Master of Architecture (Track I: 5+ Year Program)

The Master of Architecture is an NAAB-accredited professional degree program and is an essential aspect of preparing for the professional practice of architecture. Graduates of this program who complete a recognized internship program (such as the Intern Development Program) and successfully complete the Architectural Registration Examination are able to become licensed architects.

Track I is designed for students entering from high school or transferring from another undergraduate program. The curriculum is designed so as to be completed within 5 calendar years, but to do so demands sustained concentration and focus. We highly recommend that students consider leveraging the available time by planning to spend one summer between their first and fourth years in residence in Lawrence, taking a studio and another course.

The 180 credit curriculum is divided into three segments: Foundations, Core and Professional Options.

The Foundations segment involves three foundation design studios and three introductory lecture courses examining the discipline of architecture. A unique aspect of our program is that immediately upon commencing their studies at KU, first year students enter into architecture-specific design studios and are immediately ensconced in the program’s culture.

The Core is a five-semester sequence that addresses the wide range of skills and understanding required for the practice of architecture, including history and theory, technology, professional practice, and integrating this knowledge within design projects of increasing scale and complexity. The core culminates in a comprehensive studio experience in which students demonstrate their readiness to enter the profession of architecture.

Professional Options. The architecture profession has become an extremely diverse field. Seeking to provide our students the greatest opportunity within that diversity, the final year of the curriculum allows a student to explore a more-focused professional option of their choosing. This experience allows students to craft an area of specialization or a domain of architecture that may otherwise be addressed superficially within a professional curriculum. Currently students are investigating design-build processes, researching sustainable design practices, pursuing healthcare and urban design as areas of specialization and engaging in service-learning opportunities around the globe.

Within the 180 credits required to graduate, students will also have a study abroad experience and complete coursework in a variety of other academic disciplines. Students will be exposed to the social sciences, the physical sciences, the humanities and the arts. Study abroad options currently include spending a semester in Denmark, Germany, England, or Australia, travel to Siena and Berlin, a technology and culture tour of Italy and France, or working in an international architecture office in Paris.

Professional Registration and Licensing

Although state laws vary, professional registration as an architect in Kansas involves completion of three aspects: receiving an accredited professional degree (such as the M.Arch.), completion of internship requirements (for information on the Intern Development Program, see and successful completion of all sections of the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE). Upon successful completion of these three aspects, the applicant may use the title “architect” and may practice as an architect, either as an individual or as a licensed professional in an office performing professional services.

Undergraduate Admission

First-year and transfer students may be admitted to the 5-year Master of Architecture degree program. Contact:

University of Kansas
Michael Swann, Associate Dean,
School of Architecture and Design
200 Marvin Hall
1465 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045

For undergraduate applications, write to:

KU Office of Admissions
KU Visitor Center
1502 Iowa St.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Applications for fall semester should be submitted during the student’s senior year in high school. The priority application deadline is November 1, and the final application deadline is February 1. Completed applications are reviewed, and applicants are notified of their admission status. A complete application includes sixth-semester transcript, rank in class, ACT scores, and a list of courses in progress. Applications received after February 1 are considered but are less likely to be accepted due to space limitations.

Transfer students should apply by October 1 for the spring semester and by the priority deadline of November 1 for the summer and fall terms. The final application deadline is February 1. Space limitations apply to transfer students. Transfer applications received after February 1 are likely to be denied for reasons not connected with the applicant’s academic qualifications. The School of Architecture and Design encourages applications from women and members of minority groups.

High School Students

High school students are encouraged to apply for admission if they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 and have a minimum ACT of 23 or a minimum SAT of 1050 and if they will meet the following preparation thresholds by the time they graduate:

  • 3 or more years of math ending with calculus (preferred),
  • 3 or more years of natural science including physics,
  • 3 or more art/drawing classes. Art/drawing classes are preferred over additional drafting or technical courses (1 semester of drafting is adequate),
  • 2 or more years of foreign language (recommended).

Although students who do not meet these minimum thresholds may apply to the Department of Architecture, they are encouraged to enroll in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for a preliminary year of study.

During the first semester of this preliminary year, students should complete:

MATH 105Introduction to Topics in Mathematics3
or MATH 115 Calculus I
ENGL 101Composition3
ARCH 103Introduction to Architecture3

During the second semester, students should complete:

PHSX 114College Physics I4
ENGL 102Critical Reading and Writing3

Students already at the University of Kansas may apply to the M.Arch. program by February 1 for admission the following fall. Students must have a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 or higher and space must be available to be admitted to the M.Arch. program.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may be admitted, if space is available, and if they have an overall grade-point average of at least 3.0.

