The program leading to the Master in Architecture (MArch) is an accredited professional degree intended for individuals who have completed the bachelor’s degree with a major other than one of the design professions or with a pre-professional undergraduate major in one of the design professions.
The course of study is rigorous and comprehensive, preparing graduates for the full range of professional activities in the field of architecture. It provides a solid intellectual base of knowledge in history, theory, technology, the social environment, and professional practice. Particular emphasis is given to developing mastery of design through an intensive series of design studio courses. Committed to developing independent thinking and resolving design issues, students are required to prepare a design thesis that serves as a transition from graduate school to professional practice. To attain registration for professional practice after completion of the degree, a candidate must complete an internship in an architectural office and pass a registration examination. Many students partially complete their internships during the summer while in graduate school.
For students entering without advanced standing, a minimum of seven terms of full-time study in residence, including thesis, is required. Individuals admitted with advanced standing normally begin with the third term of the program and must complete a minimum of five terms of full-time study in residence. Under special circumstances, students may receive permission to reduce their course load and extend their studies over a longer period of time.
Admission with No Previous Professional Education
Individuals who have completed a four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in any field (architecture or other) are eligible for admission to the first term of the professional degree program. Preference for admission is given to applicants who have completed a balanced undergraduate education that includes study in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Four college-level, semester-long courses are specifically required as prerequisites for admission to the M.Arch-1 program: one semester of calculus; one semester of physics (algebra-based, covering mechanics and thermodynamics); and two semesters of history of architecture(together covering Renaissance through Modern periods at minimum). Applicants must achieve a grade of B- or better in each of these courses.
Applicants who have scored a 4 or 5 on AP Calculus or AP Physics exams will be considered to have met these prerequisites only if their undergraduate transcript acknowledges the results by awarding institutional credit.
Preparation in the visual arts is desirable and may include drawing, sculpture, and/or graphics. Courses in the humanities, philosophy, literature, and economics are also recommended but are not required.
The Graduate School of Design offers a Pre-Core Workshop to incoming students, which is required for all entering Master in Architecture students without an undergraduate degree in architecture. The workshop may also be required or recommended for students whose portfolios demonstrate a need for more depth of knowledge with software used to design and represent architectural projects (for example, Rhino, V-Ray, AutoCAD, Illustrator, Photoshop). The workshop allows students to set up their computers, their GSD network accounts, and to familiarize themselves with the GSD’s Digital facilities prior to the start of classes. Most importantly, the workshop allows incoming students to gain a basic knowledge of the workflows and digital techniques used in the context of studios: 3D software basics, rendering basics, data-transfer from 3D software, output and model building techniques using CAD/CAM facilities. No academic credit is given for the workshop. Please refer to our sample Architecture Core Prep syllabus for additional details.
Admission with Advanced Standing (MArch I AP)
Individuals who have completed a pre-professional four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree with a major in architecture or environmental design may be eligible for admission with advanced standing, subject to the review of the admissions committee. Such applicants will be considered for placement in the third term of the program, thus reducing the required course of study to two-and-one-half years. Applicants who are granted advanced standing must have completed the same preparation in college-level calculus, physics, and history as described in the previous section, as well as undergraduate courses that are roughly analogous to the course of study of the first year of the graduate program, demonstrating high achievement in design.
Accreditation of MArch I Degree Program
In the United States, most registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.
Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.
The Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Department of Architecture offers the following NAAB accredited degree programs:
Master in Architecture (non-pre-professional degree + 105 graduate credit hours on the NAAB scale)
Note: this is equivalent to 140 units in the GSD course unit calculations.
Master in Architecture AP (pre-professional degree + 75 graduate credit hours on the NAAB scale)
Note: this is equivalent to 100 units in the GSD course unit calculations.
NAAB Conditions and Procedures for Accreditation
For more information, please visit the NAAB Accreditation Information and Resources page.
For Students Entering Fall 2019
For requirements for students entering in previous years, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
A candidate will be recommended for the Master in Architecture as a professional degree upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 140 units
Here you’ll find a summary of the documents and materials that you will need to prepare and submit with your online application.
Jan 2, 2020 MArch
1.- Gather Your Transcripts
You are required to submit transcripts from all colleges and universities from which you’ve received credit. You should request either an official paper transcript or a digital version from your school. You will then upload it to your application. Make sure the scanned version is legible and oriented properly. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. If the university or college does not issue transcripts, a certified letter and certified English translation must be provided. It should list courses and examinations taken, grades, and degrees and dates of degrees received. Applicants are only required to submit hard copies of official transcripts, sent directly from their previous institution to the GSD, if they are admitted and decide to enroll at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Do not mail paper copies of transcripts prior to receiving an admissions decision; we do not retain any transcripts received prior to March 1. All previous degrees must be conferred by August 15 in order to enroll in the fall. Please note that if you are currently enrolled at another graduate school, the GSD does not accept transfer credits for work completed at another institution.
