May 26, 2018  
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 Previous Edition

Architecture, M.Arch

The Master of Architecture degree (MArch) is comprised of the three tracks listed below. Full-time academic status is expected in all programs.

M.Arch I

The three-year-plus MArch I curriculum, which begins with one summer session, accommodates students whose previous degree is outside the field of architecture.

The MArch I Curriculum involves three primary components: 1) the first year (including the summer session prior to the first fall of enrollment) focuses on establishing a strong foundation in fundamental design skills, architectural history and theory, building-to-site relationships, and introductory building technologies; 2) the second year focuses on comprehensive architectural design and its relationship to building systems as well as advanced studies in history, theory, and building technology; and 3) the third year is focused on specialization through electives and topical studios, as well as on the student’s individual final project/thesis research.

M.Arch II

The two-year MArch II curriculum serves students who have already completed a four-year degree program in architecture at a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited institution.  The courses and options within MArch I and MArch II are similar, but the advanced standing of MArch II students allows them to complete the degree requirements in two years. 

The MArch II curriculum is tailored through the advising process to the previous educational background of the students and to their individual professional and research goals.  The program involves two primary components: 1) the first year focuses on comprehensive architectural building design and its relationship to building systems, as well as advanced studies in history, theory, and building technology; and 2) the second year is focused on specialization through electives and topical studios, as well as the student’s individual final project/thesis research.

MArch II students may wish to combine their professional architecture studies with graduate work in Urban Design for a MArch/M.U.D Dual Degree  completed in three calendar years, including one summer involving a required study abroad experience.  The M.U.D program is housed off-campus in the University’s Center City Building.  Most of the urban coursework is taught in this Uptown location, utilizing the City of Charlotte itself as a laboratory for urban design exploration and research.

M.Arch III

The MArch III curriculum serves research-focused students who wish to collaborate with the research centers of the School of Architecture (SoA). 

Students are admitted to a specific concentration within the MArch III, and are required to meet all academic standards and curriculum requirements of that concentration.  Currently, the only concentration offered is Design Computation.

The goal of the MArch III curriculum is to involve each student in on-going collaborative research with faculty.  The program involves three primary phases: 1) a two semester methods sequence which introduces students to a common set of procedures; 2) a six course sequence of specialized courses in the research area; and 3) a thesis sequence focused on developed, original research.  

Note: the MArch III track is not accredited by NAAB; it is primarily intended for students who already possess accredited degrees.

Admission Requirements

The following requirements are expected of applicants to the MArch I and MArch II curricula:

  1. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.  Students who do not meet this average may still submit an application, and may be considered in exceptional cases.
  2. A minimum composite GRE score above the 30th percentile.  Students whose scores do not exceed this average percentile may still submit an application, and may be considered in exceptional cases.
  3. All University’s Graduate School application requirements, including a statement of purpose, a current curriculum vitae (CV), transcripts from all other colleges and universities attended, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation.
  4. A portfolio of creative work.  Applicants to the MArch I curriculum should submit examples of work that offer evidence of creativity, self-motivation, analysis, and critical thinking.  Such examples are not expected to be architectural in nature.  Visual work such as painting, sculpture, furniture making, photography, etc. are acceptable, as are fiction writing, poetry, and any other reasonable evidence of sustained creative endeavor.  Applicants to the MArch II curriculum may offer similar evidence of any kind of creative endeavor but must also offer significant evidence of a mastery of architectural skill and knowledge.  Applicants for the dual MArch/M.U.D degree must meet the requirement for MArch II curriculum plus clear evidence of an interest in urban studies.
  5. Applicants to the MArch I curriculum are expected to complete introductory, college-level physics and pre-calculus courses. 
  6. Applicants to the MArch II curriculum are expected to have a minimum of 6 architectural design studios at the undergraduate level.

Students who do not meet the grade point average requirements noted above may still submit an application for admission to both programs but admission will be weighed against those meeting these requirements.

Master of Architecture I Curriculum

The MArch I curriculum requires a minimum of 96 hours to be completed during three academic years and one summer session.

