The Master of Science in Architecture (MSArch) is a 3-semester postgraduate program committed to advanced research on the built environment. Offered at both our Los Angeles and San Diego campuses, the program is built around, and supported by, the expertise of our full-time faculty. Students in the MSArch program work directly with a faculty member whose areas of interest align with their own. The faculty member serves as the primary advisor throughout the duration of the program, although they also help convene a small committee for regular reviews of the student’s progress. Having said that, the MSArch program is suited to students who thrive on independence and self-direction, taking a leading role in their education.Apply Request Information Take a Tour
Students enroll each semester in a research studio and a series of elective courses. Typically, the program is completed over the fall, spring and summer semesters of an academic year.
The program offers two broad options for students to choose from: design research and scholarly research. While the curriculum for the two options is identical, their outcomes are different. In the design research option, students typically focus on the design of a building, a space, a place, an urban system, or some other material configuration. In the scholarly research option, students typically produce a written thesis, suitable for peer-reviewed publication.
The structure of the MSArch program is characterized as follows: in the fall semester, students articulate a research project; in the spring, they pursue the project; in the summer, they package the results for broadcast in the public sphere. The mode of broadcasting can take many forms: a published essay, a public exhibition, a website, a film, a symposium or conference, etc. Parallel to the research studio sequence, MSArch students enroll in a research methods course in the fall and a total of 5 elective courses throughout the program; the intention is that these electives support the student’s evolving research trajectory.
An MSArch degree from Woodbury has a wide range of utility, and is pursued for various reasons. Some students are interested in an academic career, and the degree is a first step in that direction. Some are interested in applying to doctoral programs, and the MSArch is a demonstration of one’s capacity for advanced research. Some have recently completed a design degree but have yet to decide what specific area of work they are attracted to. Still others are practitioners who are seeking to fine-tune their interests, and they use the time spent in the program to refresh or recalibrate their career trajectory.
Over three semesters, students can craft expertise in various disciplinary realms, including building technology, design for arid lands, film and media, landscape and urbanism, and real estate and development by accumulating coursework from Woodbury University’s multiple campuses and schools. Students and faculty come together to discuss new models of architectural practice, to expand the role of the architect in society, and to question disciplinary boundaries. Click here to find out more about transfer articulations.
ARCH 691: GRADUATE FOCUS/TOPIC STUDIO
Students engage in critical design inquiry through the lens of the specific focus. Research and design projects articulate the focus and use it to test design responses to contemporary issues in architecture and urbanism. Critical Thinking, Design, Building, Representation and Professionalism are practiced and developed at a high level.
ARCH 648: GRADUATE THESIS PREPARATION
Theory and techniques for analyzing and integrating design methodologies, client or user needs, and site conditions into criteria for preparing a design thesis. The theoretical and practical context for the thesis project is researched and developed. Along with the completion of a substantiated written position of intent, a project site is selected, program written and design methodology articulated. The thesis proposal demonstrates mastery in School of Architecture tracks in Critical Thinking, Design, Building, Representation and Professionalism through multiple media, including but not limited to writing, oral presentation, and graphic presentation.
ARCH 692: GRADUATE THESIS STUDIO
The student demonstrates the application of theoretical research and critical positioning, plus the ability to integrate site, program and other design issues of architecture including space, time, aesthetics, context, inhabitation, and systems in a self-initiated design project.
ARCH 693: GRADUATE THESIS STUDIO 2
In the culmination of the post-professional graduate Master of Science in Architecture program, students develop their focused and self-directed thesis from the preceding term in to a public product (exhibition, event, installation, publication, etc.) in collaboration with a primary faculty advisor and a committee of secondary advisors.
Applications are no longer being accepted for entry in the fall of 2017. However, if you are interested in applying for entry in the fall of 2018, submissions are due on January 15, 2018. You may begin the process by clicking here to go to the Office of Admissions webpage.
Applicants are expected to already possess an undergraduate and/or graduate-level degree in architecture or a cognate design field (landscape architecture, environmental design, interior architecture, product design, etc.). However, that degree need not be a professional degree- we are interested to work with a wide range of intellectual backgrounds.
The following application items are required of all program applicants:
3 letters of recommendation from former faculty or employers
Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended
GRE scores, if required
TOEFL scores, if required
In addition, all MSArch applicants are required to submit a clear and compelling research proposal. In it, you are expected to address the following:
What specific area/s of interest do you have as relate to the built environment?
What exactly would you like to explore through the MSArch program?
Which regular faculty member are you interested to work with (see Faculty, below)?
Which of the two program options are you planning to pursue (design research or scholarly research)?
Applications that do not clearly and concisely address the above through the research proposal will not be reviewed.
In the MSArch program, we are interested in a beneficial exchange for both student and faculty advisor. While it is true that faculty advisors help the student craft their research thesis, the inverse is true as well. Most regular faculty members have active research projects of their own, and MSArch students have the opportunity to return the favor, so to speak, by serving as research assistants to their faculty advisor. All MSArch students are also given a research assistant position working with their advisor upon acceptance. In that role, the student assists their faculty advisor in the latter’s active research- so there is a productive and beneficial arrangement for each.
One of the most unique aspects of the MSArch program at Woodbury is in its ability to support student research. Each admitted student receives a small stipend that can be used to offset costs related to the research itself- for example, this might include costs related to assembling an exhibition or a publication, entering a design competition, traveling to a conference to present the work, post-production work on a film or documentary, raw material costs, fabrication costs, etc. Students work with their advisors to effectively allocate these funds throughout the 3 semesters of the program. Research stipends cannot be used to cover tuition, fees, or living expenses.
With three gallery and event spaces in our 3 locations (Los Angeles campus, San Diego campus, and WUHO- our storefront exhibition space in Hollywood), students are supported as well through the provision of spaces for public broadcast of their research.
Since their launch in 2009, our expanding graduate architecture programs have quickly established themselves as distinct offerings among the many top design schools in Southern California. To date, the MArch and MSArch programs have produced more than 160 alumni from over a dozen countries, many of whom went on to find employment in noted offices such as Brooks + Scarpa, Morphosis, Perkins + Will, Gensler and AECOM.