Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture
M.Arch Curricular Structure



For students without previous experience in architecture, the first-year curriculum uses an “atelier model” for design instruction. In place of the typical 18-unit (6 credit-hour) introductory design studios taught in parallel with separate support courses, we have created a comprehensive 48-unit (16 credit-hour) studio: in effect, all studio, all the time. The atelier studio combines and integrates studio design instruction with the closely related content from history/theory, computing/representation, and materials/construction. Underlying this design pedagogy is our conviction that design is best learned through projects in which many kinds of knowledge and thinking are integrated into a constantly iterative process of action and reflection.


Students with a pre-professional baccalaureate in architecture usually enter the M.Arch program with advanced standing and begin in Year 2. The second-year curriculum focuses on more advanced design methods. Students choose from two separate studio tracks: either the "Environment, Form & Feedback" studio followed by "Advanced Construction" studio, or a year-long studio in “Urban Design Build Studio”, where students will design and build a house in a Pittsburgh community each year. Depending on background and undergraduate coursework, students will also take required technical courses in advanced computation, statics and structures, environment and sustainability, and a Pro-Seminar covering current discourse pertaining to the built environment. Electives, either inside or outside the SoA, allow students to begin to establish their own particular specialization.


In the summer, students are encouraged to intensify their engagement with architecture outside of the Pittsburgh campus setting and explore individual areas of interest and specialized career paths, including study abroad trips or professional internships at offices around the world. Internships that satisfy NCARB’s professional Architectural Experience Program (AXP) program requirements are particularly encouraged.


The third year allows students to begin to specialize and craft a unique curriculum that reflects their emerging professional interests from a wide range of electives offered within the SoA, College of Fine Arts (CFA) and CMU. They may also begin work towards another graduate degree such as computational design (MSCD), sustainable design (MSSD), and urban or public interest design (MUD) or construction management (MSAECM).   

In both the fall and spring, students select from a diverse range of “Advanced Synthesis Option Studios” (ASOS). These studios focus on a range of topics and specialties, including sustainability, urban design, large building, digital fabrication, and design-build. “Global Studio” options allow students to travel to foreign sites during the semester. Alternatively, students may pursue an optional one-semester M.Arch Design Thesis in their final semester of studies.   

GAMP: Graduate Advanced Master's Program

By strategically using electives to enroll in courses required for other SoA Master's programs, including Sustainable Design (MSSD), Computational Design (MSCD), or Urban Design (MUD), M.Arch students can work towards a specialized concentration or dual degrees.  A “Graduate Advanced Master's Program” (GAMP) allows M.Arch students to apply up to four courses (48 units) from their M.Arch curriculum to another master’s degree, allowing them to graduate with a dual major, save a semester of time and tuition, and enter the job market with specialized knowledge.