Master of Architecture Program

Master of Architecture

Learning By Doing: We teach architecture as collective experimentation that makes the human-made environment sustainable, open, and beautiful

The School’s Master of Architecture (M. Arch) degree is an accredited, professional graduate degree leading to qualifications for architectural licensing. Graduates of the program are prepared to enter leadership roles within the architectural profession and become licensed architects upon completion of internship experience and passing the architectural exam. An undergraduate degree in either a related or an unrelated field and post-secondary prerequisites are required for admission.

Students explore architecture through design, technical and professional practices, history and theory, and the arts. Project-based learning is central to the educational experience and students may enlarge their experience through independent study. In addition to taking regular courses, students must also earn Architecture Project (AP) hours by working on various design/build projects. The curriculum culminates in a thesis that is organized around TSOA’s student shelter program. During the year-long thesis project, students research, design, construct and live in a small, environmentally astute shelter, a small comprehensive project that they develop themselves with the help of a faculty advisor, professional mentors and the support of their classmates.

The education is rigorous; traditional grading is supplemented by an assessment of the student’s learning by faculty, mentors, and practicing architects on the basis of evidence documented in coursework and through annual Learning Dossier review.

The educational experience is closely linked to the two architecturally significant campuses and is fueled by the intense year-round educational community that is marked by a residency at the two Arizona campuses, Cosanti and Arcosanti.

Students find themselves continually inspired both by the quality of the spaces, and the messages they propagate and the communal lifestyle they support. Life at TSOA will teach students to truly “see”: it encourages them to get out of the studio to look, feel, and create architecture from the ground up. Students leave the School of Architecture with a renewed sense of pride and responsibility towards their own social, political, and ecological communities. Most of all, TSOA has the uncanny ability to instill a love for one’s profession and creative potential. With the School’s dynamic future as an independent institution ahead of us, we feel excited about helping to steer this legendary institution into the future.

TSOA is a community of talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic people who collectively maintain an active learning environment for the exploration and practice of the discipline of architecture.

TSOA offers 2-year and 3+ Master of Architecture program tracks, depending on your background.

The M.Arch II

The M.Arch II (2-year track) requires a 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, Environmental Design, or equivalent. Students on the 2-year track enter the second year of the M.Arch III 3+ track program.

The M.Arch III

The M.Arch III (3+ track) welcomes students with a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline and includes 7 semesters (3 years + 1 summer) to encompass fundamentals through advanced studies in Architecture.

Curriculum

Evolving from Frank Lloyd Wright’s precepts of organic architecture, our design process unfolds out of existing cultural and physical conditions, materials, and landscapes into well-crafted frameworks for human activities

The Master of Architecture curriculum encourages students to explore beyond perceived boundaries rather than relying solely on abstraction or being limited by preconceptions. The School integrates theory and practice. It uses a workshop model in which design and construction for communities is a central focus.

The M.Arch degree relies on the Design Studio as the core of the curriculum. Studios are taken every semester and are structured to explore a variety of facets of the architectural discipline. Students are typically enrolled in three progressive studios, an experimental studio, and an integrated studio. Finally, student work culminates in the preparation and presentation of a comprehensive thesis project centered on the design, construction, and inhabitation of a student shelter.

To expand knowledge and understanding of architecture, design studios are accompanied by core classes that focus on specific and required knowledge and skills. Core classes range from architectural history and theory to building codes and practice management. In addition to core classes, electives are offered to explore a variety of contemporary issues and/or related topics and disciplines that include allied arts such as music, literature, theater, and performance.

Alongside the academic curriculum, participation in professional internships, “real world” design charrettes (short, intensive group projects) and collaborations with other schools and institutions help to translate skills and experiences into successful practice, as does the undertaking of community design /build projects, both on and off campus, collectively designed by students, faculty, and staff.

The School’s curriculum supports applied project-based design and research. Innovation in architecture is explored through experimentation of materials and processes related to a project, through the lens of the social and cultural context of that project.

The School recognizes that we live in a world to which architecture must contribute in a thoughtful and free manner. Our curriculum pushes students to explore beyond current boundaries by using concrete forms, images, and materials, rather than relying solely on abstraction or being limited by preconceptions. As a result, the School integrates theory, design, and construction to make communities better places to live, work, and play.

Our curriculum honors diversity in all its aspects. We respect the many sources for design and work to provide a context in which communities can make room for all their members, as well as for each other. Within an accredited Master of Architecture degree framework, and with the design studio as the core of the curriculum, the School relies on the following:

  • We learn from the active exploration of the implications and uses of Frank Lloyd Wright’s body of work and thought.
  • Our students inhabit, design, and construct shelters; we also undertake community design/build projects, both on and off campus, collectively designed by students, faculty, and staff.
  • We learn by doing.
  • We make art, photography, music, and performance an integral part of the classroom and community experience, both in our work and by bringing in artists from diverse contexts.
  • We study ways in which architecture can minimize its impact on the availability of natural resources. We believe that architecture should evidence itself through structures that throughout their life cycle minimize the expenditure of an impact on natural resources.
  • We draw on architectural precedents, case studies, and historical examples from cultures around the world.
  • Students participate in both internships and in external collaborations with other schools and institutions.
  • We follow a curriculum and environment that provides students with both ideas and tools so that they can become human beings of integrity and vision.