Year One

Year Two

Year Three


*ARCH 5204/5205  or ARCH 6306 /ARCH 6307  can be substituted for ARCH 6050 .


MArch I candidates, as an option, may pursue an area of concentration (three concentration electives are required). Qualifying concentration electives are described in the Course Descriptions .

Master of Architecture II Curriculum

The MArch II curriculum requires a minimum of 60 credit hours to be completed during two academic years. If applicants accepted to the MArch II curriculum are evaluated and found deficient in entry-level competencies, they will be required to enroll in additional coursework beyond the 60 credits to complete their degree.  Below is a list of expected entry-level competencies for MArch II Candidates:

  1. A minimum of six semesters of architectural design studios;
  2. A minimum of three semesters of architectural history and/or theory courses;
  3. A minimum of four semesters of building technology courses equivalent to the following UNC Charlotte’s School of Architecture courses:

To ensure that incoming students are evaluated appropriately, the School of Architecture requires candidates for the MArch II curriculum to furnish the Architecture Graduate Admissions Committee and Graduate Program Coordinator relevant course descriptions and syllabi of all architecture courses passed and completed which may satisfy entry-level competencies. The following curriculum is modeled for students accepted to the program who have satisfied all entry-level competencies.

The combined dual degree of Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design (MArch/M.U.D) requires a minimum of 74 credit hours to be completed in three calendar years of full-time study, including a summer studio in a foreign country.  Details of this dual degree are listed under the dual Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design section .  This three-year dual degree is only available to students in the Master of Architecture II curriculum.  Applicants for this dual degree must meet all the admission requirements and entry-level competencies for the MArch II curriculum.

Year One


* UNC Charlotte undergraduates who have previously taken ARCH 4203 should substitute ARCH 4205 for ARCH 5203 .

** UNC Charlotte undergraduates who have previously taken ARCH 4604 should substitute ARCH 6050  for ARCH 5604 .

Year Two


***ARCH 5204/5205  or ARCH 6306 /ARCH 6307  can be substituted for



MArch II candidates are required to pursue an area of concentration. Three (3) qualifying

  courses are mandatory to satisfy the required concentration sequence. See Course Descriptions  section.

Master of Architecture III Curriculum

The Master of Architecture III track is currently offered only as a dual degree with a Master of Science in Computer Science or Information Technology.  The combined dual degree requires a minimum of 47 credit hours to be completed in two calendar years of full-time study.  Details of this dual degree are listed under the section for the Master of Architecture and M.S. in Computer Science  or Master of Architecture and M.S. in Information Technology  dual degree.

Architectural Elective Courses

Architectural Elective Courses are available in a wide variety of topical subjects, and are listed under the general course number ARCH 6050.  These courses complement the core courses and studios and allow students to pursue their specific interests.  Some subjects include: Computation, Theory, Representation, Making, Urbanism, Technology, Current elective offerings can be viewed on Banner or the School of Architecture website.  Recent offerings have included:

Computation and Theory

  • Digital Theory
  • Digital Methods I
  • Digital Methods II
  • Digital Fabrication I
  • Digital Fabrication II
  • Building Information Modeling
  • Modern Perception: Linear Perspective and Motional Pictures
  • An Architecture of Questionable Effects
  • Representation: Exploits of the Architectural Image


  • Introduction to Urban Design
  • Community Planning Workshop
  • Shaping the American City
  • Strategies for the Public Realm
  • Dilemmas of Modern City Planning
  • Post-CIAM Discourse on Urbanism
  • Real Estate Development Students: Introduction to Real Estate Development
  • Public Space in Cities
  • Urban Form, Context and Economics
  • The Changing Urban Landscape: The Development of Uptown Charlotte, 1875-Present
  • Planning, Law, and Urban Design

