
|AE 422||Architectural Structural Systems II||3|
|ARCH 501||Analysis of Architectural Precedents: Ancient Industrial Revolution||3|
|ARCH 502||Analysis of Architectural Precedents: Modernism||3|
|ARCH 503||Materials and Building Construction I||3|
|ARCH 504||Materials and Building Construction II||3|
|ARCH 521||Visual Communications I||2|
|ARCH 522||Visual Communications II||2|
|ARCH 531||Architectural Design I||6|
|ARCH 532||Architecture Design II||6|
|ARCH 451||Architectural Professional Practice||3|
|ARCH 480||Technical Systems Integration||3|
|Select 6 credits from the following:||6|
|Advanced Architectural and Related Design/Construction Work Experience II|
|ARCH 510||Contemporary Architecture and Planning Theories||3|
|ARCH 511||Theoretical Perspectives in Architecture||3|
|ARCH 519||Research in Architecture and Urban Design||3|
|ARCH 533||Architectural Design III||6|
|ARCH 534||Architectural Design IV||6|
|ARCH 550||Ethics in the Built Environment||3|
|Select 9 credits||9|
|ARCH 536||Design-Inquiry (Capstone Project)||12|
Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.
Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.
All applicants who are accepted are considered for departmental financial aid.
Questions? Contact Program Administrator
Mahtab Hosseinzadeh Khabir
M.Arch. Student Awards
- Brad Feitl: AIA Henry Adams Medal
- Brad Feitl: College of Arts and Architecture Creative Achievement Award
- LewYong Gerbrandt: Jawaid Haider Award for Design Excellence in Graduate Studies
- Darshika Agrawal: Jawaid Haider Award for Design Excellence in Graduate Studies
- Kailyn Clancy: AIA Henry Adams Medal
- Rana Zarei: College of Arts and Architecture Creative Achievement Award
- Monique Dorroh: PA AIA Architectural Excellence Student Award
- Madhubala Ayyamperumal: SOM Women’s Initiative Shadowing Opportunity Award
- Quinn Pullen: ASLA Honor Award, Communications Category
- Christopher Hazel: Penn State Professional Master’s Excellence Award
- Ambikesh Mishra: Lyceum Fellowship Competition, Second Prize
- Guangmao (Forrest) Xu: Tritschler Prize, Merit Award
- Shokofeh Darbari: AIA Pennsylvania’s Student Award for Exceptional Scholastic Achievement
My Penn State education has influenced my career by developing me into a global citizen, through exposure to different people, resources, industries, cultures, and places.
Samantha JosaphatB.Arch. in Architecture 2012
Samantha Josaphat is an architect and the founder of STUDIO 397 Architecture. Part of the mere 0.3 percent of black female architects registered in the United States, she is the 397th living black female architect to be licensed. Samantha entered the Penn State Architecture program in 2007, and by 2012, she had traveled to ten countries, become a member of the Arts and Architecture Student Council, and founded the Penn State student chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). While at Penn State she built herself a valuable network of resources that continues to shape her path to success. Samantha is the 2019 president of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Learn more about how Samantha’s firm is impacting the narrative of black female architects in this video.
Professor of Architecture; Affiliate faculty member: Penn State Rock Ethics Institute
Sandra Staub’s research focuses on how our built environment shapes, and is shaped by, our understanding of culture. As a member of the Department of Architecture’s Culture, Society and Space Research Cluster, Staub has supervised research projects that have examined cultural aspects of housing and urban spaces in countries as diverse as the United States, Russia, China and Iran. Her recent book, “The Routledge Companion to Modernity, Space and Gender,” looks at modernity in various cultural contexts, how this concept is expressed spatially through architecture and urban form, and how this has affected women in their everyday lives.
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