A student displays the size of a model with their hands.

MArchMaster of Architecture

Create architecture that harnesses material experimentation and technological innovation to transform the world.


Shape the future

The Master’s in Architecture (MArch) champions innovation and experimentation in architectural design. We’re a three-year, NAAB-accredited professional degree program with STEM designation. Uniquely focused on digital craft, urban research and activism, ecological engagement, full-scale fabrication, and experimental history, the MArch program prepares you to connect advanced architectural design with professional practice. With opportunities to work across disciplines—such as interaction design, interior design, and sculpture—you’ll lead conversations and develop solutions around the world’s most pressing issues.

Students laugh while standing around a large map.

Immerse yourself in a progressive urban laboratory

Building on the San Francisco Bay Area’s legacy of social and environmental justice, we investigate collective living, ecological resilience, contemporary aesthetics, and the politics that shape our spaces and cities. Innovative architecture and design firms, set in a rapidly transforming urban setting, will motivate you to challenge conventions and push disciplinary boundaries in your own work. Our position within a top art and design college gives you direct access to intellectuals, researchers, and diverse practitioners who continuously expand the way we build and experience digital and physical landscapes.

Studios & Shops

Create full-scale, real-world projects

At the heart of our curriculum is the studio, where you’ll leverage design methodologies that synthesize diverse issues, integrate emerging technology, and respond to contemporary culture. We use design as a form of research, and we use material to merge conceptual, historical, and physical contexts to both imagine possible futures and transform the present. You’ll create immersive environments; envision alternative urban forms; build robots that can dig, draw, and print; and prototype parklets and pavilions for local communities. Hands-on studios are pioneered by our core faculty, who weave public programming, industry partnerships, and exhibitions into the learning experience.

Collaborate in cross-disciplinary research

We believe that architects can imagine alternative futures, and we translate this belief into direct action through research and project-based platforms offered by our five research labs:

A student works on a model in the Digital Craft Lab.

The Digital Craft Lab features experimental making through emerging technologies. Advanced computation, robotics, responsive environments, and rapid prototyping are motivations to reconsider how architecture is produced.

Looking down at an architectural model, hands are placing small items onto the model.

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.

A man sniffing a row of suspended glass jars.

History Theory Experiments (HTX) is a platform for advanced interdisciplinary research and critical engagement in architecture that explores alternative modes of historical practice, discourse, and spatial activism.

A student looks over a display at the Architectural Ecologies Lab.

The Architectural Ecologies Lab serves as a platform for collaborative research between designers, scientists, and manufacturers. This interdisciplinary setting provides the tools to address ecological challenges like sea level rise, habitat restoration, and climate change.

Summer studios and study-abroad courses

Each summer, architecture students have the opportunity to study abroad. 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.

The MArch program also hosts the 333 Summer Studio, which invites outside practitioners, professors, and theorists to work with students at CCA for three weeks in an intensive environment. Recent guests have included Studio Gang, SO-IL, and Peggy Deamer.

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


World-class researchers, designers, and architects

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.

Portrait of Irene Cheng.

Irene Cheng, Chair of Graduate Architecture

Irene Cheng is an architectural historian, critic, and educator. Her research explores the entanglements of architecture, culture, politics, race, and environmental concerns in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her most recent book is The Shape of Utopia: The Architecture of Radical Reform in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Minnesota Press, 2023). She is also co-editor of Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020) and The State of Architecture at the Beginning of the 21st Century (The Monacelli Press, 2004).

Cheng is a founding principal of Cheng+Snyder, a multidisciplinary design practice that seeks to instigate critical debates about architecture, politics, and the city.

Portrait of Alex Schofield.

Alex Schofield, Associate Chair of Graduate Architecture

Associate Chair Alex Schofield is an Oakland-based designer focusing on emerging technologies, material research, and their implications within the built environment. He completed his M.Arch at University of California, Berkeley, where he received the Mario Ciampi Art in Architecture Award for his parafictional exploration in fabrication, agency, and form of an architecture built from coffee grounds. Alex Schofield worked as a researcher at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, in development of the printFARM (Print Facility for Architecture, Research, and Materials) for various 3D printed methods and materials, as well as with the innovative materials and technology-based design firm Emerging Objects. He has completed residencies at both Autodesk Pier 9 and Workshop Residence in San Francisco, and has lectured and exhibited his work abroad. Alex operates through his design workshop, Objects and Ideograms, where he continues rethinking spatial making with an emphasis on materiality. He leverages his unique education and experiences to further develop design, fabrication, and material research in efforts towards a symbiotic, more ecologically conscious, built environment.