Architectural Technology

  • Site Sustainability and Planning
  • Sustainability and Climate Responsive Architecture
  • Building Shapes and Skins for Daylighting
  • Parametric Methods: Notes on Sustainable Design Decision Making
  • Bio-Climatology and Cross Cultural Assessments of Traditional Built Form
  • Architectural Luminous Environment
  • Sustainable Design: Ecology, Technology, and Building
  • Trend or Truth: Sustainability in Architecture

General Architecture Electives

  • Objects and Analysis
  • Architecture/Culture/Discourse
  • Methods and Meaning
  • Watercolor and Representation
  • Furniture Making

Architectural History Topics Courses

Architectural History Topics Courses offer a focused study of issues in specific areas of history.  These courses complement the architectural history survey courses (ARCH 5201 , ARCH 5202 , ARCH 5203 ), and serve to inform and develop in-depth research, writing, and presentation skills.  Entering MArch II students who have previously satisfied ARCH 5203  will be required to take an Architectural History Topic to satisfy their degree requirement.  Recent offerings have included:

  • Renewing the Modernist Debate: The Theory and Works of Adolf Loos
  • Histories of Latin American Architecture
  • Popular Modernism: Charlotte Architecture in the ‘50s and ‘60s
  • The Public Space of Cinema: Transformation of the City 1850-1940
  • History of the 19th and 20th Century City
  • Post-CIAM Discourse on Urbanism
  • Urban Design in Global Perspective
  • The Changing Urban Landscape: The Development of Uptown Charlotte, 1875-Present
  • Offices in the Sky: The History of the Skyscraper from 1870 to the Present
  • Architecture and National Identity
  • Layered Berlin
  • From Auschwitz to Zapruder: Mapping the Mid-Century

Requisite and Capstone Experiences

Comprehensive Design Project

The Comprehensive Design Project (ARCH 7102 ) serves as the requisite studio experience that bridges between foundational studios and advanced studios for all MArch students.  Taken in the fifth semester of enrollment for MArch I students and in the second semester of enrollment for MArch II students, the Comprehensive Design Project is defined as an architectural building design project that comprehensively demonstrates the student’s ability to conceptualize, prepare, organize, and design a building having a specific programmatic type.  All students must demonstrate competency before they engage in the final year of study. 


The normative capstone project for both MArch I and MArch II students occurs in the final year.  This is typically defined as an architectural design thesis that demonstrates the students’ ability to independently identify and engage a specific set of issues, a building type, and a site.

As an alternative option to a final design thesis, an architectural research thesis may be proposed.  This is defined as an architectural research project that engages and explicates primary source material leading to project work possessing an original argument.  This second type of project may include design-related materials as part of the final submission.  Primary source material from data and information gathered from original texts and documents, interviews, raw data resulting from experiments, demographic data, etc. shall be a part of the project.  The thesis should claim an original argument that leads to creative and/or research-oriented activities in the final semester.  Thesis students identify the issue(s) to be engaged and the research and/or design methods through which this engagement will take place.  The student works independently with a committee during the final semester of study to complete the thesis.

For students in the MArch/M.U.D dual degree program , the thesis and preceding Thesis Document course (ARCH 7202 ) must have a clear focus on the integration of architectural and urban design issues.

Whether a student is completing a Final Design Thesis or a Research Thesis is determined at the beginning of a student’s final year in the Thesis Document course (ARCH 7202 ).

Research Thesis Committees

Candidates engaging a research thesis must have a committee of three (3) advisors.  This committee must have at least two (2) School of Architecture faculty members who will contribute to his or her interests, research, and final project.  The third committee member may be a School of Architecture faculty member or an expert from outside the School of Architecture faculty.  One member of the committee shall serve as chairperson and must be a School of Architecture faculty member.  Additional individuals relevant to a student’s final project may also participate as ex-officio members.

The members of the committee should offer specific areas of expertise and insight relative to the proposed project.  Members of this committee should be involved with the project beginning with the preparation of the research document undertaken in ARCH 7202  (Final Project/Thesis Document) in the Fall semester. 

