MAADMaster of Advanced Architectural Design
Establish a cross-disciplinary architecture practice in digital craft, urban design, or history, theory, and criticism.
The Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) is a one-year STEM-designated post-professional degree. Specialized for advanced students and mid-career architects, our curriculum emphasizes research and design through mentored study and a sequence of interdisciplinary electives. We offer three distinct areas of concentration: Digital Craft, Experimental History, and Urban Works. You’ll focus on one area during an intense year of advanced study that prepares you for a range of 21st century design challenges.
Study in the inspiring Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to spectacular architecture, renowned museums, and innovative technology companies. Within a one-mile radius of campus, you’ll find Adobe, Autodesk, IDEO, Frog Design, Google AI, Redwood Robotics, and many other research and development groups. We’re also near CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, Minnesota Street Project, and numerous alternative art spaces that blur the lines between craft and digital design. You’ll forge lifelong connections with intellectuals, researchers, and practitioners who work across multiple disciplines.
Each MAAD concentration is connected to a unique research and project-based platform. It’s through our research labs that we translate our ideas about alternative futures into prototypes and solutions for the real world.
The Digital Craft Lab features experimental making through emerging technologies, teaching you about advanced computation, robotics, responsive environments, rapid prototyping, and more.
The Urban Works Agency responds to the politics of the contemporary city. Equity, ecological vitality, and economic resilience are reimagined through urban and territory scaled analysis, narratives, and arguments.
The Experimental History Project works to preserve and present the immaterial aspects of architectural heritage, through the reconstruction of environments, immersive augmented reality, and cutting-edge conservation techniques.
Collaborate with outside partners
Many of your studios and seminars incorporate outside partners, from scientists and engineers to historians and nonprofit organizations. You’ll approach some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as climate change, gentrification, and urban density, with full-scale, collaborative solutions. Recent partnerships include the City of San Francisco, Autodesk, Google, and Resilient by Design.
Summer studios and study-abroad courses
Each summer, the architecture programs host a 333 Studio, which invites three outside critics to work with students for three weeks in a lab-like environment. From civil engineers to urban planners, you’ll meet leaders who specialize in a range of methods and materials.
We also encourage every student to study abroad during the summer semester. Recent courses have focused on the reimagining of urban sites and extra-large buildings in Berlin and the architectural experimentation of domestic spaces in Tokyo.
Your tools for material experimentation
- KUKA robotic arm in the Digital Craft Lab
- 3D printers in the Hybrid Lab
- Digital preservation tools
- Lathes, grinders, and sanders
- Milling machines
- CNC routers and laser cutters
Additional spaces for craft and design
Use CNC laser cutters/engravers, CNC routers, and 3D printers in the Rapid Prototyping Studio
The Welding Studio is an outdoor area for metal fabrication, with brazing, plasma-cutting, soldering, and welding tools
Use saws, sanders, drill presses, lathes, and vacuum-forming machines in the Model Shop
Our high-profile, dedicated faculty believe that architecture and interior design are critical cultural practices. They research and write about a range of topics and experiment with alternative materials and processes. Their primary pedagogical tools—hands-on lab work and research—guide students throughout studio and seminar investigations, from experiments in collective living to the construction of ecologically resilient structures.
Chair Brian Price is principal of a San Francisco-based design practice that works to reclaim architecture’s relevance. Founded in 2012, Price Studio focuses on built and speculative architecture, publications and conferences, and the many ways architecture can engage culture through ambiguous, irresolute, and suggestive space. Price Studio has designed numerous award-winning projects for a range of clients, including Google and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Associate Chair Jason Anderson is founder and principal of studioAnomalous (sA), a spatial design studio that investigates the overlap of architecture and video game engines. sA asks how these emerging toolsets can inform the design process and offer new conditions of experience, interrelation, and simultaneity. They explore augmented, virtual, and mixed reality on larger projects, while producing freestanding applications for clients in art, architecture, entertainment, and finance.
