Master of Architecture (M.Arch)

Kai Gutschow TRACK CHAIR

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

Our M.Arch program is built on CMU’s 100-year tradition of training architects in the practice of design and technical fundamentals, as well as the SoA’s long legacy of leading-edge research. Students and faculty from around the world engage both the core of the discipline and tackle the great challenges of our built environment in focus areas of sustainable design (MSSD), computational design (MSCD), urban design (MUD), public interest design (UDBS), or construction management (MSAECM). Our M.Arch program’s strategically small size allows our self-motivated students to shape their individual educational agendas and career paths as they interact directly with a broad array of vertically integrated studios and advanced research projects in the school, the university, the local 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. Our curriculum delivers both the required expertise and allows students to follow their own agendas, in the studios, in the SoA’s research labs, and across the university. 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 focused on technology, and within 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 the 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 Lab), Design Fabrication Lab (dFab Lab), 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 program bridges between the deep roots in professional architectural practice and the more research and lab-oriented STEM-based graduate programs, but also ties into the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that is at the heart of the CMU experience. 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, but can also explore courses across the university in areas such as computation, robotics, business, and the arts. We are relentless in our quest for excellence in design and 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 self-motivated 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 2019-20 academic year, admission will be limited to students who qualify for the advanced standing, 2-year track (Track-2 described below).


M.Arch Advanced Studios

The Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS) are vertically-integrated advanced studios that encourage inter-disciplinary collaboration from the arts and technology, research and design, large scale urban and ecological thinking, to detailed investigations of materials, fabrication strategies, and form strategies – the heart of the CMU and SoA experience. The ASO studios are offered every semester on various topics chosen by studio faculty based on their research and design interests. Topics vary from year to year, and are constantly evolving to keep pace with the rapidly changing profession and global scene.

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.

CMU’s M.Arch program is STEM eligible, allowing international students to engage in extended professional internships both during the summer and after graduation. 

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 2019-20 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: 1) design-related experience of any kind; 2) engaging with art, both studying and making it; 3) developing a fascination in making things and in how things go together, especially the construction of buildings; and 4) 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 the previous education and experience 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.


Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts

Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts

In the United States, most 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 professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), the Master of Architecture (M.Arch), and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

The NAAB grants candidacy status to new programs that have developed viable plans for achieving initial accreditation. Candidacy status indicates that a program expects to achieve initial accreditation within six years of achieving candidacy, if its plan is properly implemented.

In order to meet the education requirement set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), an applicant for an NCARB Certificate must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the NAAB; the degree must have been awarded not more than two years prior to initial accreditation. However, meeting the education requirement for the NCARB Certificate may not be equivalent to meeting the education requirement for registration in a specific jurisdiction. Please contact NCARB for more information.

Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture is in candidacy for accreditation of the following NAAB-accredited degree program:

M.Arch (preprofessional degree + 180 graduate units)
Initial Candidacy granted: 2018
Projected year of initial accreditation: 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.


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).

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