The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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first professional M.Arch.

Degree Requirements

Master of Architecture (first professional)

For students entering with degrees other than professional degrees in architecture, the Master of Architecture is an accredited first professional degree, with courses designed to prepare the student for professional work in the field of architecture and eventual registration as an architect. The coursework is prescribed on the basis of the student's previous college work as shown in transcripts, portfolio, statement of intent, and references.

Before progressing into advanced architectural design, first professional degree candidates must demonstrate a certain proficiency in design and communication skills through a qualifying review conducted by the faculty.

Students entering without a background in architecture normally complete the first professional degree program in approximately seven semesters of study in residence. For students entering with a four-year pre-architecture degree, the amount of coursework depends on level of experience and the content of the previous degree and it generally takes four or five semesters.

Students may earn a Certificate of Specialization in Historic Preservation, Urban Design, or Sustainable Design by completing the relevant sequence of courses.


One semester of Calculus and one semester of Physics for Non-Technical Majors are required. The pre-requisites are not required to apply. If admitted, the pre-requisites are required prior to enrolling.

Sample Course Sequence

Due to the tremendous variety of backgrounds from which the first professional degree is approached, it is usual that individual program requirements vary substantially. The ultimate content and sequence of coursework will be decided in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Adviser following recommendations of the Admissions Committee.


First Professional M.Arch. degree candidates are required to complete or receive credit for a minimum of seven semesters in the architectural design sequence. It is assumed that each student entering the design sequence has satisfactorily completed a college sequence in physics and mathematics so that concurrent enrollment in such courses does not conflict with design courses. While progress in the design sequence is not entirely contingent upon progress in related coursework, the general parallels set out in the sample course sequence which follows should serve as a general model and reference.

ARC 394
Architectural Design

The first four design studios are taught together in "vertical studio" format, combining students of differing degrees of design and drawing experience. Problems are set in order to maximize opportunities for learning, skill acquisition, and idea dissemination at all levels, from beginning to intermediate. Students thus progress at their own rate. There are typically four or five sections of this course, each with its own instructor. Topics are coordinated in content and timing and cover essential concerns and techniques of architectural design.

ARC 696
Advanced Architectural Design
After passing the mid-program portfolio review, or according to the discretion of the Admissions Committee, permission is granted to register for studios in the advanced design sequence. Topics vary with instructor and are aimed at deeper and broader investigations of the design of buildings, interiors, sites, and environmental interventions.

ARC 695
Advanced Architectural Design: Comprehensive Studio (V)
A "special case" within the advanced design studio sequence, this studio taken in conjunction with Technical Communications ARC 381T concentrates on the detailed design and documentation of a modestly scaled building project. This studio offers a special opportunity for the refinement of computer skills and is currently being offered in the AutoCAD environment.


Candidates must complete or receive credit for four semesters of media courses as follows.

ARC 381R
Advanced Visual Communication - Architectural Drawing
An introductory drawing course directed to incoming students with little or no graphics background. When ability to waive this course is demonstrated, a major elective will be substituted in its place.

ARC 381R Digital Drawing and Fabrication

ARC 393
Visual Communication
ARC 393 is taken concurrently with ARC 394 and simply acknowledges the relative significance of matters of technique development in the first vertical studios.

ARC 381T
Technical Communication
Taken concurrently with ARC 695, this course is aimed at developing drawing, drafting, and organizational skills required to produce design development documents. Participation in the course requires CAD familiarity—a self-paced introductory class is offered by the Computer Laboratory. Where students can demonstrate thorough past experience with the computer, an alternative version may be offered.


Candidates must complete two survey courses and an advanced elective in Architectural Theory.

ARC 386K
Theory of Architecture I
A survey and discussion of selected works in philosophy having clear import for architecture—from notions of space and place, to views on rationality and design, systems of aesthetics, and ethics. Emphasis is placed upon both content and technique of presentation.

ARC 386L
Theory of Architecture II
A survey and discussion of selected works by major architectural theoreticians, from Vitruvius and Palladio, through Blondel and Durand, to Le Corbusier, Wright, Venturi, and Eisenmann. Emphasis on issues of timeliness/timelessness, as well as on the nature of "theory" in architecture as such.

ARC 386M
Topics in
Recent and current theories and ideologies of architecture and urban design typically presented in seminar format. As with the advanced history elective, the possibility exists to undertake related coursework in other departments of the University. Recent offerings include: Architecture and Contemporary Sculpture, Design Process, Economy/Value/Quality of Life, Landscape and Culture, Local Economic Development, Morphologies, Pictural Space, Qualitive Research Methods, Role of the Client, Theory of Value, Urban Economic Development, Planning, Twentieth-Century Housing, Gentle Architecture: Environmental Alternative, Housing America, Theory of Town Planning, and other advanced electives offered as a required part of the specific programs.


Architectural History is a special strength of the School. First Professional degree candidates must complete or receive credit for two semesters of architectural history (387F/G), plus two additional semesters of advanced architectural history, selected from ARC 388R offerings.