International Students

The School of Architecture and Design admits only exceptional students from other countries. Standards for admission are set according to the traditions and grading policies of those countries. In some countries, for example, the grade of A is almost never given, while in other countries the A grade is more frequently seen. The number of students admitted depends on the space available on February 1.

Visit the Office of International Support Services for information about international admissions.

Master of Architecture Degree Requirements

Credit hours in the 5-year Master of Architecture curriculum are distributed as follows:

Architecture Support Courses59
Architecture Electives15
General Education Courses46

Students must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average to remain in good standing and to graduate.

The core of the curriculum is a sequence of design studios composing approximately 1/3 of the total degree requirements. Students complete sequences in graphics, structures, building construction, environmental technology, and architectural history and meet a study abroad requirement. Course work in site planning, urban design, and professional practice completes the professional content.

In addition to professional courses, students are expected to complete course work in a variety of academic disciplines, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of architecture. These general education requirements include course work in mathematics, physics, English, communication, humanities and Western civilization, fine arts, and the natural and social sciences.

In the final year of the program, students participate in a chosen year-long professional option. Options are defined by faculty strengths and the emerging needs of the profession. They offer students the opportunity to focus in a particular area of interest that is one of the professional choices or specializations available after graduation. These currently include Design-Build, Health and Wellness, Globalized Practice, Urban Design, and Architectural Investigations.

  • Students in the Design-Build option participate in our national award-winning Studio 804, where they collaboratively design and construct a sustainable building.
  • Students in the Health and Wellness option are expected to complete a 7-month professional work experience in an architectural firm engaged in design for health followed by a service-learning studio.
  • Globalized Practice in Asia or Paris  introduces students to the increasingly multinational nature of architectural practice; students are placed in an internship abroad for a semester followed by a campus studio in the final semester.
  • Social Entrepreneurship studio on campus

Requirements and Policies

General Education Electives
Western Civilization
HUM 204 or 205 or ECIV 104 or 304 or 3053
Core Courses for Selection
Core Goal 4.1 Course3
Core Goal 3 Social Science Course3
Core Goal 2.2 Communications Course3
Free Electives18

Study Abroad Requirement

Students must fulfill a 8-credit-hour study abroad requirement. This requirement gives students an experience completely different from their previous educational careers and provides some preparation for the increasingly globalized architectural profession. There are several ways in which students may meet this requirement:

  1. Participation in any of the school’s academic-year or semester study abroad programs in Germany, England, Denmark, and Australia automatically fulfills the study abroad requirement; however, to fulfill the total degree requirements, students must complete an additional 8 hours of electives.
  2. Enrollment in ARCH 690 (6 hours) meets the requirement. The practicum component is one option for earning a portion of the 8 hours. Students who choose this option are required, through special scholarship programs, to take advantage of short-duration, intensive study abroad experiences (e.g., Denmark summer program, etc.) to earn a minimum of 6 hours in a study abroad experience to complete the 8-hour requirement. Note: ARCH 690 requires approval of the student’s proposal by the architecture chair.
  3. International students, for whom enrollment in the school is already a study abroad experience, automatically meet the requirement; however, to fulfill the total degree requirements, they may need to complete an additional 8 hours of electives.

All students are encouraged to meet with their faculty advisor by the end of the second year to begin planning to fulfill the study abroad requirement.

This is an ambitious program of study, averaging 18 credit hours a semester, plus a summer of study abroad. Given the number of general education hours in the fourth and fifth years, it is highly recommended that students either

  1. attempt to enter with advanced-placement credit for general education courses such as calculus, physics, environmental studies, or geography and/or
  2. plan to take 6 hours of general education requirements during a summer (this may be completed at a local community college).

Portfolio Requirement

All students must maintain a record of work as they proceed through the program. This must be in the form of an 8½” x 11” portfolio (exceptions to the required format may be approved by the faculty) and must include examples of at least one major project from each semester of the design sequence, starting with the foundations studios in the first year. It is recommended that all major projects be included in the portfolio as well as selected examples of work from support and elective courses such as building technology, construction documents, and photography. The portfolio is a prerequisite for advancement in the studio course sequence and may be requested by the studio critic on the first day of class.

