MS Architecture Curriculum & Courses

The Master of Science in Architecture is a STEM-designated graduate degree devoted to fundamental and applied research in the built environment with a flexible curriculum of approximately three semesters.

As the only graduate architecture program of its kind that allows you to move across and between concentration areas to form your own specialization in architectural practice and research, you’ll develop specialized skills in a concentration area while broadening knowledge, critical thinking and understanding about research practices in architecture and the built environment.

The first semester includes a common foundation in research methods and a research studio, after which each student establishes an individual research project through a research seminar culminating in an original master’s project or thesis.

We offer engaging courses and advising in research areas that align with our faculty members’ expertise, including but not limited to:

  • Critical spatial practice
  • Design and energy conservation
  • Emerging building technologies
  • Health and the built environment
  • Heritage conservation
  • Sustainable market transformation
  • Urban design

CAPLA’s MS Arch provides a foundation in applied research in architecture and the built environment through:

Theory Development

Including conceptual framework, problem characterization, potential futures and critical inquiry.

Technical Skills

Including materials, archival research, fabrication, digital design, instrumentation, simulation and analysis.

Research Skills

Including subject development, project execution, synthesis and documentation.
 


Curriculum

A minimum of 30 units of coursework is required for the Master of Science in Architecture.

 
Review MS Arch curriculum by semester and year or view or download the MS Arch program overview and curriculum:

FALL 1

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 601 Research Studio 6
SBE 580 Research Methods 3
ARC 5-- Core Elective OR Core Skill Development 3
  TOTAL 12

SPRING 1

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 900 Research Seminar 3
ARC 5-- Core Elective 3
ARC 5-- Elective Course 3
ARC 5-- Core Skill Development 3
  TOTAL 12

FALL 2

Course # Course Title Units
ARC 909/910 Master's Report or Thesis 9
ARC 5-- Elective Course 3
  TOTAL 12

Core Skill Development Electives

The core skill development electives are recommended in consultation with faculty chair/academic advisor, and may be taken in any order:

  • ARC 596D Daylighting, Health and Behavior (Fall)
  • ARC 596D Social and Behavioral Issues in the Built Environment (Spring)
  • ARC 597B Health and Wellbeing in the Built Environment (Spring)

Additional electives may be approved by faculty chair or academic advisor.

MS Arch Elective Options

FALL

  • ARC 540C Design Communications III (3 units)
  • ARC 561D Computer Energy Analysis (3 units)
  • ARC 561I Materials: Properties and Tests (3 units)
  • ARC 561P Environmental Science Laboratory (3 units)
  • ARC 571F Introduction to Heritage Conservation (3 units)
  • ARC 596D Daylighting, Health and Behavior (3 units)
  • ARC 597B Sustainable Urban Design (3 units)
  • LAR 570 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Planning and Landscape Architecture (4 units)
  • SBE -- Social Foundations of Sustainability (3 units)

SUMMER (ONLINE ONLY)

  • ARC 561K Energy and the Environment (3 units)
  • ARC 561L Energy Use in Buildings (3 units)
  • ARC 597C Materials Conservation (3 units)
  • RED 501 Introduction to Real Estate Finance (3 units)

SPRING

  • ARC 333 Forms of Critical Inquiry and Expression (3 units)
  • ARC 521B Integrated Technologies II (Environmental Parametrics) (3 units)
  • ARC 561A Water Efficiency in Buildings (3 units)
  • ARC 561E Sustainable Design and the LEED Initiative (3 units)
  • ARC 561J Materials Modeling (3 units)
  • ARC 561Q Special Topics in Architectural Research
  • ARC 581F Biomimetics (3 units)
  • ARC 596D Social and Behavioral Issues in Built Environments (3 units)
  • ARC 597B Health and Wellbeing in the Built Environment (3 units)
  • ARC 597J Documentation and Interpretation of the Historic Built Environment (3 units)
  • PLG 508 Climate Action Planning
  • PLG 595A Geodesign: Geographic Information and Tools for Planning and Design
  • PLG 573 Transportation and Society
  • SBE -- Innovation, Design and Society

Master's Project or Thesis

The master’s project is a research-based design outcome for students who are interested in pursuing advanced practices. The master’s thesis is a research-based written document outcome for students who are interested in pursuing advanced academic and consulting practices.


