School of Architecture
Stephen R. Lee, AIA, LEED AP, Head
Office: CFA 201
The School of Architecture (SoArch) provides deep immersion in the discipline of architecture, intensified by the broader Carnegie Mellon culture of interdisciplinary innovation and creative inquiry.
We define the discipline of architecture as the integrated pursuit of design creativity, historical perspective, social responsibility, technical expertise, and global environmental leadership. Our undergraduate and graduate degree programs prepare students to be excellent, discipline-defining design thinkers in diverse global contexts.
This world-class architecture education is enhanced by our position within one of the world’s leading research and entrepreneurship institutions, and by the foundational premise that architectural excellence demands both rigorous training in fundamentals and the development of unique specializations. Students may extend their core knowledge either through concentration in architecture subdisciplines like sustainable design or computational design, or through interdisciplinary interaction with CMU’s other renowned programs—whether the sciences, the humanities, business, or robotics. Though every School of Architecture student graduates with intensive architecture knowledge, no two graduates leave with the same education.
In the twenty-first century, few architecture problems are straightforward. Graduates of SoArch excel in the roles architects have performed for centuries—and in new roles catalyzed by the depth and breadth of their education—to create and execute innovative solutions to a huge range of emerging global challenges.
Bachelor of Architecture Program
The NAAB-accredited five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) program prepares students to be design-thought leaders in a variety of fields, as well as to continue on their path to licensure in the profession of architecture. The B.Arch program begins with three largely scripted years of studio and coursework, providing students a strong, multifaceted foundation in architectural principles and methods. In the fourth and fifth years, students tailor their studio and course choices to the interests they’ve honed in their first three years: they may choose to continue a general-studies approach or may concentrate their work more heavily in a specific architectural subdiscipline. All B.Arch graduates are thoroughly prepared to continue toward professional licensure, but the tone of their education is distinctly personal.
Each course required for the B.Arch program falls into one of seven categories, each pursuing a set of specific objectives for student learning:
Studio (168 units): Architectural design studio (prescribed for the first three years and selective thereafter) is the backbone of every semester in the B.Arch program. Students learn to combine rigorously rational and resourcefully creative techniques to identify design problems, collect and analyze data, apply theoretical and practical strategies in creation of a design solution, and evaluate its results through extensive testing; and to describe and work at various points along the continuum between form-finding and form-making. (Courses: Foundation I & II, Elaboration I & II, Integration I & II, Advanced Synthesis Options Thesis/Studio I & II)
Critical Practice (42 units): A multifaceted field of practice, architecture interacts with dynamic social, organizational, economic, professional, and cognitive contexts. In this sequence, students learn to use methods from cognitive psychology to analyze the influence of human factors on design, construction and occupancy; to resolve ethical dilemmas with adjudication strategies based in architectural case study; to demonstrate critical awareness and broad understanding of the factors informing the intelligent resolution of architecture and construction; and to identify the roles of architects, urban designers and planners in shaping the built environment in a global context. (Courses: First Year Seminar: Architecture Edition I & II, Context, Human Factors in Architecture, Real Estate Design and Development, Issue of Practice)
Design Tools (24 units): Drawing and modeling both by hand and with the computer are core skills for developing powers of observation, the ability to think in three dimensions, and the communication of architectural ideas. By using a range of analog and digital design tools to engage in the act of making, students will be able to explore, analyze, formulate, fabricate, and represent ideas about the built environment. (Courses: Analog Media I & II, Digital Media I & II)
Environmental Science (27 units): Environmental education is one of our highest priorities. In this sequence, students learn to describe first principles of and computational approaches to the lighting and thermal performance of buildings; to demonstrate qualitative and quantitative climate- and environment-responsive strategies (energy conservation, passive heating/cooling, daylighting, natural ventilation); to select, configure, and represent building service systems; and to maintain global awareness of high-performance systems-integration strategies. (Courses: Building Physics, Environment I: Climate & Energy, Environment II: Mechanical Systems for Buildings)
History (27 units): In architectural history courses, students learn to identify chronologically and geographically diverse building styles, building types, and urban plans; to describe the cultural, intellectual and aesthetic contexts surrounding the creation of those buildings and sites; to write clearly and persuasively about the historic built environment; and to demonstrate critical thinking, quality research, and effective information management. In addition to the two-semester Historical Survey of World Architecture, each student completes one elective course on architectural history within the School of Architecture. A minor in architectural history is available to students completing four additional, approved, nine-unit architectural history courses beyond these three required courses. (Courses: Historical Survey of World Architecture and Urbanism, Modern Architecture, Architectural History III)
