The Master of Architecture Program is a three-year professional degree which situates the exploration of architecture and architectural concepts in relation to disciplinary questions, and in response to historical and contemporary issues in an evolving and increasingly urbanized global culture.
The GSAPP’s commitment to critical probing and experimentation as it recasts the discipline within an expanded field of design thinking and research can be experienced throughout the M.Arch curriculum. The richness and open-endedness of the exploration of architecture culture is combined with the highest levels of knowledge and expertise, with the program providing a system for integrating the various aspects of architectural study and the acquiring of required skills.
The M.Arch curriculum is broadly divided into the study of history and theory, technology, methods, visual studies, and design. Learning about architecture involves on the one hand examining the historical, social, cultural, technical, and economic forces that shape buildings, and on the other, mastering these forces with both traditional means as well as cutting edge technologies. The design studio remains the main focus of the curriculum, in that it offers the opportunity to integrate and synthesize what is being studied. Around the studio, a variety of conversations are instigated to create a context for students’ learning and investigations while also providing an opportunity to further integrate the various sequences of the M. Arch curriculum.
Being part of an elite university located in a major metropolis has determined much of what is unique about the Architecture Program. The GSAPP is not only able to attract excellent faculty members, it is also able to draw upon the large and diverse community of architects, theorists, practitioners, and scholars in New York as well as from around the world. Thus the program exposes students to architecture as a complex and pluralistic cultural endeavor.
As it seeks to impart basic principles and knowledge, to develop visual and analytical skills, and to relate creativity to given cultural situations, the school offers student-architects the means to use their knowledge and insight to better respond to and improve the built environment, while also contributing to expanding the field of architecture and design in meaningful ways.
Summary of the Master of Architecture Program
To graduate with a Master of Architecture degree, a student is required to complete 108 graduate-level course points that are approved by the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. These course points are a combination of required courses, a certain number of points of distribution course requirements, and elective course points. The courses are divided into the following categories: Studio, History/Theory, Building Technologies, Visual Studies, Methods/Practice, and Elective. Each category (except Elective) has requirements that must be fulfilled.
The Master of Architecture Program at GSAPP stresses the importance of understanding and applying architectural concepts in relation to broader historical and contemporary issues. The objective of the program is to enable students to develop a theoretical basis for decision making in design, while maintaining intense exposure to a broad spectrum of philosophical and cultural attitudes. At the core of the Columbia experience are four key components:
1. An inquisitive and highly diverse student body — geographical as well as intellectual — with an interest in the profession of architecture as well as in the expanded field of research and design.
2. A faculty of experienced and also diverse teachers, leading practitioners, scholars and researchers in the field.
3. A program of study consisting of lectures, seminars, and studios, whose objectives are definable but whose form is malleable in response to changing cultural attitudes and social needs.
4. A setting of the most effective physical facilities, including classrooms, studios, auditoriums, shops, and libraries which are in a constant state of redesign as new pedagogies are outlined.
As the moment of integration, the Architecture Design Studio weaves together the knowledge acquired in the five other areas of studies. The History and Theory Sequence broadens the student’s perceptions through the historical and theoretical examination. The Building Technology Sequence prepares the student to understand the structural, material consequences, and constraints on design decisions. The Visual Studies Sequence provides specialized investigation that complements the normal studio work, including both manual and computer-aided drawing courses. The Methods and Practice Sequence prepares the student to undertake management and professional practice activities. The Elective Sequence permits the student to pursue individual interests in architectural and environmental topics. While the Design Studio sequence is roughly divided between Core and Advanced Studios, the intent is for a gradient from Core to Advanced with every semester offering a combination of both.
To graduate with a Master of Architecture degree, a student is required to complete 108 graduate-level course points that are a combination of required courses from five different categories: Studio, History/Theory, Building Technologies, Visual Studies, Methods/Practice, and Elective.