Master of Architecture

ARCH Studio

UC Berkeley’s excellence as a research institution is indisputable, and the Berkeley Master of Architecture contributes to this stellar international reputation.

Three frameworks underpin the Berkeley M.Arch.:

  • An emerging position in the application of digital-design media.
  • Studios and seminars that embrace an international perspective.
  • A continued commitment to our emphasis on design and ecology.

These frameworks, together with our tradition of outstanding scholarship in architectural history and theory, offer new directions for architectural education that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. Our faculty are leaders in the fields of design, theory, and building technologies, and are joined each year by endowed professors who teach design studios related to their professional interests. A sampling of their research is described in the Center for Environmental Design Research Projects list.

The Program

The M.Arch. program provides students seeking their first accredited professional degree with a comprehensive and challenging education leading to the practice of architecture. Graduate students have the flexibility to choose a variety of paths within a two-to-three-year rigorous program, depending upon previous education and experience. The department makes no restriction as to the field of undergraduate preparation. However, the length of the required residence period, the number of required semester course units, and the specific list of required courses may vary depending upon undergraduate major, professional and other work experience, and previous graduate study, if any.

The basic course leading to the Master of Architecture degree takes three academic years and requires the completion of at least 72 units during that period of residence. Persons who hold a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree with a major in architecture may receive up to one year of advanced standing. The M.Arch Admissions Committee will determine advanced standing individually for each student during the admissions review.  Special one-year Master of Advanced Architectural Design programs are available to persons holding the five-year, professional undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Architecture, from an accredited school, or comparable five-year degrees from foreign universities and technical institutes.

Undergraduate Degree Program Required Units Maximum Elective Units
Bachelor of Architecture (five-year professional) degree Studio One (one-year post-professional program). Students who complete the program will receive a Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) degree beginning with the class of 2020-2021. 24 16
Four-year non-professional degree with a major in architecture. This advanced standing is at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. M.Arch Program with Advanced Standing (two-year professional program) 48 25
B.A. or B.S. degree in any field M.Arch Program (three-year professional program) 72 12

Final Year

During the final year, M.Arch students have the option of participating in an intensive research studio or developing an individual thesis. Both options include a required seminar component in the fall followed by a spring studio.


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 6-year, 3-year, or 2-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.

The University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design, Department of Architecture, offers the following NAAB-accredited degree programs:

  • M.Arch (pre-professional degree (120 credits) + 48 graduate credits)
  • M.Arch (non-pre-professional degree + 72 credits)

The most recent NAAB accreditation visit for all programs was 2016.

For licensing in California, our 2- and 3-year, NAAB-accredited Masters of Archtitecture degree has an experiential equivalent of 5 years (maximum credits allowed). Candidates eligible as of January 1, 2005 or after are subject to IDP/IAP requirements. Please see the California Architects Board website for more information about experience equivalents.

2019-2020 M.Arch Handbook [PDF]