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Master of Architecture (5-year)

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Master of Architecture Degree Requirements

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

  • Design/Synthesis: 61 credit hours
  • Architecture Support Courses: 61 credit hours
  • Architecture Electives: 12 credit hours
  • General Education Courses: 46 credit hours

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 build a sustainable house for moderate-income families.
  • 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 introduces students to the increasingly multinational nature of architectural practice; students are placed in an internship abroad for a semester followed by a competition studio in the final semester.
  • Those in the Urban Design option participate in the fifth year in the Kansas City Urban Design Studio in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, offered with Kansas State University.
  • The Architectural Investigations option allows self- or group-directed advanced inquiry in an area of professional need.
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Requirements and Policies

Distribution Courses

Of the 180 credit hours required for the M.Arch. degree, 46 hours are general education courses. This includes 33 credit hours in addition to the 13 credit hours required in English, mathematics, and physics in the first year. These 33 hours must be drawn from the following areas:

Study Abroad Requirement

Students must fulfill a 9-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, Scotland, Denmark, and Australia automatically fulfills the study abroad requirement; however, to fulfill the total degree requirements, students must complete an additional 9 hours of electives.
  2. Participation in any school-directed study abroad program, usually in the summer (but including any during regular semesters, such as the Neukloster Academy in Germany), meets the requirement. These programs vary from 3 to 9 credit hours, and several may be combined (not necessarily in the same semester) to total 9 hours.
  3. Participation in any university-sponsored study abroad programs or programs at other college-level institutions approved by KU for transfer credit meets the requirement. These programs, including summer programs, vary from 3 to 6 credit hours and may be combined with one another or with school-directed programs (including ARCH 692 Documentation) to total 9 hours.
  4. Enrollment in ARCH 691 Architecture Practicum (3-6 hours) meets the requirement. The practicum component is one option for earning a portion of the 9 hours. Students who choose this option are required, through special scholarship programs, to take advantage of short-duration, intensive study abroad experiences (e.g., Neukloster, Western Civilization London Spring Break, 2-week summer programs, etc.) to earn a minimum of 3 hours in a study abroad experience to complete the 9-hour requirement. Note: ARCH 691 requires approval of the student’s proposal by the architecture chair.
  5. 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 9 hours of electives.

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

This is an ambitious program of study, averaging 17 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
(a) attempt to enter with advanced-placement credit for general education courses such as calculus, physics, environmental studies, or geography and/or
(b) plan to take 6 hours of general education requirements during a summer (this may be completed at a local community college).

In addition to the 5-year course of study outlined above, there is a 12-semester curriculum sequence that averages 15 credit hours a semester. It serves students interested in semester or academic-year study abroad opportunities or students who want to take more time to complete the program.

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 or graphics 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 or graphics. 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 or graphics year in which the first D was given.

Computer Requirement

All third-year 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.

Maximum and Minimum Enrollment

Approval of the department chair is required if a student wishes to enroll for more than 19 or fewer than 14 hours during fall or spring semesters or for more than 14 hours during the summer session. A student on probation may not enroll in more than 15 hours without approval from the department chair or the associate dean.

Substitution of Courses

A student who wishes to select certain courses not in the prescribed curriculum may petition through the chair and 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 activity courses for fulfilling graduation requirements.

Studio Enrollment/Selection Process

KU’s online enrollment system allows students in each year level to enroll in an order based on the number of college credit hours completed (then by grade-point average, then by age). To eliminate the disadvantage that this imposes on some students in the selection of their studio instructor and to discourage students from repeating the same instructor for design studio, the architecture department has developed alternative processes for studio enrollment, which are used at the department’s discretion.

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