2.- Collect Three Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are required to obtain three letters of recommendation: at least two from college or university instructors and, if appropriate, one from an employer. Pay close attention when selecting your option about waiving your right to see your recommendation. If you wish to change your waiver selection, then you will need to exclude that recommender and add them again. Recommenders will receive instructions via email once the applicant has registered them via the online application; only online recommendations are accepted. Up to five recommendations may be submitted. You can still submit your application even if your recommenders have not sent in their recommendations.
3.- Have your GRE Scores Sent to the GSD
The general test of the Graduate Record Examination is required for all applicants to degree programs (with the exception of the GMAT option below), including international students. Although recent scores are preferred, tests taken within five years of the test date are acceptable. When requesting that scores be sent to Harvard University, use the institution code for the Graduate School of Design: 3455. Please note, we will store scores in our database until they expire. Applicants are urged to register early to obtain an appropriate test date for the GRE, so that scores are received by the application deadline. Test dates no later than November are recommended for January applications. It takes 10-15 days for the GSD to receive scores after you take the exam. We do not have a cut-off point for GPA or GRE scores, although successful applicants typically have at least a 3.4 GPA. The average GRE scores for incoming students are 157 for the verbal, 159 for the quantitative, and 4.0 for the analytical writing sections. We encourage you to apply whether or not you meet these guidelines, keeping in mind that all components of the application are taken into consideration.
4.- Have your TOEFL Scores Sent to the GSD
International Students Only
TOEFL scores are required for all international students. Scores are valid for 2 years. When requesting that scores be sent to Harvard University, use the institution code for the Graduate School of Design: 3455. Read our TOEFL FAQ for more details. As with GRE scores, we will save TOEFL scores in our database until they expire. (Please note we do not accept MyBest TOEFL score reports.)
5.- Edit your Resume
Upload a resume that includes: employment; education; extra-curricular collegiate and community activities (note whether an office held was elected or appointed); honors, awards, professional registration, professional societies, publications; avocations, hobbies, travel; if you served in the military, indicate rank on entry and rank on separation.
6.- Write Your Essay
The requirements of your essay depend on the program you’re applying to.
All MArch I applicants must provide a response to the phrase, “Less is More,” an aphorism found in many disciplines. (300 words)
In addition, applicants must provide responses for two of the following prompts (300 words each):
(1) Please tell us about a work of architecture or an experience in the built environment that you find engaging and why.
(2) How have your experience and background prepared you for your studies at the GSD?
(3) Please tell us about a time when you had to overcome a challenge or difficulty.
7.- Prepare Your Portfolio
Portfolios must be uploaded as a single PDF and include your most important and representative visual arts, design, research, and/or professional work. Projects should include a description as well as any supporting documentation, which may include images or a video. All work must indicate the date of the project and whether the project was academic, office-related, or personal. In the case of collaborative work, the contribution by the applicant must be described precisely. Embedded links are deactivated when you upload your portfolio. Please note, we do not accept materials from third party services such as Interfolio. We do not have any sample portfolios. A wide variety of design work and portfolio styles are submitted; there is no one type of correct or successful portfolio.
Recommended File Set-up:
Pages: 30 max (Cover pages or table of contents don’t count)File Size: 40MB max
Page Layout: 12” x 18” or A3, two-page spreads should be combined into one page. (recommended)
Color Format: RGB (recommended)
Resolution: 150 dpi (recommended)Video Requirements:
You have the option of submitting one video as a supplement to the PDF portfolio. In exceptional cases where video has been a primary focus of an applicant’s previous design work, up to three video files may be submitted.
Format: .MOV or .WMX
Length: 60s max
Dimensions: 640px x 480px
Portfolios should show work in the visual arts or design you’ve executed. If you don’t have any previous training in architecture, landscape architecture, or related fields you may demonstrate design aptitude by submitting examples of freehand drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, furniture, product design, etc. The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate creativity, aptitude for design, and a capacity to think and design in three dimensions. If you have participated in Design Discovery (or similar programs at other schools), you’re encouraged to include this work.
8.- Pay the Application Fee
There is a $90, non-refundable fee for each application submitted. In order for your application(s) to be reviewed, the fee(s) should be paid, by credit card only, immediately after submitting your application. Try again with a different credit card should the system reject your card.
9.- Apply for Financial Aid
Prospective students interested in receiving aid should complete the Financial Aid application. Read more information about paying for your program.
After you Submit
Once submitted, changes, additions, or any other edits cannot be made to the application and/or portfolio. Application materials, including the portfolio, become the property of the GSD and cannot be returned or forwarded to any other party.
All decisions are released within the first week of March. You will receive an email indicating that there is an update on your Applicant Status Page. We will not give out decisions over the phone. If you have not received notification by April 1, please contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note, the GSD does not grant deferrals. If you are admitted but unable to attend, you would need to reapply.