The responsibility of each committee member involves the following:

  1. Scheduled meetings between the thesis student and other members of the committee during the final semester of thesis
  2. Be present and provide feedback at all public presentations
  3. Provide feedback on other occasions as requested by the student
  4. Meet with instructors of ARCH 7202  and ARCH 7104  as required for coordination
  5. Deliberate with other committee members on the report concerning degree conferral

Graduate Advising

A critical component of any successful graduate program is academic advising and guidance during the course of a student’s program of study. The primary advisor for all graduate students in the School of Architecture will be the Associate Director, in consultation with the appropriate Graduate Coordinator/Director. Students entering their final year will be asked to complete a Plan of Study and identify committee members from the faculty to serve as advisors for their thesis.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit is normally limited to a maximum of six (6) hours of graduate credit. Under special circumstances, a greater number of hours may be transferred if a student can demonstrate that the courses to be transferred meet or exceed the content and rigor of graduate curricula offered by the School of Architecture.

Waiver Credit

Waiver credit may be allowed if a student can demonstrate that a course or courses taken at the post-undergraduate level that equals or exceeds in both content and rigor of a course or courses required in the graduate curriculum. Grades received for such courses must be B or above. In such cases, credit will be permitted by examination. If a required course in the curriculum is waived, the student will be allowed to fill those credit hours with another course as advised by the Associate Director, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator/Director.

Application for Degree

In order to meet UNC Charlotte’s Graduate School requirements for degree candidacy, all graduate students must receive a written certification from their department confirming successful project completion. This report requires approvals from members of each student’s committee as well as an endorsement from the Chair of Instruction. The completion of this report results in the granting of the degree. In addition, each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar .

Research and Off-Campus Opportunities

MArch II students have the option to take ARCH 7950  to engage in a range of specialized study, including:

1) Funded Research

Students may elect to receive course credit for work performed with faculty and/or other researchers who are conducting professional, scholarly, applied, and/or creative research within specialized fields of architecture theory, history, technology, etc. Current research initiatives include lighting and energy studies, building envelope studies, urban studies, design/fabrication, and design/theory studies. These activities are engaged through the Center for Integrated Building Design Research, the Digital Arts Center, the City Building Lab, and through individual faculty research projects and ongoing architectural practice. Students may also complete the requirements by securing their own grants and funding to study a well-defined and focused architectural issue.  Student initiated research of this type must be approved both by the student’s Academic Advisor and by the Graduate Program Director.

2) Independent Competition Design

Students may elect to receive architectural elective credit for a class by completing and entering a regional, national, or international architectural competition. This option is intended to further students’ study of ideas and issues relevant to their thesis project and area of Concentration.

3) Off-Campus and/or International Study

Students may elect to enroll in School of Architecture off-campus or international study programs, and/or enroll in similar programs offered by other NAAB accredited institutions.  

Assistantships, Tuition Differentials, and Scholarships

A number of teaching and research assistantships, scholarships, in-state and non-resident new master’s student tuition awards, and graduate tuition assistantship program support (GASP), are available to both high performing MArch I and MArch II candidates.  No separate assistantship application is required; awards are based on application materials to the program, and award decisions are made based on the applicant’s academic merit or promise of academic merit, and/or on demonstration of need.  Tuition awards are typically paired with teaching and/or research assistantship stipends.  School of Architecture scholarships are also awarded pending a review of student applications to various private endowments.  In addition, other awards awarded under independent faculty or research center grants are also available.

Program Accreditation

The School of Architecture maintains accredited status through the National Architectural Accrediting Board, which reviews the curriculum, facility, faculty, and program resources annually.  In addition, the NAAB conducts an intensive site visit every six years.  The School has maintained full accreditation standards as prescribed by this board and includes the following required statement:

“In the United States, most registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.”

University of North Carolina at Charlotte, School of Architecture, offers the following NAAB-accredited degree programs:

  • B. Arch. (158 undergraduate credits)
  • M. Arch. (preprofessional degree + 60 graduate credits)
  • M. Arch. (non-preprofessional degree + 96 credits)

Next accreditation visit for all programs: 2016.