RISD’s Master of Architecture program is one of the few in the US embedded in a college of art and design. Here, architecture is taught in a way that understands the practice of design and making as a thoughtful, reflective process that both engenders and draws from social, political, material, technological and cultural agendas. The program aims to empower students to exercise their creativity by understanding their role as cultural creators and equipping them to succeed in the client-based practice of architecture.
More than 40 full- and part-time faculty members work with approximately 100 students in this professionally accredited program, providing criticism and support through critiques, informal reflection and ongoing discussion – both during and outside of class time. Visiting professors contribute alternate perspectives and insights, complementing the range of academic, research-based and professional practice among the resident faculty. M.Arch I candidates come to RISD from around the world, bringing different approaches and various degrees of fluency in visual, verbal, construction-based and technical expression.
Since graduate and undergraduate curricula are connected at RISD, the department offers a powerful synergy between the exuberance and fearlessness of the undergraduates, and the thoughtfulness, articulation and experience levels of the graduate students. The resulting learning environment offers an ideal preparation for the highly collaborative practice of architecture.
“Through design you will explore new means of discovery, inquiry, critical thinking and active citizenship. RISD’s education is based on the studio model – with the studio as a place for exploring artistic ideas. Our large open studio spaces foster communication and collaboration. The facilities support RISD’s long tradition of interdisciplinary practices where engagement with one’s peers is fundamental to our approach to pedagogy.”
Laura Blosser MArch 2010
Josh Lantzy and Benjamin Phillips MArch 2010
Allison Johnson MArch 2014
Jacob Miller MArch 2013
Maria Paz MArch 2013
Eugenia Yu MArch 2013
Based on a three-year course of study (or two years for those who qualify for the Advanced Standing track), the curriculum builds on fundamental areas underpinning the creative practice of architecture: representation and fabrication; technologies and professional ethics; history and theory; and design and the process of projecting architecture. Throughout the program, ideas are expressed not only discursively but through actual production.
Students take a challenging, three-semester sequence of core studios involving group and individual efforts, manual and physical labor, digital- and hand-production, and abstract and concrete thinking. These courses challenge preconceptions in order to reconsider the intertwining intellectual, intuitive and physical factors involved in architecture.
Acceptance to the advanced standing track is at the sole discretion of the admission committee. Successful advance standing track applicants typically complete their degree requirements in 2 years. A minimum grade of C is required for any course counted towards advanced standing.
Applicants must have completed the following:
• A four-year undergraduate degree with a major in architecture, at an accredited college or university
• At least 2 semesters of 6 credit studios in Architecture
• Demonstrated a high degree of design proficiency (in the view of the admission committee), the equivalent to two semester of graduate level studio work
• 24 credits (or equivalent) of architecture courses, including 18 credits of architectural technology (including structures and environmental control systems), architectural history, construction or architectural drawing.
• 6 credits of undergraduate coursework
• A total of 42 credits
The degree project represents the culmination of each student’s interests relative to the curriculum. A seminar in the fall of the final year helps focus these interests into a plan of action. Working in small groups of five or six under the guidance of a single professor, students pursue individual projects throughout Wintersession and spring semester. Degree projects are expected to embody the architectural values that best characterize their authors as architects and are critiqued based on the success of translating these values into tangible objects.
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