USC Graduate Architecture leverages the extensive experience and wide-ranging expertise of a deeply talented roster of licensed architects, design-thinkers, and design scholars to explore the power of design to change the built environment. With a deep commitment to disciplinary knowledge, civic and spatial justice, and innovation in architectural practice, we take the term Citizen Architect very seriously.

The Master of Architecture is built on three levels. The first level is dedicated to introducing essential disciplinary knowledge and the fundamental design skills required for the NAAB-accredited degree. The second level builds upon this foundation with increasingly refined vocational knowledge and advanced professional capability. The final level culminates with a year of individually directed design research, with master classes and a directed design research project (thesis) focused on the student’s emergent architectural interests. All three levels draw on the USC School of Architecture’s commitment to spatial justice, the University’s extended resources, and the inspiration of Los Angeles. Firmly rooted in an investigative mode of critical, professional practice, the program’s aim is for every graduate to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.


RELATED LINKS:

The Master of Architecture degree is a STEM program in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology (CIP code 04.0902). International students who graduate from USC’s Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture degree may be eligible for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months). The 24-month STEM OPT extension is adjudicated (approved) by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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“At USC architecture, we push students to imagine alternatives for a better, more just built-environment by leveraging emerging design technologies, engaging with communities and social responsibility, and challenging the status quo through thought-provoking and progressive design research.”

— Alvin Huang, Director of GRADUATE & POST-PROFESSIONAL ARCHITECTURE PROGRAMS

CURRICULUM

Following is the program curriculum for the 2020-2021 Academic Year. For previous years, please consult the online USC Catalogue archive.

ADMISSION WITH NO PREVIOUS PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION (+3)

Students admitted with no previous professional education must complete 102 units, including 74 units of specified courses, 20 units of electives and 8 units of Directed Design Research or Thesis. Electives must be part of a curricular plan approved by the program director.

 

The required courses for the 102-unit M.Arch +3 Curriculum are:

  • ARCH 409L Design Foundation;
  • ARCH 410 Computer Transformations;
  • ARCH 505abL Graduate Architecture Design I;
  • ARCH 511L Building Systems: Materials and Construction;
  • ARCH 514ab Global History of Architecture;
  • ARCH 523ab Structural Design and Analysis;
  • ARCH 525 Professional Practice: Pre-Design, Project and Office Administration;
  • ARCH 526 Professional Practice: Legal and Economic Context, Project Documentation; 
  • ARCH 561 Urbanism Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 562 Architecture Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 563 Contemporary Architectural Theory;
  • ARCH 564 Descriptive and Computational Architectural Geometry;
  • ARCH 575a Systems: The Thermal Environment;
  • ARCH 575b Systems: Luminous and Auditory Phenomena in Architecture;
  • ARCH 605abL Graduate Architecture Design II;
  • ARCH 611L Advanced Building Systems Integration;
  • ARCH 705L Advanced Graduate Architecture Design – Topics;
  • ARCH 793abL Architecture Directed Design Research Option I, or ARCH 795abL Architecture Thesis Option II.
102-unit sample curriculum

ADMISSION WITH ADVANCED STANDING (+2)

Advanced standing students must complete 64 units, including 38 units of specified courses, 18 units of electives or basic studies requirements and 8 units of Directed Design Research or Thesis. Electives and basic studies courses must be part of a curricular plan approved by the program director.

 

The required courses for the 64-unit M.Arch +2 Curriculum are:

  • ARCH 410 Computer Transformations;
  • ARCH 525 Professional Practice: Pre-Design, Project and Office Administration;
  • ARCH 526 Professional Practice: Legal and Economic Context, Project Documentation; 
  • ARCH 561 Urbanism Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 562 Architecture Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 563 Contemporary Architectural Theory;
  • ARCH 564 Descriptive and Computational Architectural Geometry;
  • ARCH 605abL Graduate Architecture Design II;
  • ARCH 705L Advanced Graduate Architecture Design – Topics;
  • ARCH 793abL Architecture Directed Design Research Option I, or ARCH 795abL Architecture Thesis Option II.
  • ARCH 410 Computer Transformations;
  • ARCH 525 Professional Practice: Pre-Design, Project and Office Administration;
  • ARCH 526 Professional Practice: Legal and Economic Context, Project Documentation; 
  • ARCH 561 Urbanism Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 562 Architecture Themes and Case Studies;
  • ARCH 563 Contemporary Architectural Theory;
  • ARCH 564 Descriptive and Computational Architectural Geometry;
  • ARCH 605abL Graduate Architecture Design II;
  • ARCH 705L Advanced Graduate Architecture Design – Topics;
  • ARCH 793abL Architecture Directed Design Research Option I, or ARCH 795abL Architecture Thesis Option II.


RELATED LINKS: Learning Objectives for this Program

The USC Catalogue is the document of authority for all students. The program requirements listed in the USC Catalogue supersede any information which may be contained in any bulletin of any school or department. The university reserves the right to change its policies, rules, regulations, requirements for graduation, course offerings and any other contents of this catalogue at any time.


DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
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    DEGREE CONFERRAL

    In order for the M.Arch. degree to be conferred, students must complete 102 credit units of both required professional and elective coursework during three years of residency, as well as continually meeting the established standards for graduate study at USC.

     
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    NAAB ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS

    To meet NAAB accreditation requirements, all students must complete (before graduation) a combined total of 168 credit hours of study at the undergraduate and graduate level, of which at least 30 semester credit hours must be at the graduate level as well as a minimum of 45 units of non-architectural content.