Studio Grading Policy

Work evaluated as “satisfactory” is graded C. Work evaluated as “more than satisfactory” is graded B. Work evaluated as “exceptional” is graded A. Work evaluated as “less than satisfactory” is graded D. Work evaluated as “failing” is graded F. Information on the studio grade appeal procedure is available in the architecture department office.

If a student receives a grade of D in a design studio in any semester, he or she is placed on notice by the school, regardless of overall grade-point average. To be removed from this status, the student must perform satisfactory work in the next semester of design. If in any subsequent semester the student receives another grade of D, he or she must repeat that studio before advancing in the sequence. If the student receives a grade of D in 2 consecutive studios, he or she must repeat the entire design year in which the first D was given.

Computer Requirement

All students and above in the Master of Architecture program must supply a computer for digitally based architectural studios. Students must follow a checklist of minimum hardware- and software-requirements when they purchase a computer. The specifications for architectural studio computing are on the school’s website.

Substitution of Courses

A student who wishes to select certain courses not in the prescribed curriculum may petition through the chair at the department office. Petitions for substitution of courses are considered at any time except after the beginning of the student’s last semester.

Credit for ROTC Courses

Students may enter the Reserve Officers Training Corps to train for commissions as regular or reserve officers. An allowance of 6 hours of military science, aerospace studies, or naval science may be substituted for free electives in the M.Arch. program. A student who enters one of the ROTC programs but discontinues military training and does not receive a commission may not apply credits for ROTC courses toward a degree in architecture. If a student does not receive a commission because of circumstances beyond his or her control (such as a medical discharge), he or she may use ROTC credits as part of the requirements for the degree as indicated above.

Activity Courses

The School of Architecture, Design and Planning does not accept physical education HSES) activity courses for fulfilling graduation requirements.

Career Opportunities

The M.Arch. is a NAAB accredited professional degree. The following options are open to students after they complete it:

  1. Graduates may seek to refine and augment their professional capabilities through experience in an office under a licensed architect. Such experience qualifies the graduate for admission to the appropriate examination for licensing and practice as an architect or may precede admission to graduate school. Increasingly, graduates are finding alternative career options, including work in urban design, design-build firms, interior design, historic preservation, and many others.
  2. Qualified students may pursue graduate study in Ph.D. in architecture programs or in areas related to architecture and environmental design, such as urban planning, law, psychology, social welfare, public administration, or business.

Prescribed Curriculum

Master of Architecture (5-year)

A total of 180 credit hours is required. Substitutions in the prescribed curriculum may be made only by petition to the department.

Students are in Undergraduate Status for enrollment first 4 years and begin Graduate Status enrollment the final year of this program.

Year 1
ARCH 1033ARCH 1096 
ARCH 1086ARCH 110 Intro to Computing3 
ENGL 1013ENGL 102 or 1053 
MATH 115 or 1053PHSX 1144 
 Gen Ed Elective3 
 15 19 
Year 2
Arch 208 Form and Function6ARCH 209 Sustainability and Context6 
ARCH 5243ARCH 5413 
ARCH 5403ARCH 620 Theory of Urban Design3 
ARCH 6053ARCH 6243 
HUM 204 or 205 or ECIV 104 or 304 or 3053Gen Ed Elective3 
 18 18 
Year 3
ARCH 508 or 509 Materials and Tectonics or Designbuild6ARCH 508 or ARCH 509 Materials and Tectonics or Designbuild68 hours, expected between third and fourth or between fourth and fifth years
ARCH 5303ARCH 5313ARCH 6906
ARCH 6263ARCH 510 Architectural Detailing or ARCH 630 Theory of ArchitectureARCH 510 must be taken with ARCH 5093ARCH 692 Documentation2
Gen Ed Elective3ARCH 627 Bldg Tech II: Materials & Tectonics3 
ARCH 510 Architectural Detailing or ARCH 630 Theory of ArchitectureARCH 510 must be taken with ARCH 5093Gen Ed Elective KU Core Goal 2.23 
 18 18 8
Year 4
ARCH 608 Urban Dwelling6ARCH 609 Integrated Design6 
ARCH 5523ARCH 610 Integrated Design Documentation3 
ARCH 6583Architecture elective3 
Architecture Elective3Architecture Elective3 
Gen Ed Elective3Gen Ed Elective3 
 18 18 
Year 5
ARCH 800-level course: Professional Options part 16ARCH 800-level course: Professional Options part 26 
Architecture Elective3Architecture elective3 
Architecture Elective3Architecture Elective3 
Gen Ed Elective3Gen Ed Elective3 
 15 15 
Total Hours 180