Three-year accredited master’s degree

Your studio work is supported by a coordinated sequence of courses in design media, history and theory, building technology, and professional practice. You’ll culminate your studies with a two-semester independent thesis project that interrogates the architectural discipline through research and design. View sample courses.

MArch Master of Architecture

Year 1: Fall Semester

MArch Studio 1
6.0 units
Design Media 1
3.0 units
Materials and Methods
3.0 units
History of Architecture 1
3.0 units

Year 1: Spring Semester

MArch Studio 2
6.0 units
Design Media 2
3.0 units
3.0 units
History of Architecture 2
3.0 units

Year 2: Fall Semester

MArch Studio 3
6.0 units
Building Energy
3.0 units
Architectural Theory
3.0 units
Architectural Analysis
3.0 units

Year 2: Spring Semester

Advanced Studio or Integrated Building Design Studio
6.0 units
Integrated Technological Systems
3.0 units
Elective (any Grad-wide elective)
3.0 units
Open Elective
3.0 units

Year 2: Summer Semester

0.0 units

Year 3: Fall Semester

Advanced Studio or Integrated Building Design Studio
6.0 units
Thesis Seminar
3.0 units
Architectural Elective
3.0 units
Architecture Elective
3.0 units

Year 3: Spring Semester

Thesis Studio
6.0 units
Building Technology Elective
3.0 units
Professional Practice
3.0 units
Open Elective
3.0 units

Total 90.0 units


Thrive in an ever-changing architectural landscape

The Master’s in Architecture program has an impressive track record of alumni who launch award-winning design practices, work with international architecture offices, and lead the design of iconic civic buildings. With both pragmatic skills and the ability to broadly speculate, they find opportunities to practice architecture at many scales, in locations throughout the world. Many stay in the Bay Area, working for technology companies like Google and Airbnb, while others take their knowledge back home as leaders in the profession.

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)
  • Educator

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How to Apply

Gather materials to build your application

Gather materials to build your application

The Master’s in Architecture is designated for those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in another field or have started their architectural studies at the undergraduate level. Advanced standing may be granted to accepted students who have previous education in the field. Overall, admission and placement are based on the strength of your portfolio and transcripts.

Start your application

You’ll apply to CCA and submit all required application materials via SlideRoom. Afterward, you may be contacted for an interview with a faculty member as part of the application process. Being selected for an interview doesn’t indicate applicant status or increase or decrease an applicant’s chances of being admitted into their desired graduate program. Interviews are conducted at the program’s discretion and are used to gain more insight into an application.

MArch application requirements

  • Application and $70 nonrefundable application fee
    To be completed and submitted on SlideRoom.

  • Resume/curriculum vitae
    Please outline your educational and professional background and relevant experiences and activities, including community work. Resumes/CVs must be in PDF document format.

  • Two recommendation letters
    You’ll request two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources in SlideRoom by entering the contact information for your recommenders/references. They’ll then receive an automated email from SlideRoom with instructions for uploading their letter of recommendation.

  • Unofficial college transcripts
    You are required to provide your complete undergraduate academic history. Students who have already taken graduate courses are encouraged to submit those transcripts, too. For international applicants, all transcripts must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation.

    Please provide an unofficial transcript from the college where you will receive or have received your bachelor’s degree, as well as unofficial transcripts for all other undergraduate coursework. Unofficial transcripts will be used for review purposes.

    Once admitted and enrolled, all students will need to submit official, sealed transcripts showing the completion of a bachelor’s degree to our graduate admissions office by August 1 of the fall semester they begin enrollment at CCA.

  • Proof of English proficiency (international applicants only)
    Review and plan to meet our English proficiency requirements for graduate students.

  • Portfolio
    Your portfolio should demonstrate creative achievements and should be treated as a design opportunity. Assemble your portfolio into one PDF document no longer than 30 pages and no larger than 10 MB. You may provide links to relevant external materials (videos, websites, etc.) within the PDF.

    Candidates without an architectural background should use the portfolio to demonstrate their potential in one or more of the following areas: visual and spatial sensibilities, visual and material explorations, and synthetic/conceptual thinking.

    Candidates for advanced standing should demonstrate clear evidence of their architectural education and level of ability. In addition to academic and professional work, candidates are encouraged to submit examples of personal work as well.

  • Personal essay
    In a personal essay, submitted as a PDF, write 500 to 1,000 words about 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 art and design school in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area

For prospective student inquiries, including questions about the program or how to apply, please contact us

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Graduate Admissions

+1 415-548-2271 (call, text)

[email protected]

Discover professional and creative fulfillment

Apply now