Master of Architecture (M.Arch)

Kai Gutschow TRACK CHAIR

Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture has reintroduced its Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree program to provide a studio-based, first professional degree program to educate tomorrow's leaders in architecture-related careers.

The M.Arch program is built on CMU’s 100-year tradition of training architects in the practice of design and technical fundamentals, with the opportunity to engage with SoA’s long-standing expertise in sustainable (MSSD), computational (MSCD), urban (MUD), or public interest design (UDBS), or construction management (MSAECM). Our M.Arch program’s strategically small size allows students to shape their individual educational agendas and career paths as they interact directly with leading-edge research projects in the school and community, and around the world.

What Distinguishes the M.Arch at CMU?

Pittsburgh: The City Everyone is Talking About
Where better to study architecture than in a venerable city with both an industrial heritage and a tech-driven future, with rich cultural institutions and a dynamic start-up culture? The buzz you’ve heard is true: Pittsburgh is one of the USA’s most livable, affordable, green innovation hubs that provides the perfect home and laboratory for research, design, working, and living.

Small Program Size
Our small, focused program promotes close interactions among faculty and students, easy access to our state-of-the-art research and fabrication facilities, and personalized mentoring, learning, and research. CMU prides itself on promoting a “bottom up” approach to initiating projects
and developing leadership in specific, strategic areas of focus at all levels.

Integration of Arts and Tech
Set within one of the world’s preeminent technical research universities and a College of Fine Arts, the M.Arch constructs leading-edge learning experiences at the intersection of the arts and technology, allowing students to create successful futures in careers only they can envision. In SoA’s M.Arch program, technology is more than a technique or tool: we emphasize digital workflows and the seamless integration of computation, systems analysis, and data into our creative design and invention processes. M.Arch students have access to a host of learning and research spaces, including the Intelligent Workplace (IW), Computational Design Lab (CoDe), Design Fabrication Lab (dFab), and the Urban Design Build Studio’s (UDBS) Project_RE_.

SoA's Design Fabrication (dFAB) and Applied Architectural Robotics Laboratory

SoA's Design Fabrication (dFAB) and
Applied Architectural Robotics Laboratory

Integration of Design and Research
Our M.Arch bridges between the deep roots in professional architectural design and the more research and lab-oriented STEM-based grad programs, but also ties into the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that is at the heart of CMU. M.Arch students develop ties, collaborate with, take courses alongside, or even obtain another graduate degree with faculty and students from SoA’s other post-professional graduate programs. We relentlessly focus on excellent design and on scientific, research-based methods to forge transdisciplinary connections, speculations, and architectural solutions for the built environment.

Program Overview

CMU’s M.Arch is a three-year, first professional degree program. We are looking to enroll a diverse group of students from around the world who are comfortable working in innovative ways and who seek to push the boundaries of the discipline. For enrollment in the 2019-2020 academic year, admission will be limited to students who qualify for the advanced standing, 2-year track (Track-2 described below).



Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS)

The ASOS are advanced and specialized studios that provide the opportunity for students in their fourth and fifth years in the Bachelor of Architecture program to work alongside students in the MAAD, MUD, and M.Arch programs. Learn more here.

The Program Experience

M.Arch Studio Track A: Integration Studio

M.Arch Studio Track B: Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS)

Program Values

The M.Arch program’s core values are based in:

  • A deep conviction about the unique disciplinary knowledge of the architect, and the power of “architectural thinking” to improve both society and our planet;

  • A commitment to understanding and addressing the rapidly changing natural and man‐made environment around us and the increasingly complex, difficult, and inter‐disciplinary problems and opportunities facing architects in our constantly evolving profession;

  • A commitment to teaching and inculcating design thinking as an iterative, reflective, and often collaborative decision making process to solve problems and discover new opportunities needed to be an influential professional;

  • A studio culture that promotes the values of speculation, critical thinking, and research that lead to innovative architectural solutions within the built environment as well as pushing the limits of the discipline;

  • A relentless focus and insistence on good design: design excellence is at the center of all work;

  • The development of integrative design thinking (identify - synthesize - evaluate - iterate) within a collaborative studio environment, promoting understanding of the design process as the primary means of synthesizing many forms of expertise, knowledge, and learning;

  • An emphasis on future-oriented, digital workflows and the integration of computation, systems analysis, and data into the creative design process so that computation becomes more than a technique or tool, it changes how we design, and in the process supports the collaboration and the exchange of knowledge among many programs and disciplines;

  • A belief that architecture and technology must be understood as culturally constructed and shaped by social, aesthetic, historical, humanistic, and theoretical biases.


CMU's M.Arch program accepts candidates with an undergraduate degree in any discipline, from a variety of degree programs, and with a broad range of experience levels, including nontraditional backgrounds, though all should have a passion to study architecture. Generous financial aid is available to the most qualified candidates.

The program is offered in two tracks:

  • Track 1: 3 years / 6 semesters (plus optional summer workshops) / full-time, for applicants without prior architecture experience; or

  • Track 2: advanced standing / 2 years / 4 semesters / full-time, for applicants with a rigorous 4-year pre-professional degree in architecture, or an equivalent in a closely related field, or professional experience.

For enrollment in the 2019-2020 academic year, admission will be limited to students who qualify for the advanced standing, 2-year track (Track 2 described above).

We encourage prospective applicants to pursue broad, interdisciplinary undergraduate studies before enrolling in order to develop critical thinking about architecture’s rich and complex connections to other fields. We recommend design-related experience of any kind; engaging with art, both studying and making it; developing a fascination in making things and in how things go together, especially the construction of buildings and reading about architecture, engaging the discipline and the profession as a culturally constructed, diverse set of ideas. Although there are no specific course requirements needed to apply, previous coursework or experience in global architectural history, environmental science related to building performance, as well as structures and construction systems will allow students to opt out of some requirements and instead pursue electives or specialty coursework of their choice.

A rigorous, individualized evaluation of each incoming student, as well as a closely guided mentoring process throughout the curriculum, determines the minimum course requirements for each student needed to meet NAAB-accreditation standards for a first professional degree.

Complete applications will be evaluated as they are received. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit complete applications well in advance of the January 15 application deadline for evaluation by our graduate admission committee.


The National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB) grants candidacy status to new programs that have developed viable plans for achieving initial accreditation, a process closely monitored by NAAB. In May 2016, CMU submitted to the NAAB its “Plan for Achieving Initial Accreditation” for the M.Arch program. In July 2016, the NAAB approved the M.Arch as “Eligible for Candidacy,” and in March of 2018 the program was granted “Initial Candidacy.” A decision on initial accreditation for the M.Arch program is expected in February 2020.  Because the NAAB’s “Initial Accreditation” is retroactive, subject to fulfillment of the “Plan for Achieving Initial Accreditation” for the M.Arch, CMU currently anticipates (but does not represent or guarantee) that all the degrees awarded in 2019 and beyond will be NAAB Accredited.

Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts

Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts


For more information about CMU's M.Arch program and the generous financial support available to the most qualified candidates, please contact Prof. Kai Gutschow, M.Arch Track Chair. For more information about instructors of the ASO studios and electives, visit the main Faculty & Staff page.

Program Frequently Asked Questions

For program-specific questions, please refer to the information below (coming soon).

Helpful Links