CCA's Master of Architecture Program is a NAAB-accredited* professional degree program that focuses on material innovation, research, application, and resourcefulness within a larger social and cultural context.
While providing a well-rounded architectural education, the program engages physically and digitally with old, new, and emerging building materials and systems to explore architecture as a critical and evolving practice. Digital craft, design research, interdisciplinary engagement, alternative models, and global involvement and exchange are emphasized.
Designed for students who have earned a bachelor's degree in another field, the program is a three-year first professional master's degree in architecture.
It also accommodates students who have begun their architectural studies at the undergraduate level. Advanced standing may be granted to those who have some previous education in the field. Placement is based on a review of the portfolio and undergraduate transcripts.
In addition to the accredited MArch program, CCA also offers a post-professional Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) program with three specializations: Digital Design Technologies; Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology; and Design Theory and Critical Practices.
Rich Bay Area Surroundings
CCA's metropolitan setting enhances the educational experience it offers. The city of San Francisco serves as an urban laboratory, inspiring new ways to configure architecture and space. Small class sizes ensure access to a diverse faculty of practicing professionals. The program sponsors its own lecture series featuring architects and theorists from around the world who are working with a wide range of issues and ideas. Many of these guests stay on campus for several days to teach and review student work.
We believe that architects are cultural makers—leading and responding to social, economic, and ecological issues. Our goal is to graduate architects who will continue to produce real-world work that engages architectural theory.
The Design Studio Experience
The heart of architectural education is the design studio, where students learn to synthesize the wide range of ideas, issues, and technologies required for the conceptualization of architecture. It is also the place where some aspects of architectural practice are modeled and where history, theory, and technology are integrated into design.
The first three semesters introduce the culture of architecture and the nature of the discipline through rigorous studios that are open to graduate students only. In the following two semesters, students explore their own interests, choosing from a menu of elective studios that are taught by architects and focus on a broad range of practice strategies.
The final studio semester is spent executing an honors design thesis or an advanced studio using the student's own research and focusing on his or her specific interests. A course on the intricacies of professional practice rounds out this cluster.
History & Theory
Running parallel to the studio courses is a sequence of courses in history and theory. These courses ground studio practice in the world of ideas. The first year includes an in-depth study of the history of architecture as well as a seminar course that places architecture in the context of culture, politics, technology, and philosophy.
In the second year, a one-semester seminar introduces architectural theory. The fall of the third year includes an intensive independent research lab, in which students explore their individual interests under the close supervision of a faculty member.
This work provides the intellectual framework for the concluding semester of studio work. Finally, each student selects two semesters of graduate level, topically based theory seminars from a menu of courses offered across all of CCA's graduate programs.
Technology & Practice
A third parallel sequence of courses builds knowledge and skills related to technology and practice issues. Courses in sustainable building systems, building energy, structures, materials, and methods of construction form the heart of this sequence. Electives within the sequence include courses in deep-green building practices, advanced building construction, and digital craft.
The facilities on the San Francisco campus include dedicated studios with a wireless network infrastructure, a suite of fully equipped shops for various scales and media of fabrication, and four computer labs with the latest Macintosh hardware and software. The New Materials Resource Center offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection of samples and is the only library of its kind housed at an art school.
Resources & Travel Programs
The program's other resources include special summer studios, including travel studios. In August, just before fall classes begin, we offer incoming students a three-week Architectonic Intensive. This course is designed to give those with little or no making or drawing experience a head start.
The program also offers the 333 studio each summer. Based in San Francisco, this studio is three weeks long, with each of the weeks taught by a different internationally recognized architect. Instructors for 333 have included Nader Tehrani of Office dA, Thomas Wiscombe of EMERGENT, Rodolphe el-Khoury, and Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott of IwamotoScott Architecture.
Our Latin American travel studio alternates summers between Peru and Argentina. Each studio is led by a faculty member who is native to the country. The Peru trip is led by Sandra Vivanco and the Argentina studio is taught by Leonardo Zylberberg.
In the United States, most state 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 U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the bachelor of architecture, the master of architecture, and the doctor of architecture. A program may be granted a six-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 consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.
CCA's NAAB-Accredited Degree Programs
Architecture Program (undergraduate or BArch): 165 credits required
Master of Architecture (graduate or MArch): non-preprofessional degree + 96 credits required
CCA's Architecture Program was granted a formal six-year term of re-accreditation, effective January 1, 2011. The undergraduate Architecture Program is fully accredited. (The next NAAB accreditation visit is scheduled for 2017.)
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