Building Science at the USC School of Architecture recognizes that exemplary architecture requires innovative responses to natural forces. The integration of the study of building sciences with knowledge of current practice and new technologies creates synergistic and holistic architectural design that satisfies performative goals.

Building science strengthens architecture through technology. The Chase L. Leavitt Graduate Building Science program addresses the need for a new generation of design professionals prepared to bring appropriate technology to the design of a sustainable environment. Within this context, the program emphasizes: 1) The integration of planning, design, and technology to form a coherent, interdependent force for the appropriate construction of urban places; 2) Recognition of the ecological importance of energy-conscious design and construction as well as the social value of places in which natural forces and systems are utilized rather than suppressed; 3) The development of research and design methods suited to the complexity of building in urban settings and effective in the use of extensive information.

This two-year degree program includes the opportunity for each student to complete a thesis-based research project that is supported by research seminars and electives from architecture, engineering, and other related fields. Students are individually guided through their study and thesis. Past thesis research topics include building envelopes, BIM, computer-aided architectural design, energy analysis, lighting design, human comfort, seismic sustainability, structural systems, tension structures, generative computing, and zero net energy buildings.

RELATED LINKS: Master of Building Science Application Instructions & Requirements, Application Deadlines, Learning Objectives

Many papers based on thesis work have been co-authored by faculty and students and have been published and presented at professional conferences. This program is intended for students with a background in architecture, engineering, or related areas. This program is intended for students with a background in architecture, engineering, or related areas.

View the Thesis Project Showcase

Thesis track

The Thesis Track consists of 18 units of specified courses to include three core seminars and one research seminar; 17 units of elective courses; and 13 units of thesis and thesis preparation. Completion of this track requires 48 units. 


Non-Thesis Track

The Non-Thesis Track consists of 18 units of specified courses to include three core seminars and one research seminar, 1 unit of thesis preparation, 17 units of electives and 12 units from a specified list of courses. Students are required to declare their intention for the Non-Thesis Track by the end of their first year of studies and must receive admission approval from the Director of the Chase L. Leavitt Graduate Building Science program. Completion of this degree requires 48 units. 

Advanced Standing for Students with a Five-Year Professional Degree in Architecture

Applicants who have completed a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree and at least five years of teaching or practice (may be combined), may be qualified for advanced standing. Each student will be considered individually. In such cases, the degree requirements are 36 units, including 16 units of specified courses, 13 units of thesis and thesis preparation and 7 units of electives. Students with advanced standing will typically be able to complete the degree program in three regular semesters. Admission with advanced standing is determined at the time of review for admission to the program.

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

Have questions about the curriculum? Email Doug Noble for more information.


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.