You are here

Master of Science in Architecture


The Master of Science in Architecture (MS.Arch) is a post-professional research degree devoted to applied research in the built environment. The principal goal is to expand the breadth and depth of expertise available to architects and increase their opportunities for leadership, scholarship, entrepreneurship, and innovation across private, public, and academic arenas.

The ability to conduct research on the built environment and the specializations accorded by this degree distinguishes its graduates from their peers, who may have only professional qualifications. Many students publish research, present their work at conferences, or develop and execute funded research proposals as part of their course of study. For most MS.Arch students, the work done in this degree leads directly to a career path and job in the focus area.

The Master of Science in Architecture is a post professional degree. Applicants are required to have a professional degree in a related field, such as architecture or engineering, from a NAAB-accredited program or from a respected foreign university. Applicants will also be considered who are applying for a CAPLA dual-degree in a professional program (currently, M.Arch with MLA pending). Applicants from the B.Arch to the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) will also be considered.

MS.Architecture Program Degree Options
With a flexible curriculum of approximately three semesters, students pursue an individually prescribed curriculum in a focus area. A new Emerging Building Technologies focus area is currently under internal College review that might replace the Independent research option. The curricula of each focus area varies, but each culminates in a Master’s Thesis or Report that presents the findings of original research. The Thesis/Report is the only common component to all focus areas and is supervised by the respective Program chairs and committees comprised of faculty with relevance or expertise in the subject area.

Master of Science in Architecture—Design and Energy Conservation (MS.Arch-D+EC)
The MS.Arch-D+EC program is aimed at advanced understanding of the theory and principles relating to sustainability in green building design, energy conservation, and passive solar high performance buildings. Research and investigation methods are applicable to different climatic regions and transferable throughout the world. Research activities include development of methodologies and hands-on inquiry-based learning, such as site survey methods, field test instruments, development of new energy codes for communities around the world, and advanced computer simulation methods for specialized research in high-performance net-zero energy systems.

Master of Science in Architecture—Heritage Conservation (MS.Arch-HC)
The purpose of the Heritage Conservation program is to educate students in the conservation of the built environment as part of a comprehensive ethic of environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability.  The curricular program is:

  • Interdisciplinary, teaching holistic problem-solving within an integrated environment of natural and cultural resources, including the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, architecture, history, landscape architecture, materials science, and planning;
  • Inter-institutional, promoting collaborative engagement between public and private institutions with a curriculum incorporating community service as a method of learning; and
  •  International in scope and regional in application, defined by the arid lands geography of the Greater Southwest.

Since 2002, the Heritage Conservation program has partnered with the National Park Service to provide service-learning opportunities and engaging with projects with real impact.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Design and Energy Conservation

  • Awareness of the principles and theories related to building performance and its impact on environmental issues, including sustainability, relevant codes, regulations and standards, and their application to physical and environmental systems.
  • Understanding of major environmental control systems that emphasize energy conservation and passive solar design, including the investigation of human factors, climate/microclimate, and the building envelope.
  • Ability to conduct Level III Energy Audits, including: site survey methods; the use of tools, instruments, and energy simulation software; and energy performance analysis of residential and commercial buildings, both new and existing.
  • Ability to design and develop high performance energy systems for residential and commercial buildings, incentive programs for governments and City/County officials, educational curricula on energy, and green guidelines and energy codes for cities around the world.

Heritage Conservation

  • Awareness of geographic, cultural, technological, economic, and political factors that shape the built environment; material cultures and building traditions of cultural groups and historic periods in the Greater Southwest.
  • Understanding of heritage conservation and preservation terms, concepts, and philosophical foundations; legal, regulatory, and economic development tools; treatment standards for historic properties; and cultural resource management business and ethical principles.
  • Ability to conduct research using primary and secondary resources; survey, document, and communicate cultural artifacts, buildings, sites, districts, and cultural landscapes according to professional standards; analyze building construction systems, components, and materials to inform conservation treatment recommendations; interpret the meaning of built environments to a public audience; prepare and respond to requests for proposals, research budgets and research designs; organize strategies for field work; edit manuscripts for publication for diverse audiences.
Assessment Activities: 

Design and Energy Conservation
The Design and Energy Conservation program is the oldest energy education program in the world. The program was awarded the best energy education program by the Department of Energy.