Courses

The master's courses listed here align with the degree curriculum above, and are subject to change. For more information, contact an academic advisor.

Bridges the Core and Research Path stages of the curriculum, inviting students to position their work theoretically and historically and to postulate a career trajectory.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This course introduces fundamentals of small to medium building structures, materials and methods, and environmentally adaptive architectural design.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to advanced digital technologies in architecture with a specific focus on parametric modeling for design applications. Graduate students will be required to include a more extensive research component with their project  and complete more in-depth exercises.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Learn methods and advanced techniques that conserve urban water usage while promoting water harvesting, water reuse and water energy generation technologies in and around buildings. Graduate students are required to submit case studies and various calculations in each module.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

A comprehensive course that teaches students energy conservation and passive solar architecture and up-to-date computer energy simulation techniques. The course promotes student learning through field investigation of existing buildings and/or new design projects. Graduate-level requirements include writing short essays on development exercises and presenting simple payback and lifecycle cost analysis on projects.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

A comprehensive course that focuses on sustainable design through energy conservation, passive solar architecture and advanced computer energy simulation techniques. Develop thorough understanding of "Green Building Design," currently the fastest growing segment of the building industry. Master advanced computer energy analysis using the industry-standard U.S. Department of Energy eQUEST software. Learn about the LEED "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" Green Building Rating System for New Construction and become a LEED-Accredited Professional. Graduate-level requirements include an additional research report on selected passive solar systems.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

The course will engage with a deep scientific and artistic study of select materials at the intersection of sun, water, wind and chemo-biological phenomena. Physical (mechanical, optical, acoustical, thermal, etc.) and sensorial-perceptive (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, haptic, etc.) properties will be the criteria for experiments that elucidate theoretical and practical applications of materials aimed at developing an inventive model of design practice with the capacity for new aesthetic and performative qualities responsive to emergent human needs and environmental ethics.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Modeling must not operate by precepts, but by the culture of experimentation, eliciting aesthetic and rational judgment in the free play between mind and matter. The play must be heuristic, inducing its own sense (or meta-logic) from the activity itself. The products must include in themselves their own meter for evaluation. Graduate-level requirements include an abstract with proof of submission to an architectural journal or scholarly conference.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

A fully online course that fosters awareness and thorough understanding of the qualitative and quantifiable environmental forces that contribute to energy use in buildings. The course introduces basics for understanding solar energy and light, climate and microclimate and human thermal comfort as related to the built environment. Graduate-level requirements include completion of an additional two-page report to be uploaded with each skill development exercise.

Online

Typically Offered: Summer

Units: 3

Understand the quantitative and qualitative factors that contribute to energy flows and consumption in buildings' thermal performance.

Online

Typically Offered: Summer

Units: 3

This comprehensive laboratory-based course focuses on understanding sustainable design through investigation of the most important environmental design principles including thermal comfort, daylight, shading and ventilation. Each module focuses on laboratory testing and field investigation of students’ scaled models to verify thermal and visual performance of their current proposed designs. Sustainability will be achieved through empirical iterative investigation of a series of design improvements using advanced equipment and instruments. Final presentations and documentation of improved designs will provide scientific materials suitable for publication and funded grant application.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

Directed research-based course on emergent topics of interest to the profession. Students will develop problem-solving skills while conducting research on pre-selected topics. Graduate-level requirements include generating more complete findings on subject matter and generating publishable reports or scholarly journal articles and taking a leading role in answering questions and facilitating development of research project.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 3

An overview of the interdisciplinary paradigms, principles, programs and players in the field of heritage conservation, ranging from local to international contexts. Graduate-level requirements include an in-depth research paper focusing on a particular concept or methodology utilized in preservation practice.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course emphasizes the study and application of biological principles as essential design parameters, biomimetics. Graduate-level requirements include an expectation for students to become familiar with the ideas and texts referenced in readings as well as making correlations between the various texts.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This course explores specific Technology topics in depth; it may be taken up to four times under different topics by permission of the Stream Coordinator. Graduate students are expected to demonstrate a higher level of leadership, focus, and depth in completing all course components and should show a level of synthesis between the texts and ideas they submit over the semester.

