Rice Architecture is the meeting point of design and discourse; of theory and practice; of past and future; of Rice and the world; and of our two inseparable aims: to educate architects and to position our graduates as leaders in a rapidly changing world.

Generosity binds these aims to one another. Inside the school, the exchange of knowledge depends upon the magnanimous sharing of intellectual culture among students, faculty, and visitors to the school. Beyond the school’s boundaries, Rice Architecture 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 ideas will continue to reverberate across contemporary culture. Our ambitions are simple. Our graduates will be prepared with knowledge. They will always be curious about what they don’t yet know. And they will continue to propose alternatives that foster an unyielding optimism about the future.

The required core sequence of Rice Architecture’s Master of Architecture program includes courses in four areas: design studio, history/theory, technology, and practice. Each area provokes the others in a deliberate feedback loop. The collective conversation that characterizes Rice Architecture – in our studios, our seminars, our juries, our lectures, our hallways – is where we synthesize these threads. Our core courses in design, history/theory, technology, and practice focus attention on key topics within architecture: form, program, materials, technology. The core also establishes a shared set of references – significant historical and contemporary. We also offer a broad selection of electives within the architecture school and across the university.


Arch 601, Samed Kaya, Alfonso Pelaez Rovalo

The advanced options studios of the final year of the masters program include Research Platforms. Each studio focuses on a single, closely-defined research topic that is culled from a variety of scales and contexts—from local to global, from theoretical to material explorations, from formal and cultural investigations of architecture to cities and environments.

The final course in the history/theory core is the required pre-thesis seminar, which reflects our conviction that every student must step back and define their argument vis-à-vis architecture’s contemporary position in the world. Students subsequently complete their studies either with a semester-long thesis project or an additional options studio in their final semester.

Rice Architecture’s Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) professional degree is fully accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB), qualifying our graduates to sit for the professional licensing exam.

M.Arch. programs are STEM designated, making international students from those programs eligible to apply for a three-year F-1 visa extension after graduation.  


Tracks of Study

Option 1

The Option 1, seven-semester (131 credit) track is for students with little or no background in architecture. In order to graduate, students in this program must complete 6 semesters of design studios, 44 curriculum credits, and 27 credit hours of free electives.

Option 2

The Option 2, five-semester (93 credit) track is for qualifying applicants who hold a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture and demonstrate a comprehensive range of disciplinary techniques, design and critical thinking skills, creative research initiatives, leadership and community service, and excellent academic standing. The admissions committee for this selective program may determine that an applicant is better suited for the Option 1 program and reclassify them as such.


Option 3, Present Future

The Option 3 is a research-based, three-semester (39 credit) track culminating in a Master of Science in Architecture. The program’s student body includes those with backgrounds in architecture as well as other fields: individuals with B.A., B.S. equivalent, or more advanced degrees in architecture or other disciplines are invited to apply. Please note that we are not accepting new applicants to the Option 3 program at this time.


Curriculum Guide

Core courses of the program expose students to fundamental disciplinary issues within architecture, while establishing a shared set of historical, contemporary, and emerging references, questions, and speculations. The required core sequence includes design studios and courses in history and theory, technology, and professional practice. These four areas overlap and intersect in a productive feedback loop– demanding that students synthetically engage the world of architecture and all that it implies. Following the core studios, advanced options take up specialized topics (urban, environmental, political, material) that range in scale and technique. A broad selection of elective courses within the architecture school and across the university provide extended contexts for disciplinary debate, architectural activism, material experimentation, and innovations.

In the final semester, M.Arch. students develop an independent thesis project. Thesis enables each student to situate their architectural ambitions in relation to the field, defining and claiming a position about architecture in the world. 

Download Full Graduate Curriculum Guide

Facets of the Graduate Programs


Thesis at Rice is payback time of sorts: it’s the moment when the faculty learns from the students – when graduate students contribute to and advance architecture at Rice. 

Rice Architecture Paris

There may well be a Paris, Texas, but Paris, France is nothing like Houston. Founded in 2002 and located near la Bastille, Rice Architecture Paris provides advanced B.Arch. and M.Arch. students with a semester-long complement to Rice Architecture Houston.

Research Platforms

Research is the foundation of an architectural project and, by extension, of practice itself. Structured as the culmination of our design studio sequence, research platforms provide an opportunity for an in-depth, advanced study of a subject matter—be it theoretical, material, or formal—as a way of engaging a broad range of methodologies, constituents, and futures.

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