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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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M.S. in Architecture (+Dual M.S. +IUG)

Advanced research into architectural topics. Build concentrated knowledge through rigorous inquiry.
The two-year M.S. in Architecture program is research-based, supporting a number of areas of research inquiry specially designed for students interested in strengthening the intellectual underpinnings of their work through intensive studio investigations, design applications, and rigorous theoretical inquiry.

Penn State’s post-professional Master of Science in Architecture is an academic degree intended for students with professional degrees in architecture, and in exceptional cases, for students with nonprofessional architecture degrees who seek to develop a better understanding of architecture. It is expected that such students will have previously studied the technical and professional aspects of architectural practice.

M.S. in Architecture degree applicants should hold a five-year professional degree in architecture. Any exceptions must have the approval of the department head. International applicants with a five-year degree in architecture are considered equivalent to a graduate from a five-year NAAB-accredited program for admission purposes. In exceptional cases, the M.S. in Architecture program may serve students with a four-year architecture degree or other degrees who seek to develop a better understanding of the principles and theory that underlie the profession of architecture. It is understood that such students are interested in the academic path and eventually intend to pursue the doctorate degree. These students would be required to take remedial undergraduate or graduate courses and may have to significantly extend the duration of their study.

All applicants must have received a baccalaureate degree with a minimum undergraduate grade-point average  (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; a full description of the standards for baccalaureate degrees and the exceptions to the baccalaureate degree requirements for equivalent international degrees may be found at the Graduate School’s Academic Eligibility Requirements.

Complex, shell-shaped black and white floorplan; Arch492 student design

Research Clusters

The MS program offers concentrated inquiry, research, study, and pedagogy in the following major areas of focus:

Culture, Society, Space

Technical line drawing of building, showing numerous internal architectural spaces.

The Culture, Society, Space (CSS) research cluster examines how built spaces – from the artifact to the urban – affect those who interact with them and, conversely, how cultural, societal and disciplinary values shape the spaces we create. Projects can address individual buildings, public spaces, communities, or cities, as well as typological, institutional and wider forms of inquiry. Research methods include formal, theoretical, historic/historiographical, sociological and systemic analyses. Studies may focus on spaces and ideas as forms of cultural expression, the people who produce and use them, and/or the ideological forces in which they operate, including all aspects of their sustainability.

Learn more about the faculty, students, and scholarship in the CSS cluster.

Design Computing

Close-up of geometric spherical shape fabricated from laser-cut fibreboard.

The Design Computing (DC) research cluster offers students critical knowledge and advanced skills in the use of digital technologies in architecture and related design fields, especially in the areas of visualization, generative systems, and fabrication. By critically examining contemporary discourse on digital media and architecture, this cluster examines the impact of emerging digital technologies on creative processes in shaping our built environment, and investigates how they can be productively utilized in sustainable design, interdisciplinary collaboration, and fabrication. The work of faculty and students in this group spans research on immersive environments, critical studies of design technologies, software development, shape grammars, parametric design, and innovative uses of numerically controlled devices.

Learn more about the faculty, students, and scholarship in the DC cluster.

Material Matters

Close-up of concrete arch positioned on its side, supported by a metal frame.

The Material Matters (MM) research cluster provides students with opportunities to delve into the interaction of materials and processes. With research ranging from material properties exploration to applied process-based design, this cluster encompasses a wide range of creative interests that find common ground in the power of material – the generator and substance of design.

Research in the MM cluster is supported by a collection of faculty members whose work focuses on craft traditions, industrial production, tooling and skills transmission, bricolage and the material imagination, material memory, design-build, and the reuse and restoration of buildings. Student and faculty engagement with Penn State’s considerable materials/making resources in Architecture, Fine Arts, and Engineering is a hallmark of this cluster. MM – as a community of scholars, architects, and designers who fabricate, build, un-build, and innovate – stimulates new knowledge through shared experience in an environment of creative innovation, hands-on exploration, and critical making.

Learn more about the faculty, students, and scholarship in the MM cluster.