Typically offered: fall
Units: 3

This course explores specific Technology topics in depth; it may be taken up to four times under different topics by permission of the Stream Coordinator. Graduate students are expected to demonstrate a higher level of leadership, focus, and depth in completing all course components and should show a level of synthesis between the texts and ideas they submit over the semester.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

The practical application of theoretical learning within a group setting and involving an exchange of ideas and practical methods, skills, and principles. Students may take 597B up to four times provided the topics are different.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

The practical application of theoretical learning within a group setting and involving an exchange of ideas and practical methods, skills, and principles. Students may take 597B up to four times provided the topics are different.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 3

The practical application of theoretical learning within a group setting and involving an exchange of ideas and practical methods, skills and principles.

Online

Typically Offered: Summer

Units: 3

Examines methods to document buildings, districts and cultural landscapes and methods to interpret historical and architectural significance. Focuses on historic built environments of Greater Southwest including semester-long service-learning project applying documentation and interpretation methodologies. Graduate-level requirements include transforming a service-learning project into web-accessible format to integrate into Preservation Studies website.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 3

Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work.

Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

Units: 3

Research studio for graduate students in architecture and landscape architecture intended to provide a heuristic framework of investigation with the aim of incorporating the major areas of graduate concentration in the master's programs in architecture, including but not limited to design and energy conservation, urban design and infrastructure, materials and technologies and preservation studies. Design research inquiry centered on the Sonoran Desert region as the setting for architectural interventions.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 6

Individual research, not related to thesis or dissertation preparation, by graduate students.

Typically offered: Fall/Spring
Units: 3

Individual study or special project or formal report thereof submitted in lieu of thesis for certain master's degrees.

Typically offered: Fall/Spring
Units: Variable

Research for the master's thesis (whether library research, laboratory or field observation or research, artistic creation or thesis writing). Maximum total credit permitted varies with the major department.

Typically Offered: Fall/Spring

Units: Variable

The two emphases of this course are on 1) landscape planning theory and 2) the use of computer-aided spatial analysis techniques within a GIS to solve landscape resource-based problems and develop alternative planning and design solutions. Students will learn techniques in planning and regional landscape resources: visual simulation, computer map overlay, resource modeling, application of research into automated decision-support systems, solving problems through the use of automated spatial modeling and analysis.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 4

Cities are on the front-lines of climate change as the built environment is impacted by increasing sea level rise, floods, drought, wildfires and urban heat. This course explores the challenges and opportunities of planning and designing the built environment for climate adaptation and resilience. Urban resilience is the capacity of cities and their interconnected systems to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Students will learn a range of climate impacts on the built environment, examine different planning and design strategies to increase urban resilience, and explore real world case studies of cities planning for urban resilience. Urban resilience will be considered through a variety of planning and design scales - buildings, landscapes, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. This course emphasizes inclusive planning processes that engage the most vulnerable populations to climate impacts. Guest lectures from researchers and practitioners will also be featured to share their professional experiences in connecting climate science to planning and design efforts.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 3

This course facilitates student exploration of key concepts and issues related to how transportation systems impact cities and communities. Students will explore ways that transportation systems--both in the United States and around the world--effect urban growth and development, economic performance, public health outcomes, social equity and social justice, and the natural environment. Students will have the opportunity to explore topics of interest in more depth through an individual research paper.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 3

The focus of this course is the analysis of capital formation in commercial real estate and examination of the tools real estate investors use to make investment decisions. The course includes sections on capital sources, investor concerns and hurdles, data sources, investment fundamentals and tools, discounted cash flow modeling and pre-tax equity distributions for a range of partnerships.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

This course is all about answering questions and solving problems in urban environments. Students will get to choose what content to study during the course; i.e. transportation, the environment, social equity, etc. Graduate students can use the work from this class to advance their thesis or professional project work.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

Ready to transform architecture and the built environment?

Learn more about the Master of Science in Architecture by contacting Emilio Romero, graduate services coordinator, or review the admissions process and begin your application now:

Start Your Application