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Master of Science in Architecture Studies in Urbanism (SMArch Urbanism) in Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT
School of Architecture and Planning
BAM Ranking 2023
Cambridge, Massachusetts
United States
Urban Studies & City Planning

Master of Science in Architecture Studies


The Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) is a two-year program of advanced study founded on research and inquiry in architecture as a discipline and as a practice. The program is intended both for students who already have a professional degree in architecture and those interested in advanced non-professional graduate study.


SMArchS in Architecture and Urbanism


Architecture and Urbanism is a special program for students interested in the development of critical urban design, as well as its history and theory. Consciously locating itself in the contemporary debate about what constitutes good city form with expansive metropolitan regions and systems of cities, the program teaches students to develop articulate and intellectually grounded positions. Students are expected to interrogate current positions within the field in order to explore critical alternatives to existing paradigms of urbanism. The assumption is that design inquiry is an intellectual act with the capacity to yield both critique and alternative possibilities.


The program aims to nurture well-versed, intellectually-robust, and historically-conscious architects who understand the relationship between architecture and urbanism, not as a question of taste and fashion, but as form, process, and associated socio-culturalwith meaning. The program emphasizes a unique combination of both design and scholarship. Our students are unique in their capacity to relate to both. The particular interests of faculty and students may vary, but the goal is always the achievement of the most advanced and effective methods of shaping the form, sustainability, and social condition of the built environment. The design, theory, and elective subjects are also formulated in support of this goal.


The first year of the program builds a student’s foundation with a required sequence of two studios and two theory courses. All incoming students participate in an introductory urban design studio in the fall, and a choice of urban design studio options in the spring. A course in urban design theory is taught in the fall and theory of city form in the spring. In the fall of second year, students take a thesis preparation course and have the option of enrolling in a third studio course. All students complete a master’s thesis. Students may tailor their work to a diverse array of interests, and are encouraged to engage intellectually with surrounding disciplines.


Degree requirements for SMArchS Urbanism


The following information applies to SMArchS degree programs in all disciplines.




The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMArchS program is two full academic years.


Faculty Advising


A faculty advisor from the Department of Architecture is assigned to each SMArchS student at matriculation. The advisor weighs in on the student’s initial plan of study and on each subsequent term’s choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact. The advisor monitors the student’s progress through completion of the degree.


Subjects and Credit Units


The SMArchS degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units, and an acceptable thesis.

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Admission Requirements

Admissions for SMArchS Urbanism


Applicants compete each year for the approximately 25 places available in the SMArchS program. An admissions committee made up of both faculty and SMArchS students evaluates applicants individually. There is no specific «type» of applicant.


Graduate Programs Admissions Requirements (for all graduate applicants)


The Application Deadline is December 31 at midnight for all applications. Application material must be submitted by the deadline. Late applications will not be reviewed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be sure that the application is completed. Applications will be reviewed using the information provided by applicants. Please do not call or email to check if official test scores have arrived. We will contact you if we do not receive them. Be sure to watch the application for notifications of application errors between December 31 and January 10. We will also email applicants if we notice something wrong with the application.


Three letters of recommendation. Letters from instructors are preferred unless you have been working for several years, in which case supervisors may be included. The application can be submitted on the deadline with fewer than three letters, but be sure to remind your instructors to complete their letters before January 10. Applications still missing two or more letters when review begins will not be reviewed. Review the instructions for letter submission in the «Letters Status» section of the application system. Applicants will send prepared emails to the recommenders containing a secure link to the recommendation form. We prefer that letters be submitted through the online application, and not a third-party letter distributor.


Transcripts for all relevant degrees, official or unofficial, must be uploaded to the application system. PDFs must be clearly readable and oriented correctly on the screen. Only those applicants who are accepted for admission will be required to send a hard copy of an official, sealed transcript (with English translation) from each school attended. Please do not have official copies of transcripts sent to our office unless you are admitted. Certificates, study abroad, and community college transcripts do not need to be sent unless the courses are not also listed on your primary college transcripts. Non-English transcripts must be translated into English, and if necessary, signed by a licensed notary and accompanied by the original version.


In addition to transcripts, applicants should complete the Subjects Taken section with any relevant course work. If you have taken studios, indicate this on the Test Scores/Experience/Electronic Portfolio section.




Applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit either an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score (Academic test) or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), regardless of citizenship or residency in the U.S. while attending other educational institutions. No exceptions are made. The admissions committee regards English proficiency as crucial for success in all degree programs. In order to meet the admissions deadline, it is recommended that candidates take the IELTS or TOEFL on the earliest possible date.


Applicants must request that an official copy of their test results be sent directly to MIT by IELTS International or Educational Testing Service. IELTS and TOEFL Scores must be no older than two years as of the date of application. To avoid delays, please use the following codes when having your TOEFL scores sent to MIT:


-Institutional Code: 3514

-Department Code: 12

The minimum score required for the IELTS is 7 and the minimum TOEFL score is 600 (250 for computer-based test, 100 for Internet-based test). While either test score is accepted, the IELTS score is preferred. (HTC PhD requires a TOEFL score of 115.)


All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the IELTS/TOEFL requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in English as a Second Language (ESL), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required degree credits.


Curriculum Vitae, uploaded to the system.


A portfolio of work, uploaded to the application. See program-specific instructions for portfolio requirements.


An Essay of one or two pages must be uploaded to the application system. Indicate why you are applying, and describe your qualifications for the degree.


A non-refundable Application Fee of $75 USD. You will need to submit a credit card number on the Architecture Graduate Application to process this fee. If you have a financial hardship, you may apply for an Application Fee Waiver:


Submission of completed application form by the application deadline.


You may apply to two different programs within the Department of Architecture. If you are considering two programs, discuss your plans with our admissions staff to save yourself unnecessary fees. Multiple applications are allowed, but are not necessary in many cases. The link to apply is:


Be sure to review the Application Instructions.


SMArchS AD-Specific Admissions Requirements

Graduate Record Examination

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for SMArchS applicants.




A portfolio is required of all SMArchS Urbanism applicants, including those who do not have a previous architecture degree or background.


The portfolio should include evidence of recent creative work, whether personal, academic or professional. Choose what you care about, what you think is representative of your best work, and what is expressive of you. Work done collaboratively should be identified as such and the applicant’s role in the project defined. Your name, and program to which you are applying should also be included. We expect the portfolio to be the applicant’s own work. Applicants whose programs require portfolios will upload a 30-page maximum), 15MB (maximum) PDF file to the online application system. The dimensions should be exported for screen viewing. Two page «spreads» are counted as one page.




Interviews are not required for SMArchS applicants. All prospective students are welcome to visit the Department. If you would like to visit the campus for a student tour of the Department, please contact in advance of your trip:


Decisions and Notifications


Applicants will be notified by mail of the Department’s decision by April 1. Decisions cannot be given by telephone.

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General information
2 years full time
Rafi Segal
Not Confirmed
Email /
+1 617-253-4401
77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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