john edward porter presenting thesis 2016

The M. Arch Thesis Process

M. Arch II and M. Arch III students complete both a written and a design thesis, supervised by their graduate faculty committee. The thesis process and guidelines are defined in the Thesis Guidelines Document.

Pre-Thesis Year

In Fall Semester of pre-thesis year, Architectural Theory (ARC 634) explores important design philosophies ranging from Aristotle to Robert Venturi.  It is an intensive seminar course consisting of student-led discussion of twenty complete works and other smaller selections.  Seminar papers provide practice engaging with the theory and criticism necessary for crafting a master’s thesis.

In Spring Semester of pre-thesis year, Design and Research Methods (ARC 636) works to establish a foundation for the written thesis and for site research in the summer preceding thesis year.  Students develop and present a preliminary thesis question in poster format to the graduate faculty. This encourages discussion and allows students to begin forming their thesis committees.  Writing and diagramming exercises hone both textual and graphical communication with a focus on academic discourse.  Independent research, guided by their instructor and thesis committee, informs individual methodologies and the development of a thesis draft. At the end of the semester, 80% of the written thesis is complete, allowing time for revisions, site selection, and site analysis during the summer.

In the summer before thesis year, students engage in independent work under the supervision of their committee chair. Thesis Coursework (ARC 700) is focused on refinement and revision of the thesis draft and Site Analysis (ARC 590) works to select a site or potential sites and conduct preliminary site analysis.

Thesis Year

In Fall Semester of thesis year, Pre-Thesis Design Studio (ARC 701) concludes the written thesis process and prepares for the design thesis in Spring Semester. Early in the semester, thesis drafts are finalized and formatted for the ACSA Annual Meeting.  ACSA submission is required, but students are encouraged to submit to other relevant conferences, encouraging participation in academic discourse. Written thesis presentations occur early in the semester to the thesis respondent (a distinguished academic or professional from outside Miami University). At this point, students begin their design thesis, including site selection, site analysis, programming, and schematic design, regularly consulting with their thesis committees.  

In Spring Semester of thesis year, Thesis Design Studio (ARC 702) continues the design thesis with further exploration and prepares students to present their completed thesis near the end of spring semester. This course navigates the tension between exploration and completion, working to attain both during this final studio. Students must regularly consult with their committees for feedback and critique throughout this critical period.  Near the end of the semester, the thesis respondent attends the thesis presentations to critique each student’s design thesis in light of their written thesis.    

This process is supported by internationally recognized Visiting Scholars that work with the students. Our students regularly have their papers accepted at both domestic and international conferences.