ARC 387F/G World Architecture
These two surveys offer a global perspective of the history of architecture from prehistory through the twentieth century. Graduate sections stress methodology and historiography, issues of theory and practice, and comparative themes such as systems of structure and ornament. The first survey considers the origins of architecture and topics on world architecture through the mid-eighteenth century. The second survey concludes the sequence with a history of architecture from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century.

ARC 388R
Topics in the History of Architecture and Historic Preservation
Offered in both lecture and seminar formats, these elective topics will vary according to the preoccupations of students or faculty research interests. Apart from courses in the School of Architecture, electives in art history or related fields may be substituted when approved by the Graduate Adviser. Recent offerings include: Anglo-American Tradition in Architecture, Art Deco Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright: Work and Ideas, Russian Avant-Garde Architecture, Architecture in the Age of Baroque, Architecture of French Enlightenment, Architecture of Mexico, Central European Architecture, Asian Architecture, Twentieth-Century Interiors, and Campus Architecture and Planning.


First professional degree candidates must complete or receive credit for four semesters in construction, two semesters in environmental controls, one in site design and two in professional practice and principles of planning.

ARC 385K
Construction I
An introductory survey of materials and methods of construction systems and an introduction to structural systems in architecture generally. This course includes a lab component which will include various visits to building sites, manufacturing plants, or other locations.

ARC 385L
Construction II
An introduction to statics and strengths of materials, structural forces, and principles of equilibrium as they pertain to the particular interests of the architect. The course includes computer laboratory work.

ARC 385M
Construction III
An introduction to the philosophical and technical issues of system selection. This is an applied statics course that deals quantitatively with lateral loads, connections, and advanced structural systems.

ARC 385N
Construction IV
An applied statics course that deals with the design of elements and envelopes including steel, concrete, masonry and timber structural systems.

ARC 384K/L
Environmental Control I & II
Survey of climatology, solar energy, air-conditioning, lighting, electrical circuitry, heating, water and plumbing, fire protection, vertical transportation, acoustics, and ventilating with a special concern for the fundamental physical properties of building elements and organization and the deployment of natural and passive control systems.

ARC 383S
Site Design
Fundamentals of building and landscape relationships.

ARC 383T
Site, Landscape, and Urban Studies
Topics in the history, design, and preservation of building sites, landscapes, and rural and urban communities.

ARC 382
Professional Practice
A structured study of ethical, legal, economic, and administrative processes and responsibilities of the practitioner in architecture and allied fields. Topics may include preservation law, community development, participatory design, and other aspects of organizations; methods and roles in design, planning, and preservation of the built environment.

CRP 3 Hours
Planning Elective
An appropriate elective choosen in one of the concentrations, such as economic development, transportation, environmental resource planning, or land use, offered through the Community and Regional Planning program.

Elective Courses
A wide range of electives may be taken from course offerings in the School of Architecture and in other divisions of the University with the consent of the appropriate instructor and the Graduate Adviser. A certain number of upper-division undergraduate courses may be taken within the guidelines of the Graduate Catalog. In addition, a course may sometimes be independently arranged with a member of the graduate faculty; such courses in architecture are assigned a number ending in "89" as follows.

ARC 389/ARC 689
Research in Architecture
Independent research in an architectural topic of student’s choice within the range of expertise of the faculty. Independent work may include design research and may on occasion substitute for full studio credit.

Sample Curriculum

First Year Fall Semester
ARC 394 Design - Vertical Studio - Vertical Studio 1
ARC 393 Visual Communication - Vertical Studio 2 3
ARC 381R Adv Vis Comm Architectural Drawing 3
ARC 385K Construction I 3
ARC 386K Theory of Arch I
First Year Spring Semester
ARC 394 Design - Vertical Studio - Vertical Studio 2
ARC 393 Visual Communication - Vertical Studio 2 3
ARC 387F World Arch: Origins to the Middle Ages  3
ARC 385L Construction II 3
ARC 381R Digital Drawing and Fabrication
Second Year Fall Semester
ARC 394 Design - Vertical Studio - Vertical Studio 3
ARC 393 Visual Communication - Vertical Studio 3 3
ARC 387G World Arch: Industrial Rev to the Present
ARC 385M Construction III 3
ARC 386L Theory of Arch II 3
Second Year Spring Semester
ARC 394 Design - Vertical Studio - Vertical Studio 4 3
ARC 393 Visual Communication - Vertical Studio 4 3
ARC 385M Construction IV
ARC 383S Site Design 3
ARC 384L Environmental Control I
Third Year Fall Semester
ARC 695 Adv Arch Design - Advanced Studio 1 6
ARC 381T Technical Communication 3
ARC 384L Environmental Control II 3
ARC 388R History Elective * 3
Third Year Spring Semester
ARC 696 Advanced Architectural Design - Advanced Studio 2 6
ARC 382 Professional Practice 3
ARC 386M/388R Advanced Theory or History Elective 3
ARC 386M Advanced Theory Elective
Fourth Fall Semester
ARC 696 Architectural Design * - Advanced Studio 3 6
CRP Planning Elective
ARC 388R Advanced History Elective 3
ARC Major Elective* 3
Summer Sessions
ARC Major Elective* 3
Minor Elective 3
Total 111

Please note that various required courses may be offered in the summer session and so allow for direct substitution with the electives noted here.

*May be used toward an emphasis.