Sustainability

Cropped view with an energy-efficient house and wild grasses in the foreground, with a group of students and the Washington Monument in the background.

The Sustainability (SUS) research cluster investigates architecture’s potential to improve the quality of life for current and future societies around the globe, addressing issues of natural resource consumption, pollution prevention, and organizational dependencies. Our faculty address aesthetic, technical, economic, and social issues in projects that cover multiple scales. From design processes, historical and theoretical aspects of sustainability, material reclamation and reuse, to identifying social structures preventing sustainable practice, this research cluster offers a comprehensive view of sustainability that promotes interdisciplinary integration. Faculty bring both practitioner and academic experience to their investigations, producing generalizable knowledge that can also be applied in the professional practice of architecture.

Learn more about the faculty, students, and scholarship in the SUS cluster.

Degree Options

The M.S. in Architecture degree can be layered into an Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate course of study, or as a dual-title M.S. in Architecture and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment degree.

Integrated B.Arch + M.S.

The Department of Architecture offers a number of academically outstanding students enrolled in the fourth year of the Bachelor of Architecture degree program the opportunity to enroll in an integrated B.Arch.-M.S. in Architecture program. The program permits the student to integrate the fifth year of study for the professional B.Arch. degree with the program of study for the M.S. in Architecture degree into a continuous program culminating in the award of both degrees. The ability to coordinate as well as concurrently pursue the two degrees enables the student to achieve greater depth and comprehensiveness than if the degrees are pursued sequentially, and to earn the two degrees in a shorter period of time.

Requirements

Applicants to the integrated program must be enrolled in the fourth year of the B.Arch. program at Penn State. Admission is competitive, and applicants must meet the requirements as outlined in the Graduate Degree Bulletin. However, please note that GRE scores are not required from existing Penn State students.

The best-qualified students will be accepted up to the number of spaces available for new students. Acceptance to the program prior to the completion of all required course work is provisional, contingent upon meeting the above requirements.

Dual-Title M.S. + HDNRE

The Department of Architecture and the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment (HDNRE) program offer a dual-title graduate degree program in Architecture and HDNRE, both at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels. The HDNRE program is a transdisciplinary, intercollege program that exposes students to issues including, but not limited to global climate change; sustainable energy, food, and fiber supplies; threats to biodiversity; water pollution and availability; genetic modification; and sustainable design.

The purpose of this dual-title degree is to provide architecture graduate students with the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct architecture research and the perspective necessary to understand the interactions between architecture and human dimensions as these relate to the environment. Graduate students obtaining this dual-degree will be better able to evaluate the ecological implications of their work as well as develop an increased understanding of the effects of their work on the human element as it interacts with the environment.

For admission to the dual-title degree under this program, a student must first apply and be admitted to Penn State’s Graduate School as well as to the Architecture graduate program (Ph.D. in Architecture degree). Once accepted into the Architecture program, the student can apply to the Admissions Committee of HDNRE. The HDNRE admissions committee reviews applications and recommends students for admission to the dual-title degree program to The Graduate School.

Students must satisfy the requirements of both the Architecture and the HDNRE programs. The HDNRE program requires to complete 17 credits of course work in addition to curricular requirements for the masters’ degree in the Architecture program. The student prepares one integrated thesis for both programs. The student’s thesis committee for the dual-title M.S. degree will consist of two graduate faculty members from Architecture and one graduate faculty member from the HDNRE program.

Graduate Bulletin Links

Alumni Spotlight

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.
Penn State alumna and 2019 president of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, Samantha Josaphat.

Alumni Spotlight

Samantha Josaphat

B.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.

Modern, dark facade of high-end retail showroom for COS, in Toronto, Ontario. Architectural design by Samantha Josephat.
Pedestrians engaging with ‘The Ambiguous Heart,’ Samantha Josephat’s heart-shaped pavilion, featured in the 2019 Times Square Valentine heart design competition.
Corporate office interior design by Samantha Josephat.

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