25 Best Architecture Schools for a Master's Degree 2020
Ranked below are the top 25 colleges that offer a Master's Degree in Architecture based on the median salary of this program’s graduates one year after college. With a median starting salary of $61,200, Boston Architectural College outranks the other schools on the list. University of Kansas and Wentworth Institute of Technology tie for the lowest median debt on the list, at $20,500. The schools on the list boast median starting salaries in the $51,800-$61,200 range for students who graduated with a Master's Degree in Architecture.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Median Debt||Median Salary|
|#1||Boston Architectural College||$24,994||$93,604||$61,200|
|#3||Columbia University in the City of New York||$48,390||$80,500||$58,600|
|#4||University of California - Berkeley||$29,233||Not Reported||$58,400|
|#5||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$54,976||$36,750||$58,100|
|#7||The University of Texas at Arlington||$20,770||$31,814||$57,300|
|#8||University of Maryland - College Park||$29,484||$51,502||$57,000|
|#9||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||$29,629||$49,049||$55,600|
|#10||Georgia Institute of Technology||$30,578||$83,719||$55,600|
|#11||University of Southern California||$45,561||$141,036||$54,800|
|#12||University of Washington - Seattle||$28,881||$75,048||$54,600|
|#13||Academy of Art University||$25,044||Not Reported||$54,600|
|#14||University of Cincinnati||$26,210||$59,677||$54,400|
|#15||California College of the Arts||$51,700||Not Reported||$54,200|
|#16||University of California - Los Angeles||$28,048||$83,868||$53,800|
|#17||University of Pennsylvania||$38,630||$112,500||$53,200|
|#18||The New School||$46,065||$131,122||$53,200|
|#19||CUNY City College||$20,232||$61,000||$52,900|
|#20||University of Utah||$25,828||$41,000||$52,600|
|#21||Washington State University||$26,234||$32,529||$52,200|
|#22 (tie)||University of Kansas||$24,404||$20,500||$51,900|
|#22 (tie)||Wentworth Institute of Technology||$36,750||$20,500||$51,900|
|#24||Texas Tech University||$15,485||$32,208||$51,900|
|#25||Washington University in St. Louis||$52,875||$98,750||$51,800|
2020 Best Master's Program Highlights
Boston Architectural College offers on-campus and online options for a Master in Architecture. There are two courses of study for this master’s degree: a three-and-half year option for those who do not already have a bachelor's degree in architecture or design, or a two-year option for those who do. The former consists of 90 credits and 3,000 practice hours, whereas the latter consists of 36 credits and 3,000 practice hours. Both require a thesis about an architectural topic of the student's choice.
The online track for the Master in Architecture is professionally accredited and encourages simultaneous professional practice. Students can study and work, and they will be given the opportunity to engage in eight-day residencies in Boston, which allows for in-person student interactions and connections with instructors.
The Master of Architecture I degree at Yale is a professional degree for students holding a non-pre-professional bachelor’s degree. The program typically takes three years of full-time residency to complete. Degree requirements include summer courses during the six weeks leading up to a first-year student’s first semester, 114 completed credits, and a digital portfolio.
The Master of Architecture II degree at Yale is a post-professional program aimed at helping practicing architects hone specific skills or solve particular challenges to better prepare them to respond to architectural needs in the modern world. This degree typically takes two years to complete. Students will engage in both group work and individual projects and research. There is a 72-unit requirement for this program, but only four required courses. This means that students have the opportunity to shape much of their degree, emphasizing whichever area of study appeals to their interests, passions, and career aspirations.
The Master in Architecture program at Columbia University is completed through the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). This program is a non-pre-professional degree, which means that it is intended for students whose undergraduate degree is not in architecture or design. There is a 108-unit requirement for degree completion.
Courses offered include seminar-style classes as well as guided studio work. Each design studio course is worth nine units, and students complete one each semester for three years, totaling six studio courses. Seminar classes cover architectural technologies, history and theory, visual studies, methods and practice, and other topics.
GSAPP prides itself on its focus on the experimental aspects of architecture, encouraging students to look into what architecture has the potential to be, not just what it currently is.
The University of California - Berkeley offers two master’s degrees in architecture. One is intended for students who already have a bachelor's degree in architecture and requires 48 credits, and the other is meant for those who do not and requires 72 credits. Both degrees give students the opportunity to complete a final thesis or studio project during their final semester.
Architecture degrees at the University of California - Berkeley focus mainly on design. Among other topics, the curriculum covers design theories, the history of modern-day architecture, construction, and studio practice. Every semester students are required to enroll in at least 12 units.
UC Berkeley also offers Studio One, which is a one-year studio program for post-professionals that provides the opportunity to gain experience and design knowledge.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a Master of Architecture degree through its School of Architecture and Planning. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest architecture school in the country.
The program strives to go beyond professional training and into a deep exploration of how architecture affects society, industry, and the environment. In addition to focusing on principles of Urbanism and Building Technology, the interdisciplinary curriculum also pulls from subjects like History, Theory & Criticism, and Computation. With its small class size of approximately 25 students per year and its emphasis on a studio course sequence including Core Studios, Research Studios, and a Thesis Seminar, the program gives students the chance to gain both hands-on and theoretical knowledge. Students with no prior architecture experience typically complete the program in 3.5 years, while students with previous architecture design experience and credit may be given advanced standing to complete the degree in 2.5 years.
There are two Master in Architecture programs at Harvard University. The first one, Master in Architecture I (MArch I), is a professional degree designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in a non-design major or who have earned a bachelor's in design but are yet pre-professionals. The second one, Master in Architecture II (MArch II), is designed for individuals who have earned a five-year professional degree in architecture and want to specialize or further grow in a specific area.
The MArch I degree requires students finish a minimum of 140 units. Students will engage in general course requirements, various design electives, and an independent design thesis. This degree is often completed in seven semesters.
The MArch II program of study involves at least 80 units of courses over four semesters. For the second year, students in MArch II can choose between Track A and Track B. Track A involves more studio and elective courses (quite similar to the first year). Track B involves preparing and presenting a design thesis.