Focus on your research and design priorities
You must complete 30 units over the course of two semesters. Each semester, you’ll take one advanced studio, two topic electives in your chosen concentration, and one open elective, which can be any course within the main Architecture division or across the college. Take open electives in visual critical studies, interaction design, interior design, sculpture, and other disciplines. MAAD-HTX students take two additional electives each semester in place of an Advanced Studio. View sample courses.
Fall semester (15 units total)
- Advanced Studio (6 units)
- Two Topic Electives (6 units)
- Open Elective (3 units)
Spring semester (15 units total)
- Advanced Studio (6 units)
- Two Topic Electives (6 units)
- Open Elective (3 units)
MAAD Digital Craft
The MAAD Digital Craft concentration focuses on contemporary digital design technologies and digital craft. You’ll get both broad and in-depth exposure to contemporary topics such as parametric design, advanced computation, digital fabrication, robotic techniques, and building information modeling. During your first semester, you’ll develop a specific research trajectory. You’ll integrate digital design concepts with fabrication and prototyping tools in your second semester to realize a full-scale project.
MAAD Urban Works
The MAAD Urban Works concentration focuses on architecture and urbanism. You’ll learn how to leverage architectural design and form to impact social justice, ecological vitality, and economic resilience within communities. You'll advance novel strategies of research, design, and scholarship to model new forms of practice and develop innovative solutions to urban challenges.
MAAD History + Theory + Experiments
The MAAD History/Theory/Experiments concentration offers an intense year of advanced study in architectural and urban history, theory, and criticism, culminating in an independent research project. You’ll explore politically engaged forms of spatial activism, historical research methods, architectural writing, and more. During your first semester, you’ll take a required course in architectural theory, advanced seminars in research and interpretation, along with an open elective. You’ll complete an independent thesis project in your second semester, guided by a faculty mentor and an optional external advisor.
Our students enter the program as early- to mid-career professionals and graduate as highly collaborative and experimental design leaders. Many stay in the Bay Area, working for leading design practices or for technology companies like Google and Airbnb, while others take their knowledge back home as leaders in their profession. Their year of immersive research and material exploration helps them make a positive impact at any scale, from workplaces and parklets to municipal agencies and vast urban territories.
Potential career paths
- Licensed architect in a small-scale regional practice
- Licensed architect in a large-scale global practice
- Urban designer for planning and policy of urban development
- Landscape architect in ecological and living systems integration
- Design strategist
- Fabricator (digital and analog methods)
The Master of Advanced Architectural Design is a one-year, two-semester post-professional degree program. Applicants must have a bachelor’s in architecture. Overall, placement is based on the strength of your portfolio and transcripts.
You’ll need to submit three components that are common to all CCA graduate applications:
- Resume/curriculum vitae
- Two recommendation letters
- Unofficial college transcripts
Additionally, you’ll submit a portfolio and personal essay that are tailored to your specific master’s program. After you submit all materials, you may be contacted for an online or on-campus interview with the graduate program manager or a faculty member.
MAAD portfolio requirements
You’ll need to submit a portfolio via SlideRoom. You must provide clear evidence of your architectural education and demonstrate your level of ability. In addition to examples of academic and professional work, we encourage you to submit personal projects. All examples should be organized into one PDF document (30 pages maximum and no larger than 10 megabytes). You may provide links to relevant external materials, such as videos and websites, within the PDF. Once your portfolio has been submitted via SlideRoom, no further changes can be made.
MAAD personal essay requirements
In a personal essay of 500 to 1,000 words, you must describe what motivates you to pursue a degree in architecture and how this specifically relates to one or more of our program’s strengths:
- Integration of artistic, critical, and material approaches to architecture
- Alternative models of fabrication and practice
- Contemporary investigations of culture, media, technology, and their relationship to architectural production
- Position within a multidisciplinary design school in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area