Building Technology (18 units): We understand technical knowledge as design knowledge and place major emphasis on understanding the state-of-the-art and innovative building structure, enclosure, mechanical, lighting, and interior systems. Students learn to design gravity- and lateral load-resisting systems for buildings; to select, configure and size construction systems in wood, masonry, steel, and concrete; and to distinguish among construction materials with regard to their process of manufacture, their physical properties, their environmental performance, and their methods of selection and specification. (Courses: Materials and Assembly, Structures/Statics)
General Studies (135 units): University coursework in mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, writing, and history are prerequisite to the School’s own offerings. (Courses: Interpretation and Argument, Computing @ Carnegie Mellon, Descriptive Geometry, University Electives)
First Year: FOUNDATION
|48-100||Architecture Design Studio: Foundation I||12|
|48-025||First Year Seminar: Architecture Edition I||3|
|48-120||Digital Media I||6|
|48-121||Analog Media I||6|
|76-101||Interpretation and Argument||9|
|48-105||Architecture Design Studio: Foundation II||12|
|48-026||First Year Seminar: Architecture Edition II||3|
|48-125||Digital Media II||6|
|48-126||Analog Media II||6|
|48-240||Historical Survey of World Architecture and Urbanism I||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (1)||9|
Second Year: ELABORATION
|48-200||Architecture Design Studio: Elaboration I||18|
|99-101||Computing @ Carnegie Mellon||3|
|48-205||Architecture Design Studio: Elaboration II||18|
|48-215||Materials and Assembly||9|
|48-351||Human Factors in Architecture||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (2)||9|
Third Year: INTEGRATION
|48-300||Architecture Design Studio: Integration I||18|
|48-315||Environment I: Climate & Energy||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (3)||9|
|48-305||Architecture Design Studio: Integration II||18|
|48-380||Real Estate Design and Development||6|
|48-381||Issues of Practice||6|
|48-383||Ethics and Decision Making in Architecture||6|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (4)||9|
Fourth Year: ADVANCED TOPICS
|48-400||Advanced Synthesis Options Studio I||18|
|48-432||Environment II: Advanced Building Systems Integration & Mechanical Systems||9|
|48-xxx||Architectural History III||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (5)||9|
|48-405||Advanced Synthesis Options Studio II||18|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (6)||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (7)||9|
|48-xxx||School Elective (1)||9|
Fifth Year: ADVANCED TOPICS
|48-500||Advanced Synthesis Options Studio III||18|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (8)||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (9)||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (10)||9|
|48-505||Advanced Synthesis Options Studio IV||18|
|48-519||Architecture Design Studio: Thesis II||18|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (11)||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (12)||9|
|xx-xxx||University Elective (13)||9|
|Total number of units required: 1||450|
Minors in Architecture
Undergraduate students in the SoArch can also qualify to earn one of three minors within the subject of architecture. These are the Minor in Architectural History, the Minor in Building Science, and the minor in Architectural Representation and Media.
The Minor in Architectural History is intended for those students that want to deepen their knowledge in architectural history. It is earned by completing the three required architectural history courses and then an additional four elective courses in architectural history.
The Minor in Building Science is intended for those students that want to deepen their knowledge in the building sciences and for those who are interested in gaining advanced placement (AMP) in the M.S. programs offered by the School in the areas of Building Performance & Diagnostics and Sustainable Design. It is earned by completing the two required building technology and three environmental science courses and then an additional three elective courses in the building sciences.
The Minor in Architectural Representation and Media is intended for those students that want to deepen their knowledge in architectural representation and media and for those who are interested in gaining advanced placement (AMP) in the M.S. programs offered by the School in the areas of Computational Design, Tangible Interaction Design and/ or Emerging Media. It is earned by completing the four required media courses and then an additional three elective courses in these areas.
Minors in Other Disciplines
Undergraduate architecture students may also earn minors in many of the departments or schools on campus. Generally, a student must take six courses within a specific department or concentration to receive a minor. Students interested in minors must contact the school or department of interest to determine specific requirements or prerequisites. Since students of architecture are required to take fifteen electives (135 units), students can easily complete a minor without adding additional coursework to their curriculum.
Graduate Degree Programs
Carnegie Mellon University is recognized for outstanding contributions to science, technology, management, policy, and the fine arts. The School of Architecture builds on a tradition of interdisciplinary study.
Our faculty's diverse set of backgrounds and commitment to professional practice and scholarly research make for a rich learning experience.
Our graduates hold positions in innovative design practices, research organizations, federal and municipal governments, the building and manufacturing industries, and at leading universities both in the US and abroad.
Our programs reflect a commitment to excellence. Students with motivation and ability receive an outstanding educational opportunity at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture.
The School of Architecture offers seven (7) post-professional Master, and three (3) PhD degrees in the following areas of study:
Master of Science in Architecture
The Master of Science in Architecture (MSA) is a post-professional, research-based degree program intended primarily for practitioners in the building industry who are interested in broadening their knowledge base and skill set for use in professional practice. This program is structured on a 9-month (2 semester) curriculum, allowing those already established in the field to take a leave of absence and return with relatively little discontinuity to their careers.
