Master of Architecture Program Requirements


Please note: If you are not eligible for History or Architectural Technologies advanced standing / waiver, the following are the required classes for MArch first year students. (The GSAPP does not offer advanced standing or a waiver for Visual Studies).

Course Sequence Fall Term1 Spring Term2 Fall Term3 Spring Term4 Fall Term5 Spring Term6
Design Studio
6x9pts = 54pts
Core Studio I Core Studio II Core Studio III Advanced Studio IV Advanced Studio V Advanced Studio VI
Architectural Technologies
6x3pts = 18pts
Architectural Technology I Architectural Technology II Architectural Technology III, Architectural Technology IV Architectural Technology V Architectural Technology VI Distribution  
6x3pts = 18pts
History of Architecture I History of Architecture II Distribution 1 Distribution 2 Distribution 3 Distribution 4
Visual Studies
2x3pts = 6pts
  Visual Studies II: Architectural Drawing & Rep II   Visual Studies Elective    
2x3pts = 6pts
Visual Studies I: Architectural Drawing & Rep I       Professional Practice  
2x3pts = 6pts
          2 Electives
Total 108pts 18pts 18pts 18pts 18pts 18pts 18pts

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)

In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted a 6-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Master of Architecture degree programs may consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

Columbia University, Graduate School of Preservation and Planning offers the following NAAB-accredited degree programs:

M.Arch (non-pre-professional degree + 108 credits)

Next accreditation visit: 2019 (pending)

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)

The following documents are available in the Dean's Office (402 Avery):

2009 NAAB Conditions and Procedures
Visiting Team Report (2007)
Confiramtion Letter from NAAB (2007)
Annual Reports
Architecture Program Report (2012 - 2013)

Core Design Studio

Hilary Sample
Director, Core Architecture Studios

At the GSAPP, the core design studios introduce students to architecture through an inclusive understanding of history, cities, typology, and performance. Today, students engage the world through the increasingly global information on buildings, materials, structures, digital processes, media, and communications. These digital processes and networks that were once theorized have become a commonplace part of our contemporary world. As a result, architecture is less and less of an exclusive and autonomous profession. These social aspects are perhaps the hardest things to teach within a school, but remain a critical part of the Columbia GSAPP pedagogy.

The core is structured through a sequence of carefully constructed design studios where students increasingly gain new knowledge through making, implementing ideas, and experimenting with the problems of architecture: from form to materials, from small to large scale, and from comfort to environment. Studios explore architecture within urban contexts from New York City and other cities around the world, situating experimental architectural thought within the world-at-large.

Rather than moving from the extra small to the large, the Core sequence builds in the small and the large in relation to one another throughout the first three semesters of the M.Arch sequence. After the first semester’s focus on acquiring analytical and drawing skills, Core II takes as a project the design of an institutional building, and Core III culminates in the Housing Studio. This semester serves as a conclusion to the Core but also as a transition to the Advanced Studios, specifically transitioning to the Scales of Environment.
While the studios are structured to present knowledge about fundamentals of architecture as they apply to design, from the scale of a house to that of a building or housing project, the core sequence aims to inspire a shift in thinking about architecture in relation to the world.

Advanced Design Studio

Juan Herreros
Director, Advanced Architecture Studios

The Advanced Studios are intended to build upon the ideas and skills developed in the Core Studios, working as laboratories of discussion and exploring new ways of reading every architectural ingredient: concepts, programs, and methods of working. Nearly twenty studios work on the themes and programs defined by their individual critics in the limits of the discipline trying to find new instruments, formats, and approaches to everyday topics. Themes and programs carry both an educational objective and present an opportunity for the critic to develop with his or her students a specific area of work or research. That means that an experimental attitude grounds our environment, while the coexistence of different ways of thinking stimulates dialogue and positive discussions in which the students learn to build, defend, and rectify their arguments in a dialectical practice that is as important as drawing, making a model, or inventing a digital resource. In contradistinction to the Core Studios, the Advanced Studios are open to M. Arch students as well as to the AAD professional degree students.

