Master of Architecture I Degree Program

First Professional Degree

Sunil Bald, Director of the Professional Master of Architecture program

The Master of Architecture I curriculum provides a disciplined approach to the fundamentals of architecture in a setting that ensures the flexibility and latitude necessary for students to develop their individual talents and skills.

The School believes that the educational experience of its program is enriched by students who have diverse educational backgrounds and, therefore, embraces students who in their undergraduate education have majored in a wide spectrum of disciplines, from architecture to any of the arts, sciences, or humanities. This program, leading to a degree of Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), is for students holding undergraduate liberal arts degrees, such as a B.A. or B.S., who seek their first professional architectural degree. It typically requires three years of full-time residency to complete the degree requirements.

Entering students, with a sound liberal arts background assumed, are required to follow a curriculum in which their creative, conceptual, analytical, and representational skills are developed through a rigorous and structured four-term core design studio sequence that embraces and integrates the multifaceted complexities of architectural design. Architectural design problems in the first-year fall term focus on the interrelationship of representation, space, and form. Spatial and form-making skills are further developed in the spring term with the integration of materiality, site, and inquiries into dwelling. The first year is complemented by the Building Project, where students work with an institutional client to undertake the design of an affordable single or mutli-family dwelling that is further developed until mid-June, and then realized over the summer. This provides a unique opportunity for carrying the design through the building process to realization. In the fall term of the second year, students explore the interplay of context, community, and architecture through a single term-long project: the design of a public building. The spring term of the second year is devoted to exploring the multi-layered systems that constitute the built environment through an urban design project, where design thinking can extend beyond a single building. In the fall and spring terms of the third year, students, through a lottery system, choose from a variety of advanced design studios, offered by a diversity of leading practitioners, educators, and theoreticians. 

The design studios are supported, augmented, and expanded on through required and elective courses from the four area studies that compose the curriculum: design and visualization, technology and practice, history and theory, and urbanism and landscape. In addition, students are encouraged to take elective courses offered by other schools and departments. 

Course of Study

In course titles, a designates fall term, b designates spring term, and c designates summer. The School reserves the right to change the prescribed course of study as necessary.

M.Arch. I: Total Requirement: 114 credits

First-Year Required Courses

Pre-First Year (Summer)
ARCH 1000Architectural Foundations 10
ARCH 1011Architectural Design 19
ARCH 2011Structures I3
ARCH 3011Architecture and Modernity I: Sites and Spaces3
Visualization elective 23
ARCH 1012Architectural Design 29
ARCH 2012Structures II3
ARCH 2016Building Project I: Research and Design3
ARCH 3012Architecture and Modernity: Theories and Projects3
Early Summer
ARCH 2017Building Project II 33
ARCH 1019Visualization and Computation 33

Second-Year Required Courses

ARCH 1021Architectural Design 39
ARCH 2021Environmental Design3
ARCH 4011Introduction to Urban Design3
Elective 43
ARCH 1022Architectural Design 49
ARCH 2022Systems Integration and Development in Design3
ARCH 2031Architectural Practice and Management 53
Elective 43

Third-Year Required Courses

Advanced Design Studio9
Elective 43
Elective 43
Elective 43
Advanced Design Studio9
Elective 43
Elective 43
Elective 43

If an entering student can demonstrate competence and passing grades from an accredited school in the material covered in any of the  program’s required support courses (except for ARCH 2031), that student may request a waiver of those courses. A waiver of any required course, however, does not reduce the number of course credits required to fulfill the program’s degree requirements. Support course waivers are granted by the Curriculum and Rules Committees based upon the recommendations of the course’s study area coordinators. Requests for a waiver must be submitted to one of the course’s study area coordinators within one week of the start of the first term of the student’s enrollment. A transcript, course syllabus, and a notebook or examples of work accomplished must be presented to the study area coordinators.

Summer Preparation Courses for Incoming M.Arch. I Students

In the six weeks before the beginning of the fall term, the School offers four summer preparation courses that are required of incoming M.Arch. I students. 

  1. Architectural Foundations (ARCH 1000). This five-week course is offered at no charge for those newly admitted students who do not have significant pre-architectural training. This course is required only for those students who have been informed in their acceptance letter that they must take this course. Students required to take the summer session must satisfactorily pass this course before being admitted to the School’s first-year M.Arch I program in the fall. Classes are held each day, Monday through Friday. The average day is broken into morning and afternoon sessions. Students are expected to complete assignments outside of class.
  2. Summer Shops Techniques Course. This one-week course introduces incoming students to the School’s fabrication equipment and shops. The course stresses good and safe shop techniques. Students are not allowed to use the School’s shops unless they have satisfactorily completed this course.
  3. Summer Digital Media Orientation Course. This two-part course, which occurs during the same week as the Summer Shops Techniques Course, covers accessing the School’s servers, the use of the School’s equipment, and the School’s digital media policies and procedures. This course is required only for those M.Arch. I students who did not take Architectural Foundations (ARCH 1000); see paragraph 1 above.
  4. Arts Library Research Methods Session. This ninety-minute session covers various strategies to answer research questions pertaining to course curricula and topics by using tools such as the Yale University online catalog, architecture databases, image resources, print resources, and archival resources.

School Portfolio

In addition to the 114 satisfactorily completed course credits, a student must satisfactorily complete the portfolio requirement (as described under Academic Regulations in the chapter Life at the School of Architecture) in order to receive an M.Arch. degree. The portfolio requirement is administered and periodically reviewed by the Design Committee.

Academic Rules and Regulations

Procedures and restrictions for the M.Arch. I program can be found in the School’s Academic Rules and Regulations section of the School of Architecture Handbook. This handbook is available online at

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)

Following is information from the National Architectural Accrediting Board, with the date of the next NAAB accreditation visit to be announced in the formal report on the results of the 2022 accreditation visit:

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 term, an eight-year term with conditions, or a three-year term of initial accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established education standards.

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

Yale University, School of Architecture offers the following NAAB-accredited degree programs:

M.Arch. (pre-professional degree + 114 credits)
M.Arch. (non-pre-professional degree + 114 credits)