Admission Criteria

Master of Architecture


The application cycle for the Master of Architecture program opens in September. Admission is for the fall semester of the following year. We do not accept spring-semester admissions. Please see Graduate Admissions for application deadlines and procedures.

Admission Prerequisites

Students admitted to the Master of Architecture program are required to have taken college-level or equivalent calculus and introductory physics, including mechanics. These prerequisites must be completed by the time you enter (not apply to) the graduate program. At the very latest, you must take the courses in the summer preceding fall-semester entry. We will accept a calculus or physics course from any community college or university. We will accept a physics course taken without a lab. Students must pass these courses with a grade of at least a C minus. 

For those who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus or Physics in high school, the following scores will satisfy the prerequisites: 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam or at least a 3 on the AP Calculus BC exam; at least a 3 on the AP Physics B exam.

M.Arch Program 

The three-year Master of Architecture program is open to applicants with a B.A. or B.S. degree in any field.

The core of the Master of Architecture curriculum is the design studio, and students admitted to the program plunge right into the studio regimen their first semester. The ability to draw and sketch is essential. Although no prerequisite coursework in this area is required, applicants are strongly encouraged to take studio art and/or a beginning design course in preparation for applying.

The admissions committee looks for evidence that you have an aptitude for architecture and that Berkeley's program would be a good place for you to develop that aptitude. The ability to "conceptualize," think three-dimensionally, and communicate effectively both verbally and visually, plus some understanding of the architecture profession, is essential. If your academic preparation is in another field, it is important to incorporate into your statement why you have decided to move from your present field to architecture. What connections do you see bridging your past experiences with architecture?

M.Arch Program with Advanced Standing

The opportunity to complete the Master of Architecture program with Advanced Standing in two years is granted to students with an exceptional undergraduate record in a focused pre-professional degree, including the B.A. or B.S. with a major in architecture. The advanced standing is at the discretion of the admissions committee, based on both studio work and academic achievement.


Evaluation of Pre-Professional Degree

(1) Admissions Criteria: complete description of application review & ranking process.

Applicants to the Master of Architecture degrees are evaluated in three main areas:

1. Statement and Letters (Evaluate applications in relation to: Diverse experiences, commitment to the discipline, potential for leadership);

2. Academic Record (Evaluate applications in relation to: Curricular choices, scholastic achievement, potential to success in required coursework);

3. Portfolio* (Evaluate application in relation to: Spatial sensibility, graphic clarity and creativity, potential as a designer) 

Relative weight given to the criteria:
Each of the three is weighted equally.

Approximate schedule of the review cycle:
Deadline for submission for applications: Mid-December
First phase review: End of January
Second phase review: End of February
Final Decisions: Early March
All decisions to Graduate Division by March 15

Ranking System

First Phase: The M.Arch Admissions Committee members each review a portion of the applicant pool using the criteria listed above and ranking them from 1(weak) to 5(strong) and make a recommendation to either admit/review/deny. The cumulative scores are the basis of a ranking and about a third of the highest ranked applicants move on to the next phase where they are reviewed by additional members of the faculty.

Second Phase: The applicants who move forward are then reviewed by two faculty reviewers using the same criteria and ranking method as above. Their cumulative scores create a numerical ranking which produce the final ranked list from which the M. Arch Admissions Committee selects the new students.

Third Phase: The M.Arch Admissions Committee reviews the top half of the list to fill the department spaces assigned by the Graduate Division. The Committee uses the numbers, recommendations, and written comments from faculty reviewers. Again, the committee reviews each applicant in the three areas above and in relation to all the top ranked applicants to make the final admission decisions. The committee also considers the background and strengths that each individual can contribute to their entering class. This process allows students with varied backgrounds and emphasis into the program to support and maintain the different areas of interests we provide. 

For Graduate Division admissions ranking purposes, applicants will ultimately be in either:
Group A:  1-A; 2-A; or 3-A which signifies Program and Admit, or
Group D:  1-D; 2-D; or 3-D which signifies Program and Deny

Review Committee Members:
The Admissions Committee is composed of members of the M.Arch Committee and includes the Chair of Graduate Advisors. It is a standing committee of approximately four to five members appointed by the Chair of the Department.

GRE requirement:
Domestic applicants and those who attend universities where English is the language of instruction must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (general test) and have their scores reported to the Graduate Division by the Educational Testing Service.
The deadline to take the exam is November 30.

Applicants from countries where English is not the official language must submit official evidence of English language profiecency. There are two standardized tests you may take: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The deadlines for taking these exams is November 30.

*The portfolio provides you the opportunity to show your creative ability. It need not necessarily be all architecture-related. In fact, if you have no experience in this area you would be wise to confine the examples to your best work, regardless of the media. The best results will emerge if you think of your exhibit in its entirety as a design project. The reviewers hope to see your projects displayed in a well-thought-out format, carefully executed. Most importantly, leave yourself plenty of time to think about and develop your creative work.