Studio culture in itself makes up an extraordinary accumulation of essays and research, in both conceptual and disciplinary fields that can be considered a section of the present. We are all aware of this wealth and appreciate the special energy stored in this “white noise” that involves many instructors, TA’s and students working together. Every week, the Transfer Dialogues series tries to make visible such intensity and make it available to the academic community of the school, allowing students to access what is going on in other GSAPP Advanced Studios while getting helpful panoramic information. The intention is to open a new space for architecture and its parallel disciplines in the social, political, intellectual and economic arena with a critical position focused on the construction of the future.

History and Theory

Reinhold Martin
Director, History and Theory

The History and Theory curriculum stresses a broad social and cultural approach to architectural history, with particular attention to emerging global concerns. Architectural history is seen in terms of a rich matrix of parameters—political, economic, artistic, technological, and discursive—that have had a role in shaping the discipline. Most instructors of architectural history and theory at GSAPP have both professional and academic degrees. A shared intention is to cultivate relations between practice, historical knowledge, and theoretical debates.

The course offerings are structured to provide each student with an opportunity to gain both a broad general background in architectural history and a degree of specialized knowledge in areas of his or her selection. The two-semester core inaugurates a sequence in which students may then choose from among the many history and theory classes offered within the School. Students may also take courses in other departments of the University, such as art history, history, philosophy, or elsewhere in the humanities, providing they meet basic distribution requirements.

Visual Studies

Laura Kurgan
Director, Visual Studies

Joshua Uhl
Program Coordinator, Visual Studies

Today, what can be defined as visual in design has multiplied exponentially, especially by way of computation, and demanded that we rethink our pedagogy, projects, and practices. This diversity of the visual and its tendency toward impermanence has not lessened its potential to communicate an extraordinary vision. Through a careful survey of drawing’s new temporal nature, students discover methods to harness drawing’s new potentials. The Visual Studies sequence at the GSAPP offers a wide range of tools and techniques designed to expose students to the potentials and limits of these same techniques and tools. The sequence is divided into three broad sets of workshops: analysis/representation, design environments, and fabrication.  The variety of trajectories possible within the sequence of workshops promotes an individual approach to visualization and fosters invention.

Building Science and Technology

Craig Schwitter
Director, Building Science and Technology

For the next generation of architects, technology has become a greater and more differentiating force than ever before.  As computational power increases at exponential rates and data becomes ubiquitous, formal methodologies in architectural design are giving way to an evidence basis.  New modes of making in architecture are being disrupted through changes in manufacturing, materials, and information technologies in a globalized world.  What bricks and mortar may have been to earlier methods of architecture, today the focus is squarely on performance of design in the built environment. Does design drive greater productivity?  A better sense of community and well being?  Lower energy use?  Less material waste?  Broader and shared economic development?   The subjective narratives of decades past on these subjects are today turning into data and hard facts.   Performance and its measurement and verification have become a function of an architecture searching for the right solutions.

Urban conditions continue to drive discourse on the global stage. As cities grow globally and see the effects of unprecedented migration, the effects of design are ever present. Scarcity of resources, driven by rapid population growth and demographic change, need to be addressed head on by the architectural community. Energy and it efficient performance in buildings has become the critical issue across architecture to address the questions of global climate change. And even while working harder inside the building construct, architects must think outside the building boundary, to wider notions of integration in systems including water, transportation, waste, and energy. These are the pieces of a global puzzle that will be waiting for them as they graduate.

The technology sequence is fundamental to changing the course of architecture.  It is an integral part of the school and part of the training for the next generation of architects that will shape our built environment.  Students must explore and experiment as always, but realize that abilities to rationalize and prove are more interconnected with design as it touches every aspect of development across the world.

Notice: Undefined index: parent in /hmt/sirius1/skv0/lamp_webservices/lamp/drupal6/sites/all/modules/contrib/browscap/browscap.module on line 85