Master of Science in Architecture vs Master of Architecture


Hello all,

I am an undergraduate materials science student looking to become a designer/researcher in the field of biomimetics, computational design, design of artificial environments (think Neri Oxman). I am unsure whether to apply for a Master of Science in Architecture or a Master of Architecture degree. M.Sc seems to be often called a "postprofessional" degree where applicants usually already have a professional degree in architecture but applicants from other disciplines are allowed to apply as well. In addition, the M.Sc program is only around 1-2 years. Does this indicate that the M.Sc. program is looking for applicants that have a decent amount of architectural/design knowledge already? I definitely want to come out of school being strongly versed in design, and I am not sure if the M.Sc. program will "start from the basics". So, perhaps the M.Arch program is a better fit for me, despite my main interests being in doing design research rather than being an architect. (Basically, it seems that if I really want to do such research at the university level, I would need a professional architecture degree first. Can you confirm or disprove this?) 

Thank you for the feedback!

Nov 25, 14 5:47 pm

Consider your own example. What is Neri Oxman's background? Professional architecture degree with a Doctorate in Computational Design on top, right?

I am not familiar enough with Material science degrees to know what a MSc Arch would add to it, but an MSc Arch degree is really supplemental, it is not robust enough to found a career on. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like traditional architecture is at all your interest, so that might not be a good choice either. Though you could certainly run through some MArch degrees with a lot of emphasis on the topics you have mentioned, so I might seek out professional degrees that would allow you to focus on those things. Or look into some other research field not directly listed as architecture.

Nov 25, 14 7:32 pm  · 

Thanks, natematt!

I am having trouble actually searching for said MArch programs that focus on computation and technology... what I have come up with so far is SciArch, MIT, and Harvard GSD. Can anyone think of any others?

Really, I just want to enroll in a school where I learn the skills - design, visualization, computation, and fabrication - that will enable me to create anything. That's why I feel architecture school is the right way to go, because it arms you with those skills (I believe), not because I want to necessarily be an architect later in life. Am I making the right decision to choose architecture school given these goals I just listed?

Nov 26, 14 6:55 pm  · 

MS.AAD Colombia is a nice program

Nov 26, 14 8:35 pm  · 

Also RPI Built Ecologies program at the CASE center offers MS- PHD in what you are looking for, they do a lot of research with material science from what I have seen and heard.

Nov 26, 14 8:37 pm  · 

I do think architecture can give you what you want, but you do need to choose where you go and what you do with some care. I think a valuable term for your search will be “Digital Fabrication.”

Opinion time (someone correct me if I am off base):

Harvard: No. no? I really don’t think you will get what you want from them.  And you will spend a lot of money doing it ha.

Columbia: Ask someone else.  I have never set foot in this school, but it seems like they focus on at least the computational part of things. I don’t know about the fabrication though. It’s all very architecturally inclined from what I’ve seen.

SCI-arch: Maybe. They have a lot of fabrication resources, and seem to do a lot in this direction, but it seems to push form more than material. Also seems like it gets a bit out of hand… Just my observation.

MIT: Sounds like a good idea. Oxman works there, so it seems like the natural choice. Their Media Lab looked pretty legit to me, and they are pretty well known for this sort of stuff.

UMich: Quit possible. They have resources out the bum for fabrication, and at least two post-professional degrees that might be relevant to you. Lots of faculty involved with fabrication and materials. Bla bla bla. You could even focus on it going through their accredited degree, but you’d have to do some more architectural things in there as well. I did an MArch here, so I could go into significantly more detail if I wanted.

UC Berkeley: Wildcard! This could be way off base because I know very little about the school, but for some reason I feel like I’ve seen a lot of work from students, alum, or faculty there that might fit with what you are looking for.


Nov 27, 14 12:24 am  · 

Have you considered any international schools?  If you are less focused on practicing as an architect and more interested in research and technology you may find more synergy with some schools in the UK (for example) and they may be cost comparable given the extortionate cost of education in the States at the moment.  Also, it is more common in the UK (at least, probably other places in the EU as well) to have research focused degrees that do put you on the path towards a research career.  Best of luck!

Dec 2, 14 6:05 am  · 

I am applying for Masters program and I'm really confused between MS in Arch and M.Arch II. Both the programs are not NAAB accredited. But 1 year is quite less time to explore things. Will it be beneficial to pursue MS if I have done my 5years B.Arch Program. I am interested more in specialised field like architecture and entertainment. But i am unsure if I m making the right decision of choosing MS because of program's duration.

Dec 17, 19 8:32 am  · 

Also check out TU Delft (Netherlands) and ETH (Switzerland) if you want to study abroad. They are good universities for Architecture and Material sciences. Prob also in Computation in Architecture. They are both renowned for their quality and research facilities. 

Looked it up: CiA Computation IS Architecture (TU Delft), look at the chairs aswell.

DFAB and EDAC (ETH), look up the research aswell:

That's it.

By the way, amazing path that you are on. Keep me updated. Maybe we can form a team later on ;). 

I want to walk a similar path. But different in it's origin. I did biology. Now applying for a master in Architecture, via some selection in Landscape Architecture. Then after my master I go to MIT. Take care! Or see you there ;)

Jan 2, 20 9:54 am  · 

Well that´s amazing you are saying the same thing as Kayla. People please don't repeat others it is giving me the chills.. :(

Jan 2, 20 11:50 am  · 

RPI is a good choice...wish I had chosen there over where I currently am for undergrad 

Jan 10, 20 12:24 am  · 


I am an undergraduate materials science student that feel the empty part of art in my life... architecture was always one of my favorite fields but i liked materials science too, so i decided to study m.s at university and now, after 3 years, i don't feel that i "love" my field of study... i want art to be a part of my life, not to be a hobby for leisure... i want art to be a part of my daily job although i love science( specially materials science), so i'm looking for a Master's Degree that can cover both materials science & architecture.

please guide me if you know any thing about these, thanks.

Feb 8, 20 6:28 am  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: