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Master of Architecture

The Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) is a graduate degree that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). In addition to a period of professional internship, the M. Arch. degree qualifies individuals for the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) and licensure in architecture. There are two pathways available: The M. Arch. II program for students from pre-professional undergraduate architecture programs; the M. Arch. III program for students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than architecture. Both programs sit within the Department of Architecture and Interior Design at Miami.

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M. Arch. II: 2-Year Professional Program

(60 credit-hour track)

The two-year professional program is designed for students with a pre-professional degree that is equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. Normally, a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Architecture is considered an equivalent pre-professional degree. Other undergraduate degree programs, in which the students have completed four years of architectural design studio and requisite course work in architectural history and architectural technology, may also satisfy partial requirements for admission to the M. Arch. II program.

The M. Arch. II program is typically completed in two academic years. Students in the program must complete both a written and a design thesis.


M. Arch. III: 3-Year Professional Program

(88 credit-hour track)

The three-year professional program is designed for students with an undergraduate degree other than architecture. The program was established to bring in students from diverse academic backgrounds, offering a variety of perspectives, different intellectual viewpoints, experience, and maturity that can significantly enrich the teaching and learning culture of the department.

The M. Arch. III program is typically completed in three academic years. Students in the program must complete both a written and a design thesis.

In the first year of the three-year program, students learn the fundamentals of architectural design, technology, history, and theory, and also develop visual analysis and graphic communication skills. Design work from this first year will be reviewed by graduate faculty to determine eligibility to continue to the Second Year curriculum.



Our graduate students have for many years produced outstanding work, gone on to work with some of the world’s leading architectural firms and established multiple award-winning enterprises of their own. Examples include Safdie ArchitectsShepley Bullfinch, and Urbanus, to name but a few. Our students have also come from across the globe and gone on to work in cities across the world. Examples include Bangladesh, Iran and India. 


The graduate design thesis is unique. It is the major design and research exercise for graduate students at Miami. You are free to develop a project-based fully on your areas of interest. To support this we have a committee of faculty serving each individual student. There is a nationally open graduate symposium at which students present their work in a conference format. We have an established Visiting Maxfield Scholars initiative through which each year we invite a renowned specialist to visit twice per year to work with students individually. There is a written thesis each student completes and many of our students go on to publish their work and present at conferences.

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.

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.  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, and site selection.

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. Students are encouraged to submit to relevant conferences, encouraging participation in academic discourse. Written thesis presentations are also sent 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. 

Thesis Guidelines

Thesis Planning Dates and Guidelines Abstract

(The Director of Graduate Studies will issue specific dates for each item at the beginning of each academic term, subject to revision.)

I. Spring. 600-Level students begin the written thesis process within the context of ARC 636, Design & Research Methods. Process includes the Written Thesis Proposal and the formation of the Thesis Committee. 600-Level students meet with their Thesis Committees and formulate a research plan.

II. August. Students supply their thesis committee chair with a substantially developed draft document with bibliography, notes, and illustrations. This draft document and the preliminary site documentation and program serve as a prerequisite for enrollment into the ARC 701 studio. Thesis committee chairs, the Director of Graduate studies, and students meet on or before Friday, 4pm, the first week of classes to consider readiness for ARC 701. Students are advised on their readiness to proceed; lack of readiness means the student may not proceed into 701.

III. September-November. Written thesis document completed for presentation. Oral presentations occur over two days moderated by a thesis respondent, faculty moderators and the thesis committee. Students begin submission of the written thesis to additional relevant venues.

IV. December. ARC 701 students present program site analysis, site investigation process, site design proposal, and schematic building design process and ideation at the end of the semester review, working in concert with their committee and the ARC 701 instructor. Students are advised on their readiness to proceed; lack of readiness means the student may not proceed into 702.

V. January-March. ARC 702 studio students develop regular meeting schedule with committees and coordinate interim milestone reviews with ARC 702 design instructor. The content of the milestone reviews, as well as the 700 Level Design Thesis Guidelines, will be defined in the context of the 702 course. Students are expected to engage their committees on a regular basis in the spirit of mutual obligation in a multiple review format. Comprehensive assessment review of thesis progress (typically prior to spring break) in the form of a full presentation mock up, final design scope, and signed presentation contract agreed upon between the student, ARC 702 instructor and thesis committee. Follow-up review after spring break to determine thesis design presentation viability and develop preliminary thesis presentation schedule. At each of these two reviews, students are advised on their readiness to proceed; lack of readiness means the student may not proceed to present the design thesis.

VI. April. Thesis Design Presentations. Design grade established in consultation with the ARC 702 instructor and thesis committee. Students develop a written addendum to their thesis document to include reduced project drawings and a critical concluding section exploring the relationship between their theoretical frame and design outcome.

VII. May. In order for students to receive a grade for ARC 702 studio, students must turn in completed thesis document (text and design documentation) to their committee for signature at least one week prior to graduation. Committee members must approve completed document content before they sign cover sheets. Graduation cannot occur until a final grade is approved and signed documents are deposited with Graduate Department's Administrative Assistant.

600-Level Spring Thesis Development Schedule

(Development dates to be embedded within ARC 636 course content/ schedule, subject to revision)

Weekly Thesis Development Schedule
Week Activity
Week 1 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Issue: Framing the Research Question and Understanding
And consider for whom one is writing: The Audience
Week 2 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Issue: Epistemology
Week 3 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Issue: Ideation and Previous Research on the Topic:
Your Position within Current & Relevant Discourses
Week 4

ARC 636 Written Thesis Development

Ideation Presentation (The Soiree). Faculty and Student submit committee configuration Request.

Thesis Committees Announced.

Week 5 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Issue: Thesis Outline and Research Methodologies and Anticipated
Outcome + Contribution to Discipline
Week 6 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Issue: Revise Thesis Outline and The Annotated Bibliography/Sources List and Schedule
Week 7 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Thesis Writing
Week 8 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Thesis Manuscript Proposal Draft Due Addressing Items 1-6 of the Manuscript Guidelines Proposal Form
Week 9

ARC 636 Written Thesis Development

Thesis Draft Revision

Week 10 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Thesis Draft Revision
Week 11 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Prepare "Short Version" Presentations
Week 12 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
"Short Version" Presentations to Faculty and Guests: Morning Sessions up to 2pm. Presentations of manuscript proposals are 10 Minutes Maximum + 10 Minute Question and Answer Session for a total of 20 minutes.
Proposals reviewed by Committee for viability.
Week 13 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Revise Thesis Draft
Week 14 Revise Thesis Draft.
Students meet with all members of their committee to establish their research agenda and dates for additional meetings with their committee prior to the summer break.
Week 15 ARC 636 Written Thesis Development
Submit Finished Thesis Draft with bibliography and Abstract.
Identify Conference Venues.

August (end 1st week): Submit substantially completed written thesis document draft, thesis program and site documentation and analysis report to thesis committee chair and reader(s). This a necessary prerequisite for admission into ARC 701. Students are advised on their readiness to proceed; lack of readiness means the student may not proceed into 701.

August (end 2nd week): Faculty submit student thesis progress report to the Director of Graduate Studies to advise as to whether student is prepared to enter ARC 701.

600-Level Written Thesis Proposal

Project Title:

Student Name (Please Print):

Students are required to receive thesis proposal approval in order to be eligible to register for any of the following courses:

(  ) ARC 701 Architectural Design Studio        Term:

(  ) ARC 590.A Independent Study                 Term:

(Site Analysis and Program Inquiry)

ARC 636 Instructor:

Names of faculty with whom you have consulted:

The Written Thesis Proposal poses a question to be investigated in the written portion of the thesis. Although the written portion of the thesis follows the form of the scholarly papers common to architecture and related disciplines, students are urged to consider early the possible connections between the written portion of the thesis and the subsequent design investigation.

Use 12 point Times type double space. At least 12 pages and not more than 20.

Articulate the following content incorporating the required subject headings noted below:

1. The Research Question: In a carefully worded sentence, state the research question you will investigate. In one or two paragraphs (up to 500 words) clarify the issues, limits, and structure of the proposed investigation. Why is your thesis question important to the discipline at this time?

2. Methodology:Describe the research methods you will use to collect and interpret information. Provide a brief outline of your paper.

3. Discussion: Discuss Previous Research on the Topic and describe alternative theories by the other authors and/or designers that informs your research. Identify your own assumptions and position yourself with regard to this literature.

4. Anticipated Outcome and Contribution: In what form will your findings be presented? If you begin the investigation with a tentative thesis assumption to be supported or disproved, state this clearly. Discuss the contexts that will be affected by your work. Why is this work particularly important at this time?

5. Bibliography/ Sources: Provide a narrative literature review with endnotes using the ACSA National Meeting / Chicago Manual of Style Format. The notes should list only those sources you intend to use.

6. Schedule: Provide a schedule of your activities for spring. Delineate completion dates of required and individual activities. Include site analysis and program development.

600-Level Thesis Committee Selection


Please list the names of students you are willing to serve (specify chair or reader). Note whether or not you have discussed this with the student previously.

Please list the names of students you are not willing to serve as chair or reader.


Please list your first three choices for thesis chair:




Please list your first three choices for thesis reader:




Please note the names of any outside readers you have already engaged:

600-Level Written Thesis Assessment


Project Title:

Student Name:

Thesis Chair:


1. The Research Question

Did the student clearly state the research question to be investigated?

Did the student clarify the structure and limits of the proposed investigation?

2. Previous Research on the Topic

Did the student identify and critique the existing literature relevant to their thesis question?

Did the student identify and critique alternative/competing theories within the literature?

Did the student identify their own assumptions and position themselves with regard to the literature?

3. Methodology

Did the student describe their method to collect data and interpret information?

4. Anticipated Outcome and Contribution

Did the student clearly support or disprove their thesis statement?

Did the student identify the contexts that would be impacted by their work?

Did the student discuss why their topic was particularly relevant at this time?

5. Bibliography/Sources

Did the student develop a fully developed Bibliography/Source List consistent with their thesis question?

6. Schedule

Did the student carefully develop their site documentation and pre-programming?

Miami University Department of Architecture and Interior Design Graduate Program

700-Level Thesis Development

ARC 701, Fall Semester

Site Analysis, conceptual design, preliminary schematic design, and pre-programming

 1. Refinement of site research through visual analysis on the macro scale to micro scale (ex: hemisphere to building footprint) includes ecology, topography, political, social and economic site forces and other issues pertinent to your thesis inquiry. Further documentation through photographs, film, sketches, surveys, maps using a variety of 2-D and 3-D media and techniques pertinent to your thesis inquiry is also required.

2. You will develop site / building agenda as well as preliminary program that explicates your project’s intention through:

A) Framing your thesis question within the principles / objectives of your project. Exploring precedent and case studies pertinent to your inquiry: exploring their intersections and potential contradictions to your project.

B) Conceptual site and building design, and schematic design options: exploring spatial adjacencies, orientations and relationships; spatial programming which may include specific space requirements and desired dimensions; structure and building systems, and materials; zoning issues; life safety and preliminary code requirements including other issues pertinent to your thesis inquiry.

Miami University Department of Architecture and Interior Design Graduate Program

700-Level Design Thesis Guidelines

I. Intent

The guidelines below offer the thesis candidate departmental expectations about the nature and scope of Master of Architecture Design theses. The graduate committee acknowledges that students may pursue a design thesis grounded in personal inquiry with emphases in areas such as theory, landscape, urbanism, digital media, technology, artistic production, history, etc. Regardless of subject, there is an implicit assumption that most theses will be tested in an architectural building project with full technical documentation, and procedures and standards set below are intended to help guide such projects. These guidelines may be subject to change as a result of shifts within the broader context of architecture and the profession.

If a thesis project will not follow the norm of a standard building project, the thesis candidate must develop parallel guidelines at least as rigorous as those set forth below. The student’s thesis committee and the graduate committee before the midterm of the ARC 701 studio must approve any alternative guidelines.

II. Procedures

1. Semester Critique Sessions

In order to support the development of the design thesis, the time period from 4:00 to 5:00 PM every other Wednesday, will be dedicated to contact between the thesis committees and their respective students. No other activities should be scheduled during this time that would interfere with these meetings.

2. Thesis Student Progress Assessment

The thesis candidate will be assessed formally in writing twice during the thesis design period as follows:

a. ARC 701

The ARC 701 instructor in consultation with the thesis committee will assess the progress of each thesis student in terms of the guidelines after the December schematic design review. The faculty group will make one the following recommendations:

i. Proceed to ARC 702: Site Analysis, Conceptual and pre-schematic design, and pre-programming complete and guidelines to date have been met.

ii. Proceed to ARC 702 Subject to Modification: Advancement to ARC 702 subject to modification and completion of all items noted as deficient by the ARC 701 instructor and thesis committee. All revisions to the thesis must be completed and reviewed by the ARC 701 instructor and the thesis committee prior to the first day of classes in the spring semester.

iii. Do not proceed to ARC 702: Thesis program, site analysis and development, and architectural schematic design do not meet accepted standards as outlined in the guidelines.

b. ARC 702

The ARC 702 instructor, in consultation with the thesis committee where necessary, will assess the progress of each thesis student at the mid term of the spring semester in terms of the thesis guidelines. The faculty group will make one the following recommendations:

i. Proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion: Evidence of a well-developed design process in place. Schematic level design complete and project exhibits mature design development, inclusive of tectonic detail. Design Process, Drawings and Model guidelines to date have been met. A plan for final presentation is in place. Student is ready to commence final drawings and presentation.

ii. Proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion Subject to Modification: Advancement to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion subject to modification and completion of all items noted as deficient by the ARC 702 instructor and thesis committee. All revisions and additions to the thesis design must be completed, reviewed and approved by the ARC 702 instructor and the thesis committee by the end of the first day of classes after the spring mid semester break for the student to continue.

iii. Do not proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion: Thesis design program, site analysis and design, architectural design process record, schematic design and design development do not meet accepted standards as outlined in the thesis design guidelines.

3. Thesis Committee Chair and Reader Assessment

All Thesis Committee Chairs and Readers will have formal, written course evaluations conducted by the Department using the standard CCA form and any other form of the faculty member’s choosing upon the completion of the written and design thesis during the spring term under the course number ARC 700.

III. Architectural Design Thesis Guidelines

All Architectural Design thesis projects must respond creatively and imaginatively to the thesis questions, challenges, and problems presented in the written thesis. Thesis candidates executing a building project to fulfill the Architectural Design requirement must develop their projects to function and be expressive at multiple scales, ranging from a large site context to smaller articulate details. The presentation of the Design Thesis must account for a sufficiently rich conception of the building at all such scales. The final design presentation should document fully the design investigation, incorporating at least three major areas: site documentation and analysis, and design process and development. The following standards are to serve as guidelines, but are negotiable by the candidate in conjunction with the studio instructor and committee, and as appropriate to the specific project, with the approval of the graduate committee.

A substantial deviation from these standards presumes the development of parallel standards of equal rigor, pre-approved by the thesis committee and the graduate committee.

1. Site Documentation and Analysis:

a. Site Documentation at the appropriate scale should include most or all of the following:

Figure Ground Drawing. Topographic Drawing. Land Use Plan. Area Plan of Environs. Site Plan of Design Intervention Area. Aerial Photographs. Documentary Photographs. Historic Documentation/Photos. Video and Audio Documentation. Site Demography to consider: Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Education, Income.

b. Tangible Site Analysis may include most or all of the following:

Circulation: Pedestrian, Vehicular, Other. Entry/Access: Pedestrian, Vehicular, Other. Climate: Wind, Solar, Precipitation, Temperature, Vegetation. View. Massing. Major and Minor Spaces. Materiality and Detail. Existing Building Analysis (if applicable). Architectural Precedent + Typology.

c. Intangible Site Analysis may include most or all of the following: Light + Shadow. Tactility. Color. Olfactory. Sound. Mood/Attitude.

2. Design Process (Organized, Dated and Selectively Edited):

Sketch and Drawing Record. Journals, Models/Constructions. Digital Mediation + Animation. Artistic Interpretive Activity: Photography, Painting, Sculpture, Video/Audio, Performance Lithography, Weaving, Metals, Assemblage, Collage.

3. Architectural Building Design Presentation Requirements at Descending Appropriate Scales:

Area Plan (1”= 80’), Site Plan (1”= 40’), Site Sections (1’= 40’), Building Floor and Roof Plans (1’= . ”), Building Elevations Major and Minor (1’ = . ”), Building Sections Major and Minor (1’= . ”), Interior Perspectives/Sequences/Animations, Exterior Perspectives /Sequences /Animations, Aerial Perspective/Animations, Site Model (1”= 40’), Building Model (1”= . ”), Axonometric/ Massing Study, Wall Sections (1’ = . ”), Details of Key Elements and Material Connections (Half or Full Scale), Diagrams Explaining Design Issues: Site, Spatial Relationships, Structure, Systems, Envelope, Program Disposition in appropriate scales. Explicatory Text of not more than 250 Words. Written Program expressed in gross and net square feet keyed to plan drawings with numerical legend.

700-Level Graduate Thesis Assessment


Project Title:

Student Name:

Thesis Chair:


Site Documentation and Analysis:

Design Process:

Architectural Building Design Presentation:

Appendix A

Miami University Department of Architecture and Interior Design Graduate Program

Graduate Studio Advancement Requirement (from the Graduate Studies in Architecture Guidelines and Policy): To be included in all graduate studio syllabi.

All Graduate students need to maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA Graduate School requirement for good standing designation each semester throughout their period of study in the architecture graduate program.

Any student receiving a grade lower than B- in design studio will, in concert with the graduate studio instructor and the Graduate Committee, undergo a progress review prior to the student's advancement to the next studio level.

Graduate students who receive 2 or more studio grades lower than B- in design studio, or have not met the 3.0 minimum GPA Graduate School requirement for the second semester, will not be eligible to commence or complete the thesis year.


Traveling Studio

Our Award-winning Alumni Traveling Studio received the prestigious National Council of Architectural Registration Boards NCARB Jury Prize in 2005. Forming part of the NCARB Award program, the Prize Jury recognized that its leader, Craig Hinrichs, had developed a unique pedagogical approach that should be emulated across the US. The Alumni Traveling Studio pairs a studio in our program with a project being carried out in an alumni office. The alumni form part of the teaching team and provide students hands-on experience of the realities of project design, development, and construction.


The Department has specialists in social justice and community design. We have award-winning faculty in questions of net-zero energy design, have a full range of widely published historians and theorists and several graphic, video, and fine artists who have exhibited across the United States. In addition, we have expertise in digital design and fabrication, as well as urban design and planning and more. The range of our faculty expertise is essential to support our unique design thesis approach through which students get the opportunity to develop their own specific areas of expertise.

Contact Us

Department of Architecture and Interior Design
101 Alumni Hall
Oxford, OH 45056