Master’s Programs

Offering a three-year degree and an advanced standing track, our Master of Architecture (MArch) program is one of the few in the US embedded in a college of art and design. We understand the practice of design and making as a thoughtful, reflective process that both engenders and draws from social, political, material, technological and cultural agendas. Here you are empowered to exercise your creativity equipped to succeed in the client-based practice of architecture.

Three-year curriculum

The three-year 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 you express your ideas not only discursively but through actual production.

View the three-year curriculum

Advanced standing curriculum

At the discretion of the admission committee, applicants with a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture may be admitted to the Masters of Architecture advanced standing track. Successful advanced standing students typically complete degree requirements in two years.

Requirements for advanced standing consideration:

  • a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture at an accredited college or university
  • at least two semesters of six-credit studios in architecture
  • demonstrated design proficiency (in the view of the admissions committee)
  • equivalent of two semesters 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 and construction of architectural drawing
  • six credits of undergraduate coursework for a total of 42 required credits
  • a minimum grade of C for any course counted towards advanced standing

View the advanced standing curriculum

Core studios

Graduate students in Architecture take a challenging, three-semester sequence of core studios involving group and individual efforts, a combination of digital and material media, and abstract and concrete forms of thinking. These studios recognize that the fundamentals of architecture are neither universal nor fixed. In that spirit, we emphasize the creation of methods, spaces, experiences and theories. Students challenge preconceptions and defaults in order to reconsider the intertwining intellectual, intuitive and physical factors involved in architecture.

Inspiring community

More than 40 full- and part-time faculty members work with approximately 100 total graduate students in the department, 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. Master of Architecture candidates come to RISD from around the world, bringing different approaches and various degrees of fluency in visual, verbal, construction-based and technical expression.

Learning environment

Our large open studios give every student an individual and customizable workspace. These spaces support material exploration, digital and material drafting and modeling. Designed to foster individual creativity while also inviting communal discourse and shared making, these spaces capitalize on the diversity within our student body and cultivate a learning environment that prepares students for the highly collaborative practice of architecture.

Degree project

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 six to eight under the guidance of a single professor supported by a secondary advisor, 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.