Over the past 33 years, since the inception of the House Energy Doctor program in 1983, our educational curriculum has undergone reviews and updates to remain state-of-the-art. This field is among the fastest-changing specialization were technologies, methods, software, and materials are constantly evolving. The Program Chair has consistently updated the methods and material to keep the program current, maintaining it’s advanced status in energy education. Through invited guest speakers, colloquial presentations, and meetings with local and worldwide experts from the field, the program remains informed and updated. The program has maintained its courses to the latest versions of technologies and methods, constantly uupdating its laboratory and instruments. Over the last 5 accreditation visits in 2009, 2003, 1996, 1990, and 1984, the program has been regularly evaluated.

Through the last three decades, the program graduated over 400 energy-conscious architects who have applied their knowledge for governments and institutions around the world, mitigating the ecological problems we face today.

Heritage Conservation
Student assessment consists of three mechanisms based on respective constituency groups: stakeholder advisory group, exiting students, and alumni.

Over the past ten years of Heritage Conservation coursework, a Stakeholder Advisory Group of affiliated university colleagues, alumni, local professionals, and key community and institutional stakeholders has evaluated and refined the course offerings based on the employment market for new graduates in the heritage conservation field. This Stakeholder Group meets approximately every two years when program goals and core competencies are reviewed, course outcomes and curricular integration are evaluated, and other programmatic issues are discussed. Many of these stakeholders participate as guest speakers and internship sponsors and are committed to advancing the program.

Students are assessed at the end of their degrees through a formal Internship Report. The required internship is typically in the final semester, where the knowledge gained is applied and prepares graduates for a professional workplace. The Internship Report evaluates how the coursework prepares the student for professional responsibilities. This feedback provides the insights that validate and refine the curriculum and other program elements.

Internal strategic planning meetings are held every year with Heritage Conservation faculty members to evaluate implementation strategies of program goals as well as stakeholder and student recommendations. As a result, there have been revisions in curricular content (e.g. inclusion of historic landscapes, regional architectural history modules), outcomes (e.g. primary research and technical writing skills), methods of instructional delivery (e.g. online coursework, summer courses), and other program features (e.g. recruitment, advising, program fees, special events). The Heritage Conservation Chair implements recommended changes in coordination with the faculty and their respective departmental curriculum and policy committees. Recent accomplishments include the codification of Heritage Conservation curricular options in various degree programs, the implementation of program fees, and online course delivery.

The Heritage Conservation (and its predecessor Preservation Studies) program has graduated 19 students since 2007. Now in its tenth year, we will conduct a formal post-graduation survey of program effectiveness that covers professional preparation, professional achievement and career progression, and general alumni satisfaction. This will be combined with networking opportunities as well as alumni gatherings at professional organization meetings (e.g. National Trust for Historic Preservation, Society for American Archaeology, American Cultural Resource Association). CAPLA has an alumni coordinator, but does not to date conduct regular surveys of alumni satisfaction. Informal feedback from alumni occurs periodically and contributes to the other program assessment mechanisms outlined above.

Assessment Findings: 

Design and Energy Conservation

The MS.Arch Design and Energy Conservation program collects responses from alumni who generally indicate appreciation and positive career impact, see

Heritage Conservation
The Heritage Conservation program has not collected any formal assessment data from its students but conducts informal strategic planning meetings with key stakeholders as described under Assessment Activities.

Change in Response to Findings: 

Heritage Conservation
The Heritage Conservation program modifies its curricular content and delivery as part of an informal series of strategic planning meetings described under Assessment Activities.

Updated date: Thu, 07/21/2016 - 15:55