The MSA program allows each student the freedom to customize his or her own curriculum. While this program is ideal for students seeking to enhance an existing skill set, it can also act as a testing ground where students are able to explore new and varied areas of academic study. Whether one chooses to delve deeply into a focused area of research or acquire a broad overview, students are encouraged to draw from resources both within the School of Architecture and throughout the University.
Master of Science in Computational Design and Doctor of Philosophy in Computational Design
One of the first and best-known Computational Design programs in the US, our legacy continues today. Under the direction of dedicated faculty and in collaboration with other departments in the University, (e.g.. School of Computer Sciences and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering), our visionary students continue to push for innovation and evolution of the state-of-the art in design technology.
Master of Science in Building Performance and Diagnostics and Doctor of Philosophy in Building Performance and Diagnostics
Building Performance & Diagnostics deals with the comprehensive integration of building design and advanced technology, as a means of producing high performance architecture. Led by the Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics (CBPD) and housed within the Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace, students have the opportunity to gain both diversity and depth of knowledge from world-renowned an experienced faculty.
Master of Urban Design
Building on our legacy of Urban Design, and in partnership with the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI), this 12-month, Studio-based Master of Urban Design program emphasizes environmental, economic, social and cultural issues affecting the contemporary metropolis, while providing a comprehensive foundation in design, theory, history, policy, management and technical skill.
Master of Science of Tangible Interaction Design
The Master of Tangible Interaction Design (mTID) is truly an interdisciplinary program that integrates computational intelligence and the physical world. MTID students make interaction tangible by building and programming working prototypes. Housed in the Computation Design (CoDe) Lab, and leveraging our state-of-the-art Digital Fabrication (dFab) Lab, the program cultivates experimentation and collaboration in an intimate studio setting.
Master of Science in Sustainable Design
At the forefront of research in sustainable design and technology for over 35 years, Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture is recognized internationally for its large core of dedicated faculty, providing a solid foundation from which students can learn how to positively and sustainably affect the future of the built environment. This is a post-professional degree program that integrates Design and Technology to provide a comprehensive knowledge base for professional practice.
Master of Science in Architecture-Engineering Construction Management and Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture-Engineering Construction Management
A joint effort between the School of Architecture and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, the Architecture-Engineering-Construction Management (AECM) programs prepare building delivery professionals for careers in capital project delivery. Graduates are educated to become effective decision makers who can positively impact economic, environmental, and ethical aspects of the built environment through professional management strategies. AECM programs deal with the entire life-cycle of capital projects, from pre-design, to design, construction, commissioning, operation, and maintenance stages. They focus on the integration of design and technology, in particular, advanced information systems, as a means of improving building performance, and eliminating negative environmental impact.
Advanced Standing in Master Degree Programs
The School of Architecture offers a unique opportunity to undergraduate students who wish to pursue a Masters degree in an architecture-related field through the Accelerated Masters Program (AMP). Undergraduate students may apply to the AMP in their 4th year of their architecture education, and if accepted, can apply units earned in their 5th year of their undergraduate architecture degree to their graduate degree. This allows students to graduate with a Masters degree in an accelerated period of time.
At the end of every semester, the faculty reviews each student’s progress in all courses. Reviews during the first year are intended to determine a student’s capabilities in relation to the study of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, and the School works with each student to ensure placement within the university if a change is desired. Subsequent reviews monitor and ensure continued progress in all sequences of the program.
Students are urged to meet with their assigned faculty advisor to review their academic progress and plans before each semester. Such meetings are important to take full advantage of elective possibilities within the curriculum, general progress toward graduation, and professional goal setting. Students should also check their progress using the online academic audit in the Student Information Online (SIO).
Study Away Program
The School of Architecture strongly encourages students to study away. The perspective gained through immersion in another culture and language is invaluable. Study abroad can fall into four categories: University Direct Exchanges, University Sponsored Programs, External Programs, and Departmental Summer Programs.
To receive credit for courses taken away, the student must have a C or better (not C-) in the course and have an official translated transcript sent to the School of Architecture. Studio work conducted abroad must be presented to the School Head and Studio Coordinator for approval.
Students should make the decision to study away by the fall of their third year, so they can plan their courses accordingly. Students are allowed one semester away for which they receive studio credit except for those students at approved yearlong direct exchange programs. To qualify for study away, a student must have completed the third-year of their program, have a minimum overall QPA of a 3.00 (or 2.75 for SoArch summer study abroad) and be in good academic standing.
Students can receive credit for passing comparable courses at other institutions with advanced approval from the School. A Transfer Credit Evaluation form must be completed prior to enrollment at the other institution for a course to be considered for transfer.