Master of Science in Architecture

MS. Arch., Post-Professional Degree Program, Main Campus

about the program

As design professions respond to new challenges and opportunities presented by a range of social, environmental, technological and economic catalysts, designers are increasingly asked to work across scales and disciplines, to possess specialized expertise while maintaining a broad contextual grasp, and to emerge as leaders at the hub of collaborative endeavors.

Within this context, the Master of Science in Architecture program offers the opportunity for advanced study and research in specialized areas related to design, construction, operations, and human-material interaction at range of scales, providing the basis for diverse career paths and/or entry into a Ph.D.-level program. The Master of Science program allows a student to conduct a research-based program of study which is expected to contribute to the body of knowledge in the design and building professions and may lead to future study in the doctoral program, where advanced standing may be awarded for acceptable graduate credits earned at the master’s level.

Candidates for the Master of Science in Architecture are encouraged to diversify their plan of study with courses from schools across the university and engage in collaborative research opportunities. Students will develop their own programs of study in cooperation with appropriate faculty and in consideration of the courses and facilities available. The Master of Science degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved plan of study of at least 36 credit hours, normally including a thesis representing up to 10 hours of the total hours required.

While an undergraduate degree in architecture or a related field is not required, applicants must demonstrate relevant background and experience, as well as capabilities for undertaking advanced academic study. Students will develop their own programs of study in cooperation with appropriate faculty and in consideration of the courses and facilities available. Applicants must have a clearly articulated statement of research intent and are encouraged to contact program specific faculty prior to the application process with any questions regarding concentration areas.

Learn more about MS.Arch. Program Policies, Procedures and Guidelines.

Note: The M.S. is not directed toward professional licensing.

While the Master of Architecture program accommodates a variety of interests, the following concentration areas have been developed to help guide students in specific, at times related, areas of study:

research concentrations

Students will develop their own programs of study in cooperation with appropriate faculty and in consideration of the courses and facilities available. A brief description of the available research concentrations follows:

  • Building Science: Studies in the category of Building Science focus on various environmental systems issues over a broad range of scales and may concentrate on the following (or other) areas: energy and building design; mechanical systems and large buildings; lighting and daylighting; natural ventilation and air flow; indoor air quality; acoustics and theater design; and building structure, assembly, and/or economics. This concentration is available on the main campus in Blacksburg.
  • Interior Design: This concentration allows those with professional degrees in Interior Design or closely related areas the opportunity for advanced research which is expected to add to the body of knowledge in the discipline of Interior Design. Potential research areas include design practice, history of interiors, computer applications in interior design, and environmental factors related to interiors. This concentration is available on the main campus in Blacksburg. Contact Professor Brad Whitney. (More info…)
  • Urban Design/Landscape Urbanism: This concentration, available at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (National Capital Region – NCR), allows students an opportunity to engage in urban design research, addressing the design of safe, healthy, and sustainable urban environments. Emphasis is on the physical form of cities and the complex forces that shape them. Focused on the general underlying themes of security, resilience, health, and sustainability, possible research areas include but are not limited to mobility and infrastructure, conservation and preservation, and urban places and dwellings. Contact Dr. Paul Kelsch. (More info…)
  • History/Theory/Criticism: Studies in this concentration examine the works, artifacts, and ideas of architects, historians, theorists, and educators to inform a deeper understanding of the contemporary issues in architecture. Includes reading in other fields such as philosophy, anthropology and histories of art, literature and technology, to reconsider and critique forms of knowledge, practice and pedagogy in architectural culture. Available at both the main Blacksburg campus and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (Greater Washington Metro Area). Contact Dr. Paul Emmons or Dr. Joseph Bedford
  • Health and Wellness Design: Studies in this concentration explore the relationship between the design of the built environment and global health. The immediate and critical global need for improved health has converged with an increasing understanding of the relationship of design and planning and health outcomes, and presents an unprecedented opportunity to re-position designers as leaders in the field of global health. The concentration in Design and Health aligns related research interests, complimentary resources and expertise across campus and beyond, and strategic partnerships with industry, governments, and NGOs to reposition design as a leading force within critical areas of public health –in local, regional, national, and global contexts. This concentration is available on the main campus in Blacksburg and is supported by the collaborative Commonwealth Consortium for Design and Health.
  • Social Impact Design: Studies in this emerging concentration focus on understanding the impact of design and design processes across a range of scales and disciplines. The concentration in Impact Design is centered about defining and evaluating impact from perspectives related to the environment, education, economy, society, and individual health and happiness. Through a strategic network of partnerships students will engage in study related to development; evaluation methodologies; research methods; stakeholder engagement; policy and planning; non-profit management; design thinking; and strategies for engaging the design process to develop innovative- scalable solutions toward a better world. This concentration invites applicants with design and related background as well as those from other disciplines and is available at the main Blacksburg Campus. Contact Dr. Nathan King or Professor Robert Dunay
  • Design Technology: Studies in this concentration examine a comprehensive overview of emerging technologies, their consequences, and potential to inform new opportunities and solve critical challenges in design practice. Areas of focus include Computational Design; Building Information Modeling; Reality Computing; Design Robotics; Digital Fabrication; Additive Manufacturing; Construction Automation; Material Systems; and Interactive Environments. Students in the Design Technology concentration will have access to the School of Architecture and School of Design’s state of the art Design Robotics Facility and are encouraged to engage collaborators in the College of Engineering. This concentration is available on the main campus in Blacksburg.