Graduate Overview

 

The RSA’s graduate program has two inseparable aims: to educate architects and to position our graduates as leaders in a rapidly changing world. The education of architects focuses on sharing knowledge…on a vibrant discussion of architecture’s intellectual, formal, material, and representational composition. Positioning leaders centers on developing new knowledge…on affecting the contours of this new world.

Generosity binds these aims to one another. Inside the RSA, the exchange of knowledge with aspiring architects depends upon the magnanimous sharing of intellectual culture among students, faculty, and visitors to the school. Beyond the school’s boundaries, the RSA is a catalyst, an advocate for architects and architecture to step unflinchingly into public life. Taken together, these mandates underscore our goal of forming architects whose voices will reverberate across contemporary culture. Our ambitions are simple. RSA graduates will be prepared with knowledge. They will be perpetually curious about what we don’t yet know. And they will be eager to propose the alternatives that possess an unyielding optimism about the future.

The RSA has two graduate programs leading to a first professional degree. Option 1 is a seven semester course of study for students with no or limited undergraduate background in architecture. Option 2 is a five semester course of study for students with substantial undergraduate backgrounds in architecture. The Option 1 and 2 Master of Architecture degrees are fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), qualifying our graduates to sit for professional licensing exams.

The RSA’s Options 1 and 2 programs prepare students through a core course sequence in design, history/theory, technology, and practice. The school also offers a broad selection of free electives, both from within the RSA and from across Rice University. Design studios are constructed around a four-studio sequence followed by a “Totalization” studio and then an Advanced Options studio. The required pre-thesis seminar recognizes our conviction that every student must step back and define his or her argument vis-à-vis architecture’s contemporary position in the world. Students subsequently complete their studies either with a thesis design project or an additional studio in their final semester.

The RSA also has a third graduate program, Present Future, a new post-graduate, three semester, special-topic course of study under the leadership of an RSA faculty member. This full-residency, research oriented program leads to a nonprofessional degree of Master of Arts in Architecture (M.A. in Architecture).


 

Programs of Study


There are three program options at the Masters level: M.Arch. Options 1 & 2, and M.A. Option 3. They differ according to the Bachelor's degree received prior to entering the graduate program.

Option 1 (Master of Architecture): seven semester program


Offered to individuals who hold a four-year undergraduate degree with a major in a field other than Architecture. Preference for admission is given to those who have completed a balanced education in the arts, sciences, and humanities. A minimum of two semesters of college-level courses in the history of art and/or architecture and one semester of college level courses in mathematics or physics is recommended. Previous preparation in the visual arts is also desirable, as are courses in philosophy, literature, and economics. In order to graduate, students in this program must complete, in addition to 6 semesters of design studios, a curriculum of 43 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 30 credit hours.

Option 2 (Master of Architecture): five semester program


Offered to individuals who hold a four-year undergraduate degree with a major in Architecture. Preference for admission is given to those who have successfully completed between four to six semesters of undergraduate design studio as well as undergraduate courses that are analogous to those given in the first year of Option 1. A minimum of two semesters of college-level courses in the history of art and/or architecture and one semester of college-level courses in mathematics or physics is recommended. In order to graduate, students in this program must complete, in addition to 4 semesters of design studios, a curriculum of 37 credit hours with an additional free electives course load of 18 credit hours.

M.Arch. Thesis Requirement: Option 1 & 2


Thesis is payback time – it is when students build upward and outward from what they’ve learned over the years, giving back to the school by providing new disciplinary fodder. More immediate than a crystal ball, some of the common threads underlying a Rice thesis might well reveal tomorrow’s future. Despite working in the context of Texas’s vast horizon, Rice thesis students do not envision an endless frontier. Rather than turning away from the discipline, our students have found new territories embedded within architectural and urban paradigms, breathing into them new life and vitality. All Master of Architecture candidates are required to do an independent thesis, articulating an ambition and envisioning its architectural specificity. Students develop their individual thesis proposals during their penultimate semester in a required, pre-thesis seminar. Thesis design evolves from the honing of that proposal and continues through the final semester, under the guidance of an individual advisor. In early January, thesis projects are reviewed publicly by a panel of eminent jurors in the RSA’s Farish Gallery. In short, the school starts each new year with a batch of new visions.

 

Option 3 (M.A. in Architecture): Present Future


Present Future is aimed at qualified applicants who hold a graduate or undergraduate degree in architecture or or a related discipline. Preference for admission is given to those who have experience in architecture and who have demonstrated a high level of achievement in design. In the summer following graduation several fellowship positions will be appointed from the degree graduates to direct the final project. Learn more about Present Future here.